The Lloyd Town Board held a public hearing on a local law concerning Short-Term Rentals that is under consideration.
Supervisor Dave Plavchak said short-term rentals, “really covers AirBnb, Vrbo or whatever transient type of rentals that people use. It’s come to a point where we’ll get a complaint and we go to the property owner and then we find out it was a renter who was partying all night causing noise and parking on the street.” He said the town’s Comprehensive Plan was originally done in 2005 and will be updated next year with more detail on this topic.
Plavchak said the town is working on this short-term law and welcomes comments from the public.
“We’ll talk some more and kick it around and in the next couple of months start moving forward on it,” he said.
Resident Joan Kelly said a principal tenet of the town’s Comprehensive Plan, “is to preserve the rural, residential and agricultural character of the community.” She said short-term rentals run counter to this key provision, pointing out that short-term rentals are not permitted in residential districts in the town, but this prohibition has not been enforced. She added that the Building Department claims that the definition for short term rentals is inadequate and that the town does not want to spend money to enforce the laws concerning these rentals.
“In addition to them being illegal, they’re not regulated. There are no emergency contacts, no information on the people in the house [and] if there is a fire, the firemen don’t know how many people are in the house,” she said. “There are no health and safety checks, on swimming pools, deck capacities, water quality and septic capacity. None of those items are checked. There is no requirement that the homeowner policy covers rentals, many do not, so if the renters start a fire suddenly we’re in a situation of who is liable, nobody is covering it.” In addition, Kelly noted that no one monitors burn permits, garbage is out all week, cars are parked in front yards, noise issues, trespassing on neighboring properties and no collection of taxes. She said she has lived next to a short term rental home for the past 15 years, “and I can tell you tons of things that could go wrong.” She said the proposed law before the board attempts to address some of the regulation problems, “but it doesn’t address the fundamental issues about the inadequate definition and the lack of enforcement. It adds a lot of cost overhead to the Building Department without improving the chances of enforcement.”
Kelly suggested that Lloyd model its law on the one that has been adopted by the City of Kingston.
“If anything is advertised as a short-term rental, it’s a short-term rental. If it’s an owner-occupied short-term rental, it is a Bed & Breakfast, currently covered in our zoning code,” she said. “If it is not an owner-occupied short-term rental, it’s a hotel, also covered in our current commercial zones. All the regulations, inspections, enforcement procedures are already in place [at] no additional cost overhead required. There is no need for a grandfather clause because short-term rentals are currently illegal.”
Kelly said if the town found a solution, it would have to be enforced, by locating the advertisers of short-term rentals, increasing the fines for multiple offenders and find renters who have multiple violations. She said an annual report should be compiled to keep track of the fees collected, the number of inspections, complaints, violations and include a breakdown of what town departments were involved per incident.
Nanci and Jeff Bonar purchased a 200 year-old stone home on Upper North Road in Highland in August with the intention of hosting short term rentals, believing it would be a perfect place for people to come and enjoy the Hudson Valley. She said presently the home is grandfathered in as a pre-existing, non-conforming single family residence, even though it is in a Light Industrial [LI] zone. The couple are planning to do some renovations to the home and will section off a portion of the home so there will be one main Bnb short term rental and a smaller unit. Nanci pointed out that they would be promoting many of the shops and restaurants in the Hamlet of Highland to their guests.
The couple understand that short-term rentals are not permitted in the LI zone they are in, but are requesting that the town make an adjustment in the law that would allow this type of rental in this zone.
“Essentially we’re asking for the same rights that all other owners of pre-existing short term rentals be allowed for us also,” she said. “Even though it is zoned LI, our planned short-term rental will not in any way disturb neighbors or clash with nearby light industrial activities.”
Plavchak said he understood the couple’s situation and would consider their request.
Councilman Mike Guerriero pointed out that people living in residential areas, “never expected to have somebody next door to them rent their units out, especially if you have a swimming pool, and they have 20 or 30 people every weekend, and not every case is going to be like this, but I think we have to see that we do not destroy or change neighborhoods and I think in a way this could happen. If you have to live next to a noisy neighbor, it’s bad enough, so I think we have to take this into consideration.”
Plavchak said, “This is one of the reasons we chose to use a Special Use Permit instead of an Administrative Use Permit because every one of them then has to have a public hearing.”
The Town Board left the Public Hearing open until next month.