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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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of the above, we'd be glad to consider printing your response. Please send
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