Letter to the Editor: Planning and Balance Are Essential

“Zoning is a method of planning in which a municipality or other tier of government divides land into areas called zones, each of which has a set of regulations for development that differs from other zones. Zones may be defined for a single use (for example, residential, industrial); they may combine several compatible activities by use, or in the case of form-based zoning, the differing regulations may govern the density, size and shape of allowed buildings whatever their use. … Zoning may specify a variety of outright and conditional uses of land. It may indicate the size and dimensions of lots that land may be subdivided into, or the form and scale of buildings. These guidelines are set in order to guide urban growth and development.” (Edited from Wikipedia)

Zoning is nothing new, and I believe this is the issue we need to resolve with regard to short-term rentals (STRs) in Door County. The rental landscape has changed dramatically in the county during the last 20 years, and with the rise of companies such as Vrbo and Airbnb, every home has become a potential rental unit, coupled with the popularity of Door County as a vacation destination. Also, local governments in this country historically have regulated businesses (and where they can operate), and STRs are a business.

True: Not every short-term rental is a disaster. Also true: The plethora of short-term rentals in a residential neighborhood changes the character of that neighborhood because there are fewer neighbors and many more strangers. For me, a year-round resident, this is not a good thing.

Year-round homeowners/residents have rights, too. Our towns have the right to determine zoning/planning. (This is particularly evident in the need for housing for workers – which, from what I read, is a larger issue for the county than short-term rentals to visitors.)

Overall, I believe it is necessary for towns to look critically at the zoning and planning issue, balance the needs of its residents and preserve its neighborhoods. 

Susan Cubar

Town of Sevastopol, Wisconsin