LACONIA — The City Council was informed Monday of two pieces of pending state legislation which could have an impact on the city.
One bill would provide funding for the state panel that is looking to come up with options for redeveloping the old Laconia State School property. The other would virtually remove the ability of cities and towns to regulate short-term rentals.
The council gave unanimous support to the bill to fund the Lakeshore Redevelopment Planning Commission and directed City Manager Scott Myers to write a letter to legislative leaders in Concord communicating the council’s support.
The bill would authorize $1.7 million over two years to pay for the commission’s operation, as well as defraying the cost to determine the extent of hazardous materials on the property. The money would also go toward reducing exposure from contaminated soil, groundwater or surface water.
The bill would also allow the commission to acquire and spend any state or federal funds the commission might obtain.
The bill has bipartisan support. State Rep. Peter Spanos, R-Laconia, who serves on the commission, is the bill’s prime sponsor. Co-sponsors include state Rep. Frank Tilton, R-Laconia, and state Reps. David Huot and Charles St. Clair, both D-Laconia.
The House Finance Committee has scheduled a hearing on the bill for Jan. 21 at 10:30 a.m. in the Legislative Office Building in Concord. Mayor Andrew Hosmer told the council Monday that he plans to attend the hearing.
The second bill would severely restrict the ability of communities to enact their own regulations for short-term rentals like Airbnb.
The bill, co-sponsored by state Sen. Harold French, R-Franklin, whose district includes Laconia, would invalidate parts of the city’s new short-term rental ordinance which the council passed last month. With the exception of The Weirs, the new city ordinance bars short-term rentals in the city unless the owner lives on the premises at least 150 days a year.
Planning Director Dean Trefethen told the council that in its present form the bill only requires owners of short-term rentals to give local officials the name, address, and telephone number of the person authorized to accept notices of legal issues involving the premises. The bill would also limit inspections of homes to whether they have working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
Trefethen noted that it is an open question as to what extent the bill will be amended and whether it will ultimately pass.
He said if it were to pass, it would not take effect until the end of the year, and that in the meantime Laconia’s ordinance would continue to be in force.