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May 30, 2013

Village still working on tourist accommodation law changes

New public hearing at least a month away

Another public hearing on the proposed changes to the tourist accommodation law is at least a month away, but village attorney Martin Tillapaugh told the Cooperstown Board of Trustees that he believes a new draft will satisfy everyone.

“Essentially, what we have come up with will incorporate the best of both worlds,” Tillapaugh told the trustees at the board’s monthly meeting on May 20.

A new proposal would still end the amortization, or grandfathering, of properties covered by the Soule agreement. However, property owners that are not receiving complaints from neighbors will have their amortization period extended. Properties that are the subject of multiple complaints, on the other hand, would not be extended and ultimately would lose the right to rent on a short term basis. 

“Of the 27 complaints we have received, basically it is for four properties,” Tillapaugh said. “This way the people who are running a good business and not causing any problems, can be extended and continue to do business.

“Everyone would still have a 5-year grace period,” he continued, “but if after – and I am just making up a number here – 10 complaints, or whatever we decided, then we would basically consider their grandfathering to have come to an end. If people can see that they are progressing to losing their grandfathering, they can step in and take action.”

An April public hearing on the proposed changes drew about 15 people and lasted the full hour allotted for public responses. Comments were nearly evenly split between property owners upset that they might lose their right to rent their homes and those who lived near problem rentals.

A proposed provision that all rentals be owner-occupied upset many of the people at the hearing, including Steve D’Espisito, who owns the Rose and Thistle Bed and Breakfast, but lives in an adjacent property at 132 Chestnut St.

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