Town of Webb proposes short-term residential rental law

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The Webb Town Board held a public hearing Thursday, May 20, concerning the proposed local law creation that would regulate short-term residential rentals in the Town of Webb. 

The meeting, held at the McCauley Mountain Chalet, 300 McCauley Road, (and was also streamed on Zoom) gave an opportunity to all interested stakeholders to voice their concerns and to the board to take any necessary for the proposed law. 

Each interested speaker was provided three minutes to state their concerns.

A representative for the board acknowledged the benefits of short term rentals to the Adirondack community, especially since websites such as Airbnb, VRBO, and Adirondack By Owner have made it more accessible, but stated that more regulation might be needed.

“The town recognizes the economic benefits of short term rentals,” Town Supervisor David Berkstresser said. “However, the town also recognizes the potential adverse effects of the neighborhood character and the general wellbeing, health and safety of the town. These provisions governing short term rental usage are designed to strike a balance. The Town Board finds that striking this balance is in the best interest of our community as a whole.”

One of the chief concerns that set this proposal in motion was unsafe and disruptive fireworks. Another concern was noise. 

Catherine Thomas, a rental property owner pointed out that there is no noise ordinance in the Town of Webb.

The proposed law change of the Town of Webb Code includes a permit requirement, a cap on weekly visitor turnover, and more. 

Lorraine Murwin, owner of Awesome Country in Boonville, owns multiple rental properties in Old Forge. She advocated against the proposed law changes. She pointed out that rental sites like Airbnb have a review system that already holds property owners accountable. She also inquired about consequences for those who had set this course in motion.

“I would like to know if there is a list of offenders that precipitated this action,” she said. “If there is, I would like to know why they are not being targeted for (legal) action, because most people that I know are very good hosts and advocates for Airbnb and for this community.”

She suggested that any permit fees collected from property owners be used towards hiring more law enforcement for the town. 

“Isn’t this better managed by finding some way to hire more law enforcement?” she said. “Maybe a separate seasonal officer to handle these types of things.”

A second public hearing is scheduled for June 10.

Adoption of this legislation is authorized by New York Municipal Home Rule Law. Before adoption or changes of local laws are made, a public hearing is required. 

The Town of Webb Board is comprised of five members, including David Berkstresser, Supervisor; Barbara Green, Councilwoman; Kurt Gardner, Councilman; Michael Ross, Councilman; and Donald Haehl, Councilman. 

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