Blooming Grove Passes Short-Term Rental Prohibition Law and Changes Legal Firm
By Edie Johnson
In a relatively short town board meeting, the Town of Blooming Grove finished several long-standing items. Their new solar code is very nearly done, but wanting one last look at a few changes that the Planning Board recommended, they decided to leave the Public Hearing open one more time and hope to make a final vote at their next public session. Recommendations by their Planning Board included reduction of the recommended buffer for side and front yard setbacks on both large and small scale solar ground arrays. They are also looking again at recommendations about whether environmentally friendly repellants should be permitted to restrict overgrowth in the area of ground arrays.
An introductory law was unanimously passed to prohibit short-term (less than 30 days) rental s in the town. This will restrict a recent proliferation of Airbnb vacation rentals that the town felt raise issues of safety, and unfair competition since registered hotels and B&B’s have building codes that are costly. Owners of these types of places to stay argued that others should be held to the same standards. There was also the issue that municipalities as well as the county lose hotel fees and extra taxes that are paid on commercial entities. The county is also researching restrictions on Airbnb type rentals, as is the State of New York.
The Town will be going out to bid soon and will be sending out RFP’s (Requests for Proposals)for a number of services. A first step that was taken this week was to discontinue the use of Jacobowitz and Gubits as a primary law firm. The firm was thanked for the many years of service performed, and boaard members clarified that they did not believe J&G had done anything wrong. But due to residents’ concerns that because the firm does significant business with the Village of Kiryas Joel (with which the Town has a pending lawsuit), there was a potential for conflict of interest situations. The firm of Feerick, Lynch, MacCartney & Nugent which has provided specialty coverage of all land use issues, will now become the towns primary firm, at least until the round of RFP submittals has been reviewed. Dennis Lynch, of the firm, has represented both the town and village successfully on matters of Municipal Law and Zoning, Planning and Land Use. The move is also expected to save the Town some money on legal expenses since there are times when both firms have been required to come to meetings to cover their respective specialty areas.