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City Seeks Input On Proposed Short-term Rental Regulations

By Cece Nunn, posted Mar 14, 2017

At an informal meeting Tuesday night hosted by city of Wilmington officials, the public has been invited to provide input on proposed short-term rental regulations.

The session will be held 6-7:30 p.m. at Alderman Elementary School, 2025 Independence Blvd., and comes after city staff members presented potential regulations to the Wilmington City Council in February.

A public input meeting held almost exactly a year ago covered the short-term rental issue in general. Commonly offered online through websites like Airbnb, VRBO and Craigslist, such accommodations have been getting more attention in recent years in communities across North Carolina and the U.S. as their popularity has grown among travelers. 

According to the Wilmington staff proposals explained to the council on Feb. 20, in residential districts, homestays would be regulated similar to bed-and-breakfast establishments, with a primary resident on site during the rental period and a separation distance required between establishments.

The staff also presented two potential options for short-term rentals: to allow them only during designated events, such as the N.C. Azalea Festival or Riverfest, or to allow rentals up to 30 days per calendar year.

As spelled out on a city web page set aside for the topic, homestays, bed-and-breakfast establishments and whole-house rentals would be permitted in the same districts where hotels and motels are permitted. The primary resident (which could be an owner or renter) of homestays and whole house rentals in any zoning district would be required to register annually with the city.

David Billitto, a Wilmington short-term rental owner who has been vocal about his concerns that officials might regulate short-term rentals out of existence in the city, said he thinks the city should form a task force and conduct an economic impact study to come up with the best solution for the Port City.

He said the city should "take the time to figure out what is really happening out there" with regard to current short-term rentals. 

No time frame has been established by city officials for adopting any short-term regulations, and the City Council could opt to either move forward with the suggestions, make changes to them or not move forward with the staff's proposals, said Glenn Harbeck, director of planning, development and transportation. The aim of tonight's meeting is to figure out what members of the public think about what the city staff came up with for potential regulations, he said.

Any regulations would also have to be the subject of formal public hearings before the Wilmington Planning Commission and the City Council before they could be adopted.

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