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Short-term rental moratorium moves forward in Hudson

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September 18, 2019 06:06 pm

HUDSON — The Common Council is moving ahead with a plan to impose a temporary moratorium on short-term rentals while it works on a broader plan to regulate the rentals.

The council voted to send the proposed local law that would put a nine-month moratorium on the registration or granting of permits for any new short-term lodging facility to the Columbia County Planning Board for its review. The decision was made after a back-and-forth discussion at the Common Council meeting Tuesday at City Hall, 520 Warren St.

“As you know we are in the process of crafting a law that deals with short-term rentals but, in the meantime, because we want to do that correctly with a lot of public participation, we would like to propose this moratorium while we craft this law,” Common Council President Thomas DePietro said.

DePietro went on to say that the proposed law does not affect anyone with a short-term rental, only those who are going to register in the next nine months after the law passes.

Fourth Ward Alderman John Rosenthal, who helped craft the law with City Attorney Andy Howard and led discussions on a possible moratorium as chairman of the Legal Committee, called the law straightforward and fair, adding few people would be affected by it.

“It does have a hardship provision,” Rosenthal said. “If anyone is in the process is about be putting an airbnb online right now [after the law is passed] they can come before the council, plead their hardship and get an exemption.”

Under the law, a property owner may apply to the Common Council for a hardship waiver in writing and submit credible proof in support of the hardship waiver application. After receiving the application from the property owner, the Common Council has to schedule a public hearing within 30 days. The property owner will have an opportunity to be heard at the hearing. After the public hearing, the council has 15 days to render its decision on the application.

But the proposed law did see some pushback from council members who said Tuesday’s vote was premature.

“No one has seen it [a draft of the proposed law],” Volo said. “The public hasn’t seen this.”

Volo said he thinks the public should have a chance to look at it before it’s voted on by the Common Council.

Firth Ward Alderman Dominic Merante, who, along with other council members, had not had a chance to see the proposed law before Tuesday night, made a motion to send it back to the Legal Committee. Merante wanted the Legal Committee to review the law in its written form before the council voted on it. Before Tuesday, Legal Committee members had discussed a law but had not discussed its completed written form.

Minutes for the Legal Committee meeting in August were not available.

Rosenthal said he would support the law going back to the committee if the council wanted to, but he also defended the law. The committee repeatedly talked about doing a moratorium and had been taking input from the public for months, Rosenthal said.

“Nothing in here is complicated,” Rosenthal said, pointing to the law.

Merante’s motion did not get enough votes, and failed. Merante, 1st Ward Alderman Rob Bujan, 5th Ward Alderwoman Eileen Halloran and 4th Ward Alderman Rich Volo voted in favor of sending the law back to the Legal Committee. The other council members voted to move the law forward.

But DePietro assured council members that there will be more discussion about the law and more opportunities for public input, including a public hearing to be scheduled.

“This still has a long way to go and there will be plenty of public comment opportunities,” DePietro said.

The topic will be discussed at the next Legal Committee meeting scheduled for 6:15 p.m. Sept. 25 at City Hall.