While it was refreshing to see that the Shepherdstown Planning Commission did not take any action at Monday's public hearing it was uncomfortable with, it was a bit disconcerting to see how much time was spent on some items as opposed to others.
Planning commissioners have spent countless hours outside of meetings in committee sessions discussing fences, which was presented in the public hearing, and signs, which has yet to be brought before the public. These aesthetic pieces of a home or business, while important to the character and history of our town, were not what all of the talk was about at Monday's public hearing.
Locals came out to voice concerns and praise about an adoption of a section of the town's ordinance, Section 9-215, regarding short-term rental units around town.
The item did not appear on the planning commission's agenda until its April 25 meeting, approximately three and a half months before a draft ordinance went before the public. The matter, by the next month, had been forwarded to the town's attorney and was rarely discussed as subsequent meetings.
We at The Shepherdstown Chronicle charge the committee addressing short-term rental housing, which was formed at Monday's public hearing, to seriously focus on the concerns raised by locals as well as benefits that could come from this type of property use. We want this group to ask themselves, as well as property owners, what this type of land use could mean for Shepherdstown and its future.