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Special panel suggested to address Grand Island tourist home controversy

Tourist homes were back on the agenda for the Grand Island Town Board work session Monday evening, less than a week after a public hearing on the rental properties ran for more than two hours.

Nearly 100 residents packed into Town Hall last Tuesday to voice opposition to a proposed amendment that would allow already existing tourist homes to continue to operate, provided they comply with an application process and strict guidelines.

The current law outlaws tourist homes and contains a sunset clause. Operators of the homes currently in use on the island have until Sept. 23 to close the properties.

In discussions on the proposed amendment Monday, Councilwoman Beverly A. Kinney suggested forming a committee to oversee tourist homes on the island. While preliminary, the committee could be made up of a tourist home owner, a neighbor living next to a tourist home, three at-large residents of the community and one nonvoting member from both the zoning office and the Town Board, she said. Among the responsibilities of the committee would be to review applications, review and update criteria for issuing permits and deal with complaints. The committee would then make recommendations to the Town Board, Kinney said.

“They would have the ability to make recommendations to shut certain homes down they have deemed to be a problem,” she said.

Supervisor Nathan D. McMurray said he believes a moratorium on tourist homes wouldn’t settle the debate. “People want to use these,” he said.

McMurray also pointed out that the City of Niagara Falls just passed a law allowing tourist homes.

“Part of the reason I pushed this from the get-go, I don’t want to see Grand Island fall behind at something we could probably excel at,” he said.

Councilman Michael Madigan voiced concern that some media reports on the hearing conveyed to residents that the board was dropping the law. “I think we need to revisit the law,” he said, “make some tweaks to it and probably put it out for a hearing again.”

The board will continue to work on the amendment.


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