At Tuesday night’s Regular monthly Board Meeting, the Northampton Board of Supervisors voted to postpone action on a new ordinance regulating short-term rentals.
The surge in short-term rentals has become a focal point of contention for locals, with residents voicing mounting concerns about the strain these accommodations place on their neighborhoods.
Amid the influx of tourists coming to the Eastern Shore, the proliferation of short-term rentals has amplified stress within the local communities such as Cape Charles and Smith Beach. The convenience of platforms such as Airbnb, that offer easy access to these rentals have contributed to an exponential increase in their numbers.
Noise disturbances, parking woes, and disruptions to the serene fabric of residential areas top the list of grievances. The revolving door of visitors, though beneficial to the local economy, has reshaped the feel of the Shore, often eroding the sense of community that long-term residents cherish. The summers in Cape Charles are a perfect example.
Short-term renters, whose lack of investment in the community leads to a transient culture that affects the social cohesion and stability of neighborhoods. The constant turnover also creates challenges for maintaining a sense of security and safety.
Northampton County is finally starting to recognize the need for a balance between the economic opportunities these rentals bring and the preservation of community well-being. Amending the zoning code could help to regulate and manage short-term rentals, hopefully mitigating the adverse effects on neighborhoods.
Objections to the County’s zoning text amendment focus on the requirement of the Special Use Permit. Those looking to exploit the limited housing for their profit worry that the amendment would limit their ability to promote more short-term rental development projects.
The Board of Supervisors is set to revisit the issue at its January Regular meeting.