The Winthrop Town Council has unanimously approved changes in how the town handles business license applications for overnight rentals with adoption of a zoning code amendment ordinance.
The action, at last week’s council meeting, was a formality in that the council had earlier endorsed recommendations by the Planning Commission for proposed changes to address concerns about the possible proliferation of overnight rentals within the town.
The town had enforced a moratorium on new nightly rental applications since July 2018 to allow the Planning Commission time to consider revisions to definitions, regulations and zoning affecting overnight rentals, in particular, the conversion of existing homes to rentals. The original moratorium was extended by three months through March 2019.
The planning commission’s recommendations included a new permit requirement and standards for overnight rentals; replacing the Mixed Use 1 zoning district with a new Planned Residential zoning district (an action that applies only to the North Village development); revising the list of allowed uses; and amending the town’s zoning map.
In other action, the council reviewed but did not adopt proposed changes in the town’s code related to charges for water and sewer services to various types of buildings. Owners of the Cascade Condominiums development had earlier protested increased water charges that they believe are not justifiable.
At the core of the dispute is the town’s decision to increase the Equivalent Residential User (ERU) classification from .78 to 1.0 for nightly rental condos. Public Works Superintendent Jeff Sarvis said the lower rate “is inconsistent with Winthrop Municipal Codes.”
“My review of the Town’s water and sewer codes indicate that duplexes and condominiums require that a minimum of one ERU be assigned to billing,” Sarvis said in an earlier memo to the council.
The proposed changes will be reviewed by Town Attorney Scott DeTro before the council considers them for adoption.
In other business:
• The council approved a request by Medicine Wheel Website Design Inc. (methownet.com) to install a wireless access point at the town’s pump house in the North Village development, to serve new homes on the lower level of the property. Maria Converse of Medicine Wheel said the company will provide internet service to the town at the location at no cost, to facilitate wireless monitoring of the pump house equipment.
• Certified grant applications to the state Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) for three projects: improved water access at Mack Lloyd Park; acquisition of open space for parks; and Phase 2 of the RiverWalk Project. Town Planner Rocklynn Culp said that because of how RCO rates grant applications from all over the state, and because the projects are competitive, the only Winthrop project likely to be funded is the $327,000 request for park space. Those funds would be used to purchase a 146-acre property in the Heckendorn neighborhood that was acquired by the Methow Conservation in 2018 to assure that the majority of it will remain as open space.