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Westmoreland woman asks for repeal pf STR law


If you thought you’d heard the last of the short-term rental (STR) issue for awhile, it was back for discussion at the July 2 Town Board work session.

Westmoreland resident Margaret Kestler made an impassioned appeal to members to rescind the revised law that passed by a 4-1 vote in June.

Four generations of her family have been renting two small cottages on her property to summer visitors without a problem, Ms. Kestler told the board.

The market has changed some since the 2008 Great Recession, but what hasn’t changed is the quality of the people who have rented the cottages, she said. In years past, she generally would rent to families who would come out for the whole summer, with husbands arriving on weekends to join their wives and children.

Now many families require two incomes to pay their bills, so husbands and wives come out for shorter stays. With the STR law, Ms. Kestler said she now is limited to the number of times during the summer season she can rent the cabins, and has to register with the town.

She could have sold the land to developers, who would have changed the ambiance of Westmoreland, but chose to keep to her family values of sharing and contributing to the community, she said.

“We have the right to be left alone,” Ms. Kestler said. “Trust us. We know what to do. Don’t make criminals out of contributors.”

Marika Kaasik asked the board if they had talked to business owners who welcome more visitors to the Island. Only Councilwoman Amber Brach-Williams responded, saying that in her work as an accountant, she sees information on income business owners are making.

“This Island is based on tourism,” Ms. Kaasik said. With the STR law in place, fewer people would be visiting, she added, cutting into business the merchants, restaurateurs and service providers need in the summer months.

She asked that people who favor the rewritten law to stop at her shop, Marika’s Eclectic Boutique, to tell her why they think the town needs the law.