By Don Nelson
The Winthrop Town Council has extended a six-month moratorium on the issuance of business licenses for new overnight rentals, to give the Planning Commission more time to come up with proposed new regulations for those lodgings.
At its meeting last week, the council adopted a recommendation by Town Planner Rocklynn Culp that the moratorium, imposed in July 2018, be extended for three more months (through March) while the Planning Commission continues its work on possible revisions to definitions, regulations and zoning affecting overnight rentals, in particular, the conversion of existing homes to rentals.
The original moratorium was adopted because of a growing concern over a decline in the supply of rental and owner-occupied housing due to the conversion of the existing housing into overnight and short-term tourist accommodations.
“We have a really good draft [proposal],” Culp told the council last week. “We’re really close.” Culp said the draft is similar to earlier proposals that were aired at a public information session and workshop last October.
The Planning Commission is concerned that allowing the moratorium to expire would open the door to an influx of license applications under the existing ordinance before the town could enact revisions, Culp said.
“We need one or two more meetings to ensure we have a draft that we are ready to release for review and a public hearing,” Culp said in a memo to the council. “We anticipate having our hearing on Feb. 12, and could have the proposed zoning amendments to the Town Council soon thereafter.”
Although the council adopted the moratorium extension, it is still subject to a public hearing by the council that is scheduled for Feb. 6.
In other business:
• The council approved the reappointment of Paul Peterson and Josh Buehler to the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee, which advises the council on how to spend hotel and motel occupancy taxes collected in the town. The proceeds must be generally spent for tourism promotion. Newly appointed to the committee were Dave Swenson, Dennis Gardner and Kelli Rotstan.
• The council reappointed council member Ben Nelson to act as mayor pro tem in the absence of Mayor Sally Ranzau.