You will learn next month if the Village of Ephraim will be the next Door County community to pass stricter regulations on the owners of short-term rental properties. The Ephraim Village Board saw the latest ordinance version of the ordinance at its meeting last week. Getting to this point has been a long time since Ephraim’s planning committee took up the issue during the winter. It comes to a couple of years after the state changed how it regulates property owners that rent their buildings through sites like Airbnb and Vrbo and about a year after Liberty Grove and Sevastopol made changes to their regulations. Village Administrator Brent Bristol believes they have been transparent during the process, dedicating 15 hours of discussion to the topic itself while making adjustments to the ordinance along the way.
Colin Welford lives and works in Ephraim, and as a side-venture, operates short-term rental properties. He is currently renovating the former Door County Sled Dogs building into a residence that can also be used as a vacation home. He feels that the STR owners in Ephraim have been painted with a broad brush, based on the assumption that Ephraim Short-Term Rentals are a “problem” or a negative component in the village. Welford argues that Short-Term Rentals play different roles in different communities, and so each needs to be evaluated independently. He and a number of other STR owners have attended village meetings to communicate the message that they care about the village more than just making a few bucks.
Welford challenges the notion that the STR ordinance will “level the playing field” between them and more traditional lodging options in the village. Beyond the standards of the already-required license from the state, the new proposed village ordinance requires detailed site plans, floor plans, neighbor notifications, new penalties for disturbances such as unruly guests, a 24-hour-a-day contact number, and other restrictions. Some of these pieces from the ordinance are stricter for STRs than for other lodging counterparts, Welford says. He added that “STRs seem to be singled out, held to a higher standard, and have to pay for the privilege.”
Board President Mike McCutcheon postponed the decision until the July meeting to allow members to digest the discussion and for some of the ordinance language to be tweaked.