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Wilmington moves toward short-term rental regulations

Proposal wouldn’t be as stringent as Lake Placid’s

Wilmington town Supervisor Roy Holzer works at his desk in his new office in the Wilmington Community Center on Tuesday, March 3. (Enterprise photo — Elizabeth Izzo)

WILMINGTON — The Wilmington Town Council is steadily working on a set of short-term vacation rental regulations.

The regulations will likely be less restrictive than Lake Placid and North Elba’s proposed law, with no limit on the number of days a rental can be occupied, and a no-street-parking provision rather than a room-to-space requirement. It would have a section that requires all new rentals to go before the local planning-zoning board and secure conditional-use permits, but existing rentals would be grandfathered in, according to town Supervisor Roy Holzer.

“We feel that people that are putting a vacation rental next to residential areas — that those people that live in those neighborhoods should have a direct say in what goes into their areas, considering that’s not what was there when they bought their property,” he said.

“Because our ordinance is going to be a lot more lax, I think we plan on being a little stiffer on the penalties if, after a warning, you don’t heed to what the code enforcement officer says to you,” he added.

The town is also looking at a rental registration system, which may involve rental owners paying a one-time $100 fee upon registering with an additional $50-per-room fee every two years. Regular inspections would also be required.

Wilmington’s regulations will be less restrictive because so far, Holzer believes the impact of the short-term rental industry there has largely been positive.

“Wilmington is kind of unique,” he said. “We’re not really having the issue (Lake Placid) is having with short-term rentals. For us, it’s been a niche. But that doesn’t mean we don’t need to be regulating and keeping an eye on what’s going on in terms of vacation homes.”

There were 124 active short-term vacation rentals listing Wilmington addresses as of Friday, according to AirDNA, a website that aggregates data from Airbnb and VRBO. There were 51 active rentals at the end of 2016. In Lake Placid, there were 667 active short-term rental listings as of Friday, down from a peak of 821 in the third quarter of last year but up from 285 at the end of 2016.

The Wilmington Town Council is expected to take up the issue at its next meeting sometime in early April, according to Holzer.

“My plan is to get this wrapped up as soon as possible,” he said. “I don’t want this to be a divisive issue for the community, and I don’t think it is. It just starts the process. I honestly feel that … it starts the process, and we can always revisit issues we feel are important to the community at any time afterward.”

Holzer said he hopes to see the town host a public hearing, and adopt the regulations, by this summer.

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