Story by Lourice Angie
The Village of Greenwood Lake Board met on Mon., Oct. 16 and the main topic of discussion was the future of short term/airbnb rentals within the Village. As the meeting opened, G.L. Mayor Jesse Dwyer welcomed Warwick Town Supervisor Michael Sweeton.
The G.L. Board continues to seek the best solution for everyone. Trustee Chad Sellier provided the Board with a detailed report that was created by using internet research and information from the airbnb website. The report located the landscape of airbnb short term rentals operating in the G.L area. Sellier was able to locate at least 75 listings and he identified pricing and accommodations that specified whether homeowners were at the home during the rental or not.
The report concluded that of the 75 listings, 16 or 21% of these operations were located in Greenwood Lake. The Town of Warwick showed the majority of airbnb rentals with 37 listed or 49%, West Milford was at 15%, Tuxedo Park showed 5%, Monroe 4%, and Chester 3%. Of those listings, about 75% were listed as the entire home, indicating that the homeowner is not present during the visitor’s stay.
Sellier said that the average price for G.L area rentals listed was approximately $226 per night; the difference between weekday and weekend rates was not specified. Inside the Village, the rate was higher than the average at $245, Warwick was $260 and West Milford was $232. The most frequent price found of the 75 listings was $250. Of the 16 listings that are in G.L., ten of the listings were between $100 and $300 per night. By using these comparisons, Trustee Sellier was able to compare the brick and mortar motels where rentals range from $145 to $190, with the exception of the Tara House in G.L at that starts at $475 per night.
Mayor Dwyer thanked Trustee Sellier for his report and said that by acquiring this valuable information, the board gets a better perspective of the situation and more insight into how to proceed. Dwyer expressed the hope that the Town of Warwick will also consider reviewing and enforcing the same guidelines and regulations that are decided upon regarding short term rentals.
Among those who attended the meeting were residents, rental owners and business owners. Mayor Dwyer respectfully gave each person a turn to voice their opinion at the end of the Board meeting during privilege of the floor. Some of the short term renters said they felt having the operation regulated to some extent was important, but that some of the requirements and fees proposed by the Board seemed almost stifling and excessive.
Brenda, a resident of G.L who operates an airbnb rental, thanked the Board for allowing her to be heard. She agreed that regulations should be placed saying, “One of the reasons I bought my home in G.L. was because of airbnb.”
She visited the Town for two summers and decided to purchase a home. From her personal experience, the general demographics have been families, some visiting for weddings or family gatherings. She asked the Board to consider reviewing other fees charged in other cities regarding airbnb operations.
Michael S., a short term renter and resident of G.L., says that he feels like he is being harassed by neighbors who repeatedly call the police on his family and their airbnb guests. He feels there is no resolving the issues because the calls and complaints continue even when he hasn’t broken the law.
Town Justice Nancy De Angelo said that she agrees short term rental should be regulated, but feels that requiring a yearly septic flush is ridiculous and that by law it is usually required every two to three years, depending on the situation.
Alice Thorpe, a senior citizen who lives in Hewitt NJ, says that after her taxes were raised over $3,500, she rents the upstairs of her home as an airbnb/short term rental so that she can afford to stay.
“There’s no other way for some of us,” said Thorpe.
Ray Buoderau, a weekender from NYC, says he bought real estate in G.L. because of the beauty and accessibility of the lake. When he or his guests stay in Greenwood Lake, they shop there, eat there and spend money there.
Another resident and short renter of 25 years asked that the Board carefully approach the situation so as not to drive out tourism. A few Greenwood Lake residents of over 35 years expressed safety concerns and complained that some of these short term rental homes were not complying with Village garbage schedules. Garbage is left outside for days before it is picked up and bears have been seen rummaging through the garbage.
Dwyer was very clear about the Board’s position saying, “We’ve looked at this entire issue extensively. We’ve documented your concerns and emails. We’ve seen the pros and cons of how we want the future of this Village to be. I personally think there’s no getting rid of airbnb and I also don’t want to. I just want to maintain control over this rapidly developing business that’s happening in our Village. I want thriving businesses in our downtown and I want peace and quiet in our neighborhoods. We are not trying to stop airbnb or stop tourism in Greenwood Lake. We are residents, parents and business owners. The Board will do their best to make fair decisions as much as possible. We will not sacrifice the quality of life in G.L. or allow residents to be disrupted by people who do not live in the Village full time.”
The Board encouraged the public to review the Board’s proposal on the Village website and on Facebook which presents the pros and cons, potential fees, and a specific timeline for action.
Currently the Board is reviewing and reevaluating short term rental requirements, fees and restrictions before a final decision is made, but a law will ultimately be passed on airbnb/short term rental operations in G.L. Dwyer and Village Attorney John Buckheit are working on drafting legislation by the next Board meeting in November. They will present and review the potential legislation with the Board and the public, outside of a public hearing that they haven’t even gotten to yet. They are allowing enough time to draft important legislation for the community.
Any concerned residents can call or send an email to Mayor Dwyer. The Board anticipates that by the December meeting, they will schedule a public hearing. Depending on the results of that discussion, the Board could potentially adopt a law and by January and everything will be in place for the 2018 summer season.
Windermere Ave. Sidewalks
After being asked by the NYS DOT to replace the curbs on the sidewalks on Windermere Ave. in order to make them handicap accessible, the Board received the revised costs which saw an increase of 15%. The Board has agreed to cover the costs through funds available by NYS CHIPS (Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program). Dwyer says that the Village will move forward with the project beginning on the west side of the road. The Mayor anticipates sidewalks on Windermere Ave., from Jersey Ave. to Oak St., will be replaced within the next month.
Waterstone Rd. Sidewalk
The Board opened the bid for the Waterstone Rd. Sidewalk project and the bid was within budget. The sidewalk will connect the Bristol Bridge to the gazebo. Dwyer anticipates the project will commence in a month or so and should be completed before the winter.
Wetland Handicap Walkway
Mayor Dwyer announced that after having a bid opening last week for the wetland handicap walkway, the bids came in significantly higher than originally budgeted. The project is currently on hold because the Board does not feel they’ve had enough bids. The board has advertised the bid package on their website and in the newspaper in order to get the word out to the public. Contractors who are interested can contact Mayor Dwyer at 477-9215.
The Village of Greenwood Lake will enforce an 8 p.m. curfew on Mon., Oct 30. and on Halloween, Tues., Oct. 31. Warwick Town Supervisor Michael Sweeton said the Town of Warwick will enforce the same curfew. Dwyer says the G.L Police Dept. will be out patrolling on both nights ensuring the curfew is obeyed.
4th Annual Holiday Festival
The fourth annual Holiday Festival in G.L. will be held on Sat., Dec. 2 from 1 to 5:30 p.m. Anyone interested in being a vendor can send an email to Colleen Dwyer at email@example.com.
Next Board Meeting
The next Village Board meeting will be held on Mon., Nov. 13 at 7:30 p.m. at the Courthouse, located at 47 Waterstone Rd. in Greenwood Lake.