Divided board discusses short term rentals in Pinehurst

Short-term home rentals have been an ongoing issue in Pinehurst for several years. Thursday afternoon, the Pinehurst Planning and Zoning Board conducted a public hearing before a standing-room-only crowd considering the status of short-term rentals in Pinehurst.

A short-term rental is when an entire house is made available for rent for less than 30 days, where the homeowner is not on site.

The purpose of the public hearing was for a recommendation to the Village Council concerning short-term rentals in single-family zoning areas.

Fifty-six people offered public comment, with the majority speaking against banning short-term rentals in areas zoned for single-family residences. Thirty-eight people spoke against the ban, and 18 people spoke in favor of the ban.

Recently, the Village Council changed town ordinances to prohibit unruly gatherings at residential properties. This is defined as three or more criminal offenses committed within 100 yards of the residence when at least one person is not a permanent resident. Additional sanctions are being discussed, including revoking the resident’s permit if three or more noise violations (or other issues are reported) within a calendar year.

Recently, the council proposed short-term rentals should be permitted in areas zoned for commercial, mixed, and residential multi-family.

The Planning Board meets as an advisory body to the Village Council. They can recommend the planned development ordinance’s adoption, rejection or modification.

Currently, three out of five Village Council members support the idea of banning short-term rentals in single-family areas.

The current dispute is whether short-term rentals should be allowed in single-family residential use areas. 

Those in favor of the ban pointed out at Thursday’s meeting the Village Council has heard numerous complaints about noise, litter, and other poor behavior at short-term rentals. Recently, a wave of short-term rental properties has hit Pinehurst, making the issue a matter of concern. A search of Airbnb shows almost 400 listings available in Pinehurst. This coincides with the 21% increase in national short-term rentals.

On the other side is the Pinehurst Vacation Association, which has launched a Change.org petition opposing the ban. As of Thursday afternoon, 1,511 signatures have been gathered.

This group does not believe there is a problem with rentals. Instead, they think it is just a few outspoken residents. They also believe it would be a matter of property rights and a clear overreach of power. Additionally, they think it would have an outsized, adverse effect on tourism in the area.

The arguments for the ban centered on protecting residents’ rights to live free from issues of short-term rentals, claiming they lower property values and are a nuisance.

Opponents of the ban pointed out the harmful effect it would have on the tourism industry and how it would violate the property rights of owners. Several speakers also raised the possibility of the town being sued.

In addition to the comments made by the public, the board also received over 90 emails about the ordinance.

A motion to recommend rejecting the ban failed at Thursday’s meeting.

The board also voted to remove any mention of homestays (where there are guests, but the owner is in residence, similar to a bed-and-breakfast).

A clearly divided board citing the lack of verifiable financial statements on the effect of a ban, uncertainty over the actual number of short-term rentals, and questions about enforcement of any ordinances, they decided to schedule an additional meeting to discuss the ordinance.

The meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 6 at 4:30 p.m., with an additional meeting scheduled for Sept. 15 if necessary.

The Village Council will make the ultimate decision, and they are not obligated to follow the Planning Board’s recommendation.

Sandhills_Sentinel~Written by Sandhills Sentinel Reporter Chris Prentice. Contact him at [email protected].

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