Public Hearing: Short-Term Rental Law

The Chatham Town Board has finally come up with a proposed Short-Term Rental (STR) Law to vote on, and it is time for the Public Hearing. You can read and download the STR draft here. It’s short, sweet, and full of common sense.


Reminder: To those who may be new to our community and this issue, the last administration lost the election by a large margin because they attempted to drastically overreach on their proposed zoning laws. Our fellow citizens spoke loud and clear that we want our property owner rights to be respected.

The new administration created a STR Draft based on 2 years’ worth of public comments and concerns that respects both the rights of the property owners and also of their neighbors. The found a solid balance between the two that should satisfy the majority of our citizens.

The other purpose is to collect concrete data to understand how many STRs we have and if they really are the problem the past administration felt they were. Facts need to drive all potential laws, not unsubstantiated fear.

To make your life simpler, we copied and pasted the STR draft below. Unlike the last administration’s overreach, this one is reasonable and created for the purpose of protecting both property owners and their neighbors but also to gather factual data so our town can be fully informed on how many STRs actually exist and where they are.

Once the Town Board has factual data, they can determine if more stringent STR laws are needed. As any law, this STR Draft is fluid and will change as warranted. But we must start somewhere, and this draft is a very sensible start.

Bottom-line Proposed STR Law:

  • Permit is required
  • Occupancy limit
  • Parking plan (any on-street parking must abide by Town Code)
  • All STRs must have a designated local contact person
  • Must obey the noise laws in current Town Code
  • Fire safety recommendations (smoke and carbon-dioxide detectors, evacuation plan, emergency numbers, etc.)
  • “Good Neighbor Statement” shall be provided to each Visitor
  • Fines for violations of the Town Code and Federal/State laws
  • Revoking of permit if STR owner gives false information or violates the STR law

Write to the Town Board and/or Attend the Meeting!

Please attend the Public Hearing online, but if you cannot (and even if you can), please email the Town Board at chatham@chathamnewyork.us your thoughts on the STR Draft so your opinion can be part of the public record.

We will update this post with the link once it is provided by the Town Board, but you may also go to the Town of Chatham website to keep updated on all virtual meetings, which the Town Board has been conducting all throughout COVID lockdown.

Why do we need STRs?

Many of us have or will inherit our family homesteads. We all want a way to hang onto those cherished memories, while still being able to pay the tax bills and also come back to visit our beloved community. Plus, we need lodging for our extended families to stay in when they visit. There’s a reason we have no Motel 6 here. Because this area does not have gigantic lodging needs. STRs are a perfect solution to serve our community, our area businesses, and our lives.

What is Airbnb doing to prevent “party houses”?

Airbnb itself has cracked down on “party houses” with their new rules: “Open-invite parties and events are prohibited in Airbnb listings. This includes any party or event where the listing host has limited knowledge of the attendees, or that does not have a specific guest list, such as gatherings advertised on social media.”

Airbnb has also restricted anyone under 25 from renting a property near where they live, to further avoid the “party house” issue.

LOCAL LAW NO. 2 of the Year 2020

Be it enacted by the Town Board of the Town of Chatham as follows:

I. Purpose: The Town Board finds that it is in the interest of public health, safety
and welfare to regulate through a permitting process the use of short-term
rental lodging facilities occurring within the Town through the enactment o
the following Local Law.

II. Definitions: Below are definitions of terms utilized in this local law, as needed.
If any definition herein shall be inconsistent with any other section of the Town
Code and /or Zoning Law, the definition herein shall control.

Good Neighbor Statement – a Good Neighbor Statement is a leaflet that shall contain
pertinent information that will help STR Visitors understand the house and property they
are renting, the neighborhood they are in and relevant sections of the Chatham Town
Code. Such a leaflet should include such things as the boundaries of the property, and
reference to the Town Code on subjects such as noise, trash and parking.
Lodging Facility: Any hotel, motel, inn, bed and breakfast, dwelling, dwelling unit or
other establishment providing sleeping accommodations to visitors for compensation.

Short-Term Rental (STR): The rental of a dwelling, dwelling unit or other establishment
to a Visitor for less than thirty days. This definition specifically excludes hotels, motels,
bed and breakfasts and inns.

Short-Term Rental Local Contact Person: A Person that is the second contact for
Short-Term Rental issues. This person must live within twenty (20) miles of the Rental
he/she represents.

Visitor: A person visiting or residing in the Town of Chatham for less than thirty days.

Short-Term Rental Regulations:
A. No real property within the Town of Chatham shall be used or rented as a
Short-Term Rental without an annual Permit issued by the Town of Chatham Code
Enforcement Officer. Such Permit shall include, but is not limited to, the property
owner’s name, address, phone number, email address and contact person’s information
and the following:

  1. Permit fee of $100.00 annually.
  2. Permits issued for Short-Term Rentals shall be non-transferable and shall
    immediately expire upon any change of ownership of the premises. Any new
    owners must obtain a new permit prior to any rentals.
  3. Short-Term Rentals located outside of the Hamlet (H-1 and H-2) zones shall
    have a base occupancy allowance of up to 8 visitors unless there are more
    than four bedrooms. For each additional bedroom up to three, there may be 2
    additional visitors per bedroom. Short Term Rentals located within the Hamlet
    (H-1 and H-2) zones shall have a base occupancy of no more than 6 visitors.
  4. A depiction of the allowed parking on the premises.
  5. Short Term Rentals shall be allowed in all zoning Districts of the Town as
    defined in the Town of Chatham Zoning Law subject to the provisions of this
    local law.
  6. Every owner of a Short-Term Rental shall register for a permit within 120 days
    of the passage of this Short -Term Rental law and renew such permit no later
    than January 31 of each succeeding year.
  7. Short -Term Rentals located outside of the Hamlet (H-1 and H-2) zones shall
    be limited to two (2) STR’s per property, with only one STR unit permitted per
    structure. STR’s located within the Hamlet (H-1 and H-2) zones shall be
    limited to one (1) STR per property, with only one STR unit per structure.

B. In the event of an occurrence which requires intervention by the Town Code
Enforcement Officer or other official charged with enforcement of local laws within the
Town, the owner of the Short-Term Rental shall receive the first contact, not the contact
person. The owner is responsible for responding to any complaint or occurrence
requiring action involving an STR in a timely manner.
The owner is responsible for
responding to the service of any legal process and all other notices. If the owner is not
available or not able to take the required action in the appropriate time, the local contact
person will then be contacted. The Owner may designate the local contact as the initial
point of contact by written notification to the Town Code Enforcement Officer.

C. All Short-Term Rental Owners must maintain a local contact person. The owner
shall provide to the Town, at the time of Permit application and thereafter as necessary,
current contact information for the local contact person, including the name, address,
phone number, and email address. It shall be the responsibility of the owner to ensure
that the Town always has the most current contact information for the designated local
contact person.

D. Noise shall not exceed the limits prescribed in the Town Code.

E. Off-Street Parking shall be in accordance with the Town Code and as specifically
delineated in the Permit application and Permit.

F. All Short-Term Rentals shall comply with the following fire and safety
recommendations as applicable.

  1. Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors must be installed and operational.
  2. Short-Term Rentals must have a 911 emergency number visible from the
  3. Short-Term Rental owners shall provide visitors with emergency lights, an
    evacuation plan with marked exits and a list of emergency numbers.

G. A copy of the Permit and the owner’s contact information shall be displayed in all

H. A “Good Neighbor Statement” shall be provided to each Visitor. The STR owner,
contact person or representative shall review this statement with Visitors to avoid
trespassing on private property and possible violations to the Town Code such as, noise,
parking and littering.

I. Fines or penalties.
When applicable, fines and penalties shall be imposed by the Town in accordance with
those set forth in the Town Code and applicable State or Federal laws. Failure to
comply with the Town Code may result in the forfeiture of the STR Permit. Failure to
provide current contact information for the owner or the local contact person, or the
provision of inaccurate information on the permit application may result in the forfeiture
of the STR permit.

J. Severability
If any clause, sentence, paragraph, word, section or part of this law shall be adjudged by
any court of competent jurisdiction to be unconstitutional, illegal or invalid, such
judgment shall not affect, impair or invalidate the remainder thereof, but shall be
confined in its operation to the clause, sentence, paragraph, word, section or part
thereof, directly involved in the controversy in which said judgment shall have been

K. Effective Date.
This local law shall take effect immediately upon filing with the Secretary of State’s

The Board Took Action Toward Passing Zoning… Violating Open Meeting Law. Watch the Video from the Zoning Q&A. Shocking!

For those who haven’t heard, the Town Board has sent the latest version, labeled FINAL DRAFT, to the County Planning Board for review. What does that mean? That means they took the next step to PASS THESE RESTRICTIVE ZONING LAWS… without telling us.

On September 30th, documents were filed with the County and signed by Maria Lull. Her signature was dated October 2nd. That’s a whole other bizarre act. Why post-date a document?

Not to mention, September 30th is also the date posted on the new proposed zoning law that they were supposed to get our feedback on BEFORE submitting to the county.

We think someone’s pants are on fire.

Not only did they post-date it, they buried it on the site. It was NOT posted in the “PROPOSED NEW ZONING” section. To find it, you had to go to the left sidebar, click “Government,” then “Comprehensive Plan” (again, NOT under “Proposed New Zoning” in that dropdown either), and then scroll ALL THE WAY DOWN to the bottom to find it. (Zoning CCPB 239 Referral Form 9.26.19 signed… yet, again, the date Maria put on her signature was 10/2.)

Yep. They never told us. Not one word. The last 2 times they sent the zoning to the county, they DID tell us. They discussed it in the board meetings, as they are required to. do. It is a violation of Open Meeting law for them to do otherwise. Yet, they DID violate the law and didn’t think anything of it. In fact, Michael Richardson (who is on the board yet never got a single vote from any of us bc he was appointed by Maria Lull), said this about our fury at their deception, “I just don’t get it.”

I’m sorry, but why would we want someone representing us who doesn’t get us?

Yet the incumbents keep touting success with the budget process, blaming the past administration for some sort of financial ruin. Um, is it just us or do they not realize Town Supervisor Maria Lull and Deputy Supervisor Bob Balcom WERE part of that last administration they spend so much time blaming!

But back to what the County review of our zoning laws really means.

What Does the County Actually Do in the Review?

The Board has led us to believe that this is a “necessary step” to ensure our laws are good laws. Well, not so fast. The county already APPROVED these horrible laws… TWICE. Yet because of the Q&As with the public, the Board identified 90 issues that needed to be fixed. 90! And again, let us remind you, the County already APPROVED these horrible laws… TWICE.

So, yeah, forgive us, but we really don’t buy this “approval” process. The County approving them does not mean these laws are great!

In fact, the County does NOT care if the law demands we bring our garbage cans in within 48 hours. The County does NOT care if the law requires us to put a front porch on any new building in a hamlet. The County does NOT care what time or day we mow our lawns. Those are only 3 examples of many.

ALL the county cares about is that our zoning does not negatively impact any other towns in the County.

The County does NOT care if one town’s laws are over-restrictive and another’s are not. ALL they care about is if one town’s laws negatively impact another’s.

Oh, and Bob Balcom even commented at the last Board meeting, on October 10th, that they don’t even have to take ANY of the County’s recommendations. Not one.

We can tell you, without reservation, the County WILL rubber-stamp approve this. The Board WILL push this to Public Hearing in late November – Richardson all but admitted that tonight at the Q&A. And the Board WILL pass this pile of overly-restrictive zoning to the next step.

And guess what? They can pass it into law even if they lose the election because the election winners don’t take office until January 1st.

The ONLY way to stop these laws from being voted on by this Board, is to keep telling them what you think is wrong with them! Email your questions to them. Demand more Q&As.

It’s a beast, but please try to check the sections of this law that will negatively impact your life and ask questions! Demand answers! Believe us, there are MANY flaws within these 233 pages! Oh, yes, it is now up to 233 pages of restrictive fun!


Yes, we heard you groan when you clicked that link. Sorry, but they keep making this thing BIGGER! To our horror.

If only the citizens could charge the Board for the hours they have put into fighting this law. But believe us, the Board HAS paid Nan the Planner and John Lyons, the land-use attorney for THEIR time. Tens of thousands of dollars!

The Sham Q&A is a MUST WATCH!

Want to see the video of the Q&A from October 14th? Oh, yes, they had a zoning Q&A on Columbus Day. They don’t care that it’s a holiday and people might be out of town.

This video says it all. It truly is a must-watch event. Richardson acts like he is the King of Chatham, dismissing his subjects and laughing at them.

We know it looks grim, but we can overcome this!

Please do NOT give up! Keep fighting this horrible zoning law! The ultimate voice you have is your right to vote. Of all the elections Chatham has ever had, this one is the most important.

Chatham needs you. VOTE for Donal, Vance and Abi, and send a clear message that this Town Supervisor Maria Lull and Michael Richardson need to be removed from office!

Donal, Vance and Abi are knocking on doors and trying to get to everyone’s house, yet at the same time, they are working hard to read the 233 pages of proposed laws and going to every Town Board meeting to stop this law from passing! So, please know they are already trying to save Chatham from zoning fitting of Westchester County.