Several homeowners complained about short-term rentals causing disturbances at the Aug. 18 Town of Shawangunk Board meeting. While town officials listened intently and were sympathetic to the residents’ concerns, the board explained that there wasn’t a lot that could be done right now since the board still hasn’t adopted a short-term rental law.
One couple, who declined to identify themselves to the Wallkill Valley Times after they spoke at the meeting, complained to the board about the traffic generated by a short-term rental property on Bert McCord Drive in Pine Bush.
“The issues I find are unknown people coming into our neighborhood,” the male owner of the house near the short-term rental said. “We didn’t buy this property thinking that it was zoned for anything other than residential. I don’t know who’s coming into this guy’s house or the kind of background these people have.”
Matthew and Tara Lotocke of Westview Drive also complained about speeding cars going to and from short-term rentals near their home. They said noise from short-term rental occupants during all hours of the day and evening was a disruption to the neighborhood.
“On certain days, there could be 10 or 12 cars that come up our road for one evening,” Matthew Lotocke said. “So, that’s 10 or 12 cars that leave by 11 a.m. the next day.”
Supervisor John Valk told the residents that the town had a public hearing on a proposed local law on short-term rentals six months ago.
“Every community is dealing with this right now,” Valk said. “We have 90 (short-term rentals) in our town at this present time. We don’t have a law that allows it. But we can’t send out the code enforcement officer to give 90 violations. So, we’re trying to come up with a law to regulate it.”
Valk said there was little opposition to short-term rentals at the public hearings earlier this year and urged the town residents to voice their opposition to short-term rentals when public hearings are held again.
“We’re relooking at that law,” Valk said. “We’ve had people here buy apartment houses and they live in New Windsor and they rent them out like a motel every weekend. There probably is a place for them in our small business or commercial zones, though.”
When asked by a town resident how long it would take to pass a law restricting short-term rentals in the Town of Shawangunk, Valk said it might not be until next spring.
“It’s not going to be quickly,” he said. “The worst thing is if we pass a law, but somebody files an Article 78, then we don’t have a law. We want to have something that sticks, that we can enforce. Towns get sued on this all the time. Airbnb organizations have a lot of money.”
In other news, a public hearing to dissolve the New Prospect Fire District was scheduled for Oct. 6.
Police Chief Gerald Marlatt also said he was looking into moving the date of the annual National Night Out after the Aug. 2 event drew light attendance at Garrison Park in Wallkill.
He said competition from the neighboring Town of Crawford National Night Out drew possible attendees away from the Wallkill event, which was sponsored by the Shawangunk Police Benevolent Association.
“It was really a nice night and we had a lot of vendors, food and things to do,” Marlatt said. “Everyone enjoyed themselves, but we want to do whatever we can to make sure we have more people here next year. Moving the date so we don’t have conflicts with other towns might accomplish that.”
There was no comment during a public hearing on Introductory Local Law No. 5, which is known as “Miscellaneous Zoning Text Amendments.”
The public hearing wasn’t closed, however, since the Town Planning Board just reviewed it, Valk said.
“We’re not going to adopt it tonight,” Valk said. “The planning board had some pretty good comments. We’ll close the public hearing at some point. And maybe make some minor revisions.”