The Winthrop Town Council’s public hearing on extending a six-month moratorium on the issuance of business licenses for new overnight rentals drew only one question last week: What’s the timeline for lifting the moratorium?
That came from Casey Ruud, who is waiting to make an application for overnight rental property. But even Ruud seemed more curious than impatient.
The answer, from Town Planner Rocklynn Culp, is that proposed revisions to regulations for overnight lodgings will first be reviewed by the Planning Commission, which will then hold a public hearing on the proposal — hopefully by early March. The council would then conduct its own public hearing in mid-March before adopting, possibly with more revisions, a new set of regulations.
Applications could then be processed right away, Culp said. She said she’s aware of two or three potential applicants, including Ruud.
The council agreed in January to extend the previous six-month extension by three months, through March, but a public hearing was also required on that action.
The original moratorium was imposed in July 2018 while the Planning Commission began 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.
The Planning Commission was 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 earlier.
The council also received a report from the Winthrop Auditorium Association, the nonprofit organization that operates the Winthrop Barn under a contract with the town.
Rick Northcott, the association’s president, told the council that the organization has made progress in some important areas including the hiring of a new Barn manager, Diana Painter, and a new custodian, Thome George.
Northcott said in his report that Painter “brings a lot of experience in the hospitality/catering business and we hope she will be able to help in that area as new marketing areas we will be looking to put in place.”
Northcott included a list of the many different entities that use the Barn throughout a typical year, not including weddings and other one-time special events. And he attached a list of improvement priorities that were submitted earlier to the council for consideration. No. 1 on that list is replacement of the existing emergency generator.
“Since the Barn is a town-owned entity, it really requires you, the mayor and the Town Council, to prioritize this list and come up with a capital improvement plan to go forward,” Northcott said in his report. “I highly encourage you to take a good look at the list and come up with a plan on how to pay for the updates and improvements.”
The Auditorium Association has plans for a membership drive, Northcott said, and on April 13 will host a “Barn Appreciation Day” with a dinner open to the public.
Northcott said the Auditorium Association had a net income of $2,155 in 2018, compared to $1,289 in 2017.
In other business:
• Mayor Sally Ranzau said the town has closed on the purchase of property on White Avenue as the site for a new public library. She said the town and Friends of the Winthrop Library, the nonprofit group that is raising funds for the library building, are working on an agreement about how to move forward with the project.
• Ranzau said the town’s Civil Service Commission will soon solicit applications for the position of town marshal, which is now vacant. She said the town prefers to hire a marshal from within the existing force, which is Acting Marshal Doug Johnson and Deputy Marshal Ken Bajema, and then proceed with hiring a second deputy.