- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 6, 2014

JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) - Some Jackson and Teton County officials are defending their decision to ban short-term home rentals.

Town councilors and county commissioners voted Monday to confirm a ban they said was part of a 1994 countywide plan.

The Jackson Hole News&Guide; reported Wednesday that Board of County Commissioners Chairman Hank Phibbs says anyone who has rented a home for less than 30 days has violated terms of the comprehensive planning document.

Since 2007, the laws had been interpreted to allow homes to be rented for shorter periods but only once a month.

County Deputy Attorney Keith Gingery said short-term rentals aren’t allowed in residences without commercial fire-safety fixtures.

Several areas, such as Jackson Hole Golf and Tennis, the Aspens and Teton Village, are permitted to have short-term rentals.

Both county and town officials asked the Wyoming Attorney General’s office for guidance on fire protections.

Several residents told commissioners their decision was flawed on two grounds: They claimed the comprehensive plan is a plan, not a law, and that the vote tramples on private property rights.

Others said eliminating short-term rentals improves residents’ quality of life.

“We should be (concerned with) our community first, and profit margins for people who want to make money off it should be second,” said resident Cindy Booth.

The Clear Creek Group, which offers Jackson-area luxury vacation rentals, urged clients and others to contact county and town officials to oppose a ban, the News&Guide; reported. An email from the group asked recipients to write to “counter the irrational arguments against vacation rentals and remind officials of their importance.”

“Few citizens are truly passionate about villa rentals, so despite our plea, the vocal minority seems to have had a disproportionate impact on opinions at the town and county level,” read an email from Clear Creek Group principals Morgan Bruemmer and Phil Stevenson.

The Clear Creek Group has made a practice of renting luxury homes to visitors for as much as $100,000 a week. Visitors technically signed a one-month lease but were only able to stay for shorter periods of time.

Jackson Mayor Mark Barron was the only member of both boards to oppose the strict interpretation.

“This is an overreach,” he said.

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