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May of 2017 brought big changes to our neighborhood in Chester. The new sharing economy came to town in the form of an Airbnb single-family property that had sat unsold on the real estate market for three years and was transformed into a short term rental. This property has six bedrooms, a pool, and a basketball/tennis court and was initially advertised for 16-plus guests. The reviews include phrases like “a great place for large gatherings.” The owners do not live on the property and it is closely bordered by three neighbors.
What ensued was a huge increase in traffic and noise in our neighborhood, large numbers of strangers present during every minimum four-day rental, and events such as a Fourth of July party with 45 cars and wedding events with porta-potties and fireworks similar to those you would see in Middletown. On a street of antique homes with cedar shingles and no property owner on site for the short term rental, this was a particularly dangerous turn of events.
The Chester Planning & Zoning Commission (PZC) is currently grappling with proposals to regulate short term rentals since there is a commercial property conducting business in our residential neighborhood. We encourage all Chester residents to access the community survey Chester’s Plan of Conservation and Development Task Force has made available at https://weknowwhereitis.com survey and use question #12 to give voice to their concerns and remedies. My neighbors and I are in favor of introducing reasonable regulations on short-term rentals so that Chester residents can maintain their property values and quality of life. The next PZC meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 14 at 7:30 p.m. in the Chester Town Hall. We encourage town residents to attend and contribute to the debate.
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