Interpretation of ordinance hurts town
At a recent Town Council meeting, a member stated that “the town ordinance already prohibits such properties.” This is incorrect. There is no ordinance that prohibits an owner from renting his property in any Shepherdstown district. Short-term rentals are not to be confused with hotels, motels, boarding houses, guest houses, bed and breakfasts, inns and lodges. As landlords, we do not rent rooms, provide meals, or have owners or caretakers living on site – we provide the RENTAL of a residence, requiring a lease for the specified time. As owners/landlords of rentals, and, under the current ordinance, we are exempt from the requirement of obtaining a business license and taxes, as stated in Section 8-209A.
As proof that the town recognizes the legitimacy as a landlord, Mr. Burgess and I are not permitted business license. By not requiring a business license from us, it is clear that the town understands the difference between rentals and boardinghouses, etc. The town is well aware that there is no ordinance that regulates rentals, short or long term, because they issued me a summons for violating the boardinghouse ordinance, and later rescinded that summons, since I do not run a boardinghouse, If there were such an ordinance, then most of the college rentals in town would also be prohibited.
A representative of the WV Board of Tourism who rented my home was told by a proprietor in town that “I was running an illegal operation.” That is patently false. The ordinance, as currently written, and NOT as the council chooses to “interpret”, does not prohibit rentals (short-term or otherwise).The “clarification” that the Town Council is seeking can only come at the expense of a long and costly court battle. As Shepherdstown enters its 250th Anniversary celebration, why are you seeking to turn away visitors who prefer to rent the comfort of a home during their visit?