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Borough clarifies Viking Cove rights


May 18, 2023

Mud Bay residents plan to appeal a recent decision from the borough manager that allows an area vacation rental to continue to host weddings.

Commercial events hosted at Viking Cove can continue, but not expand, according to a letter penned by borough manager Annette Kreitzer to property owner Bill Chetney.

The letter was requested by several Mud Bay residents, who questioned the borough for allowing Viking Cove to continue to host large-scale commercial events. The borough assembly prohibited commercial events in the Mud Bay rural residential zone last May after repeated concern from neighbors over noise, traffic and crowds.

The decision came eight months after more than 100 residents petitioned to prohibit commercial events in the Mud Bay residential zone.

Kreitzer’s letter explains that Chetney’s use may not exceed more than eight group events per year. This limit was determined after investigating Chetney’s sales records from the last three years.

“He has to keep that use consistent with what it had been,” Kreitzer said. “That’s the purpose of this letter. He has relied on the circumstances that have evolved through the planning commission and assembly and through our attorney advising us he can continue to take bookings into 2023.”

Some Mud Bay neighbors have repeatedly, over several years, approached the planning commission with complaints about Viking Cove, which had a conditional-use permit to be a vacation rental business that the borough allowed to host events. Borough staff and the attorney maintain that Viking Cove’s traditional uses have grandfather rights.

Opponents say that those rights should never have been allowed in the first place, and that the planning commission violated code in allowing the vacation rental to host weddings.

At an assembly meeting this March, resident Kristin Hathhorn questioned the borough for allowing Chetney to host more than 20 guests on the property — a limit that has been outlined in the stipulations of his vacation rental permit.

“Our problem is having more than 20 guests on the property,” Hathhorn said. “We live in a rural residential area. We have all invested time and money in our quality of life. To have hundreds of people show up, it is not right. It’s against code, and it’s never been approved by the planning commission.”

Katey Palmer requested that the planning commission require Chetney to “comply with his permit” and “clarify that his Viking Cove vacation rental business is not exempt” from the borough code prohibiting commercial events in the Mud Bay Rural Residential Zone.

“Nowhere in any of the history has there been a public hearing about having commercial events,” Palmer said. “We want him to comply with his vacation rental permit. He can operate three vacation rentals with a max of 20 guests. Nothing about holding events with 250 people. The fact that they’re grandfathering this in, because this ordinance passed, is ridiculous. You can’t grandfather something that was never lawful.”

Palmer said she plans to appeal the manager’s decision at the June 8 planning commission meeting.


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