Wilton might regulate short-term rentals, like Airbnb

Photo of J.D. Freda
Wilton is beginning discussions on what the fate of Airbnb’s will be.

Wilton is beginning discussions on what the fate of Airbnb’s will be.

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WILTON — The town is handling short-term housing rentals, including those listed on Airbnb, on a complaint only basis as of now, but officials are talking about possible regulations for these moving forward.

A public hearing will be scheduled soon, and then the Planning and Zoning Commission will decide whether to ban, limit or permit the rentals.

“We’re going to have to address it somehow,” Planning and Zoning Chairman Rick Tomasetti said at Monday’s meeting. “But more importantly, the Board of Selectman is going to have to address it as well in terms of town-wide code.”

There is also a chance it could be handled as a zoning regulation instead of a town ordinance.

It’s a move similar towns are making in the state.

Town Planner Michael Wrinn told the commission he spoke with representatives from the Western Connecticut Council of Governments, and some are starting to draw up zoning regulations to prevent residents from renting out their homes on the popular vacation app.

“Everybody is pretty much in the same boat: they are reacting to these as they come up,” Wrinn said.

This comes after a Wilton resident was featured in a New York Times article for not only listing his home on Airbnb, but renting a portion of his property on Sniffspot, a mobile app that allows people to temporarily rent private dog parks.

First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice said Tuesday that, even if the town’s regulations forbid Airbnb, there are a whole slew of new services used by residents that are brand new to town government.

“So something like renting your house’s backyard for a dog, or renting your swimming pool, I honestly don’t know where those kinds of things fall in,” she said. “These are just new things we are learning about.”

The conversation was initially broached earlier this year when the town faced complaints of several large television trucks setting up filming at a short-term rental home on Bald Hill Road.

Vanderslice said she’s looking forward to resident input at the public hearings, adding she has already heard from some in the public and those opinions have been split.

“Some use Airbnb when they go visit another town and think it’s great in Wilton, and others don’t think its great in Wilton,” Vanderslice said. She has also heard from residents who operate Airbnb rentals out of their homes who point out the benefits economically not just to them, but to the community as well.

Vanderslice said she wants to hear from everyone during the upcoming public hearing so the town can make the best determination possible. This could include the Wilton Chamber of Commerce’ thoughts on what these rentals might mean for the town’s economy.