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East Peoria city council will allow a controversial short-term rental to continue

Tim Shelley

A controversial short-term rental property in East Peoria is getting the green light to stay in business.

In a 3-2 vote, the city of East Peoria approved a proposal allowing a special use permit for a short-term rental property at 108 Carroll Street. This came after neighbors of the rental property expressed concerns for safety and noise levels, along with privacy.

Both Nate and Rebecca Huskins, the owners of the rental property, and the neighbors opposed to the rental, Tim and Lisa Arrowsmith, attended the meeting and used public comment time to address concerns and complaints about the property.

Rebecca Huskins took time to address specific concerns raised by commissioners and neighbors alike in the last city council meeting. She disputed many of the claims they made about the rental property, like tenants trespassing on the Arrowsmith property.

Meanwhile, Tim Arrowsmith aired his frustrations with the Huskins and their rental, claiming they are never around to enforce the rules to guests. He also claimed the city would take his complaint more seriously if he had a more influential last name.

Arrowsmith also claimed the short-term rental would devalue his home, meaning he would sell it for less than it’s currently worth. He asked commissioners if they would pay him for the losses should he and his wife move.

Another issue raised by Arrowsmith and Commissioner Decker alike was the enforcement of the six-month moratorium on short-term rental properties, which was put into place in October. However. Commissioner Mark Hill clarified the Carroll Street property and another rental in the city will not be affected by the moratorium.

Both parties insisted the other was being deliberately dishonest.

Two more neighbors, Amber Burton and Becky Harper, also attended the meeting. Both spoke up for the Huskins and their rental, claiming the noise issue cannot be solely from the house, as 80% of the neighborhood homes have dogs in them, many of whom bark and roam the area outside their yards.

Commissioners discussed the issue for nearly half an hour before the vote was called for. Mayor John Kahl voted against the rental, stating he does not want them in his city.

“I want to know who lives in my neighborhood. That's important to me,” Kahl said. “I don't want someone on vacation that I can't be neighborly to live next to me. I've said that countless times. So I think people's opinions do matter on that. I'm not discounting how you run your business. I just don't think East Peoria should be entertaining any more short-term rentals. That's just my personal opinion. I haven't supported them for a host of reasons.”

Commissioner Decker also voted no and shared many concerns about the rental. One issue he cited was the rental would place local hotels and motels at a severe disadvantage, as they have to be ADA compliant, whereas short-term rentals do not. Another issue cited was the lack of parameters set in place to regulate short-term rentals, an issue he hoped the moratorium would resolve.

“I fully support people's right to make money. Create businesses, I think that's awesome,” Decker said. “However, I think in a commercial neighborhood, we have to support our commercial businesses first, and in a residential neighborhood, we have to support our residences first.”

Meanwhile, Commissioner Hill took issue with Decker’s claims about the impact that short-term rentals would have on local hotels and motels.

“We've got 11. If 11 nights are bankrupting our hotels and having that huge of an impact, and I say 11 nights, assuming every one of those hotels would be full and get those 11 nights, which they would not, then those hotels have bigger problems,” Hill said.

Commissioners Michael Sutherland and Seth Mingus initially voted no on the rental because the Huskins were not present at the last meeting. Sutherland said his vote changed after learning the couple were locals and not an out-of-state corporation, while Mingus wanted to be consistent with previous votes on short-term rentals.

Mike Smith is an correspondent with WCBU in Peoria. He joined the station in 2023.