Cooperstown Board of Trustees passes new restrictions on transient rental businesses

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y.-- Cooperstown property owners who want to open their homes to summer guests may have more difficulty gaining on the tourism traffic.

Posted: Jan 19, 2018 12:13 AM
Updated: Jan 19, 2018 12:22 AM

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y.-- Cooperstown property owners who want to open their homes to summer guests may have more difficulty gaining on the tourism traffic.

The village's Board of Trustees voted Thursday night to adopt more restrictions on transient rental properties, defined as a rental for 30 days or fewer.

Those who wish to begin a transient rental business will now need to have owner occupancy, or a person with more than 50% ownership of the property living on the premises. For certain business districts, an outside agent can fulfill the owner occupancy requirement.

The new owners will also need fire safety inspections and must renew their permit every year.

In Cooperstown, there are 900 housefronts, and 50 are transient rentals. Cooperstown Mayor Jeff Katz says he wanted to a see a more restrictive law in place before those numbers grew.

"We understand there's a place for tourist accommodations, we're not trying to outlaw them, but we're trying to reassess where they fit into the community," Katz said. "We don't receive more than 1% of the sales tax, we get none of the bed tax for all of these properties that are short-term rentals. Ultimately, it's a residential village."

Katz says transient properties fill up during the summer baseball season. During the winter and fall however, he says those properties are left unoccupied, rather than housing permanent residents.

The new law will not affect property owners whose land already complies with prior transient laws.

Should those property owners choose to sell the land, however, the law will apply to the new owners.

"We've made the tourist accommodations special permit personal, rather than tied to the property," Martin Tillapaugh, the village's attorney said.

Marjorie Landers, who owns the White House Inn Bed and Breakfast, expressed concern over the special permit change. Her business is a seven-bedroom house, which she says is too big to sell as a residential property to a family.

"Without the guarantee that it could be sold as a bed-and-breakfast, the property value would be greatly affected," Landers said.

Hotels and motels are not included in the law, as they follow a different set of codes and regulations. Owners of lodging businesses believe the new law will help curb competition in an ever-growing market.

"It started out as week-long rentals and they've slowly gone into overnight rental," Marc Kingsley, owner of The Inn at Cooperstown said. "So they're basically a lodging property, but they skirted the rules."

The vote Wednesday night ends a moratorium signed by the board in May that prevented the formation of new transient rental businesses.

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