Public speaks to changes in Lloyd Rental Law

By Mark Reynolds
Posted 1/24/24

The Lloyd Town Board, last week, held a public hearing on amendments they are seeking to make to the Short Term Transient [STR] Law.


Supervisor Dave Plavchak said they are proposing …

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Public speaks to changes in Lloyd Rental Law

The Lloyd Town Board, last week, held a public hearing on amendments they are seeking to make to the Short Term Transient [STR] Law.
Supervisor Dave Plavchak said they are proposing to change a few definitions in the law, “of what bedrooms and sleeping rooms are, adding addresses to the signs to make sure they are clearly displayed and also conformance to the New York State Fire Prevention code along with a section to allow an STR in a multi-family.”
Resident Phil Potenza said he and his wife host an STR in a three unit building on Grand Street. The couple began renting one of the units through AirBnb on a short term basis.
“It has been great for us and it really has changed as far as income to cover rent and utilities and taxes most importantly,” he said. “It’s just been steady and dependable.”
Potenza said with a three unit property and the law he feels he is being penalized and is hoping that the town will consider their situation so they can continue renting the one unit.
Joan Kelly began by addressing the issue of having four units in a multi-family dwelling, pointing out that this is not permitted under the New York State Dwelling Law. She said this law, “defines a multiple dwelling that’s either rented, leased, let, or hired out to be occupied or is occupied as a residence or home of three or more families living independently of each other.”
Kelly said in 2010, the law was amended to clarify that, “multiple dwellings can be used for permanent residence only, so New York State does not allow more than two for short-term rentals. In 2016 additional legislation was passed that made it illegal to advertise units for occupancy that would violate New York State Law, noting that violators were subject to a $1,000 fine for the first violation and up to $7,500 for the third or more, “and is not something you want to mess around with.”
Kelly urged the board to limit the number of guests, especially in areas that are not in the Water and Sewer District, because the septic system was designed based on the number of bedrooms in the house. She said her neighbor “cleverly” advertises in such a way that up to 10 people can rent his house. She said the town should run this through a few test cases to ascertain what is going on in some of the STR homes, “to make sure you have the verbiage in there [STR Law] that actually makes it do what you want it to do.”
Kelly noted that the STR Law is also missing a method of enforcement and there are no penalties or ways to hold those accountable if they violate the law.
Bruce Epperson took issue with the procedure and substance of the ordinance. He noted that Sec 100s 58a in the town code permits amendments to the zoning code may come from the public, from the Planning Board or from the Town Board
“But in any of these three cases that section requires that the amendment be referred to the Planning Board and a report be prepared for the Town Board,” he said. “That report shall contain whether such change is consistent with the aims and principles embodied in the chapter in the zoning code, which areas, land uses, buildings and establishments in the town will be directly affected and the indirect implications of such change.”
Epperson said in 2022 the Ulster County Planning Board  strongly recommended that multi-family dwellings not be included in the town’s STR ordinance. In addition, the county stated that, “any non-owner occupied unit being offered as an STR be subject to a one year, not a two year permit scheme in order to improve enforcement. Those actions were never taken.” He said the new ordinance “greatly expands the number of units that will be eligible for non-owner occupied units as multi-family units do not have owner occupied in the way single family units do.”  
Plavchak said that single family units are also not required to be owner-occupied. He pointed out that the STR law was sent to the county planning board for comment but the Town Board passed its law by a vote of 5-0 [super majority] at that time, “so we followed the procedure unless you tell me different.” He explained that the board did not agree with the county’s recommendation for one year and voted instead for the two year stipulation.
Epperson clarified his argument, saying that STRs are allowed in the following zones - A, R-1, R-2, R ½, R1/4 and in CB districts. He said by checking the zoning matrix, multi-family units, “are not allowed by right in any of these zoning districts.” Plavchak said they are allowed in the residential zones.
Following this, Plavchak said Epperson had only 30 seconds more to speak. This led to a heated argument resulting in Epperson being given more time to speak.  
Epperson pointed out that besides the town not following its own procedure, “the amendment is poorly structured and badly drafted... At a minimum this indicates that the proposed amendment has not been given a thorough review and a vetting by town staff and planning bodies. The amendment doesn’t define whether it applies to multi-family parcels, structures or units. Also as presently worded the amendment is non-sensical because it permits STRs to be issued as an accessory use to multi-family structures in zoning districts where multi-family structures and uses are prohibited. Multi-family uses are nowhere allowed by right in any zoning district but are permitted as a Special Use Permit in the R-1; R1/4 and CB districts and thus the accessory use STR is allowed only in those districts where primary use, multi-family residential is not.”
Epperson concluded by saying that the resolution is not ready for approval and believes the improvised ad hoc nature of the amendments, “is inadequate and dangerous” and again urged the Town Board to work with their Planning and Zoning Boards to advise them on technical planning matters in order to, “eliminate shortcomings in the present ordinance. Send it back, workshop it, have a public hearing at the Planning Board to finesse it.”
The Town Board left the Public Hearing open, with Plavchak offering clarification. He said the changes presented came out of tri-board meetings that are held on a quarterly basis. Besides consulting with the Planning Board, Plavchak said the changes were submitted to the Ulster County Planning Board and the Town Board will have to consider their recommendations, “and make the changes we have to make before we bring it back for a vote; to override the county planning board we would need a super-majority vote [4 of 5 board members].”
Plavchak noted that the Planning Board has no issues with  some of the changes but they are concerned about the multi-family, “impacts on the supply of full-time housing stock. He said the county also recommends against the use of non-residential structures for the development of STRs, which we already originally prohibited. Their modification would be to take out the multi-families and also recommended just licensing through the Building Department. So far we’ve been agreeing with the Special Use Permit instead because that way residents get [their] say in the public hearing as part of the Special Use Permits.”