REDINGTON SHORES — After months of discussion, the Town Commission gave initial approval to an ordinance regulating short-term rental properties. Its main intent is to control “party houses” where large groups of people gather and become loud and unruly. It does this by limiting the number of occupants in the house and parking spaces, restricting noise, and other regulations.

To rent the property, the owner is required to get a Certificate of Use from the town, which is taken away if three violations occur on the property within a year. If that happens, the property cannot be rented for a year. There are also fines of $100 for the first offense, $1,000 for the second, and $2,500, along with the revocation of the license for the third offense within a year.

The owner has an incentive to avoid violations, by meeting the maximum occupancy rule and other requirements, and to rent to responsible people who will not be noisy or unruly.

If the owner obeys the rules on his own, enforcement will not be needed, which officials say is the intent of the ordinance.

The rental property regulations also say that rental contracts already existing when the law takes effect must be honored. A signed agreement to rent a home to a group larger than allowed under the new law would be valid. That could delay the ordinance’s effect until those contracts run out.

Commissioner Michael Robinson said he had “heard from a lot of people that are supportive of this.”

“This is a laudable action plan to address this issue that is very helpful when the problem is a constant nuisance,” said Salvatore Celeste. He said calling the police to report “25 screaming college kids is probably not going to be very effective.”

Resident Leslie Coppock said, “I have no interest in calling the police. We want people to take care of their own businesses.”

The vote was 2-1 for approval. Commissioners Robinson and Jennie Blackburn voted for the ordinance and Jeff Neal voted against. Mayor Mary Beth Henderson recused herself out of an abundance of caution because she owns a parcel that she rents out for vacation rentals.

In voting no, Neal said in general he liked the ordinance, but he would have preferred to wait until meetings were being held in person rather than on Zoom so more people might make comments. He also said he thought the ordinance changes could have been avoided “if we just would have been enforcing our own rules that we had in place.”

A second and final public hearing on the ordinance will be held Aug. 12.

Securing of outdoor property

The commission approved an ordinance that required residents in the town “to secure outside property that could become airborne in high winds.”

Robinson said the law takes effect when the National Weather Service issues a high wind, tropical storm or hurricane warning, and also applies when residents are out of town and the property is left vacant. In those situations, outdoor property must be secured or brought inside, Robinson said.

Creation of the ordinance had been proposed by Robinson because of situations in the past where people, particularly seasonal residents, left town and their outdoor property would be blown into a neighboring property and cause damage. The intent is to get all residents to secure their property before a wind event. There are also provisions for securing property on construction sites.

Violation of the ordinance is considered a second-degree misdemeanor, with a fine of up to $500 and/or up to 60 days in prison.

Neal said a jail sentence “seems a little harsh” for people not securing their property.

“What do we look like as a town when we say, ‘We’re going to lock you up if you don’t put your furniture away,’” Neal said. He said many residents agreed with him.

Town Attorney James Denhardt said penalties are included in the ordinance “to give it some teeth,” but he had no objection to the jail sentence being removed.

Robinson amended an earlier motion to approve the ordinance, taking out “imprisonment for up to 60 days.”

It passed unanimously on first reading and a second reading will be held Aug. 12.