Opechee Airbnb

The owners of this home on Opechee Street in Laconia had their appeal to use it as a short-term rental rejected by the Zoning Board of Adjustment. (Adam Drapcho/The Laconia Daily Sun)

LACONIA — People trying to run Airbnb-type rentals are 0-for-3 when it comes to persuading the Zoning Board of Adjustment to allow them to continue their business after a neighbor complains.

On Tuesday night, the board rejected a request from Kimberly and Carlos Guzman, of Bedford, to continue offering their home at 77 Opechee St., as a short-term rental. The board rejected two other such requests on Dec. 17.

The City Council decided in October that zoning rules do not permit short-term rentals in most residential areas, and that this prohibition should be enforced when complaints are made. Homeowners get a letter informing them they are violating their zoning, and they are given a chance to appeal to the Zoning Board.

Rob Mora, assistant city planner, said neighbors complained about noise and parking problems associated with the short-term rental at 77 Opechee St.

The Guzmans sought a special exception to zoning rules that would allow them to continue to run the business. They said there hasn't been any significant problems with their business.

Mora explained the board decision. 

“The criteria used to deny the request was undue traffic congestion, that this was out of character with the adjacent neighborhood and that the location was not appropriate for this use,” Mora said.

Given this and the two other denials, it has become clear it will be difficult to continue to run a short-term rental once a neighbor complains.

Depending on the zoning of the property in question, a homeowner has to seek either a variance or a special exception to continue to run a short-term rental once the enforcement process begins.

The two rejected requests last month were for variances, which are even tougher to win than a special exception.

To get a variance, a homeowner must show, among other things, that there is a particular hardship with the property itself. This showing is not necessary for a special exception, but the board still has wide discretion and considers such things as a neighborhood's character. 

“I was very curious as to how this would go since they weren’t seeking a variance,” Mora said. “It can be very subjective.”

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