EFFINGHAM — The Effingham Water Authority Board is considering whether to allow short-term rentals in the Lake Sara area.

The board addressed the issue at its regular meeting Monday.

Board Chairman Rob Brown said the board’s main concerns with rentals lasting just a few weeks or days are whether or not such leases violate the property owner’s own lease of the residence with the board and whether such activity should be considered commercial in a residentially zoned area.

The lease Lake Sara property owners have with the board are currently residential-type leases, Brown said. Board attorney Tony Siemer said the purpose of the leases with the board is because property owners often do not want to sell their homes, so the board leases the property back to the homeowners.

He said the board already collects revenue from Anthony Acres for rental of rooms, so short-term rentals in residences need to also have some type of regulation.

“One of the things that comes to my mind is we’ve got a commercial motel that we charge fees to, we collect revenue off of, and I think it would be appropriate that we put some restrictions in,” Brown said. “That’s one of the points we need to have discussion on is charging a fee. If we’re going to allow this thing, they need to have a permit. They need to have rules in place.”

Brown added that he would also like to see such rules and regulations posted inside the rented residences so that short-term renters can easily access them.

The issue was briefly discussed at the board’s August meeting during which Brown said the board is waiting to see what the city of Effingham decides on short-term rentals like AirBnBs. Board member Jim Boos suggested the board hold a special meeting to decide on whether to allow such rentals to continue.

“I think we should go ahead and have a special meeting and sit down and get our thoughts together and see what we want to do. I think we start with a permit or something like that so we can at least get some revenue out of it,” Boos said.

Brown said if the board should allow short-term rental properties, regulations for them should be rigorous in order to “protect the neighbors and the lake” from possibly unruly renters.

The board will meet on an unspecified date next week to make a decision on the short-term rentals. Brown said the date will be released upon its scheduling.

Meanwhile, the board heard updates from Lake Superintendent Mike Dirks on two properties the board sent letters to last month to address issues at the locations.

Dirks said the property owner on Lot 27 in the Boos and Grunloh Subdivision No. 2 did not respond, and the siding on the home remains unfinished. Brown said he would like to reach out to the homeowner to find out why the project has not been completed.

Last month’s letter to the homeowner of a residence at Lot 11 in the Boos and Grunloh Subdivision No. 1 addressed an unkempt lawn and landscaping. Dirks said the homeowner has mowed, but the landscaping has not been addressed. The homeowner did attempt to hire a landscaper, who in turn said the job was too big for his company.

In other matters, the board:

  • Heard from co-chair of the Parks and Recreation Committee, Tom Ryan, that an application for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources Open Space Land Acquisition and Development Grant has been submitted, and he will know whether or not the Pearson Peninsula project would be selected for it in four to six months.
  • Heard from the Good Neighbors of Lake Sara organization that it donated funds to replace lighting in the community building at the lake.

Kaitlin Cordes can be reached at kaitlin.cordes@effinghamdailynews.com or 217-347-7151 ext. 132.


Kaitlin Cordes covers Effingham County, police and courts and sports features for the Effingham Daily News. She earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from Eastern Illinois University. Cordes is a native of Effingham.

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