Owner of former Greenport church: Short-term rental is not the plan

The owner of the former Greenport United Methodist Church said Sunday that his plans only temporarily include listing it as a short-term rental.

Builder James Olinkiewicz was met with scrutiny this weekend as word spread on social media that he’d listed the property for $1,200 per night on AirBnB.

He said he’s only hoping to get some short-term rental payments as he waits for a long-term tenant to sign a lease. He said he has an existing offer from someone who wants to rent the church building for the summer season and it may be off the short-term market by the end of the week.

“There’s a tremendous amount of carrying costs on the church,” Mr. Olinkiewicz said.

The Parsonage building also has a tenant lined up and the new lot created by the subdivision is under contract, he added.

“I have no desire to be a weekly renter,” Mr. Olinkiewicz said.

Mr. Olinkiewicz said the Greenport Planning Board put a covenant restricting multi-family housing on all three lots. He said he did not intend to do multi-family on the church parcel, but he had considered it on the other two lots.

Mr. Olinkiewicz bought the church building in early 2017 for a reported $950,000 after the United Methodist Church opted to sell it and combine with several North Fork Methodist congregations, which would meet at a new church building proposed for Route 48 in Southold.

In December, Mr. Olinkiewicz received Greenport Village Planning Board approval for a three-lot subdivision of the 0.77-acre property that includes the church building and a parsonage, and which fronts both Main and First streets.

The listing on AirBnB, an online service that allows property owners to rent their homes for short stays, says there will be no nightly or weekend rates offered.

“Loud parties and excessive noise are not welcome here,” the listing says, warning that nuisance complaints about a guest from neighbors could result in the forfeit of the security deposit.

Short-term rentals have been the subject of controversy in recent years with many municipalities, including the Town of Southold, adopting regulations regarding minimum stays. The Village of Greenport has discussed but so far opted not to pass a minimum stay requirement on short-term rentals.

The church property is also listed for sale for just over $2 million, according to a listing with Richmond Realty.

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