Village considers fourth moratorium variance application

LAKE PLACID — A fourth person has applied for an exception to the village of Lake Placid’s current moratorium on issuing new short-term vacation rental permits.

Justina Deitz is applying for a variance for her condominium on 12 Harbor Lane. A New Jersey resident, Deitz wrote in her application that she and her family started renting the condo in 2019 through local realtor Berkshire Hathaway. She wrote that she and her family “were not advised until March 2021 that we should have applied for a rental permit.”

Code Officer Mike Orticelle said Tuesday that the Building and Planning Department had no record of a past or present STR permit for Deitz or her family’s particular condominium. He said people renting their condo as an STR through a local real estate agency are still required to apply for an STR permit with the village.

Margie Philo, broker-owner of Berkshire Hathaway Adirondack Premier Properties and Adirondack Realty, said her office called and emailed Deitz multiple times ahead of the moratorium to tell her that she needed to apply for an STR permit for her condo. Philo provided two emails sent to Dietz in February and March of this year; she said the previous emails sent to Deitz had been deleted.

Philo’s office on Feb. 22 sent a notice to all property owners — including Deitz — who were renting their homes as STRs through Berkshire Hathaway to register their STR permit in the village’s new STR permitting system if they hadn’t yet. The email also notified property owners of the impending moratorium, encouraging people to check the status of their permits ahead of the moratorium.

“The last email was prior to the moratorium deadline and she still did nothing to apply. The fault is on this homeowner, not on my real estate company,” Philo wrote in an email Wednesday.

Philo said that her office allowed Deitz to rent her condo through Berkshire Hathaway since 2019 under a verbal understanding that Deitz had the proper permits. Reached by phone Wednesday, Deitz said that she did receive the email on Feb. 22, adding that was the first time she’d heard about the STR permitting system or the moratorium. Deitz thought that the two-week window between Feb. 22 and the start of the moratorium at the beginning of March wouldn’t have been enough time to apply for a permit. She thought she needed to get a copy of the condo’s bylaws for the application, which she said took her around eight weeks to get. Code Enforcement Officer Mike Orticelle said Deitz didn’t need a copy of the condo bylaws to apply for an STR permit before the moratorium, and he thought two weeks would have been enough time to apply for the permit.

On March 23, shortly after the moratorium began, Philo’s office emailed Deitz again saying that they couldn’t find a record of her STR permit. The email asked Deitz to either provide proof of her permit or call the Building and Planning Department.

Deitz wrote in her application that most of the Harbor Lane condos are rented as STRs, typically to families and for no more than three to seven nights at a time. Orticelle said that the Building and Planning Department’s system shows only three “legal” permits for condos on Harbor Lane. He said he’s had some problems with some local Realtors listing STRs that don’t have permits. Deitz’s condo is no longer listed as being for rent on the Berkshire Hathaway website.

When asked in the variance application if the moratorium has caused her family financial hardship, Deitz wrote that it hadn’t. She wrote that the “extra money has been helpful for college savings for our children.” Deitz said she and her family want the option to rent their condo as an STR to help with their son’s college expenses.

Deitz wrote in her application that her family is “selective” about who they rent their condo to, and they haven’t had issues with noise or damage to the unit. It’s unclear in the application when Deitz’s family purchased the condo.

Deitz wrote that she grew up in Saranac Lake and that her mother lives in Ray Brook. She wrote that she attended Saranac Lake High School and respects the village’s community and environment.

“I visit often and consider this my ‘real’ home,” she wrote.

The Lake Placid Village Board of Trustees will hold a public hearing for the Deitz application at 4:45 p.m. on July 18. After the hearing, the board has up to 30 days to vote on the Deitz application. While the village and the town of North Elba’s STR moratorium is expected to end early this September, both boards have the option to extend the moratorium.

CLARIFICATION: This article has been updated with a clarification that Berkshire Hathaway Adirondack Premier Properties and Adirondack Realty did notify the applicant about the moratorium before it was imposed and about STR permit requirements.


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