Cold Spring Poised to Regulate Airbnbs

Church Street

Short-term rentals would be allowed on Church Street, which is zoned R-1. (Photo by M. Turton)

Public hearing scheduled for May 6

The Cold Spring Village Board on Tuesday (April 20) made final changes to the draft of a proposed chapter of the village code that would regulate short-term rentals such as those booked through Airbnb. 

Residents will have a chance to comment at a public hearing to be held via Zoom on May 6. 

Short-term rentals have proliferated in the Highlands in recent years and only one Cold Spring resident spoke against allowing them at a packed public meeting in September 2019. Most commented on the need to regulate rentals, including the number of guests allowed. 

“The proposed law was crafted with that [2019 meeting] in mind and I’m confident we addressed most, if not all, concerns,” Mayor Dave Merandy said on Thursday (April 22). 

Cold Spring’s draft law would allow up to 34 short-term rentals in the village, and they would only be allowed in two zones: R-1 for single-family residences and B-1 for general business, which includes Main Street and most of the area west of the railroad tracks. The number is 5 percent of the tax lots in both zones.

The condominiums at Butterfield, Forge Gate and Spring Brook, and the apartments at Chestnut Ridge would not be eligible. 

A lottery would determine who receives a nontransferable permit, which would be valid for one year. Applications would be accepted each year in August.

Other provisions in the proposed law include:

  • A permit is required for each short-term rental unit.
  • Short-term rentals are not allowed within a 300-foot radius of one that has been approved. 
  • In the R-1 zone, one off-street parking space must be provided.
  • A unit can be rented out for up to 60 nights per year. 
  • Only owner-occupied structures can be used.
  • Rentals must be for a minimum of two nights.
  • Properties owned by corporations, LLCs or similar entities cannot be used.
  • The owner or an agent must be available to respond on-site within 20 minutes.
  • Two adults and one child are allowed per bedroom, with a maximum of four adults and four children in a short-term rental.
  • Parties are not permitted; hosts must use “best efforts” to ensure guests don’t create unreasonable noise or disturbance.
  • Check-in is not allowed between 9 p.m. and 8 a.m.

A series of escalating fines is proposed for permit holders who don’t comply: a first offense is $250; a second offense is $500 and forfeiture of the permit for the remainder of the year; a third offense is $1,000 and forfeiture of eligibility for four years. 

Operating a short-term rental without a permit would trigger a $500 fine and a one-year loss of eligibility. A second offense is $1,000 and loss of eligibility for four years. 

The village code enforcement officer would inspect units annually and the Cold Spring Police Department would handle day-to-day enforcement.

Deputy Mayor Marie Early said the board faced a challenge in determining a reasonable maximum number of short-term rentals for the village. 

“STRs remove regular housing stock from the market,” she said. “That decreases the number of people who live in Cold Spring and contribute to village life — including volunteers all across the board.” 

But she pointed out that the Comprehensive Plan recommends more accommodations for visitors. 

“STRs are here to stay,” she said. “So why not put regulations in place that protect the community and provide additional accommodation?” 

The resolution to take the proposed law to a public hearing passed by a 4-0 vote, excluding Trustee Heidi Bender, who resigned on April 15. Mayor Dave Merandy said on Tuesday he intends to appoint someone to the seat until a special election in November to fill the remainder of Bender’s term, which ends in 2022. 

The proposed short-term rentals law, designated as Chapter 100 of the Village Code, is available at bit.ly/CS-STR, along with a permit application and additions to the village fee schedule.

7 thoughts on “Cold Spring Poised to Regulate Airbnbs

  1. The proposed regulations, which I would generally support, look fairly comprehensive and to the point (meaning, they are restrictive and quite different from what has been allowed and what has been going on, until recently). I would not be surprised to see disagreements and lawsuits.

    It appears the schedule of fees for the permits, in the proposed chapter, has not yet been determined. Or did I miss it? Would the fees be a function of the rent, the square footage, or the number of bedrooms in the unit? And would the fees cover the full costs of inspections and enforcement?

    Lastly, will a hotel tax be applied, either by the county or by the village, to address the added costs (other than those of inspections and enforcement) to the village?

  2. This permitting system seems overly restrictive and overly complicated.

    I am completely in favor of preserving the availability of long term rentals; the requirements for STRs to be limited to owner occupied buildings for a maximum of 60 days per year addresses that concern. I also understand the desire to have an on call manager a prerequisite.

    The need to apply and reapply for permits, and the restrictions on how close together STRs can be both seem unnecessary and impossible to implement fairly. I hope the board will reject the permits as currently proposed.

  3. The proposal limits the number of short-term rentals in the village to 34, but there are more than that being operated now. It should be interesting. [via Instagram]

    Fadde is a candidate for the Village Board.

  4. A $1,000 fine might be worth it, depending on how much you make on your rental. Sixty days a year seems restrictive — 104 (for each weekend day in the year) would be my minimum. [via Facebook]

  5. Many people rent out their homes only once or twice a year, such as during West Point graduation, and this would put a cap on the number of people allowed to do that. [via Facebook]

  6. Taking away or restricting an income source during a pandemic is not the work I’d like to see from the Village Board. I’m disappointed that this is on the top of the Village Board’s to-do list. More pressure, less relief. Oh wait, the bathrooms at the end of Main Street will finally open, so I suppose some relief. [via Facebook]

  7. How does this help residents and seniors going thru enough hard times? Will the proposed laws extend to all rentals in the village, not just short term? If not, why not? I think we are headed down the road to a future lawsuit for a discrimination against rental owners of both kinds. Also, why can’t we wait a little longer until we can have a better public venue, rather than only online? I applaud the efforts of the board to address this but feel we are rushing into making new rules without listening to all those concerned, not just a few jealous complainers and assorted squeaky wheels. The short-term rentals enhance the village and, when enhanced, everyone prospers.

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