Legislation Introduced to Limit the Authority of Local Governments to Regulate Aggregate Mining and Short Term Vacation Rentals Pending Further Action in Lansing

By December 8, 2021 News

Introduced by Rep. Sarah Lightner, R-Springport Township, and passed by the Michigan House of Representatives by a margin of 55-48 this past spring, House Bill 4722 would act to severely limit the authority of local units of government to regulate short term rentals. The primary language of the bill indicates that “a local unit of government shall not adopt or enforce zoning ordinance provisions that have the effect of prohibiting short-term rentals.” Compromise language in the bill would allow local units of government limited authority to oversee short term rentals in instances where local noise and traffic ordinances are violated due to significantly increased numbers of summer vacation season short term renters. Local units of government would also maintain the authority to set limits on the number of available short-term rentals, as long the established limit is not less than 30 percent of existing residential units in the municipality.

Supported by the Michigan Realtors and the Mackinaw Center for Public Policy, if passed by the Senate, and signed by Governor Whitmer, the legislation would allow a large number of local home owners to rent their property on a short term basis via services like Airbnb to summer vacationers. Arguing that local units of governments lead by duly elected officials are in the best overall position to determine a particular community’s suitability to allow short term rentals, the Michigan Municipal League and the Michigan Association of Planning are adamantly opposed to the legislation. House Bill 4722 has been referred to the Michigan Senate Committee on Regulator Reform, and is pending further action by the Michigan Senate.

Legislation passed by the Michigan Senate this past June which would deprive local units of government of the capacity to issue permits, and to otherwise regulate gravel and sand mining operations is pending action by the Michigan House of Representatives. SB 431 would make the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) responsible for issuing permits for gravel and sand mining operations, and would also require EGLE to assess fees on sand and gravel products for the purpose of funding the need for the agency to monitor, administer, and enforce mining operation regulations. If passed, the legislation would also make EGLE ultimately responsible for taking action if a particular mining operation presented an imminent danger to public health and safety, or pose a threat to the local environment.

The controversial legislation is supported by the Michigan Aggregate Association who indicates that the legislation is necessary to help ensure ample supplies of sand and gravel that are used extensively in highway construction projects. The legislation is opposed by the Michigan Townships Association, Michigan Municipal League, Michigan Association of Counties, Michigan Association of Planning, Southeast Michigan Council of Governments, Michigan Environmental Council, and the Michigan League of Conservation Voters who argue that the legislation unnecessarily deprives local officials of the ability to issue permits, and to pass and enforce common sense local ordinances intended to help ensure the aggregate mines are operated in a manner that protects the environment, and the health and safety of local citizens.