North Elba City Council considering moratorium on STR permits | News, Sports, Jobs

LAKE PLACID — The North Elba City Council is considering placing a moratorium on the issuance of any new vacation rental licenses for the next six months, while the council considers changing its current rental regulations.

A lawsuit filed against the city and town in 2020 by a group of vacation rental owners, who sought to strike down the municipalities’ short-term rental law, was dismissed earlier this year when plaintiffs agreed to drop the case without being able to raise it. in the future. As the lawsuit worked its way through the legal process, the city and town were unable to make major changes to their short-term rental regulations. Now that the lawsuit is up, municipalities are considering their next steps in regulating vacation rentals.

City Council wants to impose a moratorium on STRs so they have the opportunity to review and update existing vacation rental regulations and parts of the joint land use code related to the location of tenancies and their operation, in accordance with the bill. .

The regulation of vacation rentals has been a hotly debated issue in this area for years, as more homes in residential areas have been converted to vacation rentals and the local housing crisis has worsened. A housing needs assessment study released in 2020 confirmed that North Elba and Lake Placid are indeed facing a “labour housing crisis” and pointed to vacation rentals not as the cause but as an aggravating factor. Some local vacation rental owners have said they have to rent out their properties so they can continue to live here and keep their homes.

As of January 28, Code Enforcement Officer Mike Orticelle said the Building and Planning Department had issued about 533 permits for STRs in the city and town – that figure included about 20 non-compliant STRs that operate without a valid permit.

City Council has scheduled a public hearing on the vacation rental moratorium for 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, February 23. People can join the meeting online at https://www.gotomeet.me/TownofNorthElba/north-elba-str-moratorium or by calling 312-757-3121.

The North Elba City Council is also considering other changes to its land use code related to cannabis businesses, solar panels and septic systems, but public hearings have not yet been scheduled on those changes.

Moratorium

Councilor Emily Kilburn Politi said the city’s proposed changes to the short-term tenancy law are “70 to 80% there”, but that there is still more finalization to do. She said the moratorium would give the city some time to “button” short-term rental regulations and get public input on the issue.

Town Supervisor Derek Doty said Sunday the council wanted to use those six months to work with the village on STR regulations before proposing changes. He said the village was keen to protect its neighborhoods from STR overload and the council wanted to work with the village council to support this effort.

The moratorium would not affect vacation rentals with existing permits or renewals of any of those permits, but it would put vacation rental permits that are currently pending or expired on hold.

The proposed law allows for deviations, saying people can appeal to the city clerk for an exception to the moratorium if they believe it “would impose practical difficulties or extraordinary hardships” on them. If someone asked for a waiver, the city council would have to hold a public hearing about it.

The text of the proposed moratorium also indicates that the city council has the right to extend or end the moratorium beyond or before the six-month period if necessary.

Cannabis

Petitions were filed with the city last Monday, January 31, for the city’s cannabis laws to be passed in November. The city council voted last December to refuse to have cannabis dispensaries and consumer licenses on-site in North Elba.

The council said it wants time to work on its zoning laws related to cannabis businesses before registering, and councilors expect to hold a public hearing on the proposed changes later this month.

The proposed zoning changes are an extension of the cannabis business zoning defined by the state in the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, which states that cannabis businesses cannot operate within 500 feet of a school or within 200 feet from a place of worship.

The city’s proposed changes would also prohibit a cannabis business — which includes dispensaries, on-site consumer lounges and smoking rooms — from operating within 200 feet of a daycare center, day care center, a youth centre, community centre, recreation facility, playground and other places where children gather.

The council also wants to limit businesses to commercial areas of the city, including the Village Center, the Gateway Corridor area and the Old Military Road Corridor. The council also wants to regulate signage at cannabis businesses – the council is proposing that no signage, window or outdoor display can show a marijuana product or its likeness.

Septic, solar and more

The council is also proposing administrative changes to the land use code common to the town and village, as well as additions regulating the use of solar panels. The council plans to hold a public hearing for these changes later this month.

The city council plans an increase in solar panel installations as more people switch to green power, and councilors want to reflect this in the land use code. While the state regulates panels that generate 25 megawatts or more, according to Orticelle, the building department would handle anything smaller. Orticelle said the main concern with solar panels is to keep large solar farms out of downtown and residential areas and encourage them on larger tracts of land.

The city council is still finalizing the language of land use code changes for solar panels.

Kilburn Politi said the main administrative changes to the land use code are related to septic systems in the waterfront land cover districts. These changes – primarily allowing sewer systems to be installed within 300 feet of a shoreline if 300 feet is not possible – among others, were proposed by a subcommittee of the Commission of Lake Placid-North Elba community development last summer.

Doty said the city is voting on the changes now instead of last summer because council was waiting for the Community Development Commission to add more amendments to its proposal. He said the council wanted to hold a public hearing for all the changes at once.

The new code would require that all new sewage disposal systems in waterfront districts be approved by the Lake Placid-North Elba Review Board and that new systems be designed by a licensed professional engineer. Under the new amendment, the review panel could approve a setback of less than 300 feet if the engineer’s reports determine the placement would not adversely affect water quality.

Other major administrative changes to the land use code would be:

¯Allow docks and boathouses to extend 35 feet into the water, an increase from the previous allowance of 32 feet. The state Department of Environmental Conservation recommends building boathouses starting three feet from shore, according to Community Development Commission Chairman Dean Dietrich.

¯Create uniform construction schedules between the village and the city. Construction would be permitted between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. on weekdays and between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. on weekends.

¯Allow structures that are already non-compliant to build additions, as long as these additions still respect the required setbacks.

¯Imposing a new permit expiry rule that will require people to apply for a permit renewal if their construction project is not completed within three years.

¯Allow income-based housing developments in commercial areas – defined as developments where at least 75% of units are dedicated to income-based housing, or affordable housing for someone earning 80% of the median income of the area – to be built higher, higher at 40 feet. This would allow developments to be of a higher standard than what is currently generally allowed in these areas.

¯Change the formula for mandatory affordable housing in new housing developments. Currently, for every 10 new housing units built, a developer must either include a certain number of units based on income or contribute money to a housing fund. How many units, or how much money, is calculated based on a formula that takes into account the one-year average median price of homes sold and the area’s median income. The committee wanted to change that formula to take into account the three-year average median price of homes sold, rather than the one-year average, according to Dietrich.

¯Require floating docks to be encapsulated by the end of 2023 to reduce debris in lakes.

¯Prohibit the planting of invasive species.

The full committee presentation from last summer is available at www.futurelakeplacid.com/subcommittees/land-use-code-review.

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