Erroneous letter about short-term rentals roils Greenport

Mayor acknowledged mistake, but won’t fix it

A photo illustration of Mayor of the Village of Greenport Kevin Stuessi (Getty)
A photo illustration of Mayor of the Village of Greenport Kevin Stuessi (Getty)

Short-term rental owners in the Village of Greenport may not have noticed anything amiss when they received a letter from the mayor regarding the enforcement of village laws. But at least one rental operator in the village did.

The letter referred to limits on short-term rentals in the North Fork village, the Suffolk Times reported. It was sent by Mayor Kevin Stuessi, who campaigned on promises to end illegal short-term rentals.

Stuessi’s letter said owners were limited to one rental every two weeks. That’s not written anywhere in the village code, but holders of the 346 active rental permits in the village may not have been aware of the falsehood were it not for John Kramer.

Kramer organized a group with other short-term rental operators and pleaded for Village Hall or the mayor to inform everyone of the error, but got nowhere. So Kramer sent villagers a letter himself to correct the record.

Stuessi attributed the mistake to the former village attorney and said that his goal “has not been to change the existing laws but to enforce them and to raise the penalties for anyone who is renting against our code.” Stuessi also said anyone who has asked for clarification regarding the letter has received it.

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The mayor has no plans to send a follow-up letter to clarify the code, though. One homeowner who received the letter told the outlet it was “hostile at best and flippant at [worst].”

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While mistakes happen, a cynic could put the letter in context of Stuessi’s battle against illegal short-term rentals. Last month, the village announced it would start using artificial intelligence to monitor short-term rental listings, following in the footsteps of Suffolk County.

“What has happened is some anonymous LLCs have come in and bought up houses and are running them as illegal weekend rentals,” Stuessi has said. “It’s been very challenging for neighbors when party buses are showing up and loads of people are pouring out into a house next to them.”

Greenport is one of several Suffolk County municipalities — including Southold, the town Greenport is in — stepping up enforcement of illegal short-term rentals.

Holden Walter-Warner

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