SOUTH BEND — The Pacific County Commissioners appeared poised to approve a six-month moratorium on short-term vacation rental licensing at a Feb. 11 hearing, but decided at the last minute to defer a decision for another two weeks.

The decision came after the commissioners approved a temporary moratorium on short-term vacation rentals at a Dec. 16 meeting. The moratorium does not affect currently permitted short-term vacation rentals.

Testimony was contentious at times during an hour-long public comment period. It appeared around two-thirds of those in attendance — many from the real estate industry — oppose the moratorium. Nevertheless, a motion was made and seconded by commissioners to OK it, until County Administrator Kathy Spoor suggested kicking it down the road to Feb. 25 at 10 a.m.

The initial moratorium was recommended by Pacific County Planning Director/Fire Marshall Tim Crose in December, who cited concerns about a lack of monitored and sanctioned compliance as the number of vacation rentals—both licensed and unlicensed—have grown in the county. The Pacific County Planning Commission also recommended the moratorium.

The temporary moratorium was then approved by the commissioners to give the planning commission and Crose’s office time to review regulations and see if any changes should be made before the Feb. 11 hearing.

Real estate agents showed up at both the Dec. 16 and Feb. 11 hearing to vehemently oppose the moratorium, saying it would negatively impact their industry and the county’s economy.

Those in attendance who were in favor of the moratorium were mostly year-round residents living in residential neighborhoods with an R-1 zoning designation, who said they do not want commercial enterprises operating close to their homes.

The moratorium, if enacted, will expire July 11, 2020, unless ended sooner.

The Observer will have more coverage on short-term vacation rentals in the coming days.

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