Last week, the direst news in the Town of Gardiner was the impending closure of a small bridge that spans the Coxing Kill and provides access to the outside world for the residents of an isolated neighborhood in the Shawangunks known as the Clove. Town supervisor Marybeth Majestic announced at the October 12 Town Board meeting that the Clove Road Bridge would be out of commission for an indefinite period beginning Monday, October 18. Residents of the Clove will have to come and go via Mohonk Road to High Falls or Clove Valley Road to Accord, rather than using Route 44/55.
More than half of the $393,575 pricetag for replacement of the bridge is being funded by state grants, with the possibility of federal funding under the American Relief Plan for some or all of the balance. Completion of the construction project is anticipated by the end of 2021, weather permitting. “I’m very happy that this 30-year-old temporary bridge is being replaced,” Majestic said.
Discussion of the other most pressing issue for Gardinerites, the proposed 2022 Town budget, was punted to a pair of special meetings scheduled for October 14 and 21. Some tense moments ensued, however, in a discussion of the latest iteration of the proposed Short-Term Rental Law, as councilwoman Laura Walls made a last-ditch effort to revive components of an earlier, more restrictive draft of the legislation that had received the blessing of the Ulster County Planning Board.
At the previous week’s meeting, Walls had raised the possibility that the current draft might violate provisions of Gardiner’s Zoning Code by sanctioning the operation of “lodging facilities” that take up more than 30 percent of the floor space of a private dwelling. In Walls’ interpretation, owners of home-based businesses above a certain size are required by a section of the code to undergo site plan review by the Planning Board. Supervisor Majestic told the Board at the October 12 meeting that the Town attorney had reviewed the flagged section of the code and concluded that it did not apply to short-term rentals because the new law “creates a carve-out” for such uses.
“I do read it differently,” Walls responded, and once again urged the adoption of stronger STR legislation than is currently under consideration, which she characterized as an incomplete “interim stopgap measure” without clear metrics for gauging its success. Other Town Board members pushed back, with Franco Carucci noting that inconsistencies in the zoning code are currently under review by the Board, along with the Comprehensive Plan.
Warren Wiegand accused Walls of “moving the goalposts” and urged that the Board schedule a final public hearing and up-or-down vote on the legislation as currently proposed. He also suggested passage of a separate resolution stipulating “a hard look at the STR law a year after it’s been enacted,” rather than adding evaluation parameters to the language of the law itself.
In a split vote, with Walls and David Dukler dissenting, the Board ultimately passed a resolution to schedule what should be the final public hearing on the STR law for the November 9 meeting.