CASSADAGA – The Village Board held a standing-room-only crowd this week with community members in full force for a public hearing on a proposed short-term rental moratorium.
But after an hour and 24 minutes of public comment and every community member in attendance who wanted to speak shared their position on the matter, a vote finally took place, but with it came no immediate clarity on the issue one way or another.
The board voted 4-1 to table the discussion until the next meeting, which will likely be set for Aug. 24.
Trustee Rachyl Krupa was the lone vote against tabling the currently proposed moratorium until the next meeting. He expressed a desire to completely rescind the currently constructed moratorium.
Emotions across the spectrum were on display on the walls of this packed building Wednesday, from anger and frustration to tears shed and pleas for civility and compassion from community members.
Susan Asquith of Cassadaga spoke with a list of concerns she had about the moratorium and the issue as a whole. He highlighted one point in particular, stating: “Loss of community. Well, what’s happening here is the definition of community loss.”
Asquith concluded his public statements by stating: “We’re here tonight to address the lack of awareness that’s tearing down this small-town character that residents are desperate to preserve. I hope you’re all listening.”
One of the many who presented letters to the board for consideration was Kim Collins, owner of The Blue Oar, a short-term rental property on Lakeview Avenue.
Collins read aloud a letter written by Tricia Waterman Verost, one of a stack of stakeholder letters Collins presented to the board. The letter said that Verost and his brother inherited their Cassadaga home after their father’s death in 2020 and that “Renting it gives us the opportunity to keep it in our family.”
Cassadaga resident Kathy Thorp read aloud a letter from her sister and then shared her own feelings. “I love everybody on every side, so it’s hard to take sides because you’re all my friends.” she said “But I have to say, I agree there shouldn’t be a moratorium. I think all this should be is for us to let the (zoning) committee do its thing and figure out if this is really what we need.” .
Supporters of the moratorium aimed at regulating short-term rentals also shared their views on why the legislation is needed.
“I’m not against all Airbnbs, even though they’re a business in our community. Every business in our community has zoning regulations. … An Airbnb business has no regulations. said Tom Beichner, a speaker in favor of the moratorium. He also spoke of his concern that, if left unregulated, short-term rentals will become so prevalent that full-time residents could be priced out of purchasing a permanent residence in the village.
In multiple instances throughout the public hearing, members of the public insulted members of the People’s Council and questioned their ethics and character. Speakers on both sides of the issue also discussed what one speaker said, “The grief that so many of us have experienced as a result of this proposed law.”
Beichner credited the village board and zoning committee for their efforts during this process. “People have degraded them and said nasty things about them. It’s not necessary in this town, or anywhere.” he said
After the conclusion of the public hearing, the board moved forward with the rest of the regularly scheduled meeting. Once the board brought up the issue of the short-term rental moratorium, Cassadaga Village Attorney Joe Calimeri clarified the difference between a vote to table the conversation and a vote to rescind the moratorium entirely.
“The question ultimately comes down to ‘What is the board’s goal?’ If the purpose of the board is to reconvene to consider comments from the zoning commission, comments from the public, and your own thinking, you’d better withdraw the motion, because you’ll have a new motion. document that you will have to submit,” said Calimeri.
The majority of the board favored the option to put the discussion until the next meeting.
“My only concern is, and I’ve been concerned, that we’re not hearing both sides of the story.” said Mayor William Dorman. “… My preference would be to table it until the next meeting to see the different things we have tonight.”
Other options available to the board at Wednesday’s meeting included a vote to approve the moratorium or a vote to rescind it entirely, either to start over with entirely new legislation or to write no legislation at all. the short-term rental issue. If the proposed legislation undergoes substantial changes from what was proposed before the public hearing, the process would start over and a new public hearing would have to be held.
“Repeal is starting from scratch as if the bill being presented did not exist. To present it is to leave open the possibility that it will be adopted, but at least to allow the conversation. It all comes down to what your preference is,” said Calimeri.
After that point, the board moved to a vote to table the debate.
“I’d like to make a motion to bring it up at the next meeting so we can look at it and really focus on all the information we got tonight.” Councilor Cynthia Flaherty said. “There are actually more options than just a moratorium or no moratorium. There are other options.”
Going forward, the moratorium will likely be lifted at the next meeting, on August 24, but that does not guarantee a resolution. The board could continue to present the moratorium whenever it sees fit. The legislation could also be approved or repealed at a later date.
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