Whispering Pines debates cart regulations homestays

Whispering Pines Village Council Thursday discussed golf cart regulations including underage drivers and other safety concerns with a recommendation for the regulations to be implemented Jan. 1, 2021.

It was recommended that persons with learner’s permits have an adult present, and stickers on the front and back of carts must be large enough for law enforcement and citizens to report cart identification.

It was suggested the fee schedule run the same as the boat fee schedule and proof of insurance be required. The new regulations recommend night driving restrictions due to safety concerns.

“I will say, of the half a dozen accidents I memoed, none of them happened at night,” Village Manager Rich Lambdin said.

A male resident said that he did not understand why the new regulations were needed because of the low number of problems.

“Seems like the Village is looking to make money on the backs of golfers,” He said.

“I don’t care how much it costs,” a female resident said, who has a “straight [road in front of her house] and seems like they are whizzing.”

At the Sept. 9 meeting, the golf cart regulation discussion will continue as an agenda item. There will be a public hearing notice on the Village website before that meeting.

HOMESTAYS

Proposed amendment to LDO Chapter 6 to regulate homestay rentals which had heard 65 residents’ comments, heard another read by Linda Christopher, assistant Village manager.

Heather Newman said that short-term rentals, 30 days or less, adversely affect the Village’s resources.

“Littering, limited parking, unfamiliar animals, and noise pollution,” Newman said about homestay properties not being regulated like Airbnb, “will result in public safety risks.”

Mayor Alexa Roberts said she was not comfortable telling property owners they could no longer operate a short-term rental after they had been doing it 30 years. She also said that reporting this required neighbors to report on neighbors.

Issues with self-reporting and acquiring a permit, about allowing only a homeowner to operate a homestay, not another renter or real estate broker, with homestays competing with tourism rentals, special uses, and parking were discussed.

Whether to grandfather in existing whole-house rentals from “this point forward” or from a determined date, such as six months prior to the implementation of the homestay ordinance affect date was discussed.

The homestay regulation proposal will be revised, and the council will address it again in the September work session.

FENCES

Proposed amendment to LDO Chapter 4 regarding fence height had heard public comment with five in favor and 25 against. The proposal will be an agenda item at the next September meeting.

SIGNAGE

T.C. Morphis, village attorney, discussed the existing sign ordinance that allows up to five signs on private property. Signs must be related to events approved by the Village Council “not puppies for sale signs,” Linda Christopher, assistant Village manager said.

Morphis proposed a clarification to allow those same signs on public right-of-way.

“We need to make sure our own Village signs are in compliance,” the mayor said about state roadway sign laws.

A continuance of the sign ordinance discussion will be held on Sept. 14 at 1 p.m. It will cover Village signage as well as temporary signs, such as political signs, banners, yard letters, rented signs for military members returning home and rented temporary inflatable art signs such as flamingoes announcing births.

Written by Sandhills Sentinel Journalism Intern Stephanie M. Sellers.

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