Saugerties Planning Board considers garage to house conversion

When does a garage become a separate dwelling unit from the house it serves?

That was the question the Town of Saugerties Planning Board had to answer at its meeting on December 21. Douglas and Joyce Brayton of Main Street in Malden, plan to convert what is now their garage to living quarters and sell their house. In response to a question, surveyor Dan McCarthy explained that  the intention is to renovate the garage to living space and to sell the house. One question, does the garage, which would normally be an accessory to the house, become a prime use? Does that fit the legal definitions?  The intention is to sell the house and convert the garage to a prime residence, McCarthy said. There is a shed that is used only for storage on the property as well, he said. 

Another problem is that the porch and stairs encroach on the adjoining lot. McCarthy said the Braytons had spoken to the owner of the adjoining lot and “they are okay with it,” McCarthy said.

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The board voted to approve the subdivision, but board member Ken Goldberg pointed out that while the neighbor may be agreeable to the encroachment on his property, it could hinder a future sale, as potential buyers may not want a neighbor’s property encroaching on their property. He suggested a possible note on the map. Board Chairman Howard Post said the neighbor should provide a letter specifying his agreement and there should be a notation on the map.

Board member Mike Tiano said that as the applicants had said they plan to travel a lot, with the converted garage as their home base, he is concerned about the possibility they might rent it out as an
Airbnb. Such an arrangement had led to problems in his neighborhood. He acknowledged that he cannot tell someone what they can do with their property, but he wanted to express his concern.

McCarthy said he could not speak for his clients’ future plans, but “I have never heard anything at all about an  Airbnb.”

The board voted to conditionally to approve the subdivision with a proviso that a note on the map and a letter make it clear that the property encroaches on the neighbor’s lot and that he does not have a problem with that.

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