Many Lake Placid STR permits found invalid

There was a packed house at the Conference Center in August 2019 when the town of North Elba and village of Lake Placid hosted a public hearing on proposed short-term rental regulations. (Enterprise photo — Elizabeth Izzo)

LAKE PLACID — As local officials consider imposing a six-month moratorium on issuing vacation rental permits, the Lake Placid Building and Planning Department has found that many short-term vacation rentals in the town and village are currently operating with what are essentially invalid permits.

Code Enforcement Officer Mike Orticelle declined to provide the exact number of non-compliant STRs, but he said there have been enough to keep him busy. Most of the permits in question are technically invalid because the STR owners haven’t yet registered with the building department’s new permitting system, according to Orticelle.

There may be limited time for STR owners to sort out their permit issues.

A lawsuit brought against the town and village in 2020 by a group of vacation rental owners, which sought to void the municipalities’ short-term rental law, was dismissed earlier this year when the plaintiffs agreed to drop the case without the ability to raise it in the future. While the lawsuit was active, the town and village couldn’t make any major changes to their STR regulations. Now that the lawsuit has lifted, the municipalities are thinking about their next steps in regulating vacation rentals. The town and village are considering a six-month moratorium on issuing permits for STRs while the municipalities restructure STR regulations in their land use codes.

There will be a public hearing on the moratoriums on Feb. 23, after which the town board would be able to impose a moratorium at its next town council meeting on March 1. The village board could vote to begin its moratorium at its next meeting on March 7.

Mayor Art Devlin has said that the town and village are interested in protecting residential neighborhoods from being overtaken by STRs, but no definite plans for how the municipalities will do that have been made.

Permit issues

Orticelle said Thursday that many STR owners are in danger of losing their ability to rent legally as the moratorium approaches because his department has discovered “a lot” of STR permits that aren’t valid.

Most of those STR owners aren’t consciously trying to operate illegally, according to Orticelle. The Building and Planning Department switched to a new STR permitting program last July, and Orticelle said that many of the non-compliant STR permits he’s finding are invalid because owners haven’t registered with the new system. The building department notified all STR owners of the change by email last summer.

“They’ve been kind of just operating in cyberspace,” he said. “Not that they’re doing anything wrong, it’s just they never took the time to log into the new software.”

Orticelle said that STR permit information was automatically switched to the new system last year, but that without the owner registering with the new system, “nothing else can happen.” He said the non-compliant owners who aren’t registered with the new system have to call the Building and Planning Department, which will give the owners new account numbers and activation numbers and explain how to come into compliance.

If those STR owners don’t switch to the new system ahead of the potential moratorium, they might not be able to operate legally for at least six months. Orticelle said that if an STR owner is non-compliant, they technically don’t have a permit. Depending on the new STR regulations the town and village make, Orticelle said that some of the non-compliant owners might lose their permits for good if they don’t register with the new system.

STR owners can contact the building department at 518-523-9518.


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