The Woodstock Planning Board balked at the suggestion made by Town Supervisor Bill McKenna to raise the cap on the number of short term rental permits, insisting that no changes should be made until zoning revisions and housing task force work is complete.
The recalcitrance expressed by the members at the September 1 Planning Board meeting were in response McKenna’s suggestion the cap be raised to accommodate a small group of short-term rental owners who felt they were left out of the initial permit process.
Housing Committee member Urana Kinlen reminded the Planning Board that there is a group working on revisions to the 2019 short-term rental law. That is in addition to zoning revisions and work by the Housing Oversight Task Force.
The planners agreed that no permits should be approved other than the 15 owner-occupied short-term rental permits that are already available. Planning Board member Judith Kerman was tasked with sending a response to McKenna. “We have a town task force working on it. We have recommendations from the county working on it. There are implications in the housing task force, zoning revisions. All of which suggests this is premature,” Kerman said of raising the cap.
Kinlen pointed out another reason for keeping the status quo. “We have a huge problem with the enforcement. So that also needs to be addressed before we’re allowing more,” she said. “We’ve got to get on the enforcement part because we already know there’s a ton doing it anyway.”
Anthony Perry of the Woodstock STR (Short Term Rental) Association told the Town Board at its August 23 meeting that he represents 25 homeowners who need permits. He said there is a lack of studies and analysis to support the current STR law. He criticized the town for “improper and unsubstantiated targeting of a limited class of property owners, i.e. short term rental owners, as being marked as responsible for or significantly contributing to the town’s believed affordable housing challenges.”
Other accusations articulated by Perry include “arbitrary setting of the cap followed by the arbitrary reduction of it” and “chaotic, haphazard and capricious administration of the cap to date.” Perry said he doesn’t want to pursue legal action. He suggests temporarily removing the cap and allowing all applicants to receive permits.
McKenna asked Perry for a list of the 25 would-be applicants so they can be ready in case the cap is raised.
The town has limited short-term rental permits to 280 owner-occupied and 75 non-owner-occupied.