The Town of Gardiner Planning Board is supportive of two Town Board initiatives that would change the way it deliberates zoning procedures, the first being the heavily-debated proposed short term rental legislation.
“As a Planning Board member I support the Town Board and their overall outline of what this law looks like and I don’t see any administrative issues for us as a Planning Board to enforce or direct what the town board has determined,” said Vice Chairperson Keith Libolt at the Feb. 23 Planning Board meeting.
Because the local law would amend the town’s zoning law, the Town Board was required to consult the Planning Board. For the record, the former asked the latter to offer a memo containing its qualms with the drafted legislation. Instead, the board opted to unanimously support the plan.
Dozens of Gardiner residents spoke at the Feb. 9 hearing to raise concerns, many of which were that the regulations were too restrictive. According to the law, a short term rental is defined as a “Primary Residence that is rented in whole or part, to any person or entity for a period of less than 30 consecutive nights, and is not regulated as a commercial or non-residential use under the Town of Gardiner Zoning Law.” The speakers argued the limited language was not viable for full-time residents.
“There’s a lot of controversy on it. I’ll tell you that,” Chairperson Paul Colucci said before asking board member Marc Moran to craft the memo outlining the board’s endorsement. “It’d be helpful to have our opinion.”
Planning Board member Carol Richman was one of the many to speak, suggesting that the law include further restrictions on where Airbnbs could operate. She argued that short term rentals should be barred from the Shawangunk Ridge zoning because tourists exploring the property could unknowingly disrupt the diverse environment. Richman had exited the Feb. 23 Planning Board meeting before the short term rental topic was discussed and was unable to re-offer her suggestion.
“The law is logical to me and I am fine with putting a positive support in our report to the Town Board,” said Becky Fuller, the board’s alternate filling in for Richman.
The Feb. 9 town hearing was held open and will resume March 2.
The Planning Board briefly discussed another action by the Town Board: to establish a Natural Resources Inventory.
The NRI is a database containing information on the town’s environmental wealth, such as soils, streams, wetlands, forests and wildlife in the forms of maps and a comprehensive report. It’s implementation would alter the ways the Planning Board reviews zoning applications because it would offer a deeper understanding of what a site is composed of.
“It’s another tool to use as part of our application process,” said board Clerk Glenn Gidaly. “It’s a real asset I think that we have in Gardiner.”
Colucci noted the board would most likely need to amend its application checklist to include NRI requirements. The in-depth information would allow the board to make more informed decisions on how an application could affect the surrounding environment, he said.
“I don’t see any reason why it shouldn’t be included in the checklist or during the application process for sure,” the chairperson said.
The board wasn’t asked by the Town Board to take an official position on the NRI.