LAKEWOOD - After a widely attended public hearing last month and listening to more comments on Monday, Lakewood passed a resolution to allow short-term rentals in the entire village contingent on a negative declaration by the State Environmental Quality Review Act and the state legislature voting on the local law.
"Short-term (renting), which is considered renting a home for less than 30 days, has been going on in the village of Lakewood for a very long time. In September 2013, it was brought to my attention that there was an issue with one of these rental units that was causing several complaints," said Mayor David Wordelmann at the beginning of last month's public hearing. "In reviewing these complaints we discovered there weren't any laws in the village that dealt with the subject. In fact, we discovered because we have not addressed this issue in the past, short-term rentals could be interpreted as a commercial use in a residential zone, which would be illegal without a variance. The board also discovered there were many properties across the village that were also being rented on a short-term basis, which meant completely abandoning it was not an option."
The board ended up using Bemus Point's short-term rental ordinance as a guide to write their own. The proposal originally given to the public would have "no renter" zone which would run from Park Lane to Oakland Avenue. A majority of the public at the meeting came to speak out against this "historic district," saying that allowing renting in some areas of the village and not in others was unfair.
However, not everyone agreed with the removal of the historic district, saying that having rentals would degrade the village and the villagers would lose their sense of identity. While a couple of residents spoke up, reiterating points made at the public hearing, some other residents brought up new viewpoints.
"Now I think the board has investigated with the Department of Environmental Conservation to see if there is any effect (on the environment). Now my experience with the DEC is they really allow practically everything," said Jim Whitermore. "That is a wildlife - waterfowl - nesting area. ... I almost think it is a federal situation. They control the water, all of it. They should make a determination if (short-term rentals) are affecting wildlife."
"I understand the issues, that it isn't cut and dry. I don't understand why it's a big deal all of a sudden because we have had it. I mean, here is an article when we started in 1870 having rentals in Lakewood," said Wendy Kane, before reading an old newspaper article advertising the lakeside cottages and summer homes on the lake front. " ... This has been going on since the beginning of time. There are over a hundred in the village - this is not a new thing."