Over 950 voters attended Tuesday's Special Town Meeting and turned down the Short-Term Rental Workgroup's proposal (Articles 1 & 2). This incredible turnout shows the importance of the STR issue to Nantucket residents and also shows there's more work to be done.
We are truly grateful to all our supporters for your efforts to get out the vote!
Article 1 failed, and although many voters were disappointed not to have the chance to vote down Article 2 once and for all, the effect was the same: voters prevented an islandwide zoning change with disastrous implications.
A big win for Nantucket!
ACKNow urged a NO vote on Articles 1 & 2 because they did not address the main problem: the proliferation of commercial STRs across the Island at the expense of the community.
The regulations in Article 1 would have allowed all existing commercial and corporate STRs to continue to operate in residential areas. And Article 1 would have done nothing to stop what Article 2 proposed: to legalize unlimited commercial and full-time STRs across Nantucket.
Several amendments were made on the Town Meeting floor, which further complicated Article 1 - it was complicated enough to start with. The overall sentiment in the room was utter confusion. Still, there was a good discussion, with some voters suggesting:
#1. The proposal did not do enough to protect year-round residents who want to rent their homes now or in the future, and
#2. It did not do enough to limit commercial STRs. In fact, Article 2 would have done the opposite.
Ultimately, voters defeated Article 1 in a 431-523 vote (it required a simple majority to pass).
Matt Fee's amendment to Article 1 meant that if it failed, then Article 2 could not pass. So, after voters defeated Article 1, the Planning Board motioned to "take no action" on Article 2. It's unclear why this motion wasn't debated. Regardless, the "take no action" motion passed in a 562-266 vote.
In other words, Article 2 failed. Once again, the Planning Board avoided a vote on its recommendation to amend Nantucket's zoning to allow commercial STRs islandwide (last year, it was Article 42).
During Article 1's discussion, voters raised concerns over the loss of year-round community and housing and the added competition from commercial STRs that is hurting residents who need to rent their homes to offset expenses.
Matt Fee was right in saying that a lot of good work has been done. We just have more work to do to get to an approach that residents that address concerns raised during the meeting.
What's next? We now rely on the Land Court to interpret Nantucket's current zoning bylaw. A judge is scheduled to visit Nantucket in December, and a decision is expected shortly after that.
Like other local organizations defending environmental or citizens' rights, ACKNow is supporting this zoning challenge to protect residential districts from commercial STR operations and, in turn, protect residents' ability to short-term rent their homes.
This Town Meeting victory belongs to all our supporters and donors! It was a massive team effort. Thank you!!