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Politics

Bethel City Council Updates Rules For Bed And Breakfasts

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City of Bethel
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  In their Aug. 24 meeting, Bethel City Council reached a compromise on two pieces of municipal legislation tabled during the previous meeting. One is new rules for Bethel bed and breakfasts. The other is a cap on the amount of debt that residents’ water accounts can accrue before the city shuts off service.

Bethel City Council unanimously adopted new rules for bed and breakfasts in residential zones. The rules require owners to occupy their bed and breakfasts, and limits the number of guest bedrooms to three. Four bed and breakfasts are now in violation of the new rules. The owners have either one year to come into compliance, or they can pursue a conditional use permit with the city to continue operating as they are.

During the meeting, council amended the legislation to give businesses the option to apply for the permit. Previously, they either would have had to come into compliance within a year or close. Previously, Councilmember Rose "Sugar" Henderson had been concerned that businesses being grandfathered in would not be vetted enough. But with the new amendment, she left satisfied that the council had offered existing businesses a way forward while still meeting city standards.

"We knew from the get go that we couldn’t make everyone happy, and I think this was a happy medium," Henderson said.

Also during the meeting, Bethel City Council revised its ordinance that prevents shutting off water and sewer service to customers who can’t pay their bill during the pandemic. 

The city will now cap the debt at $10,000 for businesses and $5,000 for residential customers, cutting off and water and sewer service after that point. The new ordinance also requires customers who go more than $1,000 in debt to collaborate on a repayment plan with the city. Council members said that they hope that by catching debtors early, the city can recuperate its financial losses and avoid water shutoffs.