North Elba rejects first moratorium exception application
Councilors consider second application
LAKE PLACID — The North Elba Town Council on Tuesday denied the first application it received for an exception from the town’s current moratorium on issuing new short-term vacation rental permits. Councilors are now considering a second variance application.
Town councilors unanimously voted to reject a variance application from Tim and Jill Gerrity, who were seeking a moratorium exception for their primary residence on Juniper Circle. Their application stated that they travel “several times per year” for work with their two toddlers, and those travel expenses are “out of pocket.” Without STR income to cover the cost of homeownership while they’re traveling, the application stated, the Gerritys wouldn’t be able to “make ends meet.”
The town council on Tuesday presented a document of “findings of fact” that included reasons why the board chose to deny the application. The board found that the Gerritys didn’t demonstrate “an actual loss of rental income,” according to board documents, and that the Gerritys failed to demonstrate financial evidence that they couldn’t get a reasonable financial return by using the property for allowable uses, like renting the property to a long-term tenant.
The Gerritys weren’t present for Tuesday’s meeting.
The town council held a public hearing before its regular meeting on Tuesday for a second variance application from Joanna and Andrew Madloch, who are asking for a variance for their property on Whiteface Inn Lane — a residentially-zoned area in the town. Andrew presented their application to the board on Tuesday.
The Madlochs’ application states that the moratorium is causing them “significant financial hardship.” The couple wrote that they’re self-employed, and they said the pandemic dealt a blow to their gross annual income in 2020. They decided to sell their home on Marcy Road to buy a Whiteface Inn Lane property with a plan to use it as an STR to supplement their “dwindling income.”
While the Madlochs’ application lists the Whiteface Inn Lane property as their primary residence, Andrew told town councilors on Tuesday that the couple’s primary residence is in New Jersey; he said they live here nearly half of the year.
The Madlochs wrote in their application that they haven’t been able to rent their property as an STR because of property damage that was undisclosed at the time of purchase, which they said they repaired themselves in 2020 and 2021. According to their application, their property is now ready to be rented. Their application also states that the Whiteface Inn Lane property has a history of being used as an STR, but Councilor Emily Kilburn Politi said the Building and Planning Department wasn’t able to find a rental history for the property. Kilburn Politi also asked Andrew if he had communicated with the Code Enforcement Office while they were making repairs to the home, and he said he didn’t know he had to.
Due to business struggles that deepened their financial hardship last year, according to the Madlochs’ application, they weren’t able to pay taxes for the first time in their lives. They said they paid $8,000 in taxes with credit card debt, and they still owe the IRS $50,000 for their 2021 tax return. They said their credit score has dropped from 800 to 670 this year alone.
The town council left a public comment period for this application open for seven days after the hearing. People can email comments about the application to town Clerk Laurie Dudley at email@example.com through Monday. While a notice for Tuesday’s public hearing wasn’t submitted to the town’s website or anywhere else online, Dudley submitted a public notice that ran in the June 22 edition of the Enterprise.
The board plans to make a decision to approve or deny the application at its next regular board meeting at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 2.