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Dolores approves ordinance for short-term rentals

Regulations include permits, inspections, safety measures
The Dolores Town Board has passed an ordinance regulating short-term rentals. (Courtesy photo)

The Dolores Town Board passed an ordinance June 14 that allows for and regulates short-term rentals.

Short-term rentals offer guest accommodations in a home or a portion of a home for typically less than 30 days for a fee, but stays may be longer. They are often sought by vacationers, or workers who travel.

There are 10 short-term rentals in Dolores.

The town previously did not have regulations for short-term rentals. Board members felt an ordinance was needed to ensure public safety, support economic opportunity for homeowners and minimize potential neighborhood conflicts.

Public hearings were held, and draft ordinances were revised before the final version was approved.

According to the new ordinance, short-term rentals must obtain a business license from town and a short-term rental permit.

They are required to be inspected by the building official to ensure guest safety and compliance with the regulations.

There is no grandfather clause, so all short-term rentals within town limits must comply with the ordinance.

Short-term rental opportunities were divided into five categories:

  • Category 1, full-time use: A dwelling unit that is not owner-occupied and is primarily used or made available for short-term rentals.
  • Category 2, part-time use: A dwelling unit that is owner-occupied for more than 180 days per calendar year and that is rented as an entire unit when the owner is not in residence.
  • Category 3, accessory dwelling unit use: A dwelling unit with an ADU where either the primary home or the ADU are owner-occupied and the other unit is made available for short-term rentals on a periodic basis.
  • Category 4, accessory space use: A bedroom or other habitable space offered for short-term rental within an owner-occupied dwelling unit.
  • Category 5, residential unit in mixed-use or commercial district: A residential structure or space located in a mixed-use or commercial district where lodging is a permitted use.

The board decided to limit the total number of short-term rentals allowed, with exceptions.

According to the ordinance, for short-term rental Categories 1, 2 and 5, the maximum number of short-term rentals is equal to 7% of the town’s eligible residential structures and spaces, or about 22.

For accessory dwelling units (Category 3), and accessory space (Category 4), there is no maximum limit on the number of short-term rental permits the town may issue.

An accessory dwelling unit is defined as a residential unit that is on the same lot as a primary residential dwelling unit, either internal to or attached to the primary residential dwelling unit or in a detached structure.

Accessory space use is defined as a bedroom or other habitable space offered for short-term rental within an owner-occupied dwelling unit.

Other aspects of the short-term rental ordinance include:

  • To be eligible for use as a short-term rental, a structure or space within a structure shall have an established building code occupancy for residential use.
  • The owners of existing short-term rentals shall apply for and obtain a short-term rental permit not later than 60 days after the effective date of the ordinance adopting this short-term rental regulation or shall be deemed to be in violation.
  • Use of the short-term rental unit as a party house for any commercial or large social events or gatherings, such as weddings, is prohibited. These uses may be permitted through the town’s temporary use permit or special event process.
  • During the daytime, maximum number of total guests and visitors allowed at any time in a short-term vacation rental shall not exceed the maximum overnight occupancy plus six additional people per property, or 14 people, whichever is less.
  • The short-term rental unit shall be equipped with operational smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, fire extinguisher and other life safety equipment as may be required by the town.
  • Parking in private driveways shall be utilized first with overflow parking on the street where permitted. Parking on-site in non-driveway areas, such as setbacks and yards is prohibited. Where onsite parking is not available, the property owner shall instruct the renter where to find the closest legal parking, which may include on-street parking.
  • Each vacation rental shall have a designated local contact person. The local contact must reside within a 30-minute drive of the rental property and be available 24 hours a day 365 days a year during tenancies for timely response to guest and neighborhood questions and concerns. An alternate local contact shall be designated when the primary is not available.
  • The zoning administrator shall review an application for a short-term rental permit for compliance with these regulations.
  • Short-term rental permits shall be issued for one year and must be renewed annually.
  • Short-term rental permit may not be issued for a permanently affordable dwelling unit.
  • A short-term rental permit may not be issued for a permanently affordable dwelling unit.