Jan. 4—BARKER — The Somerset town board is continuing to weigh its options on how to regulate short-term rental properties, more commonly known as Airbnbs.
The public hearing on a proposed local law, begun at the board’s December business meeting, was reopened Wednesday night, and after fielding concerns from more than a dozen residents, the board opted again to not vote on the current draft of the law.
Like several neighboring towns in Niagara County, Somerset is aiming to get a handle on the vacation rental housing market and the rights of such property owners and their neighbors.
The only regulations the town has on the books now pertain to more traditional owner-occupied bed and breakfast establishments.
In the current draft of Somerset’s law, short-term rental properties would be subject to inspection by the town’s code enforcement department and the owners would pay an annual fee for an operating permit after appearing in front of the town planning board.
Neighbors of the properties voiced concerns about “disruptive” behavior of the occupants of short-term rental properties and how the town would enforce the law.
“The biggest thing… if this goes through is that we’re going to be enforcement agencies and being tattletales on our neighbors, which really I have no desire of doing… I just don’t see how it’s going to be enforced,” homeowner Laura Smith said during the public hearing.
Resident Andre Pagliaro, who rents out his Somerset property, argued that the current draft of the law is too restrictive to rental property owners. He said the town should use existing rules from organizations such as Airbnb and New York State guidelines to police issues with short-term rentals.
“There are some inherent issues with some of the conditions which really make that an untenable situation for anyone to rent their property regardless of whether it’s short or long term,” Pagliaro said.
After soliciting input from residents, town supervisor Jeff Dewart said he and the board will discuss potentially making some adjustments to the draft of the law before taking any action on it.
“It has to go to the Niagara County Planning Board first. If we decide to change anything in the law down the road, then we’ll have another public hearing,” Dewart said.