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Proposed short-term rental limits draw debate in Starkville

Supporters and opponents are clashing over proposals to restrict short-term home rentals in a north Mississippi college town.

The city of Starkville held its second public input session Tuesday for proposed changes that would affect rentals in single-family residential neighborhoods.

About 50 people attended the forum where supporters said that short-term rental companies, such as Airbnb, threaten the integrity and character of residential neighborhoods, while opponents argued the restrictions are government overreach and potentially harmful to the local economy, news outlets reported.

The initial proposal included a $300 yearly license, a maximum of 30 nights or 10 weekends to rent a property per year and a requirement for owners to live in the houses they rent out. The current proposal is a $25 license fee with no night limit and no residency requirement.

Starkville is home to Mississippi State University, which means hotel rooms and short-term rental properties are in demand for big events like football weekends.

The proposed rules are a concern for Dede Carter, who owns a local cleaning service. She said regulations could limit the number of times homes can be rented, which would limit her chance to work.

“Thus, what it will do is limit income,” Carter said.

The Planning and Zoning Commission will hold a public hearing for the code on Nov. 12, and the board will have two public hearings at its December meetings before voting on the code on Dec. 17.

The board of aldermen can revisit the policy later if they believe it is too strict or too lenient, Alderwoman Sandra Sistrunk said.

“I would ask that y’all trust us to do our job and know that we will continue to work at this,” she said. “We’re not trying to put Airbnb out of business, not at all. We’re trying to be as accommodating as possible for somebody who has a vacant property or a second home, but we’re also at the same time trying to balance the idea of there being traditional neighborhoods.”

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