Fobes: Vacation Rental By Owner, seems innocent enough, right?

The Town of Lodi had a special meeting May 25, which was a part-time resident looking for the town’s blessing to rent their home as a VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner). This would be the first step prior to applying for a conditional use permit for this purpose from Columbia County Zoning.

A number of people from the area came to this meeting to voice their concern for such a practice and how it may impact them as well as the community. Aside from the owners of the property and a local realtor, there was no community support for this action. However, it would seem this new Town Chairman and Board, had long before the meeting, made their decisions on how they would vote. They sided against the majority voice of the local full-time residents and approved the VRBO.

I was willing to let this go as simply progress and a sign of the times. It would be incredibly naive to think that no one else is renting their homes on a short-term basis. Heck, the realtor at the meeting flat out told us the last six properties he sold in the area were purchased with the intent of being vacation rentals.

However, as I walked around the area over Memorial Day weekend, it became obvious why the residents that are directly affected by these short term rentals were opposed to it. Just on a walk along Summerville Park Road, I saw two piles of ashes thrown on the shoreline of the ponds, fresh grass clippings dumped in the ponds and someone had sprayed a vegetation killer on the plants along the shore line of the ponds across the road from their home.

So what happened to our beautiful community in such a short period of time? The part-time residents that are not fully vested in the area came to town for a weekend, had their fun and left the mess behind for us to look at.

Back in the day, the part-time residents actually cared about the community, how their properties looked and how their neighbors’ property looked! There were true partners in the community and had a vested interest in the area. Many of them became full-time residents — a past chairperson was one such person, and like him or not, he cared about the Town of Lodi and its residents.

If our local board chooses to make their decisions based not on what the majority of their constituents and long term residents wish, but on what they feel is best for the town you can bet they will not be running unopposed in the next election cycle.

Joe Fobes

Town of Lodi

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