Letter to the Editor: Sevastopol Ordinance for Short-term Rentals

Beginning last summer, the Sevastopol Plan Commission gathered public input and carefully researched and drafted a short-term rental (STR) ordinance, which will receive a public hearing the week of May

10. Thereafter, the Door County Board of Supervisors will vote on the proposed ordinance at its next meeting.

In 2017, Wisconsin enacted Act 59, which gave property owners the right to rent their homes for one week or longer. Legislation also gave local governments the right to regulate STR activity, which includes the authority to specify the minimum stay, which can be six or fewer nights. The Plan Commission voted unanimously to recommend a six-night minimum.

Sevastopol has long-standing residential neighborhoods throughout the township. Current homeowners, prospective buyers and home builders expect to live in a quiet, peaceful place and are invested in their neighborhood.

STRs can generate excessive noise, create additional traffic and parking overflow, and overwhelm a Privately Owned Water-Treatment System when occupancy is greater than its capacity. STRs can also contribute to housing shortages and reduce the availability of long-term rentals.

An STR is a business that substitutes neighbors for transients and attracts small and big investors alike. For platforms such as Airbnb and Vrbo, growth is significant and has accelerated. Sevastopol has 64 known STRs. Of those, 66% have a primary-resident zip code outside the county; 25% operate as LLCs; and five of the owners operate multiple STRs in the county. Since 2015, Door County has averaged four or more new STRs per month.

The town board is challenged because its charge is to determine what protection to provide for the residential neighborhood. Without a restrictive ordinance, it’s possible within a period of 10 or 20 years that these neighborhoods could have more STRs than full- or part-time homeowners, as has already happened in the U.S. 

The fabric of the residential neighborhood needs to be protected and preserved. It’s important to homeowners and the well-being of the neighborhood and township. It’s also in keeping with the goals of the Sevastopol Comprehensive Plan.

Betty and Bill Parsons

Sevastopol, Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin