TRUSTED NEWS LEADER FOR COTTONWOOD, CAMP VERDE & THE VERDE VALLEY
Fri, Feb. 28

Letter: This is why we don't want vacation rentals in Jerome

Editor:

Jerome is the third largest tourist attraction in the state. We have one and a half million visitors each year passing through a town of 450 people. They pass through on one main road which to a great extent is the commercial district of town.

In the last 15 years we have seen major changes in Jerome, so many more tourists, parking lots filled to capacity and then some every weekend, bars and restaurants packed with people waiting, and this is not mentioning the drain on water, sewer and road maintenance.

Sometimes, it is overwhelming.

Luckily, for those of us who live in the residential sections of town, we can retreat into the quieter streets of our neighborhoods. This area, for us, has become a safe haven, and makes life in a tourist town more bearable.

We are small in area as well as population, and the commercial section seems to steadily increase. Our residential neighborhoods have now become even more precious.

Now, we have people buying homes in these neighborhoods for the purpose of making them vacation rentals. In essence, commercial businesses would be allowed all through town. We would have no area that would simply be private residences.

People often with no real care or respect for the historical nature of the town would then be in a position to make changes.

I was in a Jerome town meeting when I heard a woman putting in such a rental say that the old dry stack Jerome walls which you see all through town didn't look nice. She wanted to replace them new gabion walls. I was thunderstruck. Didn't she realize that the old dry stack walls WERE Jerome and very much a part of the uniqueness that is loved by resident and visitor alike? Did she feel that the new gabion walls would be more appealing to her vacation rental customers?

This is the kind of problem we can face bringing businesses into the residential zone. We are constantly fighting to keep the town's historical integrity.

It is hard enough fighting the changes in the business section, now we are asked to fight in our neighborhoods, too?

We realize that tourism keeps this town afloat, and we appreciate our commercial businesses. We are helpful and gracious to our visitors. But, there must be a balance. When a million and a half people filter through a tiny town of 450, the residents must have some say over the boundaries between the commercial area and the residential neighborhoods.

Our quality of life is very much at stake. We have been hard at work protecting the fragile unique nature of our town, and the possibility of losing that ability to protect is a battle well worth fighting for.

Mary Conlin

33-year resident of Jerome

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