A proposal to expand the maximum number of rooms from three to five for a Greenport Village bed and breakfast drew mostly support at a public hearing Thursday night.
The proposal comes at a time when village officials are also considering a new law aimed a regulating short-term rentals, which is becoming an issue nationwide. Two trustees have also asked the board to explore the possibility of rescinding a 2013 village law requiring rental housing permits.
The B&B proposal’s intent is to align the village code with state code, which allows for a max of five rooms.
B&B owners would still need to submit a site plan application to expand to five rooms, said Greenport Mayor George Hubbard Jr.
The proposal also limits the number of people per room to two, so the maximum number of guests in a five-room B&B would be 10.
The current requirements of a 10,000-square-foot maximum lot size and one off-street parking space per room would remain under the proposal.
Clayton Sauer, speaking on behalf of the seven B&Bs in Greenport who are members of www.bbnofo.com, said the change is needed.
“We try to make a living running a B&B in Greenport Village,” he said. “We are not in this to get rich obviously … I do have to stress that with three rooms we are just about getting by, with expenses and insurance and all the different things we have to do.”
Since B&B owners are required to live in the building themselves, Mr. Sauer said if he lost his business, he’d also lose his home.
Southold Town currently allows five-room B&Bs, Mr Sauer said, and this puts the Greenport B&Bs at a competitive disadvantage.
But Greenport resident Karen Pollack took the opposite stand.
She feels the law is already generous by allowing three-room B&Bs.
“Isn’t this enough?” she asked. “For some of us who are year-round residents, summer is our favorite season, too. Please bare this in mind before creating even more crowding and further reducing parking in our business district.”
She said Greenport has smaller lots than Southold Town.
“We’re crowded enough,” she said.
Resident Mike Reed said he felt most of the people who have B&Bs are nice people.
“If you have a problem, you can just knock on their door,” he said. “It’s better than having absentee landlords.”
Resident Diana Gordon said that with only seven B&Bs in the village, the change would only bring about 14 more rooms. She felt that allowing more rooms in B&Bs would make the village better equipped to respond to short-term rentals such as those advertised on web sites like airbnb.com, where people rent out their homes for brief intervals.
The village currently has a proposed law regulating short-term rentals as well, and that will be discussed at the Nov. 19 work session.
Doug Moore, who’s the chairman of the village zoning board of appeals, sent a letter on the subject speaking for himself, and not as a representative of the ZBA.
Mr. Moore said he supports the increase from three to five rooms, but he thinks the additional parking requirements might make a 10,000-square-foot lot size insufficient. He suggested making the minimum lot size 12,500-square-feet for seven rooms, while allowing B&Bs with one or two rooms to have a maximum 7,500-square-foot lot size.
Mr. Hubbard said the board will discuss the proposal further at its Nov. 19 work session.
Photo Caption: The Morning Glory Bed & Breakfast in Greenport. (Credit: Cyndi Murray, file)