Caroga officials agree to work with property owners

Caroga Town Board members answered questions regarding its proposed local law on short term renters on Wednesday. Shown are Councilman John Glenn, left, and Supervisor James Selmser. (The Leader-Herald/Briana O’Hara)

CAROGA — Short-term rental owners and town officials agreed to work together to develop short-term rental regulations that will better suit the town and to better accommodate its tourism rather than adopt the proposed regulations.

The Caroga Town Board held a public hearing on Wednesday giving residents the opportunity to speak on the proposed local law that would set regulations on short term rentals in the town.

Many residents who spoke at the public hearing were owners of the short term rentals who oppose the proposed local law finding it to be “absolutely ridiculous” or thought the proposed law used a lot of “strong words” and discriminated against short-term rental owners.

“Anyone who is a weekly as far as your community members, they are the ones at the top of the list keeping their properties in A-shape,” said Patricia Isabella, owner of a short-term rental. “As a property owner here, I do not want to see anymore additional taxes or fees put on me when I make sure I bring people in from out of this area. I bring people in this area that spend money on restaurants, renting boats and all other things they do in the area. If it wasn’t for these people here renting their houses out, you wouldn’t have lodging for people to come enjoy Caroga Lake. I think you need to think about how much we’re bringing to the community.”

Owners questioned the town board regarding the sudden urge to propose the law especially since there have not been any issues in the past with short-term rentals.

“Before the town adopts a policy on short-term rentals, it needs to establish what the real problem is,” one owner said. “I want the town to come up with real solutions that are going to fix the problem, but not create new problems.”

According to the proposed local law, a short-term rental is a dwelling unit that is rented, in whole or part to any person for a period that is less than 30 days, and does not fall under the regulations for “rental” agreements in the town’s codes. Therefore, town officials said they believe regulations need to be developed for short-term rentals.

Supervisor James Selmser said the legislation is “copied” after regulations other municipalities — such as Lake Placid — have established.

“The rental properties are a way to get people that haven’t been here before to come, and a majority of those people come back. It’s not something we want to discourage people, we want to make sure they have a good experience here, they’re safe and the other residents who are here presently, are also safe,” Selmser said.

Some regulations listed in the proposed law include:

∫ An owner shall obtain a short-term rental permit whenever a dwelling unit is to be used for short-term rental purposes.

∫ Short-term rental permit applications should be submitted to the town code enforcement officer, and should be signed by all persons who have ownership interest in the subject property, and should include payment toward a permit fee to be determined by the town board.

∫ Compliance with the New York State Fire Prevention and Building Code.

∫ Completion of a signed and notarized affidavit by the property owners.

∫ A site plan, drawn to scale, showing the location of buildings, required parking and, if not served by a public sewer, the location of the septic system and leach field.

∫ If the property is served by a private septic system, a septic inspection report must be issued pursuant to laws and regulations of the town of Caroga, dated within 90 days of the date of the application.

∫ The name, address, telephone number and e-mail address of a contact person, who shall be responsible, and authorized, to act on the owner’s behalf to promptly remedy any violation of these standards or the permit.

∫ The property must have sufficient off-street parking spaces to accommodate the maximum occupancy.

∫ Tenants and guests shall park in the off-street parking spaces and shall not park on any part of the lawn of the property nor on the street.

∫ A house number visible from the street or road shall be maintained.

∫ Provisions shall be made for weekly garbage removal during rental periods.

∫ Advertisements for the short-term rental must conform to what is allowed under these regulations and the short-term rental permit.

∫ Guests must comply with any applicable noise ordinance of the town.

∫ The current short-term rental permit shall be prominently displayed inside and near the front entrance of the short-term rental.

Councilman Kent Kirch said he agreed with all the comments and concerns that were discussed during public hearing.

“I think we need some basic standards for rental properties in town. I think the law everyone has been looking at is not in the condition it needs to be and may not be exactly what it should be for us to vote on it and pass it tonight,” Kirch said. “I think probably most of the properties we’re talking about are actually some of the best properties in town in terms of conditions of the buildings, but on the other hand there I think having some basic standards would be good.”

He said the intent is not to decrease rental property activity, and believes the town should be doing everything it can to promote tourism and visitors.

Councilman John Glenn suggested forming a committee to include owners of short-term rentals that could come up with workable guidelines.

“Let’s see if we can work together,” Glenn said.

By Patricia Older

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