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March 26, 2019 12:53 am

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Short-Term Rental Issues A Hot Topic At Saugatuck City Council Meeting

The controversy that short-term rental properties can engender—as it has in the past—was played out at Monday’s Saugatuck City Council meeting.

Saugatuck homeowner Steven Levy, who lives part of the time in Chicago where he is head of Sudler Property Management, called on city officials to put in place more regulations to mitigate overcrowding, traffic congestion and noise, specifically citing that living next to rental property (1035 Holland St.) has become “unbearable.”

Representatives of the local rental management company for that property, Mark C. Klungle and Melanie Durham of Mill Pond Realty, also made public statements, noting that all vacation rentals in Saugatuck are “registered, regulated and licensed” and that Mill Pond Realty specifically, responds to any complaints 24/7.

Also, Klungle contended the complaints have been exaggerated and, to back his claim, presented to council a police report by Saugatuck-Douglas Police Department Corporal Mark Giles wherein Giles narrates that instead of finding a bachelor party, as the police complaint said, he found a “knitting party,” people sitting around knitting.

The city contacted the police about the complaint after city officials had received concerns from Levy.

“I can tell you they are not all knitting parties,” Saugatuck resident and Planning Commission Member Dan Fox assured the council about the noise and other issues from rentals. He said that looking at overcrowding was a worthy thing to have the city review.

Levy repudiated Klungle’s assertion that the rental property and renters have been subject to vandalism.

The two parties also clashed on whether or not there were renters’ cars blocking the street and public right-of-way.

The City of Saugatuck has an ordinance regulating rentals and does address various problems as they arise. Every now then, those rules and policies are tweaked to address current issues, said city officials.

“This is not a unique problem to Saugatuck, it’s nationwide—how to regulate and address rental properties. Not that I am suggesting this is the right answer for Saugatuck, but some communities have completely done away with them,” Saugatuck City Manager Kirk Harrier told The Local Observer.

Levy told council in his prepared statement, in part, “Please understand that I am not referring to homeowners that directly rent out their home and conduct due-diligence on the potential renter and effectively manage the transaction themselves. I am more specifically referring to whole house, short-term rental business.”

He asked the city to do something about holding owners and rental companies more “accountable,” and made a plea to have the city establish an independent commission to study and evaluate the issue.

Council members said there already was a commission to look at those issues - the Saugatuck Planning Commission - and told Levy they will delegate the matter to that body and await their findings.

Short-Term Rental Issues A Hot Topic At Saugatuck City Council Meeting

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