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Mason City Council votes against ordinance amendment that would have allowed residential Airbnbs

Melissa Heiselt hopes her house on Jefferson Street can become an Airbnb
Posted at 6:05 PM, Jan 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-18 18:10:19-05

MASON, Mich. — Monday night, Mason City Council voted 6-1 against amending a city ordinance to allow Airbnbs and other short-term rentals in residential areas of Mason.

Mason homeowner Melissa Heiselt requested the amendment last month so she could use her house on Jefferson Street for short-term rentals without turning the house into a bed and breakfast, which under city ordinances would require she live on the premises, or changing the zoning on the home.

The inspiration for the request came from the owner of the Vault Deli, Jamie Robinson, who spearheaded an ordinance amendment two years ago that allowed Airbnbs and other short-term rentals in Mason's central business district for a trial period of three years. Robinson has two apartments above the deli that she rents out using Airbnb.

Councilmember Leon Clark voted against Heiselt's proposed amendment.

"For me that was the logical thing to do, was to support the Planning Commission resolution to not change the language," Clark said.

Most of council agreed.

"There's legislation pending right now that's been through the House and is sitting in the Senate that's going to address short-term rentals and how they look and how they function and what the requirements are and all those kinds of things," Clark said. "So, we could move forward...and then come back and have to change it after the fact because we don't know what's there."

Clark said the second reason is that they're "right in the process now of rewriting our master plan...and rewriting the zoning ordinances to match."

But city officials are going to take another look at the rules surrounding short-term rentals.

"One thing we did walk away with was the zoning development director asked the Planning Commission to support her department looking forward into possibly licensing short-term rentals," Clark said. "So, that was what the Planning Commission directed the staff to do."

Council also voted to reimburse Heiselt for the $300 ordinance amendment application fee.

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Hannah McIlree

5:13 PM, Nov 14, 2022

Mason, Leslie

Neighborhood Reporter

Hannah McIlree