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Proposed rental law tweaked after public feedback

The Southold Town Board on Tuesday voted to withdraw a proposed rental code that would require town permits for rentals and set a new hearing for a modified version of the law.

They had postponed a vote on the previous version after feedback from real estate agents June 5 and made some changes since then. The newly proposed text is more streamlined, Supervisor Scott Russell said.

The new version does not include a section on real estate broker’s or agent’s responsibility. When Anne Murray of East Marion asked why that was removed, the supervisor said brokers would not be permitted to advertise a rental that did not have a current permit.

Changes to the proposed law also include a later effective date. The previous version would have set it as Oct. 1, 2018. Councilman Jim Dinizio acknowledged comments from the public on concerns about having time to do the work to become compliant with the requirements and apply for a permit by that date and asked whether the date could be moved to be more than a few months out.

After some debate Tuesday, the board ultimately decided it would be appropriate to enforce that law one year out from the date the law is approved.

“We’ve got to give them a fair amount of time, but at the same time if you have to do those things, you have to do those things and you can’t set a time to say well we’re going to give you all the time in the world … to get it done,” Mr. Russell said. “Sometimes you’re going to have to wait a little bit of time to ultimately be able to come in and get the permit. It’s not different than anything else. You give them a year and hope they do comply.”

Councilwoman Jill Doherty, who at the Town Board meeting said she would rather it not be later, noted it was more practical from a implementation standpoint.

The proposed law, if passed, would require owners to follow a permit application procedure that includes a property inspection. A concern brought up at the June 5 hearing was whether the town had the necessary personnel to conduct inspections.

“We’re gonna have to hire more personnel, whether it’s temporary or not,” Ms. Doherty said at Tuesday’s work session. Town board member and Fishers Island Justice Louisa Evans wanted to be sure getting code enforcement for a building inspector to Fishers Island wouldn’t be a problem. Mr. Russell said dates for visits can be scheduled so that the community is aware.

Another concern with the previous version was a requirement for a survey. The newly proposed version tweaked the language so that one is not required outright, but may be required at the discretion of a code enforcement official.

The Town Board approved a resolution to hold a July 31 public hearing on the updated proposal, a full version of which can be found on the town website.

Photo caption: Town Board members Jill Doherty, left, Louisa Evans and William Ruland at Tuesday’s work session. (Credit: Kelly Zegers)

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