COLUMBIAVILLE – Marathon Township planning commission officials are in the process of creating an ordinance for short-term rentals also know as “Air B&B’s” in the township. “Air B&B’s” are a newer concept where guests can rent someone’s house by the day, week or month. They have become very popular with the advancement of online technology and cell phones, which allow these homes to be advertised and rented out rather quickly.
Marathon Township is located in Downtown Columbiaville where the planning commission meets to deal with issues associated with city planning and ordinances. The highly controversial short term rentals (Air B&B) have been a major topic of discussion throughout Lapeer county and particularly for Hemingway lake which is a private lake located in Columbiaville.
At a recent October 9th meeting, planning officials heard from residents of Columbiaville and Hemingway Lake about their concerns and the impact that short-term rentals are having in the area.
The majority of residents who spoke out were against the short-term rentals with only a few who were in favor. Representative Phil Green spoke on the subject saying that the state of Michigan currently does not have any laws preventing the townships from regulating the short term rentals and even putting a total ban on them. County Commissioner Tom Kohlman who represents the district also spoke saying “the planning commission should listen to the people and put a total ban on them at least on Hemingway Lake if that is what the residents want,” said Kohlman. Kohlman went on to say that “elected officials and appointed officials should do what the people want them to do, as long as the actions do not violate an individual’s constitutional rights or the constitution itself. Elected officials should be the mouthpiece for the people, that is how our government should operate.”
Many residents at the meeting raised concerns about invasive species destroying the lake, which can be brought in by guests bringing in their own canoes and kayaks, which have the potential to carry invasive species into the lake from other bodies of water.
Other residents expressed concern about having multiple groups of strangers each week coming and going in the rented Air B&B’s, which takes away privacy and a sense of community and trust among the residents.
One resident stated, “How can I feel safe when I have to deal with 10-12 new people a week coming and going in the house that is 30’ from my house, I’ve lived here for 35 years and now all of a sudden I am supposed to accept this hotel business that is now being conducted out of my former neighbor’s house because they either don’t want to or can’t sell their house.”
Most of the residents of Hemingway Lake are against these short term rentals, but whether or not the Marathon Township Planning Commission will follow the will of the residents is still to be determined.
Currently Marathon Township has a moratorium on short term rentals, which is a temporary ban until the planning commission can draft and finalize an ordinance that they feel is suitable to regulate them.
Upcoming planning commissions will determine the path that the the commission will take. Concerned residents are encouraged to attend these planning commission meetings and voice their concerns.