Hayden Town Council approved an updated development code on Thursday, Feb. 17, putting the code better in line with the town’s direction and simplifying what’s been described as a “cumbersome document.”
The development code was updated to align with the Hayden Forward Master Plan, approved in January 2021. Using guidance from that plan, planning commissioners, town staff and council rewrote the development code over more than a year.
“I do feel like we came at this — I know I came at the revisions — with a perspective of ‘Hayden is open for business,’” said Amy Williams, chair of the town’s planning commission. “I want it to be simpler, easier. I don’t want a rule just to make a rule … I do think that we made some progress here.”
Council removed one provision from the updated development code related to short-term rentals and scheduled another discussion for March 3 to allow time for more public input about how the town should treat these properties.
As written, vacation home rentals where the entire home is rented and it is not a full-time residence would be allowed in commercial zones — treating them like a business — but not in residential areas.
According to AirDNA, a website that tracks short-term rentals, there are just seven in the town with only one outside of a commercial zone. Town Manager Mathew Mendisco said the one in a residential zone would be grandfathered in under the regulation.
During public comment, former council member Dallas Robinson asked council to reconsider the proposed short-term rental rules to allow a limited number of them in residential zones. Robinson said he owns a home that he wants to eventually be able to rent out as a vacation home, but the new regulation wouldn’t allow him to do that.
“I understand your concerns. I share them, but I think the risk can be contained and value added to this community,” Robinson said.
He proposed capping the overall number of short-term rentals at a low number and allowing for just a handful of them in total. Robinson also suggested adding a rule that a property would need to be the resident’s primary residence for at least two years prior to being able to become lodging, a measure he said would allow residents to convert their properties but stop outside interests from doing the same.
Williams said the planning commission’s view on how to treat short-term rentals wasn’t unanimous.
“I would like to revisit it occasionally and just see if the mood or the feeling within the town has changed,” Williams said.
Planning commissioners voted to recommend the development code as is, putting the plan to council for approval.
Mayor Zach Wuestewald suggested they approve the code without one specific short-term rental section to allow for more discussion.
“I think getting community input is a positive thing for something that is going to affect everybody, whether you want to rent your house or you’re worried about your neighbor renting their house,” Wuestewald said.
Wuestewald said he liked the idea of revisiting the town’s short-term rental policy every year or two, so it evolves as the town’s needs evolve.
Council approved the code update unanimously, and scheduled a public hearing for 7:30 p.m. March 3 to further consider short-term rental rules.