Town hosting hearings on short term rentals, ag protection moratorium

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By Linda Smith Hancharick

— The Town of Warwick is holding two public hearings on Thursday, July 19:

One is on a local law that would place a three-month moratorium on requests and applications for the Agricultural Protection Overlay District.

The other is establishing regulations of short term rental units within the town.

Short term rental regulationsThe town is looking to enact rental permit requirements for all short term rental units within the town.

Short term rental property is defined in the legislation as any dwelling unit occupied by people other than the owner or his/her immediate family for less than 30 days for which money is charged.

This includes rentals provided by Airbnb, VBRO and others.

Month-to-month tenancies are not included in this.

According to Warwick Supervisor Michael Sweeton, the Village of Greenwood Lake spent much time looking into its law governing short term rentals. Greenwood Lake Mayor Jesse Dwyer asked the town to consider it as well.

The law would require all landlords and resident agents of these short term rentals to register and obtain a permit from the town.

Renewal will be required annually. The fees for obtaining a permit and renewing it are not specified in the legislation. Inspections of the properties and issuance of permits will be performed by the town’s building inspector and repeated each year.

Restrictions also apply. They include:

• A limit of three adults occupying any one bedroom;

• Tenants not being able to sublet the property; and

• Specified safety features.

There are penalties to those who do not follow this law once enacted. Failure to register as a landlord or resident agent will cost $1,000 per day for the first offense; subsequent offenses will cost an owner $500 each per day.

Those who do not have a valid permit and who rent out their properties will be hit with $500 fines per unit per day.

A search on Airbnb this week shows 112 Warwick properties listed, everything from a treehouse to a camper to rooms for rent, apartments and full houses.

Sweeton said the Greenwood Lake law is “respectful” and does not hinder an owner’s ability to rent their property. The town’s law, he said, follows suit.

Three-month moratorium on APO DistrictResidents will also have the opportunity to speak on the town board placing a three-month moratorium on all activities association with the Agricultural Protection Overlay District (APO).

If approved, the local law would allow this moratorium of all requests and applications for the protection.

The prime benefit of being in the Agricultural Protection Overlay District is the ability to have a farm market on the premises.

In 2002, the town reworked its zoning and created the overlay zone. It has had many successes, according to Sweeton, including Pennings and the Warwick Valley Winery, both active farms.

In the past five years, Sweeton said the town has received about a dozen applications for the APO. All were granted, the last one in 2016.

There are currently two applications pending.

Sweeton said the town board wants to take this three months and have the town planner review the criteria by which these decisions are made and make recommendations for modifying the APO District’s provisions and, if necessary, the zoning.

“We want to make sure the process is consistent with the intent of the Comprehensive Plan,” said Sweeton. “This is a very narrow, very focused review.”

EssentialsThe public hearings will commence at 7 p.m. on Thursday, July 19, at the town hall, located at 132 Kings Highway.

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