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Board amends — again — STR legislation

The Town Board continues to amend proposed changes to the short-term-rental (STR) legislation.

After a public hearing on May 3, the board showed it was listening by changing a significant part of its draft proposal to amend the controversial law and set a public hearing for May 14.

The proposed change outlined at the board’s regular meeting May 24 will allow residents who qualify under certain financial requirements to rent their primary residences when they are not present once every seven days between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

Those who don’t meet the financial requirements can rent their properties only once every 14 days, as the original law passed in April 2017 states.

Since then, the law has not been enforced. The STR regulations require that renters register with the town, but so far, according to official records, five have registered, when hundreds of STRs have been advertised.

The Gerth administration, since taking office in January 2018, has made a point of amending the original law, by providing relief to residents who have said they need to rent their properties on a regular basis to vacationers in order to make ends meet.

The Town Board agreed to a “Homesteader’s Hardship License,” which would allow people who claim a primary residence here, and meet income requirements, to be exempt from certain regulations. The draft law would allow a couple earning $82,300, or a family of three with an income of $139,000, to qualify to rent their properties, when they are not present, up to once a week for the summer months.

The board also has amended the draft legislation so that a non-paying guest or family member of the owner will only be required to sign a simple statement if a code enforcement officer challenges their occupancy.

In addition, owners who are applying for the hardship license will be required to show federal income tax returns for eligibility, but the tax records will “then [be] returned or destroyed. No income tax records will be maintained by the town,” according to the draft of the proposed legislation.