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Delaware drafts rental law, approves guns for justices

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UPDATE: Since print publication of TRR, the Town of Delaware has moved the public hearing on short-term rental regulations to  6:30 p.m. Sept. 11, expecting a lot of discussion. This story has been updated to reflect the change.

TOWN OF DELAWARE, NY — The Town of Delaware board voted Wednesday, August 14, to make an exception to its policy on firearms and allow town justices to carry guns in the courthouse.

The decision came after a judge who is licensed to carry a gun petitioned the board to allow him to bring it to work. Without guards or metal detectors at the town courthouse, there was concern that someone could smuggle a gun inside.

“[The justices are] worried about when they come in and when they leave and while they’re in the process of court,” said town attorney Ken Klein. “Sometimes litigants who don’t get what they want become unhappy.”

Alfred Steppich was the only nay vote on the issue, saying that unless everyone who is licensed to carry a gun would be allowed to do so, no one should. Cindy Herbert was absent from Wednesday’s meeting.

The board also announced that it will hold a special meeting at 6:30 p.m. September 11 to allow public comment on a new zoning law for short-term rentals. Though the regulations, once passed, will apply to all short-term units, they are specifically designed as a response to the influx of Airbnbs in the area. [Read the full draft of the law at www.bit.ly/TRRshort-term].

There are nearly 600 Airbnb units in Sullivan County, and roughly 50 within the Town of Delaware. The draft of the law as is will require short-term rental owners to acquire a license for their properties within 90 days of the law’s passing.

The code puts limits on how many people can occupy one bedroom (two) and requires health department approval if more than 10 people occupy the property. Additionally, the code limits the size of bedrooms, the number of vehicles allowed on the property, holds rental owners responsible for limiting disturbances and prohibits camper trailers, tents, yurts and recreational vehicles from being used as short-term rental units. This would disallow “Tentrr”—a service similar to Airbnb but for renting out tents—in the town. It does not prohibit families from camping in their backyards or anything non-commercial, noted supervisor Ed Sykes.

The regulations allow the building inspector to inspect short-term rental units.

Notably, the law as it is now includes a brief provision about trash, putting the onus on unit owners to remove refuse within seven days of the last occupancy. For the last two Delaware meetings, business owners in Callicoon, including Café Adella Dori owner Eva Barnett, have discussed overflowing trash cans on the sidewalk along Main Street. Barnett said she suspects that some of the people abusing the trash cans by dumping full bags of trash in them are Airbnb renters who were told they were responsible for their own garbage.

In other news from the meeting, the board showed off a hefty $75,000 check from Sullivan Renaissance, given to the town for winning the Silver Feather Award for municipal work. The board plans to allocate most of the money to the Callicoon Business Association (CBA) to go toward plans to make the train depot into a visitors’ center—the CBA did the bulk of the work to receive the award, supervisors said.

The board waived the 30-day wait fee for a liquor license at the Inn at Kenoza Lake, authorized the hire of a water system operator for the new Callicoon Water District and reappointed Deborah Shea as the sole assessor until September 2025.

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