Notes from the Saugerties Village Board

(Photo by Christina Coulter)

Village mulls BnB regulations 

There has been a movement among several municipalities to regulate so-called short-term rentals of properties in which the owner lives for part of the year, Saugerties village code enforcement officer Eyal Saad reported recently to the village board. Since there have been a number of lawsuits over the practice, Saad advised holding off on regulating them until the case law has stabilized. “Basically, how do I say ‘You cannot rent your home for the day, for the week, for the month, for the year’?” he asked. 

“Is there a difference between Airbnb and someone renting out their house to HITS [Horseshows In The Sun] people for a few weeks?” mayor Bill Murphy asked. Airbnb is a trade name, not the general concept. Some of the laws Saad has looked at refer to temporary rental housing.

Issues can arise include noise or partying until early-morning hours, trustees said. Trustee Don Hackett noted that any rental has to have fire detectors and a certificate of occupancy. “We have to find a way that we can check this out. We do need inspections.”

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The village has not had problems until now, Saad said. He thought that educating homeowners on the issues would make more sense than immediately passing regulations.
“I disagree, but I’m sure we can work it out,” Hackett said.

Following Saad’s report, Murphy said that “Eyal is the building inspector, but he does a lot more. When I came in, he was snowplowing the parking lot.”

“I needed to get to the basement, and that was the only way I could get to it,” Saad explained. 

Substantial water leak

It’s a mystery. A sizable amount of the water the Saugerties village water department treats is disappearing, and the village doesn’t know where it is going.

At the village board meeting on December 22, water superintendent Mike Hopf said the village’s average usage is about 800,000 gallons per day. “We have been actively searching for leaks. Twenty thousand gallons [the approximate loss so far] is about ten percent of what we’re treating. We’re losing about 80 gallons a minute,” he estimated at the meeting Tuesday. “Usually when you have leaks or water main breaks, you have pressure problems in the smaller mains, so it’s a chance that this is a larger main. It could be going to a storm drain or a ditch.”

Four small leaks were found four leaks, “and we let the homeowners know,” continued Hopf. “That’s through the meters and they would be on the smaller side. I believe the leak we’re looking for is 80 to 90 gallons per minute. It’s a pretty good size.”

A master meter records the total water consumption in the town outside the village, Hopf said. “There was a leak at the end of Washington Avenue at Mike Krout Road, and it was going into the drainage swale. We thought that might be it, but we checked the master meter, and we could see the break occurred within the past 24 hours.”

The New York Rural Water Association has stepped in to help find the leak, Hopf said.

Parking situation improved

Parking near the Cahill Elementary School has been reduced since the village asked that teachers and other school personnel not park in spaces along Washington Avenue, where parents line up to pick up their children when school lets out.

“I talked to the superintendent, and he talked to the principals, and they are giving a message to teachers, as we discussed, to not park on the Washington Avenue side. I’ve seen a decrease, and at 2:25 I saw parents’ cars.
Councilman Don Hackett said he had noticed the decrease in parking along Washington Avenue near the school. There was always one vehicle, however, and it was in the 15-minute parking area near the library. It was a Mercedes, he said.

There’s no necessity to park along Washington Avenue, several trustees pointed out, because there was legal parking on the west side of Washington Avenue, or near Saint Mary’s around the corner.

Aside from parking, there a kind of “mayhem” on Washington Avenue near the school, as parents come to drop off kids in the morning and pick them up in the afternoon. “I think it’s worse in the afternoon,” mayor Bill Murphy said. “In the morning they’re there to drop the kids off. In the afternoon, they’re sitting there.”

Murphy suggested that it might make sense to put up a sign saying “student pickup and dropoff only” along the section of Washington Avenue near the school.

News on Russell Street

Code enforcement officer Eyal Saad reported that the owner of 18-20 Russell Street, which was severely damaged by fire on April 21, has hired a contractor to demolish the burned-out hulk. One tenant died in the fire, and several were injured.

The first step will be removal of asbestos from the building. Once that is completed, the building, which contained three apartments, will be demolished, Saad said. Demolition work on the building was held up because of investigations and lawsuits resulting from the death and injuries in the fire. However, the building can now be demolished, Saad reported at a meeting last month.

Saad also reported on problems with the heating system in the village hall. The relatively new boilers are working well, but problems in the distribution system, which he said were improperly hooked up, are interfering with the heating system’s performance. Saad will be working with buildings and grounds superintendent George Terpening to solve the problem.

Appreciation of  Coast Guard

“We hosted a meal for the Coast Guard, They’re working but not being paid,” said trustee Jeff Helmuth. He mentioned the American Legion’s lasagna dinner, with pizza for the kids. Other activities for the workers included the VFW sponsoring a dinner, as well as various fund-raising activities to help the 27 service members who were working without pay because of the dispute over the federal budget.
The Chamber of Commerce is organizing gift cards for the Coast Guard, reported trustee Jeannine Mayer.
Mayer also reported that Chamber of Commerce meetings are open to anyone who wishes to attend. The next meeting will be at Bella Luna on January 30 at 6:30 p.m. Adele Zimmerman will give an update on the Saugerties Animal Shelter. Profiles of animals for adoption will be posted on TV 23.

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