Planning Board subcommittee to review Airbnb uses

| 27 Sep 2018 | 12:44

By Charles Kim
WEST MILFORD – A subcommittee of the Planning Board will take a look at how the town treats properties being used as part of the online Airbnb service, Township Administrator Antoinette Battaglia said Wednesday.
“The (Township Council) recognizes this is a new form of use we are not familiar with,” Battaglia said.
During the Sept. 5 council meeting, two residents in Greenwood Lake voiced concerns about a neighbor using a house for the online service.
Airbnb started in 2008 and uses an online application to put people needing a place to stay with “hosts” that let out rooms and homes for short term rentals.
According to the company, the service provides more than 5 million listings in 191 countries worldwide, including 81,000 cities.
With an average of more than 2 million guests checking in a night, the service reports serving more than 300 million guests since its inception.
The service acts in a similar way that Uber and Lyft operate for transportation, with customers filling out an online profile and then are matched with places to stay in a given geographic area.
Customers pick the place and price that they want and pay for the stay through the application.
Battaglia said that the service is currently not covered under present township ordinances, but such uses may not be allowed in some residential zones as currently designated.
“People could have obtained waivers,” she said. “It’s not as simple as if it is definitely allowed. I couldn’t say.”
She said the subcommittee of the planning board dealing with ordinances would take a look at the issue and make a recommendation to the council once the review is completed.
While she could not give a definitive timeline for how long the process could take, she did say that the subcommittee was scheduled to get the assignment Sept. 27 and would do its “due diligence” before bringing the matter to the full board, and then to the council.
“It’s not a one-time discussion,” she said. “It has to be researched and make sure it meets the needs of the community.”
The owner of the Greenwood Lake property said she put about $80,000 into the home to make it ready for use with Airbnb, and that spending that kind of money helped the local economy and would help increase the property values in the area.
The two neighbors said they were concerned about having strangers coming in and out of the neighborhood, disrupting the quiet nature of the area.