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Rental Issue Heats Up In Cassadaga

CASSADAGA — Last month, the Village Board gave attorney Joseph Calimeri approval to draft a moratorium that would be placed on new short-term rentals in the village. This issue is set to be addressed in August, but there will be a meeting on July 15 for the community to come and voice concerns.

While short-term rentals will still be allowed to operate in the interim, and the moratorium would not impact people who have been operating short-term rentals, Kim Collins, owner of Blue Oar Lake House, is encouraging village officials to reconsider the moratorium.

Collins believes short-term rentals similar to those advertised through VRBO and Airbnb are beneficial to the economy of places in Chautauqua County, and especially Cassadaga. Collins has owned her property for 10 years, and sees Cassadaga as a beautiful destination, saying that she can’t imagine a better introduction to the area than Cassadaga.

“Given its sensational four seasons and natural environs, Cassadaga is a hospitality destination,” she said. “People come to use the lakes, snowmobile, fish, golf, bike, run, explore and so much more. They spend money, make memories, and tell others about what the village and its people offer. Stopping any of this activity puts the community stuck in time and not on a positive, progressive path for the future.”

Ever since she started renting her property, Collins said she has been booked solid, usually getting 30 to 45 bookings per year, with her clientele being families or groups of older people looking to get away. She usually gets a lot of repeated guests, and said that as long as rentals are done responsibly, they are not disruptive to the rest of the community.

“I want the primary renter to be 30 and above, I want families, older couples, or women’s groups,” she said. “That’s who I want and that’s who I get.”

While this moratorium would not impact Collins directly, as it only restricts new rentals popping up, she believes like property owners should have the right to do what they wish with their house. Because the people renting in Cassadaga are residents of the village in some capacity, Collins believes the village needs to be receptive to that.

“All rentals are owned by full time or part time residents or people with direct connections who intend on retiring here,” she said. “These are residents. This isn’t investors from L.A. or Miami, it’s local Cassadaga people renting out their home. I’m up there most of the winter, and I drive up all the time.”

While Collins acknowledges there is a housing crisis in Cassadaga, she believes it’s not because of people buying the properties and using them as rentals. Instead, it’s because people in the village aren’t looking to sell their homes.

“I don’t think the housing shortage is caused by short-term rentals,” she said. “There is one house for sale in Cassadaga right now. People stay.”

Collins also said since short-term rentals incentivize travel, the local businesses in Cassadaga like Jojo’s Asian Cafe, Whiskey Hill Saloon, or King Kone boom during rental season. Additionally, things like Wilson Endurance Sports triathlons and events are incentives to bring people to the village, sparking Collins to think that local businesses should be expanded, along with short-term rentals being encouraged.

“People could open bakeries, a welcome center, a wine tasting room, a gift shop, or an art gallery,” Collins said. “These are the things that people want to see in small towns. They want a pizza from a local shop, and don’t want to go to a chain. If you cut off short-term rentals and don’t have the customer base to support little business from opening, you’ll get more chains instead of local places.”

As a four-season ecotourism destination, Collins said short-term rentals should be embraced for the overall health and success of the village, while saying that the moratorium has created an unnecessary urgency of something that isn’t happening. She just wants to see the village thrive.

“Current owners of short-term rentals have reinvested back into properties throughout the village,” said Collins. “There is no reason to believe this won’t continue to happen in the future. A lot of very positive things are happening in Cassadaga. Let short-term rentals work for the village, not against it.”

There will be a meeting at 8:30 a.m. on Friday, July 15 to discuss the issue at hand. Collins has been spreading the word of the meeting, and is hoping for a strong turnout, to ensure that all parties are heard.

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