The iconic Cloud House in the Village of New Paltz has been approved for use as a legal short-term rental by the planning board, a move which could establish the framework for similar projects in the future.
The property housing the roughly 1,700-square-foot second floor two-bedroom apartment at 5 Church Street is owned by Inyoung Cho and Seung Yup Kang, who came before the planning board in November seeking permission to allow them to rent the space short-term while they weren’t using it themselves during visits to New Paltz.
The first floor of the Cloud House is occupied by Krishna Kitchen, an Indian restaurant that serves vegan and vegetarian cuisine, has been open for nearly three years. Cho and Kang own another rental property in the village as well.
“The short-term rental option would allow them to coordinate their visits to New Paltz with those for the tenants where long-term rental option only wouldn’t allow that,” said Allen Ross of New Paltz firm Allen Ross Architecture during a November meeting of the planning board. “So the way the short-term rental would work is that when the tenants weren’t there, they could come to New Paltz to maintain the property to look in on whatever has to happen.”
Ross added that Cloud House was previously a traditional rental, but that didn’t work out due to a disruptive tenant.
The Cloud House is in the village’s B-2 business district, with planning board members allowing for leniency that might not apply in the case of a short-term rental unit in a residential area.
“The way the code is written, it’s quite restrictive of short-term rentals in residential districts and that’s where you’ll find that, for example, an exception is that buildings that are owner occupied are allowed to have short-term rentals,” said attorney Emily Svenson, consulting for the planning board. “That all applies to residential districts. This is in a business district, so I think the idea is that it’s not changing the character of a neighborhood in the same way because it’s oriented towards commercial use already.”
Short-term rental use must comply with municipal housing requirements, identified in chapter 129, article IV. The regulations were established to protect housing affordability for long-term residents in residential districts and primarily residential neighborhoods, to preserve the balance of commercial and residential neighborhoods, to ensure the safety of current and future residents and visitors, and to limit the risk of increased noise, trash, traffic, parking and other detrimental impacts.
Cloud House was identified by Village of New Paltz Deputy Mayor Alexandria Wojcik in a Spectrum News report from early January as flouting a 2021 law banning short-term rentals when the host is not the primary resident.
“There’s all these different people coming in every couple days, total strangers, tourists; nobody lives there,” Wojcik said while standing in front of Cloud House in the Spectrum clip. “So it just becomes this weird void on a block.”
The village maintains an annual list of rental properties, including legal short-term units; Cloud House is not currently on that list, but the law allows for property owners to seek a special use permit to operate a short-term rental.
Though Cloud House is located within a business district, it will be held to the same standards as any other approved short-term rental property, and will require annual registration and inspection by the village building department. The approval also limits the number of short-term occupants to four, though that followed some back and forth.
“I did look at the floor plan and the two bedrooms and a living room, and I don’t think that there would be anything wrong if they had a pullout bed in the living room,” said planning board member Amy Cohen.“If there was a couple there with a child and the child slept on a pullout couch in the living room, I don’t think it would matter to anybody in this village. I’m not saying that we should pack people into an apartment like sardines, but looking at the floor plan, to me, I think that the maximum occupancy could be five people.”
Fellow Board member Terry Dolan disagreed.
“I appreciate the example of a child on a couch, but it may not be a child,” he said. “I would rather leave it at four myself.”
Planning board member Rich Souto said it was imperative for the planning board to craft their approval for the Cloud House with the understanding that it would likely be referenced by future short-term rental applications.
“We’re likely to see more of these types of applications moving forward,” Souto said. “Are there any considerations for a number of rental nights or continuous rental or any sort of things like that that this board might just remind ourselves about or understand for the future applications as well?”
Village code identifies short-term rentals as 30 days or fewer.
Prior to the approval by the planning board, the Cloud House was not open as a short-term rental, though it has previously served that purpose before, with listings on popular websites like Airbnb and VRBO. As of press time the property is still set on those websites with a 30-day minimum and has not yet shifted to short-term.