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A push for more Greenport code enforcement at roundtable discussion


What do Greenporters want out of their rental codes?

Harsher fines and more enforcement of the existing rules, apparently.

About two dozen rental landlords and full-time residents met Saturday morning on the upstairs deck at The Loft at Harbourfront to share their thoughts on the future of short-term rentals in Greenport Village.

With the Town of Southold’s recent passing of a law that requires residential home rentals to be rented for a minimum of 14 days, Greenport Village Trustee Doug Roberts moderated the informal meeting.

The group met for about two hours, and residents often talked over one another in a heated discussion. Eventually, the group agreed the first step should be increasing the enforcement of the village’s current laws.

“I agree with the enforcement issue wholeheartedly,” said one attendee, who both rents out a home and lives in Greenport. “Part of the enforcement issue is surprise. If one doesn’t have the element of surprise as part of that enforcement issue than it’s moot.”

The attendee said she often hears of village officials stopping by homes during the workday when the majority of residents aren’t home, which she said accomplishes nothing since there is usually no one around to speak with.

The group agreed that enforcement needed to be increased, with some suggesting either to change the hours of the current code enforcement officer or hire a second officer.

Attendees also demanded more consequences in the form of increased fines of up to $500 for those who broke the village’s codes.

“For landlords to step up and say ‘I’m willing to pay a big fee if you enforce this’ … that goes a long way with me,” Mr. Roberts told The Suffolk Times after the meeting. “We’ll get grief from some landlords I’m sure because we’d be increasing it by 400 percent, from $100 to $500, [but] I think it’s about what the village values and what’s important to residents.

And if enforcing rentals is an important thing for this village to do, the village has to fund it somehow,” he continued.

The money the village would collect from the higher fines could pay for more code enforcement officers.

Another hot topic of discussion was the need to decrease the amount of people who rent in the area. Numerous people at the meeting complained of excessive trash, too many cars parked on their streets and loud parties that stretch into the night.

“We had rentals around us and it’s very disturbing,” said Mary Moore, a resident who doesn’t rent out her home. “We’ve had lovely families come in and I like them very much but every night they’d have guests on the front porch and it was until late at night and it was very disturbing. If this happened in all these short terms, it would just disturb our quality of life.”

But some landlords at the roundtable disagreed, saying they’ve had great experiences with short-term renters and have found more problems with long-term renters etiquette.

Mr. Roberts proposed two ideas that would limit the amount of rentals: placing a minimum period of stay in the village — similar to the new law Southold Town just approved — or placing a cap on how many short-term rental licenses could be distributed.

According to Mr. Roberts, the next step is to take the ideas discussed Saturday and present them to the Village Board and code committee members, who are working on a draft of the law.

He said he wants the proposals to “resonate with that committee.”

“If they send us a draft that looks like the town’s draft and doesn’t reflect this [meeting], I think that might end up being counterproductive,” he said. “So I hope they’ll listen to this. We had a good cross section of Greenport here and I think that’s important.”

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Photo Caption: Greenport Village Trustee Doug Roberts (third from left) and other residents listen as an attendee of Saturday’s roundtable discussion shares her thoughts on short-term rentals. (Credit: Nicole Smith)