GREENFIELD — Local law enforcement officials spoke at a public hearing for a short-term rental program Monday night at the Greenfield plan commission meeting.

Officials say the short-term rental program would require permits for units that are being rented for less than 30 days. They say this will allow law enforcement to be proactive instead of reactive to any future criminal behavior.

According to the ordinance presented at the Feb. 12 meeting, with the suggestion of the Greenfield Police Department and the Greenfield Engineering and Planning Department, this ordinance would address short-term rental facilities that are being used for criminal or illegal activity, which would also be “in the best interest of the health, welfare and safety of the citizens of Greenfield, Indiana.”

Chief of Police Brian Hartman, Detective Stephen Kalk and Detective Nathan Garner spoke at the meeting and said that this rental program would allow them to have a better understanding of who is in the city renting these units and to also know who owns the short-term rentals.

The idea to have these requests put in place came from law enforcement meetings with other departments that are seeing this kind of rental activity. Hartman said that after their team spoke with law enforcement from Columbus, Ohio, they found that it is a possibility that the activity will make its way to Greenfield. Hartman said that Ohio law enforcement started paying attention to this trend back in 2019 and in 2023 were able to confiscate $4.1 million from these short-term rentals.

 Greenfield Police Department Chief Brian Hartman Provided photo

From other cases they have seen, Hartman said these rentals are known for drug activity and also “TikTok Parties,” which is where an individual will come in and rent for two to three days, having a party for that amount of time.

“The trend is coming. There’s always trends in law enforcement,” Hartman said. “Either it comes from the west coast and works their way across, or they start in the east coast and they work their way across.”

Hartman said the trend that is currently from the east is these short-term rentals for narcotic distribution. While transportation used to be a car, Hartman said now they are known to fly people in, have the narcotics delivered someway to the rentals, the buyer will come and leave money and then the money is shipped back out.

Hartman said that, based on an article he saw, Dayton, Ohio is also having their plan commission put an ordinance which would hold the owners of the rentals accountable for such activity.

“It has become such an issue in Dayton, Ohio that they’re not even doing a city ordinance, they’re wanting it to become state law,” Hartman said.

While law enforcement isn’t necessarily seeing this activity in Greenfield, Hartman said there is the possibility for it to start based on watching trends from the east. Hartman said that they are wanting to be proactive instead of reactive if this were to happen.

“We know they’re coming, so we get ahead of them, so when they do happen it’s not that big of a concern for us because we’re already prepared for it,” Hartman said. “…So if and when it does — I hope it never does. I hope we put this in place and somebody comes back and says ‘You guys put this in place and never had one case like this.’ You know what that tells me? They’re not coming to Greenfield and dealing narcotics in bulk like that.”

According to the ordinance, any dwelling that would qualify as a short-term rental would be if renting takes places within a single family home; a dwelling unit in a single family home; a dwelling unit in a two-family or multifamily dwelling; or a dwelling unit in a condominium, cooperative or time share.

Hartman said that with this, for those who follow the ordinance and also put the required sticker in the window to display that a unit is a rental, allows them to have contact with the owners if there are any issues that need to be addressed.

Hartman said he realizes that registering rentals will cost a one-time fee of $150 and extra paperwork, but it also gives law enforcement “leg room” when trying to find who is accountable for any illegal activity, damages, etc.

Also, Hartman said there will be people who “don’t play by the rules” and get the agreement, but if they receive calls to a location and realize that it is a short-term rental, then the planning and zoning department would reach out and tell them they have to abide the ordinance or possibly receive a fine.

A suggestion Hartman shared at the meeting would be to have a short-term preferred rental list, which shows those who have abide by the rules and is a preferred place to stay if someone was to look for a short-term rental in Greenfield.

Hartman said that with this ordinance, it is a change but as the city grows there will be more short-term rentals.

“I think this is just a good starting point for the future,” Hartman said. “… If we don’t put something in place now, it’s going to be more difficult to put something in place later … The main purpose of this change is for the safety of the citizens of Greenfield.”

After an approximately hour-long discussion of further details, the plan commission passed a favorable recommendation to go before the city council on February 28.