Board passes bare-bones rental regulations
Bellport Village Hall.

file photo

Board passes bare-bones rental regulations

Story By: TARA SMITH
3/1/2018


 

In a 3-1 vote Monday night, Bellport Village officials voted to approve a new local law entitled Neighborhood Preservation that addresses rentals in the village. Mayor Ray Fell and trustees Bob Rosenberg and Mike Ferrigno voted in favor of the proposal, while trustee Steve Mackin voted against it. Deputy mayor Joe Gagliano abstained.

After a nearly two-hour public hearing on the original proposal at their January meeting, they opted not to vote on the measure. According to Fell, more discussion took place during meetings with residents on both ends of the spectrum and at a work session on Feb. 12. “As a result of the last meeting, we did some revamping,” Fell said ahead of Monday’s hearing.

The legislation passed is an amended version of an earlier proposal. Homeowners who rent their homes must still register with the village and pay a $250 fee, good for two years. Village officials had been considering banning rentals less than 16 days during the high season from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Rather than limit the length of rentals, the new code states that a home can be rented a maximum of five times during the short-term rental season, defined in the code as the Friday before Memorial Day through the Sunday of Labor Day weekend.

Homeowners must also certify to the village the safety of their home in terms of smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, and any advertisements both online and in print must include the registration number given by the village.

Around a dozen residents again spoke during the hearing, both thanking the board for their work on the issue and expressing lingering concerns. Several residents took issue with section 25-4 B, which states: “It shall be an affirmative defense to a violation of subsection A of this section that the rental occupant or occupants is/are immediate family members of the owner of the subject premises, as defined in this chapter.” It continues, “Rebuttable presumption of rent. Any dwelling, dwelling unit, or any other premises subject to this chapter shall be presumed to be rented for a fee and a charge made if said premises are not occupied by the legal owner thereof.”

The code defines “immediate family” as “persons related to the family of the owner of a dwelling unit, to include the owner’s spouse, children, parents, grandparents, grandchildren or their functional equivalent, and no others.”

One resident said though he’s never rented his home, he has sometimes loaned the home to close friends from New York City while his family was away. “This law would make that simple act of hospitality a violation,” he said. Resident Hans Tempel expressed similar concerns, noting that a nephew who comes to visit their cottage isn’t charged rent — but also isn’t included in the village’s definition of ‘immediate family.’

For Ralph Fuccillo, the main issue with the new code is a provision that states “During the rental period, if the owner is domiciled more than 4 miles outside of the village, the owner must provide a local representative, domiciled within 4 miles of the village, with their address and contact number.” Fuccillo, who has a property in Bellport but said he lives full-time in Eastport, noted that it’s an eight-mile difference. “I’m around,” he said. “I have properties, I have a cell phone. I’m easy to get ahold of. Other than that, I think [the code] is spot on.”

Some residents expressed that they were disappointed in the new code, since it doesn’t address the length and turnover of stays. Others urged the board to continue to use existing codes to enforce noise violations. 

Rosenberg said he’s OK with the compromise. “I don’t think it’s perfect, and I hope it satisfies neither of the two advocacy groups,” he said before voting. “I suspect it won’t, and I’m very happy for that.” Ferrigno, reading from a statement, said he favored the code because it “addresses potential problems arising when permitting a residentially zoned neighborhood to become a revenue generator.”

Gagliano said he hoped the board would reconsider based on what was brought up that evening. “I came here prepared to vote in favor of this, but I think things were brought up tonight that we should look into and review so we’re not going into a direction that could be a challenge,” he said. He added that from Day One he has been concerned with the enforcement of the code. “I recognize that we have a challenge regarding enough personnel to carry out code’s responsibility, if that’s who we give it to. I think we’re very, very close, but I would like to get answers.”