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ZBA members seek revision of B&B code

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Members of the zoning board of appeals are asking the town board to consider revising the town zoning code provisions pertaining to bed and breakfast establishments.

The standards for the B&B special exception use need to be updated, ZBA chairwoman Leslie Weisman told board members during yesterday’s work session.

“We think you should take a look at the proliferation of B&Bs— where you want them to be,” Weisman said. “Right now they’re allowed just about everywhere by special exception.”

She suggested the board consider disallowing B&Bs on private roads, for example.

“The residency requirement is another concern,” Weisman said. “People are supposed to live there full-time and this is an accessory use. What kind of documentation should we require? WE had a lot of applications come in after the short-term rental law passed.” The existing code does not spell out standards for documentation.

“You’re right. We need to strengthen that,” Supervisor Scott Russell agreed. “Also, after they get approvals, do they honor the requirements of the B&B code? We’ve had people who’ve made no effort to hide the fact that they don’t live in Southold. We need to have a systematic review process in place to see a year or two later if they’re in compliance.”

Weisman said the ZBA approval makes clear that an annual safety inspection is required and that it’s the applicant’s responsibility to come in and request a renewal.

Code enforcement and the town attorney’s office are going through the files now to see who has not renewed their permits, Weisman said.

“There’s nothing in the code that says they have to have a defined personal space,” added ZBA member Eric Dantes, who with member Nicholas Planamento accompanied Weisman to today’s meeting.

“The owner should be living there,” Weisman said.

“There are people looking to do an end run around the short-term rental code,” Russell said. “They’re not even being coy about it.”

The permits should be nontransferable too, Weisman said. It should be like a driver’s license, issued to the individual, not a permit that’s issued to the site no matter who owns it, Weisman said.

The ZBA members also asked the board to amend the special exception code provision that requires the implementation of the approval within six months. There is an option for a six month renewal but even so that’s often not long enough where an applicant has to go through the site plan process, Weisman said.

As it stands now, the applicant has to return to the ZBA for an extension, requiring another posting of notice, mailings and a hearing.

“When nothing has changed but the time frame. it doesn’t make sense,” Weisman said.


Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter and editor, an attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including a “writer of the year” award from the N.Y. Press Association in 2015. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.