Hillsdale moves closer to regulating short-term rentals

HILLSDALE–At the monthly town meeting this week, board member Tom Carty reported on two proposed local laws that were approved, recently, by a committee called the Short-Term Rental Taskforce. The draft of Local Law 1, which the taskforce adopted by a 6-1 vote, seeks to regulate short-term rentals (STR), commonly known as Airbnbs after the company of that name, are considered similar to commercial lodging establishments like motels, and bed and breakfast facilities.

Under the proposal, short-term rental owners would be required to get a $50 permit annually and their properties will be subject to periodic and on-the-spot inspections. Also, unregistered STRs would be fined. In addition the facilities would be required to have an owner, manager or authorized representative residing within 20 miles of the property, and the permit must list complete contact information for the owner, manager or representative.

Local Law 2 seeks to align the town’s zoning law definitions of major projects to conform with New York State standards. Hillsdale resident Craig Norton, who researched the matter, said his interest was triggered by the difficulties the Old Tone Roots Music Festival encountered trying to meet the town’s requirements.

Mr. Norton said that the town’s thresholds for determining a major project “are too small.” He cited the state’s threshold for a major project is 4,000 square feet for both new construction and expansion of an existing building. Hillsdale’s standard is 2,000 square feet for new construction and 1,000 square feet for expansion. Also the state does not regulate alteration of land less than 10 acres, and then only if the proposed alteration is permanent. Hillsdale’s standard is 5,000 square feet. Under state law, the thresholds would not apply to the music festival because its alterations have been temporary and had no significant environmental impact.

The taskforce unanimously approved the proposed Local Law 2.

The next steps before the proposed local laws can take effect are: 1. Review by the county Planning Board; 2. A local public hearing; 3. A vote by the Hillsdale Town Board.

In other business at the December 11 Town board meeting:

• The board unanimously approved the rental of a postal machine that weighs mail, seals envelopes and applies postage for $51.19/month. Infrastructure Chair Robina Ward said the town would save $28/month plus countless hours of labor. Hillsdale annually sends out 7,000 pieces of mail

• Town Clerk Kathi Doolan reported that recycle bags are available for sale at the town hall. She said that the bags are “sturdier” than the ones sold at the transfer station. Also, the town gets a commission on all the bags it sells

• The board appointed Ramona Bellamy secretary to the Zoning Board of Appeals. Ms. Bellamy’s administrative experience includes several years as a business manager for a private school.

The next board meeting is Tuesday, January 8, 2019 at 7 pm.

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