Leanne Potts and her husband, Scott Warnke, have been leasing out their two-bedroom, 1,200-square-foot cottage in Dauphin Island for the past four years.
Their renters, she said, have been quiet. Some are retirees who visit the state’s only barrier island to experience its reputation for prime bird watching. Others simply come for a weekend getaway.
“We feel like we’ve improved the island,” said Potts, who grew up in Mobile, learned how to swim as a young girl on Dauphin Island and now lives in Alpharetta, Georgia.
“We’d like to continue renting it out,” she said.
But a proposal restricting short-term rental houses to mostly the West End of Dauphin Island could prevent Potts and other property owners from renting out to visitors.
The proposal is contained within a 350-page rewrite of Dauphin Island’s zoning code, and it is stirring passions on social media and a debate over whether town officials should restrict the growing industry that is dominated by companies like Vrbo and AirBnb.
It is also creating an odd divide in a town of around 1,800 residents, pitting full-time residents against the short-term renters in an East End versus West End struggle over where vacationers should go.
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