North Elba OKs STR moratorium
LAKE PLACID — The North Elba Town Council voted on Tuesday to place a six-month moratorium on new short-term vacation rental permits within town boundaries. The moratorium is expected to begin on March 8, giving the moratorium an approximate Sept. 8 end date.
The moratorium follows a more than year-long period when the town and village couldn’t make major changes to their STR regulations due to an active lawsuit brought against the municipalities by a group of STR owners. Now that the lawsuit has been lifted, the town and village have said they want time to reformulate STR regulations and get public feedback on where the rentals should be and under what circumstances.
The town and village held a joint public hearing on the moratorium on Feb. 23. The village board of trustees expects to vote on imposing a similar moratorium at the next board meeting on March 7.
The town council decided to adopt the moratorium with the stipulation that it goes into effect on March 8. Councilors wanted to give people applying for an STR permit ahead of the moratorium enough time to submit paperwork and get approval, a process Councilor Emily Politi said usually takes a couple of days. Councilors also said that starting the moratorium on March 8 would allow the village to have the same six-month moratorium period as the town.
The moratorium will not affect existing permits. Anyone with a valid permit can continue to operate an STR throughout the moratorium, and anyone whose permit is expected to lapse during the moratorium can still operate their STR as long as they renew their permit on time.
The local law does allow for variances — people can appeal to the town clerk for an exception to the moratorium if they believe it “would impose practical difficulties or extraordinary hardships” on them. Politi said that the main hurdle for someone looking for a variance would be proving economic hardship as a result of the moratorium.
If someone applied for a variance, the town council would have to hold a public hearing on it. The town council would decide whether or not someone could apply for a variance, and the Building and Planning Department would decide whether or not to grant the variance. The law’s language for variances is being finalized this week.
The text of the moratorium law also says that the town council has the right to extend or terminate the moratorium beyond or before the six-month period if needed.
The town council expected to vote on administrative changes to the town and village’s joint land use code on Tuesday, but that vote was delayed due to the need for more documentation required by the State Environmental Quality Review Act.