When the Shandaken Short-Term Rental (STR) Committee met on November 11, they discussed such issues as how to define STRs in the town code and what measures might be included in a new law requiring STR owners to obtain a license for operation.
The previous meeting had resulted in a definition that combined language from laws passed by Ulster County and by the Town of Woodstock. That definition is as follows:
“Short-term” and “vacation rentals” in the capacity of accessory use, supplementary business, or business, shall mean and include those units rented or leased to occupants — other than permanent residents — that are furnished apartments or living units in or consisting of a dwelling place ordinarily occupied for residential purposes or location that is otherwise made available for sleeping accommodations, directly by the owner or through an owner’s agent or hosting platform.
After studying Shandaken’s existing code defining Bed & Breakfast, Guest Cottage, Hotel/Motel, Accessory Apartment within a Single-Family Home, and Guest Cottage on Residential Premise, the committee concluded that STRs do not fit any of the categories, given variations that include a separate cottage, an adjoining apartment, a room in shared house, or a full home. Therefore, the committee will advise the town board to add a new line item for “Short Term Rentals” to the Structure/Land Use: Residential Use section of the 116-10 District Schedule of Use Regulations.
In the discussion that followed, it was agreed STRs should be permitted in all Residential zones, as well as Hamlet zones, but excluded from Commercial Light Industry Districts and Floodway Districts, where no residential use is currently allowed.
James Kopp suggested organizing a simple initial licensing process, less complex than the procedures currently required for obtaining a special permit from the planning board. Once a license application is submitted and a fee paid, an inspection would be completed to make sure the host is in compliance with any safety regulations and other specifications yet to be determined. Licensing would give the town a handle on the number and location of STRs without overburdening the system.
Ralph Combe suggested that such a license be renewed yearly, with an option for the town to revoke it if a complaint reveals the owner is in violation of regulations. Sam Spada recommended the licensing process be kept separate from the zoning code in case the town wants to make changes in licensing down the line.
Further discussion addressed different regulations for the different types of STRs (owner-occupied versus absentee owner), linking the number of guests allowed to the number of bathrooms in the house, and grandfathering in current STRs if a cap is put on the number of STRs in a zone.
For the next meeting, members will bring a list of possible regulations and issues for discussion, such as number of rentals an owner can have, a cap on the number of days the premises can be rented out yearly, safety regulations, parking guidelines.
The last 20 minutes of the meeting were open to comments from the five people in the audience. Friction arose between committee member and town resident Hank Williams and audience members Brian Powers and Kerry Henderson, both STR owners.
The committee will meet again on Monday, December 9, at 7 p.m. at the town hall..