Update (July 25): After some objections during a public hearing, the Bellport Village Board has unanimously passed a new code that would allow for bed-and-breakfasts in any residential area of the village, with restrictions.
Original Story: Bellport Village officials think they’ve found a novel way to stave off any negative consequences of people renting homes for short-term stays through sites such as airbnb.com — while not putting a freeze on village tourism.
They want to allow for more traditional bed-and-breakfasts. That is, an owner-occupied home thats rents out rooms for just a night or two to guests, or for a week-long vacation. And, of course, under a new proposal to establish a B&B code in village neighborhoods (see below), the homeowner must offer the guests breakfast.
The code would allow for a commercial B&B operation in any residential area of the village with the acquisition of a special permit, so long as there isn’t another B&B already operating within a 500-foot radius of the property line, or the distance of five lots, whichever is greater.
“I don’t want to go down the street and see eight bed and breakfasts,” Bellport Mayor Ray Fell said during a discussion of the proposal Monday night in Village Hall. The board also wanted to give homeowners north of South Country Road, where properties are traditionally smaller, the same opportunity to open B&B’s.
“These restrictions will not apply to bed and breakfasts in the commercial districts,” Trustee Robert Rosenberg emphasized during the discussion, explaining that such buildings already approved for a B&B would be allowed to rent out more than four rooms, which is a restriction under the new, residential code.
The proposal will be the subject of a 9 a.m. public hearing on Saturday, July 25, in the Bellport Community Center, located at 4 Bell Street in the village.
Issues surrounding unregulated short-term rentals of people’s homes and their negative effects on neighborhoods, such as the homes being used solely for drunken parties, have cropped up again and again in towns and villages on the East End.
Bellport Village Mayor Ray Fell said there hasn’t been complaints in Bellport.
“We want to make sure that doesn’t happen,” Fell said. “There are homes that are advertising on websites. Now it’s just four or five but this time next year it could be 15 or 20. We just thought it best to stay ahead of the curve rather than deal with this when the horse is out of the barn.”
Under the proposed code, the homeowner would have to be staying in the same house as his or her guests, at the same time the guests are there. They’d also have to be actively renting out rooms for at least three months out of a year.
The code allowing the B&Bs to open up in neighborhoods also calls for safety inspections, public hearings and fees to be paid to the village.
“We don’t want to put a freeze, or a chill on anyone looking to rent out their home,” Fell said. “But if that’s what they want to do, they’ll have to do it without affecting the quality of life of their neighbors.”
Acknowledging that Bellport officials won’t ever be allowing a Marriott-type hotel in the village, Trustee Leslie O’Connor later said in an interview that the Village Board wanted to figure out how to encourage more vacationers to consider Bellport Village during the summer months or whenever.
There’s been two B&Bs that operated on and off in the village in recent years, she said, though a check online this week found none appear to be up and operating and seeking to rent out rooms currently.
“We want to encourage people to see stay in the area and see all the beautiful things the village has to offer,” O’Connor said. “This addresses the need for short-term stays.”
The proposed B&B code:
Photo: The tree-lined Livingston Drive in Bellport Village.