Regulations enacted by board on 3-2 vote
The Cold Spring Village Board last week narrowly adopted a local law to regulate short-term rentals such as those booked through Airbnb.
The resolution passed on July 29 by a 3-2 margin, with Trustees Kathleen Foley and Tweeps Phillips Woods voting “no,” a development that appeared to surprise Mayor Dave Merandy. He and Trustees Marie Early and Fran Murphy voted to adopt the regulations, which have been discussed and revised over months.
Key provisions of the law include:
- All short-term rentals must operate under a village permit, valid for one year.
- Permits will be distributed by lottery, with up to 33 sites where the owner lives on the premises and 16 sites where the owner is not present.
- Rentals can operate for up to 90 nights per year.
- Rentals for events such as West Point graduation will be permitted for up to two, 7-day periods.
- Permits apply to only one short-term rental property.
- Properties can only be rented to one party at a time.
- Short-term rentals cannot operate within 300 linear feet of each other.
- One off-street parking spot is required in the R-1 and I-1 zones.
- An LLC can only operate a short-term rental if the property is occupied by one of its owners.
- The host or an agent must be available to respond within 20 minutes.
After the vote, Merandy said he was disappointed “that this opposition [by Foley and Woods] wasn’t brought up at prior meetings. The time to bring up objections was after the [July 27] public hearing.”
Foley said she had raised concerns about the proposed regulations following the hearing and during a previous Zoom meeting that Merandy was unable to attend.
Reading from a prepared statement, Foley said she supports a number of the provisions, describing the law as “a step in the right direction.” However, she said it needs to provide more flexibility for short-term rentals in which the owner lives on the premises. She advocated the approach used in Rhinebeck, which doesn’t limit the number of hosted STRs or the number of rental nights.
Woods said she advocates establishing a committee to move the law forward, a measure promoted by a number of STR operators at the public hearing two days earlier. “That process could make this even better,” she said.
During the public comment period, resident Irene Pieza challenged the idea.
“Two years ago, there was a major public meeting on short-term rentals; why didn’t the STR [operators] proactively create a committee then?” she asked. Instead, she said, “they punted the responsibility” of how to best manage rentals in the village.
Merandy defended the law as adopted. “This law is to stop the proliferation of STRs,” he said, adding that short-term rentals are a business. “That’s the bottom line. It’s not in a business district, it’s in a residential district. People in a residential area do not want to live in a commercial area.”
He added that some STR operators want a committee because they aren’t happy with the new legal restrictions. “They want to have what they have now,” he said.
At the hearing two nights earlier, Kathy Bogardus, who has lived on Parrott Street since 1994, said she was unhappy that the board increased the maximum number of rental nights from 60 to 90 and the percentage of the village housing stock eligible to host STRs from 5 percent to 7.5 percent.
“That is a significant increase,” she said. Bogardus also described the proposed fee structure as “woefully inadequate.”
Longtime resident Lilian Moser said the problem with STRs is not noise or having strangers in the neighborhood. “It’s about people looking for long-term rentals being boxed out,” she said, adding that she and her husband are looking for a one-bedroom apartment but that available units are listed as STRs. “People who are willing to give back to this village are being forced out; something needs to change.”
In a letter to the board, James and Frances Pergamo objected to the permits, citing a lack of tax benefits, commercialization of residential areas and increased demand for village services. “We don’t want to think that every weekend we won’t know who is coming and going,” they wrote. “This is a safety and security concern, plain and simple.”
Evan Hudson wrote that “priority needs to be given to the needs of full-time residents over the pressures of short-term profit.” Hudson said peace and quiet, security and neighborliness tend to be undermined by STRs.
Others were critical of the law’s restrictions.
“I have not heard an objective reason from the mayor or board that a responsibly hosted STR is harmful to the community, neighborhoods or character of the village,” Marianne Remy wrote. “What I have heard are personal biases and instances of inconvenience, some of which are merely anticipated.”
Remy and others spoke in favor of creating an advisory group to develop rules. John Lane submitted a four-page letter on behalf of the Cold Spring Union of Hosted-Airbnb Residents, objecting to several aspects of the then-proposed law.
Lane acknowledged that the board had relaxed a number of restrictions during its review but wrote that the group still believed the law would “prove detrimental to the community and expensive and problematic to implement and enforce.”
He questioned the Village Board’s legal authority, arguing that “the board is not a legislative body but an administrative one.”
Lane said legal challenges to rules similar to Cold Spring’s “have been recognized recently in at least two federal courts in New York.” He also asserted that although the board had increased the number of nights STRs can operate, “there simply is no basis for limiting an STR operator’s ability to offer accommodations for a fixed number of nights.” Lane advocated “hardship exceptions” be included.
As he had at other meetings, Lane urged the board to set aside the issue until after the Nov. 2 election. Merandy, Early and Murphy are not running for re-election; Foley is a candidate for mayor, and Woods, who was appointed by Merandy, hopes to retain her seat for the second year of a two-year term vacated by Heidi Bender.
Village Clerk Jeff Vidakovich said the adopted revisions to Chapter 100 of the village code were sent to Albany on Aug. 4 and will become law when they are filed with the secretary of state. The text is posted at coldspringny.gov.