Pinehurst adopts new short-term rental policy

A long-drawn-out process came to an end in Pinehurst Wednesday morning. Short-term home rentals have been a contentious issue over the last couple of years. Long-term residents have expressed concern about the behavior of short-term rental guests.

Initially, the desire was to ban all short-term rentals in the village. The action the Pinehurst Village Council took Wednesday was a compromise of sorts, allowing the existing active rentals to continue as non-conforming use but prohibiting new short-term rentals in most residential areas.

The desire to ban all short-term rentals ran into legal jeopardy when a ban in Wilmington was overturned at a high legal cost to the city.

In North Carolina, matters concerning property rights are the purview of the state legislation. North Carolina is a Dillon Rule state, which means cities, villages, and other political subdivisions, such as homeowners associations, only have the powers granted by the legislature. The council was advised that an outright ban would be challenged and overturned as unconstitutional.

The compromise does not affect property rights because existing short-term rentals are exempt, and it depends on the power of local communities to zone properties, which North Carolina legislature permits.

Wednesday’s meeting was held at a special time at 8 a.m. The date was selected to allow the 10-day notification period (required by state law), and the time was necessary to accommodate personal schedules for the board and staff members. Pinehurst Mayor John Strickland said the meeting was deemed necessary after the meeting earlier in the month.

According to a presentation by Darryn Burich, planning and inspections director, there are several provisions of the new ordinance. Existing short-term rentals will be permitted to continue as a non-conforming use. They will need to obtain non-conforming certification from the village. If there is a 365-day period when the property is not being used as a short-term rental, that certification will be revoked.

The village will issue a non-confirming certificate, a legal statement from the village, that the property can continue to be used by both current and future owners.

Strickland had a few comments at the close of the meeting.

“The village attorney has worked closely with the village and has been actively involved in the process,” said Strickland.

He also said, “All existing short-term rentals will be allowed to continue as long as the owners wish. New short-term rentals will not be allowed in single-family zoned areas.”

He closed with the hope all the stakeholders can work together to make a stronger community.

The council passed the ordinance 3-2 with Lydia Boesch and Jeff Morgan opposed. Strickland and council members Jane Hogeman and Patrick Pizzella voted yes. They had favored an outright ban for several months.

Supporters of short-term rentals had promised legal action if an outright ban was voted in. It is unknown at this point what kind of legal challenge might result. The village feels it is in compliance with the North Carolina Constitution, but it has not been challenged legally yet.

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

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