Hull’s Zoning Board of Appeals last week postponed a decision on whether seasonal rentals are illegal commercial activity in residential districts.
In fact, during 2½ hours of debate at its crowded Thursday meeting, the board never discussed whether such rentals violate zoning rules.
Instead, the board focused on the technicalities of the building commissioner’s cease-and-desist orders against two homeowners in the Kenberma section. The letters said renting property seasonally was a “business/commercial venture” and not allowed in “single family residence districts.”
The board said its quandary was that the orders were sent to inaccurate addresses, and appeals weren’t filed with the town clerk within the 30-day state-imposed deadline. Town rules require appeals to be filed first with the building commissioner, who then files it with the clerk.
“It sounds like we’re going around in circles, but these are important issues,” said board member Mark Einhorn.
The issue has stirred considerable opposition in this seaside town, where many properties are rented to vacationers in the summer.
Michael Nuesse, the attorney for both homeowners, suggested that Building Commissioner Peter Lombardo rescind the orders and issue new ones so the board could address the issue of the legality. The orders went out this past February and April.
“If the town is going to take the position that short-term rentals are businesses, they need to substantiate that,” Nuesse said, adding that he was frustrated by not being allowed to make arguments for his clients.
Lombardo indicated he would rescind the defective cease-and-desist orders and issue new ones, after conferring with town counsel.
The board then continued the hearing on 110 Manomet Ave. until Nov. 7, and 119 Beach Ave. until Oct. 3.
Rob Lytle, who owns 119 Beach Ave., told the board he felt ambushed by the process. “We are caught in a Kafkaesque nightmare,” he said. “I hope we can get it over with. [The situation] creates a lot of stress. And I didn’t get to see the Patriots tonight.”Johanna Seltz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org