June 28, 2019

Varick Planning Board, May 23, 2019

Varick Planning Board

May 23, 2019

Present: Linda Mastellar (chair), Rich Olsen, Frankie Long, Thomas Björkman (Secretary)
Absent: Hershey Sensenig, Michelle Hermann, one vacancy
Visitors: Lori Westervelt, Jane Drayer, Joyce Sanford, Ken Sanford, Jerry Drayer, Stephen Blaisdell, Brian Zerges
The Town Board has asked the Planning Board to propose regulation of short-term rentals to prevent associated problems from becoming worse. Several residents were in attendance to address the issue.
Residents of a private road on Seneca Lake described issues with short-term rental properties that impaired their quality of life. The situation has become worse as more houses are used for short-term rental, in particularly when there is an absentee landlord that does not use a management company. There is little response, and neighbors feel there is no recourse. The desirable qualities of living on the lake get compromised.
·     Parking: renters and their visitors bring more cars than there is room for at the rental property. They block the road, park on lawns, and on neighbors properties.
·     Noise:  Some renters are noisy, sometimes late into the night. The impact is greater than with long-term residents who have only occasional parties. With the short-term rentals, it tends to be continuous which has substantial impact on the experience of living by the lake.
·     Speeding: Some renters speed on the narrow private road. 
·     Dogs: renters allow their dogs to roam on to neighboring properties, defecate on the road, and bark continuously when their owners are away.
·     Unattended fires: These fires are a fire danger and, when smoky, cause pollution and noxious fumes. 
The concerned residents supported a license similar to Fayette’s, wherein the owner has a significant role in managing the guests. They noted that one residence managed by Finger Lakes Premier Properties has never been a problem because they make expectations clear to renters and act immediately when there is a problem. They felt that a license system that requires similar engagement would be promising.
A resident who owns a short-term rental on Rt. 89 and Cayuga Lake, Stephen Blaisdell, was concerned that the Fayette ordinance does not have sufficient due process before cancelling a license. An owner cannot reapply for a whole year. That represents too big a business risk. The $500 fee seems excessive, and the administration of the process more involved than necessary. He enlists FLPP as manager to make sure the property is not a problem. 
Brian Zerges, principal of FLPP, spoke in favor of good management of rental properties. He met with the Planning Board last year also encouraging good management so that a few problem properties didn’t result in a loss of support for all short-term rental. 
Board members observed that many of these issues are not specific to short-term rentals and could be dealt with in a general ordinance. For instance, dogs trespassing or barking is currently addressed in the Town dog ordinance and enforced by the dog-control offices. 
For several of the issues, enforcement mechanisms are a challenge. For instance, parking on the private road may not be in town or county jurisdiction. Further investigation is needed.
The planning board is interested in hearing more from owners of short-term rental properties.
Somerville subdivision
The Major Subdivision proposal came back from the County Planning Board. They indicated that the drainage pipe that passes across Lot D need to be addressed in two ways. First, the development footprint of Lot D must not include drainage pipe easement (10 feet on either side of pipe). Second, the deed needs to have and easement to restrict tree planting over drainage pipe.
The septic plan is in the process of being approved by health department. Final action on the subdivision must wait for that approval.
The County Board wanted better access to property behind, which currently has only a narrow lane that allows access to the agricultural field from Yale Farm Road. The board agreed that it would be preferable that the other parcel be compliant with current code and have at least 100 feet on the road. However, that parcel is not part of the subdivision proposal. If the owner of the property to the south wants to develop a residential subdivision in the future, they would need to buy one of lots on the road for access. 
Willower subdivision.
This Minor Subdivision proposal came back from the County Planning Board. The County Planning Board wants written permission from the Finger Lakes Railroad to access over their tracks. However, we understand that the railroad will not provide an easement not give written permission. While they also will not hinder access, the crossing will be at the landowners risk. This board considers that an existing condition that does not change as a result of the subdivision action. An easement from the north was proposed as an alternative, but that would not provide access because the property is bordered by a deep gully that is not passable by vehicle. 
The County Planning Board agreed that the short extension of the 30-foot wide access was acceptable, and that making just that part 100-ft wide would not improve the non-conforming situation. 
If our board wants to approve the subdivision without the permission from the railroad, it will require a supermajority (5 votes).
Zoning Code revisions pertaining to solar energy.
Reviewed solar code revisions. The proposed language is appended below.
Action: Send our proposed revisions to the Zoning Code, which cover solar-energy and docks, to the Town for review at their next meeting.
Moved by Björkman Second by Mastellar. Passed 4-0
Adjourned 10:24 pm

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