Letters to the Editor: Sept. 7, 2023

Short-term rental can mean homeowner doesn’t lose property

To the Editor:

Often it is said that short-term rentals cause problems; noise, trash, inappropriate behavior that existing zoning regulations and ordinances have no jurisdiction over. And that it is unfair competition on hotels, etcetera which must follow stricter guidelines and regulations.

This seems to me to be patently incorrect: Zoning regulations and ordinances control trash, noise, occupancy, etcetera. Whether a property is owner-occupied, rented full- or part-time or being lived in by friends, the same rules apply. I have seen no credible information that issues with properties in short-term rental are demonstrably worse than other properties in the same neighborhood. To say otherwise is conjecture. We are all entitled to our own opinions, not our own facts.

My experience is that many of those who stay in short-term rentals are not people who would typically rent a hotel room. Therefore, the number of people visiting Vermont is increased and thus the benefits to the wider community is increased in terms of sales at local restaurants, stores, etcetera.

If there is a desire to control short-term rentals to gain taxable income at the local, let us call it that. If rentals occur in properties that meet local regulations, what other regulations should they be subject to, and why? Should Thompson’s Point properties be subject to any short-term rental control? Should a home occupied by a family friend be subject to regulation or control?

If the short-term rental occurs in an owner-occupied property rather than an exclusively income generating property, it is especially important that no changes should be made to regulations, or taxation. Meals and room taxes for short-term rentals are already paid to the state of Vermont by companies such as Airbnb. Sometimes the opportunity to have a short-term rental is the difference between a homeowner being able to stay in their property or lose it.

I understand wishing to control short-term rentals in an investment property; such rentals could take away opportunities for long-term rentals. However, restricting what someone can do in their primary residence, with regard to short-term rentals, is punitive and unnecessary. During times of economic constriction, layering extra burdens on a homeowner can create unnecessary hardship.

I have lived in Charlotte since 1999. I have a feeling if I contacted local zoning representatives (and Shelburne Police) to get real facts on the most common cause of disturbance at a Charlotte property, short term rentals would not be high on the list. Now graduation parties — should they be banned?

It would be interesting to know how many people who comment negatively about short-term rentals in Charlotte have stayed in one while traveling. 

Robin Pierce

Airbnbs detract from Charlotters’ tradition of standing up

To the Editor:

I was stunned by Mike Yantachka’s report on 100 Airbnbs in Charlotte. I live on a hill and don’t have to worry about noisy neighbors, but I sure do worry about what amounts to commercial enterprises in residential neighborhoods in our village.

There isn’t room here to enumerate all the reasons I’ve loved living in Charlotte for nearly three decades. But what comes to mind immediately is all the places where there’s an exchange of cheerful greetings, places where one can help out — and be helped.

Over the years, I’ve found town meeting to be better than any show on television. I’ll just mention when long-time residents got together in early March 2017 and persevered through nearly four hours of cheerful arguing and voting on everything from how much gravel to use on unpaved roads to the school budget. And then these residents stood up and adopted an advisory motion to call on our U.S. Congress to determine if sufficient grounds existed for the impeachment of Donald J. Trump (who had taken office 1 ½ months previously) for violations of the two Emoluments Clauses in the U. S. Constitution.

Voters had to stand up because the vote was close and the Town Meeting moderator could not make a judgment based on voice vote. In the end the vote made Charlotte the second municipality in the nation to pass this impeachment resolution, following Richmond, California.

I’m proud of that vote but the real point here is that however one voted, Charlotte is a place where we do stand up to be counted. And pay attention to the gravel on the roads, too. Let’s keep it this way and be very wary of come-and-go profiteers.

Susan Ohanian
(Among the many books Susan Ohanian has written are two concerning the former president, “Trump, Trump Trump: The March of Folly,” where rollicking verse is matched with news items of the day, and “The Little Red Book of Trump Quotations,” filled with things he actually said — with documentation.)

Changing to a town manager is radical, possibly costly

To the Editor:

I penned a commentary for The Charlotte News in the Aug. 10 issue. The subject was the movement, a feverish one I think, to hire a town manager to run our town. This is a radical change for our town and probably a costly one too.

Sharron and I have lived in Charlotte for nearly 50 years. By choice.

I hope we don’t lose what we have. I offer my thoughts, and I belong to no group on this issue. If we move to a town manager I will still love this little town, but I’ll worry.

Let me offer some brevity here. I’m counting on the major players in this debate to patiently, openly and honestly bring us together to understand what we may be forfeiting as well as gaining.

First, for this issue, let’s look at the basic differences between what we have right now — a small town executive government, elected by its citizens and sworn into office.

The election, the choice, is democratic. I love that word “democratic.” It gets kicked around a lot in modern American politics, but, like the flag in the national anthem, tattered yes, but it still flies. Here in small-town Charlotte, also.

The word harkens back to ancient Greece: demos — the people; kratia — power. What a jewel.

Before their service to the community, the newly elected selectboard members swear an oath. There are different versions but they all pretty much start out with “I do solemnly swear …”

If we Charlotters go to a town manager system the beginning will be less auspicious. For example: Selection is made of a candidate by a small committee, a contract is offered, and certainly one with a generous salary and benefits. We the people will pay. That’s it. Sign and go to work.

A comment I have read about pay for selectpersons runs “token or no salary.” If that doesn’t fit a description of “public service,” what does?

Now those who fancy a town manager form of government can be unclear at best. Selectpersons are the government, the executive. What happens in most town business flows from them.

Yet in the Aug. 24 issue of The Charlotte News a fervent proponent of a manager change says the selectboard, the citizens elected and sworn in government, will be enabled “to focus on policy and the future.”

Who, please tell us, is going to bring this about? The selectboard did a straw poll on the manager issue. All present voted no. Is the manager crowd proposing a revolution?

What our small town needs in the weeks and months before town meeting, and a vote on this issue, is a friendly, honest and open discussion on this issue and our future.

Dennis Delaney
(Dennis Delaney of Charlotte is a former Republican state senator.)

Vermont must listen to its youth before it’s too late

To the Editor:

Last March, I spoke on the State House lawn for Outright Vermont. I told the people gathered that our state was facing a crisis. I told them that despite Vermont’s reputation, our trans and queer youth were still suffering.

I explained that we are more likely to suffer from abuse and that we are more likely to self-harm and attempt suicide. I told the adults gathered that far too many of us standing behind the microphone had lost loved ones and I asked them, people from all over the state and in so many positions of power, if they believed that they were doing enough to prevent this suffering — if they would bet the lives of their children on it.

After my speech, many adults came up to me and told me how it had moved them and how we were being heard. But every single one of them told me the same thing. “I am doing enough,” they said, “but here’s who isn’t.” No one took accountability. No one said they could be doing more. They pointed fingers in circles until I was dizzy and had almost forgotten the very question they were responding to.

Something needs to change. Because they were right. We are being heard. Yet still, nothing is happening. It is so easy for us to be heard and yet so difficult to be listened to.

This is because of the common and dangerous pitfall among adults in power of believing they know what’s best for youth because they know what it was like to be young. Every single adult knows what it was like to be young. None of them know what it is like to be young today. We live in an unprecedented and rapidly changing world. It is not the same as a decade ago, let alone generations ago.

Vermont is facing many crises, not just the one I spoke about in March. Our youth are leaving in droves. Our climate is changing, every new year a record-breaking disaster. People are going houseless and hungry. Vermont’s youth will inherit the state and with it these crises. If we are to solve the issues that will most heavily impact our youth, we need to listen to the only people who know what it is like to be young today.

Act 109 was an important recognition of this fact. The act, signed into law in 2022, created the Vermont State Youth Council to advise the Governor and the General Assembly on issues pertaining to young people in Vermont. In the coming years, I believe the State Youth Council can become the powerful vehicle for change that it was created to be. But for that to happen, Vermont must listen. You must listen.

Jasper Lorien
East Berlin
(Jasper Lorien is the chair of the Vermont State Youth Council. They can be reached by email.)