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Queensbury Town Board looking at new short-term rental regulations

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Glen Lake Airbnb

This property off Barber Road in Queensbury is advertised as a lake house with private dock access on Airbnb's website. The listing currently states there is parking for three vehicles despite only indicating one bedroom. The property currently lists a two-night minimum stay to book, with no available dates until the end of October.

QUEENSBURY — Before the start of the busy summer season, short-term rental property owners in town may have new rules to adhere to regarding how long guests can stay and how many vehicles they can have.

In recent years, short-term rental properties have caused a divide among property owners in local municipalities.

In May 2020, the Queensbury Town Board passed Local Law 5, which amended the town code by adding Chapter 115: short-term rentals. Short-term rentals by definition in New York state are properties rented for less than 30 days.

As companies like Airbnb’s popularity soared, town Supervisor John Strough saw a need to revisit the regulations in March 2021. Board member Harrison Freer was named the chairman of the citizen advisory committee last March, but he said due to the pandemic the group was only able to meet in person four times.

Nonetheless, the committee has a list of recommendations for the board to consider and possibly add to the existing local law.

Freer presented the resident-guided recommendations to fellow board members on Monday.

The original ordinance did not limit the length of time property owners could operate a short-term rental or require guests to stay a certain number of days in order to rent the property.

The committee’s first recommendation will limit non-hosted short-term rentals in residential zones to a total of 120 days a year, if adopted by the Town Board.

The second item on the committee’s list is in effort to cut down on weekend partiers renting the homes in residential districts.

“There would be a minimum stay of five days required to rent the properties, which would eliminate the people that just come for a bachelor party and leave,” Freer said.

He explained that municipalities have some wiggle room with the minimum stay requirement, some requiring no minimum stay and others requiring a 14-day booking.

Freer said the recommendations were on the “light side” compared to some of the more drastic regulations that could be implemented regarding short-term rentals. He cited an ongoing war between short-term rental owners and residents in the town of Fort Ann and the town of Lake Placid.

Freer is hoping that these regulations will prevent a similar situation sparking in Queensbury.

The committee also recommends altering the current regulation that allows two vehicles per bedroom, to only allow one vehicle per bedroom, to cut down on added traffic and illegal parking in the area.

The current ordinance requires short-term rental property owners to provide “adjacent property owners” with a point of contact if the guests violate the rules set forth by the owner and the local government.

The amendment would clarify that all homeowners within 100 feet of the property are entitled to the short-term rental owner’s contact information.

Freer also elaborated on a new software app, Granicus, purchased by Warren County to be used in tracking the properties offering short-term rentals in the town.

“The software should be up and running by mid-February. It was created to help municipalities keep track of these properties and highlight those not in compliance with the laws,” he explained to the board on Monday.

The software works by scouring the internet for advertisements of properties within the town’s five ZIP codes. Analytic data will then be available for board members and better help them determine whether a property owner is operating in compliance.

“Lake George uses this app and it helped them weed-out a bad apple,” Freer said of the program.

The board wants to move forward with these amendments before the summer season begins.

A public hearing will be scheduled for March, however the date has not been set.

After receiving public comments, the board will move to change any items necessary and vote in favor or against the changes to the ordinance.

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