Millbrook votes in short-term Rental regulations

MILLBROOK — The long-awaited vote by the Village of Millbrook Board of Trustees unanimously passed new regulations on short-term rentals (STRs) on Wednesday, Feb. 14.

After two years of public hearings, proposals, changes, heated discussions and social media hype, it proved to be anticlimactic.

Three residents attended, including one STR owner and one former STR owner.

A last-minute letter to Mayor Tim Collopy, as well as objections raised at the meeting, suggested that Valentine’s Day was not a fair time to hold the last part of the public hearing, as it can be a busy evening for STR and business owners. Collopy reminded the group that he had announced the meeting at last month’s meeting, noting at that time that it would be held on Valentine’s Day, so the meeting proceeded.

Negotiated STR regulations

Some of changes made to the regulations that have taken place over the two-year negotiations included changing the number of permits issued from 20 to 15.

Originally, the author of the bill, Trustee Peter Doro, had specified there could not be two STRs adjacent to each other; that was done away with.

The clause that states that the owner must be on the premises at the time of rental was given a two-year extension in the case of Laurie Sepe-Marder, an STR owner whose house has been in the family since the 1930s.

Two-year permits will be issued on a first-come, first-served basis at a rate of $1,000.

Collopy has said that the village board is still not sure what costs will be incurred by the Village.

STR owner Tanya Jackson spoke, and while acknowledging that some of the original drafts of regulations had been changed, said the price of a permit alone was far too high. She told the board that when COVID-19 was at its worst, people were flocking to the area because there was no where else they could go; but now borders are open, and travel agencies and destinations are serving vacations at low prices to get business back, and Millbrook and other similar destinations are not high on the list of where people want to go.

She mentioned taxes, laundry, property upkeep, advertising, fees and maintenance, saying that last year, she took in $11,000 for her STR property, which was not even enough to pay her bills. She said that many STR owners consider giving up on their STRs because of low rentals and the high permit fee.

Then the public hearing was closed, a motion was made to amend Chapter 230 of the Village Code titled “Zoning” to add “Sub-Section 230-30(C) Containing Rules and Regulations for Short-Term Rentals,” and the board passed it unanimously.

The Town of Washington passed STR regulation earlier this year.

Other actions

The board passed a resolution to amend Article X of Chapter 230 of the Village Code that had to do with creating regulations for outdoor dining on village sidewalks. This started during COVID and was designed to help village eateries safely serve the public. It allows food establishments to utilize outdoor space on village sidewalks with an outdoor dining permit. Obtaining a permit requires proof of the proper insurance coverage.

They passed a resolution authorizing the issuance of $121,000 in serial bonds to pay for the cost of the new highway dump truck/sander and accessories. A letter from the Bank of Millbrook was introduced and after reviewing the village’s request, offered a bid of 50% for this social impact bond (SIB) request.

They passed an amendment to the local law having to do with announcing public hearings for land use applications (via the Zoning Board) to be advertised and posted on the property.

The board approved the annual LOSAP Service Credit List for 2023 (fire department retirement funds).

They approved the Use of Force Policy for the Millbrook Police Department.

The full contents of the resolutions, other information and the agenda can be found on the Village website, villageofmillbrookny.com

The next regular board meeting will be held Wednesday, March 13, at 6 p.m. at the Millbrook Firehouse, 20 Front St.

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