Sister Bay Plan Commission Approves Changes to STR Ordinance

The Sister Bay Plan Commission followed the lead of Sevastopol in taking measures it hopes will slow the growth of short-term rentals (STRs) in the village. 

During its May 23 meeting, the commission updated its ordinance regulating STRs to institute a seven-day minimum stay for any new STR properties in the village. New properties will also be limited to renting for a maximum of 180 days per year. 

Existing STR operators in good standing will be allowed to continue their existing operations as long as they remain in good standing and the property remains in the family. If it’s sold outside the family, the new owner would need to apply for a new permit under the new rules.

“The end result of this should be that it’s less attractive to operate a new STR in Sister Bay,” said village president Nate Bell. 

The recommendation must be approved by the village’s board of trustees to go into effect. 

Bell said the goal of the new ordinance is to help preserve residential neighborhoods, not to solve the affordable-housing issue. 

“This should have a moderate impact on real estate prices, but it’s not going to solve our shortage of affordable housing,” Bell said. “We need to work toward goal-oriented solutions. If we want to preserve our neighborhoods, that’s a reasonable goal for this ordinance. But it is not going to solve the housing issue. That has to be addressed in other ways.”

Bell noted that the village has invested heavily in some of those other ways in recent years to a degree that few other communities have. That includes purchasing 55 acres east of the village where it aims to create deed-restricted housing, providing about $600,000 in support for the 46-unit affordable-housing project behind Northern Door Children’s Center, and selling 10 lots to the Door County Housing Partnership for at least $400,000 under fair market value.

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