HUNTER — After one mountaintop town scrapped its proposed short-term rental law, another is gearing up to start the process.
Hunter town officials discussed developing a law to regulate Airbnbs at the March 23 board meeting. The board would enlist the help of the firm Grant & Lyons, of Rhinebeck, to draft the law. The town of Windham withdrew its proposal for a short-term rental law in November, after receiving significant pushback from the community.
“The law would protect the people that are running the Airbnb and their neighbors,” Town Supervisor Daryl Legg said. “We want to make it so that everybody is on the same page, make sure there is adequate parking, no one is parking in the street, they have garbage pickup and the premise being rented out is safe for people using it and make sure neighbors aren’t getting irritated by renters up all hours of the night. It would be very basic rules to follow to make it compatible with the community.”
There will likely be some sort of permit system for the short-term rentals, Legg said.
Short-term rentals have become more popular in recent years.
“You figure how much it’s going to cost you to rent a house for a week as opposed to staying in a hotel,” Legg said. “It’s very comparable and some people find it more comfortable than staying in a hotel.”
There are more than 9,000 second homeowners in the county, according to a study by Greene County Economic Development and Planning Department.
Greene County had 45,300 Airbnb guest arrivals in the summer of 2019 and ranked third in the Capital Region for guest arrivals.
Greene County and Columbia County have more than 1,000 Airbnb units each, according to the state Hospitality & Tourism Association.
A 2018 study by I Love New York estimated that Airbnb rentals represented 50% of the county’s lodging income.
There are pros and cons to short-term rentals, Legg said.
“The more Airbnbs, the less full-time families you have,” he said. “It’s a very lucrative business so it makes it hard to rent to people that want to move to the area or rent in the area. Do you want $1,000 a week or $1,000 a month for your house?”
Visitors who stay in the short-term rentals contribute to the local economy, Legg said.
The town is consulting with municipalities such as Jewett in Greene County and Woodstock in Ulster County that already have short-term rental laws, Legg said.
“We’re trying to get ahead of the curve a little bit,” he said. “We’ve got to have some things in place because how fair is it to people who run hotels?”
Legg said he would support a short-term rental tax at the county level.
“If the county took the bull by the horns and came up with a countywide Airbnb regulation, then everybody is the same,” he said.
Across the river, the Columbia County Board of Supervisors is looking to implement an occupancy tax.
The town is involving the villages of Hunter and Tannersville in the process to try to keep uniformity, Legg said, adding that he expects the law would be adopted later this year.
The Windham Town Board canceled the public hearing on the law, which was originally scheduled for Jan. 14.
“While there are calls to address short-term rentals in the town, the draft local law has not been well received and will be withdrawn,” Windham Supervisor Thomas Hoyt announced in November.
Short-term rentals play an important role in the local economy, Hoyt said.
“The quality of life in Windham and protection of property values is our biggest concern,” Hoyt said. “We will continue to work with the community to maintain our town.”
Local residents started a petition to stop the board from implementing the law, which received more than 1,400 signatures.
Under the proposed law, rental owners would have been required to obtain an annual permit from the town and the number of permits would be capped at 150. The permits would be accompanied by a $50 nonrefundable application fee and a permit fee relative to the size of the rental, ranging from $150 for a one-bedroom rental to $1,200 for nine or more bedrooms.
The law would have limited short-term rentals to 100 days of renting per year.
Restrictions were also proposed for the number of vehicles and number of guests.
The board may revisit the concept at a later date, Hoyt said, according to meeting minutes.
“With the amount of opposition that was out there and different groups of people, the board thought the best thing at the time and not to divide the community, we will put it back on the shelf,” Hoyt said. “Then maybe someday, a year from now, 10 years from now, there will be enough public interest said about it, that people will want to re-entertain it.”