Tobyhanna on Track to Pass STR Law This Year
TOBYHANNA TOWNSHIP – Tobyhanna Township expects to be in a position to adopt their “Short Term Rental” (STR) ordinance by the end of the year, according to recent statements from John Kerrick, board chair, and from the township solicitor.
At the first public meeting to discuss the issue, in October, 2019, township staff estimated that there were as many as 700 short term rentals in the township. They opined that it would take one person 175 days to inspect and permit all of them. Since then, the township has actively solicited input from residents – neighbors of STRs and owners of them. In response to the comments received, the draft ordinance has gone through several revisions, all of which are on the township’s website on a page devoted to the issue: https://tobyhannatownshippa.gov/str/.
The current version of the draft ordinance was revised August 25. Under the draft measure, STRs require an annual permit. Obtaining a permit requires the owner to prove that the number of bedrooms claimed for the rental match the original permitted bedrooms for the dwelling unit. In addition, owners need to provide proof of septic capacity and condition, or produce a “will serve” letter from a sewer authority. The owner must also provide a contact person, available 24 hours a day to field and resolve problems with the rental. The designated contact, which may be the owner, must be available to be at the property on two hours notice. The owner must obtain state and county hotel tax licenses. The limitation on overnight guests for any STR rental is calculated at 2 per bedroom, plus four. Day guests are limited to 75% of the permitted number of overnight guests.
The owner is responsible for ensuring that guests do not create disturbances, engage in disorderly conduct, or violate any applicable laws. If an owner or contact person is notified of unlawful behavior by a guest, they are required to use “best efforts to prevent a recurrence”. Fireworks and floating lanterns are prohibited at STRs. Information on the prohibited behavior, and the STR regulations, has to be posted at the property.
Failure to control guest behavior, or any other failure to comply with the ordinance, is a violation subjecting the owner to fines of up to $1,000 per day the violation exists. An owner with three violations in any 12-month period will have the permit revoked for 6 months. Any further violations will result in one-year revocations for each violation.
Once the township settles on a final version of the ordinance, they plan to submit it to the Monroe County Planning Commission, which requires thirty days to review and comment. Although, as a stand-alone ordinance which is not part of the zoning ordinance, it is not required to be submitted to county planning, because some language in the zoning ordinance will be impacted, the solicitor recommends including the STR ordinance in the package to the county planning body. After county reviews and comments, the board needs to hold a public hearing on the new ordinance before passage. Estimates for adoption were October or November of this year.