Board considers short-term rental moratorium
WATKINS GLEN--The Watkins Glen planning board held a workshop Wednesday, July 10, with a discussion of a moratorium on short-term rentals in the village driving the discussion. To execute a moratorium, the village's trustees will need to amend a local law.
Currently, the village's attorney has reviewed proposed language to establish the moratorium. This language, according to the attorney, must include several requirements, which were presented at the meeting by planning board member Brian Eslinger. The requirements include the following: there must be a reasonable timeframe as measured by the actions to accomplish the goal, there is a valid public purpose identified, the burden is shared substantially by the public at large, there must be strict adherence to the procedure for adoption of the moratorium--in this case by local law, and the moratorium cannot be open-ended.
"The village's comprehensive plan is black and white," said Eslinger. "The first goal is to promote a mix of quality housing options that are available to a range of income levels and meet the needs of existing and future village residents. We're doing that with the new DRI grant. The second goal is to preserve and enhance the village's existing residential neighborhood. We need to protect the character of our community."
If the moratorium is established, the planning board will use the time to evaluate the current situation, looking at the language of applicable laws, the density of short-term rental units, zoning laws and use tables.
At the meeting, members discussed a variety of parameters that may be considered for implementation after the moratorium is lifted, including restrictions on the number of short-term rentals one entity can own, residency requirements for owners and/or property managers, and laws that will encourage short-term rental owners to be responsible neighbors.
"We also need to consider health and safety issues, which take precedence over everything else," said planning board member Jim Adesso. "This may impact parking. If there's no off-street parking, safety may be in question."
Planning board members agreed to move the request for a moratorium on short-term rentals to the mayor and village trustees after Planning Board Chairman Joe Fazzary ensures that the proposed language meets the legal requirements as outlined by the village attorney. If the moratorium is enacted, applications that have been submitted for short-term rental permits will be put on hold, owners operating without a permit will be required to stop and no new applications will be accepted.