Bellport Village is drafting a bed-and-breakfast code to set strict guidelines for homeowners who want to rent their houses for short-term stays.
A preliminary draft of the code is expected to be ready before a July 25 public hearing and comes as village officials prepare to tackle what they say is a growing short-term rental business in the area.
Mayor Ray Fell said the proposed code would mandate that homeowners obtain permits for bed-and-breakfast rentals only after their residences pass safety, health and fire inspections.
If such a law is passed, homeowners would have six to eight months to comply, Fell said.
He said homeowners have approached board members in recent weeks regarding establishing B&Bs in their homes. One issue board members are facing is how to distinguish a B&B rental with short-term stays from longer-term summer rentals that are popular in the South Shore village. The heart of the proposed bed-and-breakfast code would be to define what is a B&B rental.
"The definitions are not so clear, and that's what we have to figure out," village trustee Robert Rosenberg said. "What we're trying to do is very carefully open up a legal bed-and-breakfast concept in the residential district."
Village attorney David Moran said homeowners currently renting their residences as B&Bs for short vacation stays are violating the village's residence district code.
"If it doesn't expressly permit it, then it is prohibited," Moran said of the code on rentals as it currently exists.
The existence of such rentals can be seen on websites that advertise homes in the village with prices ranging from $550 to $800 per night. An $800-per-night home includes four bedrooms and bathrooms, a pool, pool house and is one block from Bellport Bay, according to one website.
Board members say they aren't sure how long visitors are staying and whether these homes should be considered B&Bs or simply rentals, village officials said.
Complicating matters further as the village wrestles with short- and long-term rentals, a house rental that is not owner-occupied may violate the village's single-family residence code, Rosenberg said.
He added that the purpose of the code is to clearly define what is a bed-and-breakfast, and thus make it legal.
Bellport Chamber of Commerce president Chris Hane said the goal of his organization is to promote business in the community. He suggested anyone wanting to open a B&B in the village contact his office.
"I would hope if they're a legitimate business that they would contact us and attend a meeting so we could help," Hane said. "We want to promote business in the community, but if they don't contact us, there's not much we can do."