10/24/13 7:00am
10/24/2013 7:00 AM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Waterfront homes in Jamesport along the bay.

For a weekend trip or even just one night, those wanting to stay in Riverhead Town have options that go beyond a hotel, motel or bed and breakfast. Just visit websites like homeaway.com and VRBO.com (Vacation Rentals by Owner) to see what’s out there.

While renting private homes for short stays has long been a normal practice in town, neighbors have complained about living near these veritable hotels for perhaps just as long. They’ve had to deal with the raucous bachelor, bachelorette and wedding after-parties that come with them.

Such transient rental properties not only disturb neighborhoods but cost the state and county money as well. The owners of these homes often skirt tax laws, town officials say, by failing to pay the sales and hospitality taxes assessed hotels and motels. And the state has been acting through local municipalities to crack down on non-business operators who don’t acknowledge or observe rules that govern the legitimate innkeepers they compete against.

Of course, for every rowdy group of weekend visitors, there are probably dozens of other short-term renters who are well behaved and well meaning — and their money likely translates to a net gain for the overall local economy. So in some ways, it’s a shame a few bad apples are ruining what could be an otherwise quiet, win-win-win for renters, homeowners and the economy.

But this is a problem that has come up repeatedly for years, and it’s a good thing the Riverhead Town Board has finally done something about it, in the form of a local law passed last week that would require a minimum of 29 days for such residential rentals.

To prove the law is more than election-year pandering, Town Board members must make sure the rules get enforced. Neighbors who don’t see relief from these so-called party houses after Election Day should make their voices heard through letters to this newspaper or letters and calls to Town Hall holding officials accountable.

10/16/13 6:55pm
10/16/2013 6:55 PM

liveblog

The Riverhead Town Board adopted resolutions at its board meeting Wednesday to increase the required buffer between large commercial developments and homes to 50 feet for projects over 5,000 square feet and 25 feet for projects under 5,000 square feet. The vote was 4-0 with Councilman John Dunleavy absent. The new buffer requirements come in response to the clear cutting of trees at the Shops at Riverhead on Route 58.

The board also adopted new parking requirements that lessen the amount of parking that shopping centers must build. The move was done to reduce the number of trees that need to be cleared. Larry Simms of South Jamesport, a member of the Save Main Road group, urged the town not to adopt the change until certain loopholes are closed. The board, though, voted 4-0 to adopt the new requirements.

The board also voted 4-0 to require rentals of residences to be for at least 30 days, a move intended to prevent people from renting homes out for a weekend to different groups each week. Officials said they have received complaints about these so-called “party houses.”

Mr. Simms had asked the board to hold off on adopting this proposal as well, saying it had some problems that needed to be addressed first. One example he cited was the fact that the town code limits stays at bed and breakfasts to under 14 days, while this proposal requires stays in residential houses to be at least 29 days.

To read what else happened at the Town Board meeting, click below to read reporter Tim Gannon’s live blog from the meeting.

October 16, 2013 – Agenda by Riverhead News-Review

 

October 16, 2013 – Packet by Riverhead News-Review