Residents of Woodlands Drive in Dunkirk finally got their answer on whether the holiday rental, which has been controversial for months, can continue to operate. After this week’s brief meeting of the City of Dunkirk Zoning Committee, Woodlands residents can rest easy.
In a unanimous decision, the Zoning Board ruled that Zoning Officer Ryan Mourer’s original decision to allow the rental, owned by Jennifer Friedman at 5184 Woodlands Drive, to operate was incorrect, citing many different points of the Dunkirk zoning code .
“The Zoning Board has determined that the zoning officer’s interpretation of the short-term rental in an R1 neighborhood is incorrect.” Scott Pagano, chairman of the Dunkirk Zoning Board, said in a statement. “We as a board disagree with the Code Enforcement Officer’s interpretation that the language was not clear enough to act on.
We think the language in the zone book is clear enough.”
When Mourer first presented his interpretation on October 19, he stated that he would not act on the matter, which stated at the time “I don’t feel like language gives me the power to respond and stop what she’s doing.” As part of the zoning committee’s statement, Pagano gave a few different reasons for their disagreement, with a focus on R1 districts that require family housing.
“It is expressly stated that the group is not of a temporary or transitory nature”, Pagano said. “The groups rented by Ms. Friedman and temporary and non-permanent residents.”
Pagano also cited the permitted uses section of the zone code, which states that where a use is not expressly permitted by law, it is presumed to be prohibited unless specified in a written decision by the zone committee.
“Said use would be similar to permitted uses, consistent with the purpose set forth in the Land Use Act and not inherently nuisance, threat or danger to the health, safety or welfare of community residents.” he said. “It is clear from the evidence presented that this has become both a nuisance and a threat to residents of the Woodlands neighborhood.”
Zoning Board member Thomas Tarnowski said that when he was first made aware of the issue, he originally sided with Friedman, although after providing all the evidence he agreed with residents.
“I looked at both sides of the argument and thought the neighbors had no right or say over who lived on Ms. Friedman’s property.” said Tarnowski. “After all consideration of all hearings, I believe that short term rental is not a residence, it is a business. In that I join the denizens of the Woodlands.”
A resolution was unanimously held that Mourer’s interpretation was incorrect and that short-term leasing within an R1 district was not a permitted use. Pagano thanked both sides for their contributions to the matter.
“I would like to thank both parties for the time and effort put into this matter,” Pagano said. “Both parties have presented ample evidence for consideration.”
The decision was met with a round of applause from Woodlands Drive residents who attended the gathering.