COVENTRY TWP.  The Coventry Township Board of Trustees is hoping having some guidelines in place will help with the concerns being raised about short term rentals in the township.

During the June 13 meeting, trustees held a public hearing regarding text amendment changes for short term rentals. The public hearing drew a crowd and the hearing lasted just more than an hour.

Residents spoke both for and against short term rentals and shared their experience with them.

Resident Josh Collins said he bought his property in Coventry to move into a neighborhood and had he known his neighbor’s house would be an Airbnb, he wouldn’t have bought the property.

Collins said there are currently short term rental properties on his street and a fourth one is coming. He posed the question to trustees about how they want Coventry to end up.

“Do you want Coventry to be a place people raise families or have rental properties?” Collins said.

Resident Mary McShane, who owns an Airbnb in Coventry, said she hears all these horror stories but doesn't believe the sheriff has been called a single time on her renters. She said she hasn't received phone calls from the neighbors either but has received some text messages. 

“There are two sides to everything,” McShane said. “If you are having problems, call the sheriff.”

She said people aren’t going to get a quiet life in the Portage Lakes as people enjoy going out and having a good time and that is why they live and come to the area.

As part of text change, short term rentals will have to be registered and pay a $250 registration fee. The fee only applies to those renting their homes less than 30 days as several residents who rent month to month raised concerns about whether they would have to pay the fee.

Resident Lisa Fouser, who has been vocal about short term rentals, offered some suggested changes to the text amendment. She encouraged for the property contact for a short term rental be 30 miles or less away rather than the 75 miles suggested by the trustees.

Fouser also said the township can legally collect lodging tax on short rentals and they should. She said the township has already missed out on a lot of revenue, which could have been generated from it.

Fouser’s husband, Dan, also raised concerns about homes not having enough parking spaces for the guests they rent out to. He also said he saw someone at an Airbnb on his street urinating in the yard. Also, he raised concerns about how the rules set forth for short term rentals are going to be enforced since the township has very little police protection.

Trustee Edward Diebold said the township has to have something to enforce and this text change is a start.

Other residents raised concerns about one of the Airbnb’s being a distribution center and people are always coming and going. Others said it is like living next to a hotel and a stop needs to be put to Airbnb’s.

Resident Jason Savage said his wife is a fabulous host of their Airbnb. He said he understands why people are upset and said there are good and bad landlords of Airbnb properties just like there are good and bad landlords for other rental properties. 

He said there really isn’t as much money being made in having an Airbnb as some people think. He said linen is being replaced often along with purchasing dish soap and other items needed.

Savage said he and his wife hardly got to use their Airbnb but this year they blocked off some dates so they can enjoy it, too. 

Trustee Richard Kutuchief said he has given very serious thought to the short term rental situation. He said there are many pros and cons.

He said the text changes are not set in stone and changes can be made if things do not work. He also thanked the Fousers for bringing the issue of short term rentals to their attention.

Diebold said he gets more calls from people upset about their neighbors compared to short term rentals.

“This is our attempt,” Diebold said.

In other business June 13, the trustees:

- Approved to send a resolution to the Board of Elections for the replacement of an existing 6.75 mills Fire & EMS levy to be placed on the Nov. 5 ballot. This will bring the levy up to today’s standards.

- Approved for Campbell and Associates to conduct a lot split and consolidation survey of 3680 Manchester Road and the adjoining Coventry Township property of Lockwood Cemetery. Also to prepare a map of the survey and writing all legal descriptions necessary to define the church entrance and cemetery entrance off Manchester Road in the amount of $3,200.

- Approved an estimate from Ground Pro in the amount of $25,526 for improvements at Ingleside Park. The improvements include excavation, grading, seeding, adding gravel and removal of an existing retaining wall to be replaced with unlock blocks. Trustee Bob Saffian said the township got a good price for the work and construction will begin in August while the baseball and softball teams take a break from using the fields at the park.

- Approved to amend the fire department fee schedule to the updated listings.

- Approved for Fire Chief John Dolensky to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding with the City of Green Fire Department for the AFG Regional Accountability Grant application 2018.

- Approved a blanket certificate in the amount of $600,000 for 10 miles of road resurfacing. Road Superintendent Lael Stouffer said all the roads being resurfaced are on the west end of the township.

- Approved $30,000 for the purchase and delivery of hot mix asphalt. Stouffer said this will be used on other roads in the township to make repairs.

- Approved a blanket certificate for repairs and maintenance of road department equipment in the amount of $30,000.

- Approved a purchase order from Discount Drainage in the amount of $15,000 for items needed to repair culverts in the township.

- Approved to have all inoperable/unlicensed vehicles removed from three lots which make up Portage Lakes Auto at 3256 S. Main. Abatement will be done after 14 days of notice. 

- Approved to declare 20 properties nuisances in regards to vegetation, garbage and debris. Abatement will be done after seven days of notice.

- Heard from resident Elizabeth Thrall about her nine-year-old daughter Madilynn Stephen who is part of a non-profit called PLX Angle’s in the Lakes. The non-profit is helping anyone in the community in need and Stephen has a swop shop set up at 3630 Manchester Road. She recently received the 2019 She Elevates- Rising Star Award. Anyone interested in learning more can visit the PLX Angle’s in the Lakes Facebook Page or make a donation at Citizens Bank.

The next Coventry Township Trustees Meeting is set for 7 p.m. July 11 at Town Hall.