Hillsdale readies short-term rentals law

HILLSDALE–The Town Board voted unanimously this week to adopt the 2019 budget, which includes a 2% pay increase for town Highway Department workers. The $1,802,207.04 spending plan is the same amount as last year’s budget and no tax increase is anticipated.

Also at the November 13 monthly meeting board member Tom Carty reported on a draft of Local Law 1, which would regulate short-term rentals known as “Airbnb” accommodations–the name of a company that provides that sevice. He described the proposal as a “good beginning”. Mr. Carty noted that the term lodging facility will include “dwelling units” and refers to hotels, motels, bed-and-breakfasts, dwelling units, and any establishment providing sleeping accommodations to transient guests for compensation. A transient guest is defined as a person in continuous occupancy for less than 30 days.

All lodging facilities will be required to have an owner, manager or authorized representative residing within 20 miles of the property and must have a special permit that lists complete contact information for the owner, manager or representative. The permit would cost $50. Whether the permit fee is a one-time charge or renewable is still being discussed.

Before the Town Board adopts Local Law 1 a local public hearing must be conducted, and the proposal must be reviewed by the Columbia County Planning Board. Hillsdale Supervisor Peter Cipkowski stressed that the proposed Local Law 1 is about “public safety primarily and quality of life.”

On another matter, during the public comment portion of the meeting, a town resident made a plea for road paving. This time the offending dirt road is Texas Hill Road. Matt DeRuzzio, who described himself as a 14-year resident on Texas Hill, said that ice formation during the winter was hazardous and noted that last year two of the town’s trucks skidded off the road despite having tire chains. “What if it had been a fire truck or ambulance?” he asked.

Mr. DeRuzzio, also, noted that residents living on dirt roads pay as much tax as those living on paved roads.

Highway Superintendent Richard Briggs acknowledged the problems on Texas Hill but said that he was limited by the budget and added that nature often thwarts the best made plans, citing last year’s “horrendous winter” when “three back-to-back nor’easters, dumped heavy, wet snow” on the area. “We do the best job we possibly can.”

Mr. Briggs added that as for paving Texas Hill Road, “I don’t see it happening… in the near future.”

At the past two town meetings, residents on unpaved roads have requested upgrades.

In other town business:

• The firehouse is the site for distribution of Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets and gifts. Food Pantry volunteers are prepping 175 baskets to give away on Saturday, November 18; December 15 is the date for Christmas baskets and gifts

• The town’s planning and zoning boards are looking for new members. There is also a part-time, paid position for secretary on the zoning board. Applications are due November 30.

• Shredding bins return on December 3, according to Town Clerk Kathi Doolan. They will be located in the town hall basement.

The next Town Board meeting is Tuesday, December 11 at 7 p.m.

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