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Back to drawing board on short-term rentals

Shelter Island’s proposed short-term rental law is not ready for prime time.

That’s what the Town Board decided at its work session Tuesday after reviewing a draft of the law Tuesday. 

Town Attorney Laury Dowd had taken a crack at the draft after prolonged discussions over the past four months. While that draft hasn’t been made public yet, a second draft could appear on the town’s website next week, Ms. Dowd said Tuesday.

Still, there appears to be an inclination among Town Board members to await court decisions challenging short-term housing laws enacted in Southold and Riverhead. It’s expected that a court decision on the Southold law could come down sometime in November and there’s no reason for immediate action to be taken on the Island since problems with short-term private house rentals became an issue during the summer months.

Among the elements likely to be included in the Shelter Island law are:

• Limits on short-term rentals between May 15 and September 15

• Establishment of a registration system for landlords and some type of online sign-in by renters

• A requirement that someone responsible for the property be on the Island and be reachable should any problems arise

• Issuance of a good neighbor handbook to renters to make them aware of issues of noise, water restrictions, swimming pool requirements and other elements that could cause problems

• Some system of inspection of short-term rental properties with limits on the number of renters who could occupy the house at any given time and assurance that safety features such as smoke alarms are in working order

• The possibility of controlling rentals that last for fewer than 14 days with a possible minimum number of days for which a rental could be offered and a limit on the number of such rentals during the summer season

What the Town Board is trying to do is develop the least restrictive law it can which still protects neighborhoods and has the least impact on existing hotels and B&Bs, town officials said.

Councilman Jim Colligan has been boostering a “keep it simple” philosophy while representatives from the Dering Harbor Inn and the Pridwin say they’re fighting to keep their businesses thriving without losing customers to house rentals.

In actions taken at Friday’s regular Town Board meeting:

• Judge Helen Rosenblum was authorized to file an application for funding through the State of New York Unified Court System under its Justice Court 2014 Assistance Program in an amount not to exceed $30,000 for a project to improve Shelter Island court facilities.

• Mary-Faith Westervelt was reappointed to the Community Housing Board for a term that expires August 12, 2020.

• Edward Bausman was reappointed as a member and chairman of the Conservation Advisory Council for a term that expires September 20, 2018.

• Building permits coordinator Lori Beard Raymond was granted an exemption from taking medical insurance through the town and is instead eligible for compensation to be added to her salary in lieu of the premium expense.

• Organizers of Saturday’s Shelter Island 5k were granted a permit for the event.

• Grants writer Jennifer Mesiano Higham of Mesiano Consulting had her contract with the town renewed at the rate of $160 per hour for the term of November 1, 2016 to October 31, 2017.

• John and Blair Borthwick won approval for a wetlands permit and special permit to rebuild their house, pool and an accessory structure at 71 Nostrand Parkway.

• R. James Royer of 36 Peconic Avenue received approval for a maintenance dredge at the entrance to the boat basin from his property.

• Deno Fischer was granted permission for bulkhead reconstruction in Silver Beach Lagoon.

• Approved an application for James Theinert to place a mooring in Coecles Harbor.