News Story

In Michigan town that banned short-term rentals, few filed complaints

Park Township bans short-term rentals for peace and quiet, but lack of complaints show there was never a problem

Officials in Ottawa County’s Park Township voted in November to enforce a long-dormant ban on short-term rentals in residential areas. This came after a year of the township planning commission working to create a resolution, which may have included a measure to allow the practice but require permits. During discussions before the vote, two trustees expressed concerns about ensuring neighborhoods were kept quiet from raucous visitors. But noise does not appear to have been a problem, according to the response from a Freedom of Information Act request. It shows that the township has received very few complaints about short-term rental properties.

Township board members offered several explanations during the Nov. 10 meeting for why they were voting to ban short-term rentals. One board member noted the township was always considered a rural residential community and people expect calm, quiet neighborhoods. Another board member shared the sentiment, suggesting that short-term rentals cause noise issues.

Township records show, however, there were almost no problems with short-term renters in the last three years. There were 257 advertised short-term rental listings for Park Township as of Sept. 19. There was a total of 34 complaints over three years.

There was only one complaint in 2020, and that had to do with snow removal. There were six complaints in 2021, five of which, according to the documents, were “involving existence.” One for disorderly noise. In 2022 the township received 27 complaints. There were two complaints about disorderly persons, two for "unwholesome items,” one for overcrowding, one due to burning (context unknown), and 21 “involving existence.”

CapCon asked the township if “involving existence” means that neighbors complained about living next door to a short-term rental. We also asked how many complaints came from the same person.

Howard Fink, township manager and FOIA coordinator, said in an email that a new Freedom of Information Act request is required to obtain the information. That request has been sent, and CapCon will report back as we learn more.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.