The Mayor’s Corner

This spring the Village Board will host an open meeting for community members, short-term rental operators, and prospective operators to discuss short-term rentals in the Franklin community.

Last fall I was in a casual discussion with local resident Chris Downin when he brought up his concern about the recent flurry of real estate purchases taking place in the village. He then asked if the village board had given much thought regarding the heightened interest in transforming residential units into short term rentals (STRs). I said it had come up in discussion, but not to any degree. At the following meeting, I added this topic to the agenda and the trustees got more focused on this issue. Since then, we have solicited copies of local laws from other small communities to help us gain a better sense of how they might be replicated here in Franklin.

As a former business partner on Main Street, I understand that bed-and-breakfast enterprises offer a healthy economic boost to restaurants and small businesses in smaller communities. In addition, the bed tax revenue that is generated from STRs is a welcome windfall for county government. Much of this is then folded back into tourism funding to enhance other activities that draw visitors to the region. It’s a given that we need short term rental options in Franklin. However, it’s also a given that prosperity is not the only ingredient needed to enhance and maintain the well-being of a community.

I recently drove around town and took note of all of the residences that are currently uninhabited or under-inhabited. Currently there are at least 21, of which the majority are owned by non-residents. This includes houses up for sale, second homes, houses that are not habitable, and short-term rental houses. I’ve been told by a local realtor that there have been several inquiries from interested buyers looking at Franklin as a place to purchase and operate a short-term rental business. This phenomenon is widespread, as quaint communities are specifically targeted (precipitated by the post pandemic boom) by real estate entrepreneurs eager to purchase houses and transform them into STRs.

Is this good for Franklin?

This spring the Village Board will host an open meeting for community members, short-term rental operators, and prospective operators to discuss this issue. If the feedback suggests that it’s warranted, we will hold a public hearing to address the forum’s results.

Some of the questions the Board would like answered are as follows:

  • Should operators be subject to a permitting process and if so, how long would the permits be valid?
  • Should each operator be required to have a local agent to address problems, if the owners are outside a 20-mile radius?
  • Should each property be required to pass a safety inspection before they are permitted to open?
  • Should each property have an occupancy limit and a vehicle limit?
  • Should each property have a septic inspection before opening?
  • Concerns will arise around the impact on neighbors. What about noise, parties, trash, trespassing. How will this be managed?
  • What constitutes the revocation of a permit if owners disregard the terms of the permit?
  • Should the village restrict the number of permits issued and if so…how many?

The Village Board’s intent is not to discourage the operation of short-term rentals in Franklin. Rather, we want to insure that village residents are not unduly inconvenienced and that the character of Franklin is not harmed in any way.

Please contact us, or better still, attend the forum to share with us what you think.

The Public Forum on short-term rentals was held on March 23rd, 2023. See minutes of that public form.

Originally published in the Spring 2023 issue of the New Franklin Register.