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Greenport Village will once again look at short-term rentals

Village Board file photo

The Greenport Village Trustees Thursday night agreed to take another crack at regulating short-term rentals.

The village is one of the few East End municipalities that does not have a law on the books that requires rentals of residential properties to be a certain number of days, although it had held public hearings on proposed short-term rental laws in the past without adopting any of them.

While the specifics haven’t been drawn up yet, Trustee Doug Roberts submitted a list of options to consider when drafting such as law. He said he wants to start the discussion, so that the board can arrive at specifics that could adopted in the fall.

“We’ve got to do something,” he said.

Among the proposals suggested by Mr. Roberts were allowing only owner-occupied properties to have short-term rentals and to allow them only in the R-1 and R-2 zoning districts, and only as a conditional use, as defined in the village code, which requires Planning Board approval.

The R-1 district is one-family residence, and R-2 is a one and two-family residence district. Those zones cover most of the village with the exception of the downtown commercial area, the hospital and municipal and village-owned property.

Mr. Roberts suggested a two-week limit, the same as the laws in Shelter Island and Southold Town, and a cap limiting a specified percentage of residential units that would be eligible for short-term rentals. Existing short-term rentals that meet code would be grandfathered.

Ms. Roberts said that short-term rentals currently make up about five percent of all residential units in the village.

At its March 22, meeting, realtor Bridget Elkin told the board that short-term rental property owners have told her, “My Airbnb is doing so well, I’d like to buy a second.” She said some property owners own three short-term rental properties.

Mr. Roberts said he thinks village residents “should be terrified” by this. “We are on a path towards every house becoming a short-term rental,” he said Thursday.

However, Mayor George Hubbard Jr. said many people are buying second homes in the village for themselves, rather than renting them.

“Short-term rentals aren’t rampant all over the place, in my opinion,” he said. “I don’t think it’s the major issue like everyone is saying.”

The village code currently doesn’t define whether a short-term rental is residential use or a hotel or bed and breakfast, according to Mr. Roberts.

He said requiring short-term rentals to go before the Planning Board for a conditional use approvals means “everybody gets their day in court.”

The board agreed to have village attorney Joe Prokop to draw up a proposal that will likely go to a public hearing in May.

Photo caption: Greenport Village Board. (file photo)