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City adopts fees for short-term rental, vacant property registries

Mar. 13—PLATTSBURGH — The City of Plattsburgh has established annual fee schedules for its recently formed short-term rental and vacant property registries.

SHORT-TERM RENTAL REGISTRY

Short-term rental owners will now pay a one-year certificate for $350 and for each year following, a renewal certificate for $250.

The original one-year certificate fee, which was set to be approved by councilors at their last meeting, was significantly higher at $500 until Councilor Elizabeth Gibbs (D-Ward 3) suggested an amendment that would lower the rate to $350.

Gibbs also proposed a lower rate of $200 for the renewal fee but Councilor Jeff Moore (D-Ward 6) did not agree.

"I would suggest the annual fee be $250 instead of $200. I think that's getting a little low on the renewal," he said.

"Looking at the ones we saw, I think that's not a very large amount of money."

VACANT PROPERTY REGISTRY

The vacant property registry fee schedule, also passed by the council at their last meeting, had a slightly different fee structure.

For one and two family vacant properties, an annual $200 fee is required to register; for a multi-family vacant property, an annual $400 fee is required.

For a commercial and mixed-use vacant property, a $500 fee would be required to register for the first year; $1,000 for the second year; and $1,500 per subsequent year.

ADOPTION OF REGISTRIES

Both registries were adopted as law by the city in December of 2023.

The short-term rental registry was established after months of discussion on how the growing number of them in city neighborhoods could or should be regulated.

Some residents had even advocated for a ban on short-term rentals such as Airbnbs at one point, citing growing problems with noise and parking in residential neighborhoods.

However, Mayor Chris Rosenquest and the Common Council opted for a less restrictive approach and created the short-term rental registry law.

Under each law, starting March 1, property owners are now required to register their properties — either a short-term rental or vacant property — and obtain an annual permit to operate in the city.

To obtain a permit for each registry, property owners have to undergo an inspection of the property to ensure it meets several safety regulations.

VACANT PROPERTY GUIDELINES

Similar to the short-term rental law, this vacant building registry law was crafted with inspiration from other municipalities around the state, Rosenquest said when the two laws were introduced in December.

"We have a number of vacant, underutilized, derelict properties that owners are just sitting on; these are not properties that are part of the foreclosure process or can be foreclosed upon. Folks who own these vacant properties in question, pay their taxes," he had said.

"What we're looking at is leveraging this vacant property permit system to encourage the use and development or redevelopment of these buildings to bring them back online."

Building inspector Joe McMahon estimated there are between 40 and 70 properties in the city that currently qualify as a vacant property. He said properties could be deemed vacant after 30 days.

Gibbs questioned whether or not a property for sale would qualify as a vacant property under the law.

"Part of the strategy here is we do see underutilized property that could be either sold or renovated for housing or for commercial use," Rosenquest said.

"The concern ... is that at any given time, there could be a number of these properties that are underutilized. It is not the goal to punish folks who are renovating or selling their property, but rather to strongly encourage folks who are sitting on vacant, abandoned or zombie properties like we've seen on Sailly (Avenue) or Cornelia Street — places like that."

"The target is not people (who) are actively marketing their properties," McMahon added.

A full list of guidelines for each law can be found at: https://www.cityofplattsburgh-ny.gov/

Email: cnewton@pressrepublican.com

Twitter: CarlySNewton