Dexter Approves Application for Vacation Rental Home


The newly approved vacation rental at 8040 Huron Street. Photo:

By Doug Marrin, STN Reporter

Dexter has its first dedicated vacation rental home.

Following a recommendation from the City’s Planning Commission, the City Council approved at its May 23 meeting a special land permit request for vacation rental housing at 8040 Huron Street.

The listing on VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner) describes the rental as having three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and sleeping six. Owners of the property, Douglas Neal and Lisa Belanger Neal, live next door to the 1,489 square foot home.

Neighbors expressed support for the Neals during the Commission’s public hearing for the project and in writing.

“Having a short-term rental within the city limits would give visitors the opportunity to experience Dexter as the walkable, family-friendly community that I know it to be,” wrote local realtor Mike Penn. “Furthermore, being able to rent a fully furnished house on a short-term basis is an attractive option for those who are visiting the area for more than just a few days.”

The City’s Planning Commission and Council were impressed with the thoroughness of the couple’s presentation. In its vetting of the request, the City determined that the vacation home is compatible with the City of Dexter Master Plan and compliant with zoning ordinances. Another factor the City took into consideration was the compatibility with the existing character of the general vicinity. The rental activity will not affect the public right of way or impact the natural environment.

The Neals’ house rules include no smoking, no parties, no pets, no rental when the Neals are out of town, a maximum of six people overnight, and two cars. Renters are asked for a reason for their visit and must provide a valid ID that is then verified.

The Neals anticipate renters in town for UM Football, UM business, UM Hospital services, holidays, vacations, and outdoor recreation.

The Neals have previously rented out the home but stopped once they learned the City didn’t allow it without a special land use permit. Community Development Manager explained in an email that the couple contacted the City and began the approval process. After demonstrating they could/would operate the vacation rental in accordance with the requirements of the zoning ordinance, the Neals’ application was approved.

Before closing down their rental to get proper approval, the Neals established a five-star “exceptional” rating on VRBO. Comments by renters reflect well on Dexter.

From Mike H: “Six stars. Of the 10-15 home shares we have rented easily the cleanest and most comfortable. A beautiful location right on the banks of the Huron in a nice little town. Very easy access to Ann Arbor on GameDay. Thanks so much to our great hosts!”

Gerri C wrote: “The cider mill a few doors down was open, so we hit that for regular/hard cider and standard/gf cider donuts. Dexter has QUITE the thriving dining scene within a ten minute walk from the house. And for a small town the shopping and coffee shops were great, too.”

Leslye H commented: “The recreation was terrific. We launched our kayaks at Hudson Mills and pulled them out at the house. Then took turns riding the B2B trail. Dexter has so much to offer, and this was the perfect place to enjoy it.”

The customer comments were not lost on Aniol, who told the Council that such rentals “could be an interesting economic development for Dexter.”

Those in Dexter interested in establishing a vacation rental can contact the City Offices for more information.

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