ORONO — Town council members will be spending weeks reviewing the town’s ordinances for short and long-term rentals.
In Monday’s town council meeting Orono town officials discussed some holes in the current town code and the negative effects on the area.
Town officials said those issues include an unbalance of student housing versus single-family housing, conflicts between the town’s fire code and zoning ordinances, and a shortage of affordable housing, among other problems.
“What we run into and what we have run into isn’t so much the proliferation of student housing, but the number of students that are in the houses. What we’re finding is that landlords are actually pushing themselves into a category called rooming and lodging,” said Orono Fire Chief Geoffrey Lowe
He said there are too many cases throughout Orono of that happening, with fire officials also not being aware of buildings being over the limit of un-related people living in those units or houses.
He said in some cases fire officials are coming across this information accidentally. The chief said over-housing students violates the town fire code.
“When you have a single-family home and you put four people who are unrelated in it, you have to meet a rooming and lodging standard as opposed to a single-family home standard which my understanding is that includes a sprinkler and other things that can be costly,” said Orono Town Manager Sophia Wilson.
That is just one of the issues councilors are reviewing and trying to change.
“We are not denying anybody housing in this. We are trying to be clear in our goal of what we want and need for the sustainability of our town demographically and this is a step towards that,” said Laura Mitchell, an Orono town councilor.