Tiverton looks into regulating bed and breakfasts
The town wants to get into the lodging business.
As a result, homeowners who operate bed and breakfast operations could be required to register with the town.
Town Councilor William Gerlach started the discussion Monday at the monthly Town Council meeting when he asked why the town has no rules regulating lodging businesses operating in town.
“Should we be doing that?” he asked. “Should bed and breakfasts be licensed?
“I was wondering if, as a matter of protocol or best practices, this is something we need to get our hands around.”
It is clear no one in town has any idea how many homes are being used as bed and breakfasts and where they are, according to Barbara Pelletier, a member of the town’s tourism commission.
“Because we don’t license them, we really don’t know how many there are,” Town Administrator James Goncalo added.
“There are some B&Bs around town, but I couldn’t find them all,” Pelletier said. There is no listing with the building inspector or the Town Clerk, she said, and no regulations from the town for operators.
“I guess our only criteria for a bed and breakfast is that you serve breakfast,” she said. “A bowl of cereal and a coffee will do.”
Pelletier noted that five of the largest taxpayers in Newport are hotels. The town could benefit from regulation, if only by collecting registration fees and the rooming taxes guests must pay, Pelletier said.
“We can improve the quality of what we offer,” she said. “People need assurances.”
With the Sakonnet Vineyards, Roger Williams University and the town of Bristol, which hosts 300 weddings a year, all within a few minutes drive, the town can support a bed and breakfast trade, Pelletier said.
The council asked Town Solicitor Andrew Teitz to research requirements for B&Bs by surrounding towns. It will open the matter for discussion again at its October meeting.
The council also heard from Scott Humphrey, chair of the town’s Economic Development Commission.
The EDC worked with Councilors Gerlach and Brett Pelletier to organize a business forum for companies in the town to relay concerns to town officials.
One topic of discussion at the forum will be forming a business association.
“With that, we can get together, when there are issues, to collaborate and come to the council with one voice,” Humphrey said.
Gerlach said he was hoping to organize a business forum for late October or early November. At the advice of Council President Edward Roderick and former president, Council Jay Lambert, Gerlach accepted the idea that the forum might have to wait until the new year.
Besides organizing the meeting, it would have to be advertised and posted as a public meeting, the councilors said.