In West Cocalico, action at home and on the road

By on August 23, 2017

Services like VRBO and Airbnb are having big effects on public policy, moving many local governments around the country to change laws on short-term rentals — and now these sorts of rules are on the radar in West Cocalico.

The West Cocalico Township supervisors, at their Aug. 15 meeting, considered a draft of an ordinance that would set rules for property rentals of less than 30 days within the township.

The proposed ordinance would regulate parking, noise, bedroom sizes, and more. It would also require each rented property to have an owner or managing agency available at all times in case of an emergency. Further, short-term rentals would only be allowed in certain zoning areas.

Looking over the draft, Supervisor Vice Chairman Leon Eby questioned a clause that limits rental parties to members of a single family.

“It’s too restrictive,” Eby said, describing how married couples or families often chip in to rent a vacation house.

The intent of the clause, said township Manager Carolyn Hildebrand, was to try to avoid situations where many different individuals rent out a house for a party.

Eby suggested those goals could be achieved with different wording, and pointed out that noise and disturbances are already covered elsewhere in the ordinance.

Supervisors also discussed setting a minimum age for renters, and agreed on the age of 18.

Resident Steve Laudenslager asked about building codes.

“You forget the other half of the equation is the building codes,” Laudenslager said.

Hildebrand said the township codes personnel have reviewed the draft ordinance.

Supervisors discussed the lack of a clear distinction between those who might rent out their primary residence once in a while, and others who will rent out a vacation property on a regular basis.

Supervisor Chairman James J. Stoner said families going out of town who want to rent should be able to do so.

“There’s a fine line between an opportunity one time … or there are people who get in the habit of doing this,” Stoner said.

After more discussion, the board asked staff to make the update taking away the single-family requirement.

“We do need to get this on the books,” Stoner said. “It was good to have this discussion.”

The township’s zoning hearing board will review the draft ordinance, and at some future time, it will be advertised.

In other news, supervisors also discussed a tricky bit of road for truckers trying to make their way to and from the turnpike.

Confusing signage on Mount Airy Road, said Roadmaster Tom Showalter, can force truck drivers to take a circuitous route that eventually puts them on Hillside Road. Local residents have complained about truck traffic there. Showalter said some truckers have to re-program their GPS, leading to more confusion.

“It is confusing,” Eby said.

Stoner agreed that truck drivers can have a tough time.

“If you’re a truck driver, and you’ve never driven that road before, you say ‘Where do I go?’” Stoner said.

Board members agreed to authorize staff to move a sign on Sandy Hill Road to make it a more prominent source of information for drivers.

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