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Common Council: Public invited to comment on 3 proposed laws

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The Hudson Department of Public Works and the city could soon be charting districts to repair city sidewalks.
July 18, 2019 07:02 pm

HUDSON — Do you want to have a say on three new draft laws for the city? Now is your chance.

In an effort to include the community in the process, the Legal Committee of the Common Council is inviting the public to comment and review the first drafts of three proposed local laws.

All three drafts of the proposed laws are on the city’s website: http://www.cityofhudson.org/news_detail_T10_R152.php.

Written comments from the public may be sent to Common Council President Thomas DePietro at councilpres@cityofhudson.org.

The discussion will continue at next month’s Legal Committee meeting scheduled for July 24, 6:15 p.m. at City Hall, 520 Warren St. The suggested laws are expected to be discussed then.

Short-term rentals

The first law is a regulation on short-term rentals, including AirBnbs, as a way to increase housing availability and lower rents citywide. More than 200 short-term rentals exist in the Hudson area.

The proposed law would call for a city license to operate a short-term rental, which must be obtained annually from the city Code Enforcement Office. The city Planning Board would oversee issuing conditional use permits for short-term rentals, according to the draft law. A non-owner occupied short-term renters will be allowed to operate one short-term rental in most of the city’s zoning districts. Short-term rentals established after the law is in place would be subject to the law; current short-term rentals will be grandfathered into the new law.

The law also includes safety requirements such as fire sprinkler systems in second-floor rentals, and buildings should feature signs marking fire exits.

The law includes having someone nearby to respond to any incidents at the property within 15 minutes after receiving a complaint on the premises.

The law includes penalties for improper maintenance and code violations, and can include penalties up to revocation of a short-term rental license, according to the draft law.

The proposed law also includes insurance regulations: “All owners of Transient Occupancy Lodging facilities shall provide to the city of Hudson proof of general liability insurance against claims for personal injury, death or property damage occurring on, in or about the subject premises in an amount not less than $1 million in respect of personal injury or death, and in an amount of not less than $100,000 in respect of property damage.”

Sidewalks

The first proposed law under this category calls for changing the charter to ensure that sidewalks are in good repair and clear of snow, ice and other obstructions. The law also allows the city to repair deficient sidewalks if the homeowner fails to do so. The taxpayer would be billed for the work and the city Public Works Department would oversee it.

The second proposal calls for Sidewalk Improvement Districts. Under the proposed plan, the areas outlined for improvement would be mapped out. The Public Works Committee would recommend a budget and schedule of sidewalk construction or repair to be performed in the district as part of the city budget. Sidewalk repairs and clearing are the responsibility of the property owner, according to city law.

“Abutting property owners are better served by paying an annual assessment for the construction and repair of sidewalks near their property, rather than face unpredictable, large, lump-sum assessments for construction and repair of abutting sidewalk,” according to the proposed law.

This law is modeled after a similar law in Ithaca. DePietro credited 5th Ward Alderman Dominic Merante with suggesting Ithaca’s law as a possible solution.

Beginning January 2014, residents of the city of Ithaca were relieved of the responsibility of constructing or repairing the public sidewalk in front of their property. Instead, those costs were replaced with a predictable annual sidewalk assessment fee that reflects the benefit received by the property by the surrounding sidewalk system.

While that might be welcome news to residents, it would create some more work for city officials.

“This policy has led to the construction of little new sidewalk in the last 20 years, and the enforcement of the repair policy is administratively difficult and leads to repair delays,” according to the proposed resolution in Hudson.

To reach reporter Amanda Purcell, call 518-828-1616 ext. 2500, or send an email to apurcell@thedailymail.net, or tweet to @amandajpurcell.