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Dunkirk Nearing Short-Term Rental Local Law

Dunkirk town resident Jay Warren spoke about short-term rental properties in the residential districts of the Town of Dunkirk. Photo by Braden Carmen

DUNKIRK — Could it be that the short-term rental property saga is finally nearing its conclusion in the town of Dunkirk?

Armed with a ruling from Justice of the Supreme Court of Chautauqua County Grace M. Hanlon opposing the use of short-term rentals in Residential-1 districts, along with many months of deliberation and public outcry, the Dunkirk Town Council is eyeing a resolution to the matter in the near future.

Another workshop for the Town Council to continue its work on a local law regarding short-term rental properties was scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Since the last workshop to draft the local law, Council Member Jay Bishop attended a seminar on Nov. 9 on short-term rentals, which he called “very enlightening.” Bishop received an example of a local law shared at the seminar to use as guidance for the drafting of Dunkirk’s law.

Three Dunkirk residents — Barbara Warren, Jay Warren, and Sue Hazelton — addressed the Town Council on the matter at the November meeting. Jay Warren was the first of the three residents to speak at the meeting.

“We ask you to maintain the current zoning regulations as they are – possibly to be tweaked a little bit – to assure that short-term rentals are not appropriate in R-1 residential districts. We really, really would appreciate your help with this,” Jay Warren said.

Hazelton took her customary definitive and direct tone on the matter. “With the money the town and the residents of R-1 have spent, what part of private doesn’t anyone understand? Residential R-1 districts are quiet zones, stated by Judge Grace Hanlon,” Hazelton said. “Let’s not let out-of-towners dictate the town’s R-1 zoning laws. These laws were put in place to protect R-1 town residents. It’s so very simple: no short-term rentals in R-1, period.”

Barbara Warren concluded with a plea to the board to empathize with its residents impacted by the issue. “I know it’s not an easy decision for anyone to make, but what I would like to ask you all to consider is what it would be like if someone you loved so much was going through this. It has affected our family, our children, and every neighbor on Woodlands,” she said. “We are all united in our feeling that what has gone on in that home for over a year has been difficult to live with.”

Barbara Warren continued, “I know that everybody has a right to their own life and the things that they choose to do. But what about our rights? We’ve lived here for all of these years and we’ve worked in our community to make Dunkirk a better place, to make the town a beautiful community for us to live peacefully.”

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