Freedom—July 22, 2021—Following the lead of towns like Madison and Conway, the Freedom Planning Board last Thursday began mulling regulations for short-term rentals to be brought to voters next March.
Selectmen at their June 28 meeting said such rentals should be regulated but not eliminated. Selectman Melissa Florio estimates the town has about 106 short-term rentals.
The planning board consists of Anne Cunningham, William Elliott, Pamela Keith, Carol McIntire, Paul Olzerowicz, Jeffrey Towle, alternates Elizabeth Earle and Jeff Nicoll and selectmen’s representative Leslie Babb.
Cunningham, the chair, said selectmen seek to license short-term rentals, “and the planning board is going to worry about the land use part of it…We are at the very beginning. If you came here thinking we were going to prohibit them outright, that is not what we are going to be doing.”
During the hour and 15-minute discussion, many variables were discussed. No decisions were made.
“This was a working session,” Cunningham said in a July 16 email. “This will be an ongoing process.”
Topics will include regulating STRs by zoning district or not, defining STRs, deciding whether they must be owner occupied, capping the number of licenses, limiting the number of days an owner can rent and whether STRs should be a permitted use or approved by special exception.
Board members said they are concerned about preserving the town’s character.
“I think Freedom is a very nice, quiet, rural community, and that’s why people come here,” said Elliott. “I would like to keep it as much that way if I could.”
Whether STRs should be a permitted use or approved via special exception was a topic that received much debate.
Cunningham said if it’s a permitted use, a person could rent his or her property short-term with a license. If a special exception is required, the homeowner would need a license and zoning board approval, and abutters would have to be notified.
“One way to control the investment property piece of it is to limit the number of days because an investment property needs to be rented out for a certain number of days at a certain price to…give the investor some profit,” said Cunningham.
Nicoll said limiting rental days is a tool that could prevent hotel chains from buying homes and turning them into STRs, something he said hotel chains are known to do. He suggested the board do the math on how many days it would take for STRs to make a profit and then they can decide on a limit after that.
Olzerowicz said he felt requiring a special exception would be redundant and time-consuming for the applicant and suggested there could be another way to notify abutters.
Nicoll argued that having the special exception process would give “the neighborhood an opportunity to have a voice.”
Board members seemed to mostly agree that STRs are rentals made for less than 30 days.
Cunningham said the board has until late January to finish its proposal for the 2022 warrant.
At the end of the meeting, she allowed some of the 18 people an audience to speak. Resident Robert Rafferty asked whether STRs are legal now. Cunningham replied they are not.
In an email, Town Administrator Ellen White said Monday the town isn’t enforcing a short-term rental prohibition.
State Rep. Mark McConkey (R-Freedom) said he was pleased the planning board was looking at the issue and said the town should make sure STR owners pay rooms and meals taxes.
McConkey also said the town could set up a licensing process that includes abutter notification without requiring a special exception.
The planning board meets next on Aug. 19.
Maybe the town can maintain the roads then if they want to regulate what I can do and not do with my private property in a private community
Hello I have only just read this posting. I would like to introduce ourselves as a group who support sensible regulation for fire, safety, septic maintenance and so on but not Draconian Restrictions and the taking of our property rights. The Conway Daily Sun paper has been reporting the activity in Conway which is very alarming, and we want to avoid the massive Legal Costs and upset that Freedom’s activity is generating.
The majority of the Freedom is owned by second homeowners and of these about only 40 owners rent short term on VRBO and Airbnb We are disturbed by Freedom’s actions and proposals. As second homeowners we have no opportunity to vote and decide on our property futures. We are not a town with any social order disturbance, and this is unlikely to change. This can be verified by the fire and sheriff’s offices.
If you are on Facebook please join our group, we aim to have a website shortly, name to follow.
Courteous Freedom in Freedom NH!https://www.facebook.com/groups/39362204136
Maybe the town should realize people on the lake are paying much higher taxes than residents not on the waterfront. And Usually not using most town resources like schools and such. So the full time town people are benefitting.. A STR here and There helps with that cost of taxes. People need to worry less about what everyone else is doing with their private property and worry about themselves. Also how does one get appointed to these boards I would of been very interested. But again left in the dark kind of like the fireworks bylaw…
More restrictions on hard working Americans.
I agree with Tom about improving the roads at the very least before you start restricting private property. What happened to Live Free or Die!
they are going to chang the live free or die
To they are going to tax the hell out of you even after you die
rember the people who are putting there nose up your ass at the next election
I dont need anyone controlling the investment piece of my private property. Read the language.
The motto in NH “Live Free or Die” seems not to apply here. Control of regulations made by a handful of people is ludicrous. I don’t rent out my home but I don’t agree that any town government or any government should control what someone else does with their “private” property.
I agree with all of the above statements.
How about we regulate who can visit your home?
Absurd right? So is this.
Stop trying to penalize the people who support this town.