Northampton supervisors opposed to short-term rentals regulated by Realtors

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BY STEFANIE JACKSON, Eastern Shore Post —

Northampton County supervisors on Tuesday, Oct. 10, unanimously passed a resolution affirming their opposition to proposed state legislation that would limit or eliminate a locality’s ability to regulate short-term rentals managed by Realtors.

“The enactment of such legislation would violate the property rights of Northampton citizens by eliminating their elected Supervisors’ ability to create ordinances to protect the quality of life within our local community,” the resolution stated in part.

Northampton supervisors are moving forward with efforts to slow the proliferation of short-term rentals in the county.

Another resolution passed on Oct. 10 initiated the process of amending the county zoning ordinance to require minor special-use permits for future short-term rentals. The resolution referred the matter to the Northampton planning commission.

Short-term rentals are currently allowed by right, meaning no property owner needs a permit to rent out a home or part of a home to tourists or other visitors for a period of 30 days or less.

Northampton’s resolution in opposition to House Bill 2271 and Senate Bill 1391 noted the desire to limit short-term rentals because the overabundance of these units contributes to the lack of affordable long-term rentals for residents.

The towns of Onancock and Cape Charles also have put their opposition to the bills in writing.

Cape Charles Councilman Paul Grossman reached out to candidates seeking to represent the Eastern Shore in the Virginia General Assembly and asked them to comment.

Del. Robert Bloxom stated he would not support the measure.

Charlena Jones, a Northampton school board member who is challenging Bloxom, recalled that she “witnessed a stack of rejected teacher contracts” because potential new teachers couldn’t find housing or afford rent.

She acknowledged the need to balance the numbers of short-term and long-term rentals and said she would refer to experts for their recommendation.

State Sen. Bill DeSteph, who is running for reelection in the Eastern Shore’s district due to redistricting, is taking a measured approach.

He told the Eastern Shore Post that he would withhold judgment of the bill without reading it in its entirety, and he would consider supporting the bill only “if it’s fair” for both Realtors and homeowners.

DeSteph acknowledged that a similar measure created problems in Virginia Beach, where short-term rentals were “not compatible with the neighborhood,” but was successful in the nearby community of Sandbridge.

He said the proposed bill likely would not advance due to pending lawsuits.

Victoria Leuvano, who is challenging DeSteph, responded to the request for comment, but only to ask a clarifying question about the bill, Grossman said.

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