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Audio File

The New Bellport Village
Bed & Breakfast Ordinance

August 3, 2015

Chances are, you’ve heard that at the July 25, 2015 Village Board meeting, the Bellport Village Board voted in favor of a new Village Ordinance to allow “Bed & Breakfast Establishments” to operate their businesses in the residential areas of Bellport Village. Make no mistake about it, this is a dramatic change in the residential fabric of Bellport Village and this change should not be taken lightly.

In the past, previous Village Boards have taken these kinds of changes slowly, term limits for elected officials, the eliminating of medical insurance for elected officials, the purchase of the ferry by the Village, and the establishing of Kids’ Camp being just some that come to mind. Again, in the past, these big issues were discussed for several months before being put up for a vote by the Board. In all cases, when important questions were raised or changes in an ordinance or issue came up prior to the vote, the vote was tabled until the following month so that the questions and changes could be clarified and thoroughly considered before a vote took place. Unfortunately, this was not the case with this Village Board and this new ordinance. Although questions were raised about the procedure for the establishing of the B&B owner’s “domicile,” the use of Village amenities by their guests, and the possible density of B&Bs in the Village were raised, the Village Board simply indicated that they would look into it and take care of it, but that the vote would go forward.

What was the rush? Just the density issue alone should have been enough to table this ordinance. There are approximately 20 miles of roads in the Village. Using the Village Board’s numbers, B&Bs being no closer than 500’ to one another or five houses between them, that means we could have 211 or, more realistically, 150 B&Bs in Bellport Village. Do we really want to allow more than 100 B&Bs to operate in the approximately one mile by one mile Bellport Village? Wouldn’t it make more sense to limit these commercial businesses to the commercial areas of the Village? What about the SpringHill Suites Hotel only 3.8 miles north of the Village? Why can’t visitors stay there?

How about the use of Village amenities by B&B guests? Which ones can they use? Which days of the week? How much will they pay? Who will get the money? What will the money be used for? These questions and more are important and should have been resolved before the vote took place. This is what “Transparency” is all about. Now, all of these deliberations and decisions will be done behind closed doors instead of at a well attended Village Board meeting.

I have to ask. The Mayor claimed that the Board has been working on this ordinance for a long time, why hasn’t anyone heard about it until just before the vote took place? Why weren’t copies of this important new ordinance handed out at the Village Board meeting so that the residents could refer to it? The Legal Notice informing Bellport Village residents of the proposed change didn’t appear in the Long Island Advance until July 16, 2015, nine days before the vote took place. Don’t you think Village residents should have been given more than nine days to discuss and consider this change in the Village?

Now, in the limited time available before the Board meeting, we weren’t able to read the proposed ordinance or to discuss it much around town. Our attitude is usually “live and let live” and we weren’t going to say much at the meeting, but then we heard Dick Serocki speak. Dick bought a home in the Village within the past year and he simply stated to the Board, “I didn’t buy a house in Bellport Village to have a Motel move in next door.” How would you like a Motel moving in next door to you? Why do we need commercial businesses moving into our residential areas? HOW DO BELLPORT VILLAGE RESIDENTS BENEFIT FROM THIS CHANGE? That’s, the important question! At no time has the Mayor or Trustees built a case for how the average Village resident will benefit from this change in Village code.

So, we have to ask... In order to dispel the rumors that members of the Village Board might be benefitting financially from this new ordinance... Are any of the Village Board members, or their families, thinking about opening a B&B? If so, they should have recused themselves from the vote. If they aren’t, they should have no problem with writing into the code that no member of the present Board, or members of their families, shall be given permission to open a B&B in Bellport Village for ten (10) years after the code goes into effect.

Here are some suggestions for changes in the B&B code:

  • If the owner is away for any reason, guests cannot stay at the B&B. No bringing in an employee or manager to run the business in the absence of the owner. No absentee ownership.

  • Unlike the Village ARB or ZBA, when the hearing is held to decide on whether or not a permit for the B&B will be granted, the neighbors should have “first right of refusal” for the issuing of a permit rather than simply being notified of the hearing. In other words, if the neighbors don’t want a B&B next door, there won’t be a B&B next door.

  • In the code as written, there’s a lot of subjectivity and discretion left to the Village Board. Take it out. Spell out the rules in detail so that everyone will know what they can expect to happen as a result of this code change.

  • The Board says this change in Village code is aimed at “modest” homes. How many “modest” homes have you seen with swimming pools, tennis courts, and a patio rooms, as stated in the new code?

  • The Village Board should spell out why these rules don’t apply to the commercially zoned portions of the Village.

  • News 12 held a poll to see how people felt about having a B&B next door. Now, admittedly the poll wasn’t limited to Bellport Village residents, but the results are striking. 23% (169) of those casting a vote were for having a B&B next door and a whopping 76% (563) were against it. In addition, we’ve received numerous messages from Village residents stating they are against the new ordinance.

  • The new B&B ordinance allows for 3 sq. ft. signage to be used by the B&B. This should read “up to 3 sq. ft.” and the signage should have to be approved by the Village ARB, Architectural Review Board. The ARB should also have the power to reduce the size of the signage if they feel it is appropriate.

  • The code seems to say that everything in section 21-217(D) can be changed by the ZBA (E-7). If that’s true, how do we know what the real final meaning of this new code is?

  • If someone is willing to pay $500-$800 a night to stay here, what are our amenities worth? Why was there no discussion of the use of Village amenities at the Village Board meeting?

As you can see, given a little time, there were lots of important questions that could have been considered and discussed before a vote took place, but it isn’t too late. The new code hasn’t gone into effect, it hasn’t yet been sent to Albany, and there’s still time to have the appropriate discussion and consideration before the Village Board moves forward with passing this new ordinance. If you’d like to ask the Village Board any questions or share your thoughts with them, our understanding is that the Board will be discussing the new B&B Ordinance at their August Work Session to be held on Monday, August 10, 2015 at 6pm in the Village Community Center located at 4 Bell Street in Bellport Village. If you can’t make it to the Work Session, the next Village Board meeting will be Saturday, August 29, 2015 at 9am in the Village Community Center.


Please Click Here to listen to Bellport.com’s recording of the B&B Ordinance discussion at the July 25, 2015 Village Board Meeting.

Please Click Here for a copy of the proposed B&B Ordinance as published by Bellport Village.

    


If you have a comment and would like to respond to any of the above, we'd be glad to consider printing your response. Please send your comments to larry@bellport.com.

Sincerely, 

Larry Sribnick

Larry Sribnick
Editor/Publisher, Bellport.com