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Town eyes constable to enforce vacation rental complaints

August 10, 2017
By ANTONIO OLIVERO - Staff Writer ( , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - Without its own police force, the town of North Elba plans to hire an officer to enforce noise and parking complaints and other related disturbances that come with vacation rentals outside of village lines.

Town Supervisor Roby Politi relayed the town council's plan to hire a constable at the Thursday, Aug. 3 special joint meeting between the Lake Placid village board and the North Elba Town Council, where the two governing bodies discussed vacation rental-related changes to a local law that will be presented to the public either later this year or early next year.

The new local law would be derived from the "Quality Housing Initiative" the Lake Placid-North Elba Community Development Commission has been drafting over the past couple of years. CDC Chairman Dean Dietrich said after Thursday's meeting that the village and town will likely aim for an implementation date of June 2018, after a proper public hearing process that would begin no earlier than this fall.

"We're still a ways away," Dietrich said, "but we made a lot of progress."

The town's constable solution is independent of the CDC's initiative, however. Speaking at the meeting, Politi said the paid constable position would be similar to the town's animal control officer, who responds to disturbances on an on-call basis.

Politi added that the vacation rental constable would likely most frequently work between the hours of 10 p.m. and 8 a.m. on busy weekend and summer nights when many visitors are staying in vacation rentals in residential areas of the town.

"The town is willing to make an investment to help resolve those instances that occur outside the village," Politi said. "And that's a way of us trying to police those problems that (the village's) department and people can do within the village. Therefore, there is consistency and uniformity throughout the town and village. I think that's a first step and we are willing to make a commitment."

Town Attorney Ron Briggs expressed support of the position, expressing that he feels "first contact with someone in a uniform" is usually the most effective way to deter behavior that violates local law such as noise ordinances.

The town council's decision comes as the governing body is frequently receiving complaints from town residents, some people who have relayed their concerns at public meetings that noise and parking problems in traditionally residential areas of the town are altering their living experiences.

Politi said the town came to this decision after it became clear from Ray Brook-based state police that they would not help with vacation rental-related calls of this nature.

"The only problem with a local law is that state police are not going to enforce any local law," Politi said.

"The village has the amenity of a police department," Politi added. "The town does not. We have to rely on the state police, and the state police have made it very clear they are not going to respond to any noise complaints."

Trustee Art Devlin subsequently asked Politi how many hours the constable would work. The town supervisor said those specifics haven't been worked out, though the town has interacted with Lake Placid police Chief Bill Moore about the plans.

"We've talked about mostly evening hours and whether we need one or whether we need two (officers), like we have with the animal control officers (who) alternate to get appropriate coverage," Politi said.

"It would not necessarily have to be a full-time position," the town supervisor added, "we have that same thing with the dog control and animal control officers. We pay each of them money on a year-round basis and they basically work 30 hours and cover shifts."

"It would get fine-tuned over time," Briggs added.



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