Section: News

Village Council discusses zoning code draft, Airbnb rentals

On Monday, the Gambier Village Council met to discuss provisions on short-term rentals in the newest draft of the Gambier Planning and Zoning Code, which was updated on the same day, as well as a potential reduction in the fee to reserve the Gambier Community Center.

Council members began with a discussion of the zoning code draft, which came about as a response to the Village’s 2020 Strategic Plan, which listed “update Gambier’s zoning code to reflect the Village’s development goals and future growth” as one of its priority strategies. According to one member of the Council, there are no current ordinances in the Village that address short-term rentals, and the meeting was the first official look at one set of options that does so.

The discussion began with a comment from a Village resident and Airbnb owner attending the meeting. Although the individual praised the Council’s initiative in creating a more enforceable zoning code, they expressed worries about provisions that seek to limit short-term rentals, which are defined in the draft as the “leasing of any residential property, either the entire dwelling unit or individual rooms, for a period of time less than 30 consecutive days to one additional family or housekeeping unit.” The individual voiced concerns that this would prevent lower-income people and other visitors who bring money into the Village from being able to stay in Gambier.

“It’s really been great to give people the ability to experience Gambier, who might not be able to otherwise. So when the code is so strictly limiting Airbnbs and effectively giving Kenyon a monopoly on a larger volume of people all staying under one roof, it seems like it goes against what Council has been trying to achieve,” they said.

A Council member responded by saying that although he acknowledged the need for some Airbnbs, he worried that the Airbnbs were taking away housing available to potential permanent residents. “There are not that many houses in the Village, and anything that decreases the housing stock available to permanent residents to live in, I think is to the Village’s detriment,” he said. 

The Council also discussed the cost of reserving the Gambier Community Center, which is currently $75. One member reported that although there had been a good number of recent reservations, there was the potential for more. He mentioned that Dr. Allan Bazzoli, who offers occasional group acupuncture sessions for students and community members at the center, did not make a profit off of his sessions under the current reservation fee. 

“If he only gets three or four students that come here, $75 is a money loser because of the needles he has to buy,” the member said.

Currently, Bazzoli charges $10 for students and $25 for other community members per acupuncture session. However, the Council is considering reducing the $75 rate provided that he gets rid of the price differential between students and everyone else.

The next Village Council meeting will be held on March 6.


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