By Peter Calvert
Town of Andes Board, April 12, 6:45 pm – Public Hearing, Regular Meeting followed.
Present: Supervisor Bud Gladstone. Councilmen Ritchie Gabriel, Thomas Hall, Dale Cole, Shayne Moshier, Highway Superintendent John Bouton, Town Clerk Kimberly Tosi, Code Enforcement Office Alfred Mohr.
In the Town Hall: Bob Abbate, Wilson Kooven, Liz Ratto, Sally Van Benschoten, Eric Van Benschoten, Peter Calvert-Andes Gazette.
Others via Zoom: Mark Pezzati, Christine Rincon, Juliena Luecking, Pia Dehne, Jason Frank, William Palmer, Tab Constr., Ryann, and Vincent Lopez.
Public Hearing on Proposed Transient Rental Regulations: Participants on Zoom and in the Town Hall raised issues. The requirement to have a manager seemed an unneeded expense and burden to Airbnb owners. The opinion was the set-up ran smoothly and the immediate neighbors had been engaged to know the nature of the operation. Rental owners suggested that 911 could be called to rectify any emergencies (ie: fire, minor noise complaints, flooding, power outages, or out of control parties) that arose during short term rentals.
Other comments were that the Town should have trust in the transient rental owners and that they bring vital tourist traffic that import financial support to the businesses in the hamlet and the surrounding area. Another suggestion was raised to compile a rental owners handbook, possibly put together by the Town, that explained the various situations that could arise and how they should be dealt with if they arose.
Certain full-time town residents raised concerns about incidents they had observed in recent years. One related encountering an adult female in tears in a hamlet business. She explained she was locked out of her transient rental place following a domestic dispute by her male partner while he and their children were inside the rental unit. Another story was related of the out-of-control party that took place in the hamlet from out-of-state visitors who spread the word for an end of the semester party with no rules or consequences and caused $4,000 damage to the rental property in one evening. It was agreed that generally the Airbnb system runs smoothly, and the owners were conscientious about their neighborhood and community. Board members responded to the public comments: “Manager” or “agent” or “backup-keyholder” is a role local residents currently provide for numerous seasonal property owners. These residents look in on properties when out-of-town owners are not physically available. Plans to provide a local contact for a commercial rental property make sense for the good of the rental owner, their neighbors, and the community.
In a small community with no local police force, it often falls back on the volunteer fire department and volunteer EMT residents to be the first ones on the scene. 911 calls may go to the Delaware County Sheriff or State Troopers. Delaware County has a population of 44,300 folks spread across 1,467 square miles. Two troopers total may be on call any given evening and if they are on a previous call at a distant end of the county their response time to Andes could be two hours or more. The Board thanked the public for the comments and mentioned that laws could always be amended if needed. Later in the regular meeting the Board moved, seconded and passed the Transient Rental law that had been developed by the Town Planning Board.
Regular Meeting: Supervisor’s report:
* Another letter sent to State Senator Martucci to hook up Andes with Cell service. * Potential local Gas Station owner has met with NYC-DEP and will meet with NYC-DEC in the coming weeks. Several prospective sites are being considered and all looks promising. * Summer Jobs are available at the Little Pond State Campground—info on town website. * Town Kiosk got a $3,000 grant award from County Tourism for an upgrade. The Chamber also got an award.
Clean Heating & Cooling Campaign: Town invited residents to attend a free online webinar hosted out of Binghamton. Webinar outlined how efficient heat pump technology has become, proper insulation advantages and incentives and financing available to Andes residents. (This reporter attended the Wed. lunch webinar, and it was informative—contact www.nynest.org if interested in clean heating.)
Katherine “Cricket” Keyes was voted to a five-year term on the Planning Board to take the slot vacated when Jim Darling stepped down from the Planning Board.
Accepted $80,000 from TAB Construction for the old garage warehouse property.
CEO Report: Issued 16 permits and 4 violations while doing 10 searches. Received building applications for 2 new homes.
Privilege of the Floor: The Highway Dept. received a compliment on their work keeping the roads clear and passable during the Winter.~