By Curt Peterson
On July 7 the new Development Review Board held its first meeting after the Killington Select Board reorganized the planning commission and zoning board of adjustment in June.
According to Zoning Administrator Preston Bristow, the planning commission will now just do planning, and their former site review function will be done by the new DRB, taking on the functions of the previous zoning board of adjustment.
The appointed development review board includes Kenneth Wonsor (chair), Vito Rasenas (vice chair), Merissa Jones (scribe), John Wysocki and Roger Rivera. Preston Bristow will serve as clerk.
The boards’ reconfiguration was inspired by the need for additional planning time for the Killington Road redevelopment and short-term rentals (STRs), a growing enterprise in Killington. The new board structure will afford the planning commission ample time to focus on a 30-year plan for the town’s future.
Killington has 931 STRs, according to Bristow, with a permanent residential population of 820.
Zoning and planning regulations can be confusing to property owners: builders, remodelers, lessors, property managers, and businesses had to dance between the two agencies.
Now the DRB will be the source for all regulation research and permitting.
Town Manager Chet Hagenbarth has said Killington’s STR regulations are nothing new — they already existed on local and state levels and the only proposed change is a system to ensure compliance. But the process and proposed certifications of compliance has some STR owners on edge.
On July 13, the town officially selected LODGINGRevs as short term rental compliance provider (see related story).
Hagenbarth said the primary goal for registration is making renters and STR owners safe and that properties comply with existing health and safety regulations covering water quality and supply, septic and sewer adequacy, occupancy rates and fire safety.
T. J. Garrow, Vermont Dept. of Fire Safety regional manager and state fire marshall for Killington Patrick Banks, gave a remote presentation regarding regulations for STRs and other lodging properties deemed “commercial.”
Banks said basic regulations date back to 1972 and coincide with National Fire Protection Association standards.
“The state regulations do include some amendments of the NFPA standards that are unique to Vermont,” Banks said.
Sleeping accommodations determine the regulations level. A king- or queen-sized bed is two sleeping units – a single bed or bunk is one.
Eight or fewer sleeper units qualify as “one or two-family properties,” Banks explained. Nine to 16 sleepers mean the building is public and in the “rooming or lodging” category with additional requirements.
There is no “grandfathering” but if an owner can document the property was used as a rental prior to 2015 regulations changes, some current fire and safety requirements do not apply.
Over 16 sleepers makes a property a hotel, which would need a fire alarm, plus a sprinkler system.
There are different grades of sprinkler system requirements, Banks said, ranging from one capable of feeding two sprinkler heads at once, to one supplying multiple heads for 30 minutes, all focused on giving occupants time to exit the building. Larger systems are primarily designed to protect the property.
Certification by Fire and Safety requires an inspection by Banks, who dedicates one day a week to serving Killington’s property owners.
Selectman Jim Haff pointed out that an STR with eight or fewer sleepers can self-certify regarding fire safety requirements, under Killington’s proposed rules.
“If I was an owner, I would go through formal inspection rather than self-certification,” Banks replied, adding that risk factors are taken into consideration as a whole, providing flexibility. Serious violation must be remedied within 72 hours, other minor violation can be given a grace period of up to 30 days.