Fredonia planning board looks at rental law

The Fredonia Planning Board went over a new proposal for a law regarding rental properties Thursday, making a few tweaks.

The last proposal in 2018 proved controversial because of proposed registries of renters and landlords. This time around, the renters’ list is not included, but the village would still boost its tracking of landlords.

As before, there is a section of the proposed code mandating the posting of property agents’ contact information, on the property. “I believe the tenants need to know how to get a hold of somebody,” said Planning Board Chairman Scott Mackay.

“Under no circumstances does it have to be posted outside on the lawn,” said Chief Inspection Officer Charles LaBarbera. He suggested posting the contact lists inside kitchen cabinets, as those would be private, but accessible, spots.

He added that the code should specify the location of the information, so code enforcers would know where to look for it. Planning board members wound up endorsing a requirement to put it in the kitchen, though not specifically in a cabinet.

Board member Dave Fridmann was concerned about the definition of a “managing agent.” He said the term should be clearly defined. Fridmann agreed to approach Village Attorney Dan Gard about working on a definition, adding he had a few he found online.

The village Board of Trustees will ultimately decide on the law. One of the trustees who voted against last year’s version, Michael Barris, attended Thursday’s meeting and Fridmann asked him if there was anything else the planning board could do with this version.

“I don’t think we’ve discussed tracking of cell phones to see who is moving in and out of buildings,” Barris said. However, he said the registry of tenants was his biggest issue with the 2018 version of the law and noted that it was stricken from this draft.

The planning board expects to approve a final draft at a meeting it set for 5:30 p.m. Aug. 1, and plans to brief Fredonia’s trustees on the proposal when they meet Aug. 12.

On LaBarbera’s suggestion, the board scheduled a public hearing on the law, and changes made to it from the version defeated in 2018, for Aug. 20.

“I’m just trying to save the village board from being hammered,” he said. “Put the burden on us.”

There is no legal requirement for such a hearing by the Fredonia Planning Board. A public hearing is required by the Board of Trustees before it votes on the proposal.