Rental regulations approved for South Haven

Posted at 12:49 AM, May 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-17 02:13:46-04

SOUTH HAVEN, Mich. -- It was a contested ordinance, pitting the concept of summer time renters against full-time homeowners in South Haven.

Homeowners were frustrated over zoning and other rules that put houses on the market for rent to tourists for long-term stretches. Some of them said it's taking advantage of an area many want to keep rent free.

It's a back and forth debate that's gone on for months and discussion continued with Monday's board meeting along the lakeshore.

The short-term ordinance passed  the South Haven City Council, but that didn't mean everyone was in support of the approval.  Most realize that tourism means cash flow for the area and vacationers were at the center of the debate.

"I'm glad that it passed tonight," said Susan Woodhill, a South Haven resident. "I think it's a positive step forward for the whole town of South Haven and the preservation of our neighborhoods."

Vacationers come to South Haven for majestic beach views and for the opportunity to be close to the water on hot summer days.

Monday's compromise puts occupancy limits at 16 rental homes already in residential area and the cap is 12 future homes that will be built.

Safety is a concern and reason for regulations with some rental homes with an occupancy rate of 20-30 people.

One person voiced their own concerns about safety.

"Do we think it's wise to stack children like firewood in vacation rentals?"

FOX 17 also heard from South Haven's former mayor, Dorothy Appleyard.

"Everyone is glad that it's over," said Appleyard. "And I do think it was a reasonable compromise. I do think there are issues that need to be resolved. And as the planning process continues I hope those issues can be taken care of without so much community furor going on."

The new regulations begin in January 2017.