The Pawling Town Board convened on Wednesday, December 12 for their final meeting of 2018. During the session the Board acknowledged the resignation of a long-time member of the Zoning Board of Appeals, and officials considered measures to regulate Airbnb rentals in Pawling. The evening also marked the final meeting for Councilman Dave Kelly, whose term will expire at the end of the year.
The Town Board accepted the resignation of Marie Cooney, following many years of service to the Zoning Board of Appeals. Several Board members spoke on Cooney’s behalf, including Councilman Phil DeRosa, who said, “She’s a wonderful asset, and she was invaluable.” The Board will collaborate with the Town Clerk in drafting a formal letter acknowledging Marie Cooney’s years of service. “It’s nice to see someone put in that much time in service to the community,” added Supervisor James Schmitt.
In other business the Board passed a resolution authorizing the Town Attorney to begin drafting zoning regulations for Airbnb rentals in Pawling. Airbnb is a privately owned company that allows travelers to rent lodging through its website and mobile application. Currently, officials estimate that there are between thirty and forty Airbnb rentals available in Pawling, with many located on Quaker Hill.
Over the past year, a number of rentals have been used to host large gatherings, leading to concerns about safety, septic capacity, and noise complaints. “This is a nationwide issue affecting small communities, and affecting the peaceful lifestyle of people,” explained Councilman Bill Johnson. “I received regular phone calls from someone this summer that there were over one hundred people, bands, and Porta Potties. We’ve spoken to county and state officials, and I would like to have a conversation with the Town Attorney. It’s absolutely something that needs to be addressed. I’m not saying that they shouldn't be here, but they need to be regulated and addressed.”
Supervisor Schmitt added: “The Airbnbs aren’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s great that people want to spend the weekend here, because Pawling is a beautiful town. But they’re turning into party homes. Hopefully we’ll be at the forefront of this, and other towns will follow our lead. We just want everyone to be safe.”
The next Town Board meeting will be held on Wednesday, January 2, at 7:00 p.m. at Town Hall.