WEST ROCKHILL — A proposed new ordinance regulating short-term home rentals, such as Airbnb, is needed to deal with what has been an ongoing issue, township officials said at the Aug. 21 West Rockhill Township Board of Supervisors meeting.
"I can remember going back two years or more people came to meetings and complained about a party house that was rented out in their neighborhood and I know that there has been talk about police activity out there," Mary Eberle, the township's solicitor, said.
"We've had several complaints for the past couple years," Pennridge Regional Police Chief Rodney Blake said.
The house on a private road off Tower Road is rented out short term to people who hold parties there and charge a cover charge, he said.
Noise and parking are the biggest problems, he said.
"We've cited people for disorderly conduct," he said.
Board Chairman Don Duvall said he's seen as many as 30 to 40 cars at the house, with many of the vehicles parked on Tower Road.
"They park along the road and they park on other people's property in their driveways," he said.
Tower Road is not wide enough for cars to park on it, he said.
Township Manager Greg Lippincott has talked to the owner of the house about the concerns, Blake said.
The township has been keeping an eye on the situation, but she wasn't comfortable recommending a new short-term rental ordinance be created until court cases recently decided by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court reached conclusion, Eberle said. Now she has prepared a proposed ordinance, she said.
"We're including short-term rentals in with guest houses and bed and breakfasts," she said. "Wherever they're permitted, these short-term rentals would also be permitted."
Under the proposed ordinance, properties zoned for use as a single family dwelling must be occupied by a family or group of people living together, not have transient use, she said.
The proposed ordinance is for rental of the entire house, not homes being used principally as a family home in which a room is rented out, she said.
"It only affects people putting a full house on Airbnb on a temporary basis," Eberle said.
The next step in the process is to have the county and township planning commissions review the proposed ordinance, she said.
The board could also vote in September on a proposal raised in July to not allow parking on Tower Road, she said.
Tower Road would be the only one voted on in September, board member Jim Miller said, but he'd like to have a review done of other township roads as well to see if more of the roads should be made no parking.
Tower Road resident Jane Strohm said she doesn't live in the area of the house, but has friends who do and she favors the proposed changes. Some Tower Road residents don't know about the proposed no parking, though, and the township should let them know about it, she said.
"I don't think any of us are opposed to people renting, but when you rent out as a party house, that's the thing that we're objecting to," Strohm said.
"When you have people who don't consider other people, then you have to put things into effect that you wouldn't normally have to do," she said. "When you have people that aren't considering the neighbors when they rent out and the people that they rent out to raise Cain and all that kind of stuff, then you have to do something about it."