Pinehurst council continues discussion over regulation of short-term rentals

Council to make changes to municipal code to address peddling and soliciting

PINEHURST — The Village of Pinehurst Council continued the process of attempting to regulate short-term rentals to address the concerns of citizens as they discussed amendments to the Pinehurst Development Ordinance.

“This final document will address all the key issues that the council has been dealing with its staff and through comments from you for several months,” said Mayor John Strickland. “We believe that this document, once completed and voted on, will deal with some of our key issues with STRs, which include the rapid growth, classifying STRs as non-conforming uses, maintaining the integrity of our neighborhoods, and also establish an enforceable, regulatory structure to reduce nuisances and other inconveniences and provide safety provisions for the ordinance of Pinehurst.”

The major amendments that the council discussed were prohibiting STRS in single-family districts, permitting STRs in areas zoned VMU, H, and VCP, eliminating amortization, allowing all existing STRs to remain as non-conforming uses which run with the land (which does not require registration or permission to rent to continue lawful operation as a non-conforming use), adding a Cessation of Use provision if not operated within a 365 day period, the creation of a non-conforming use certificate that shall be issue officially recognizes the legal non-conforming status and will be required of all non-conforming uses, compliance with the SR-9 standards would be required of existing and new STRs recognizing that most of the housing, building, or fire codes already apply and improvements to the municipal code to get at some of the nuisance related issues.

The meeting revolved around working through the language of the amendments and ensuring the best document would be presented.

“I want us to get the best product, and I want the best ideas to go into this preamble,” said Mayor Pro Tem Pat Pizzella. “And we may have some disagreements about what the best ideas are, but that’s what we should end up with. We want a document that we can be proud of and is accurate.” 

However, it was clear that not all the members of the council were in support of the amendments. 

“It is, to me, pretty clear that the ordinance that is going to come before us in a couple of weeks is going to pass 3-2,” said council member Lydia Boesch. “I don’t know about Jeff Morgan, but whatever the other three of you want in the clauses is what’s going to pass. And despite anything I might say, it’s going to pass. I don’t know how you three will decide, but whatever you say will be what is presented and passed.”

Along with Boesch, council member Jeff Morgan also expressed his concerns.

“The unfortunate part of this is that the way we’re tracking here, we’re putting a cap on things in exchange for helping a few players out,” Morgan said. “In essence, the economics of this for the people that own STRs is enhanced because now they’re going to have a certificate that is going to help them sell versus those who don’t have that. So it’s the law of unintended consequences in government. That frustrates me because I don’t want to help one group or the other. I want the free market to work its route. One of the reasons I’m not really keen on a ban here is I think the free market will do a better job of it.”

“We don’t have the power given to us by the state to regulate this. I truly believe the solution to this is to be able to permit folks to have these and, if they violate certain criteria, to suspend them. We can’t do that without the state legislature, so I think we need to push that, and I want the STR folks to start working with the community to be able to conform to the behavioral issues that are going on.”

Along with the STR ordinance, the council discussed amendments to the Pinehurst Municipal Code with regard to peddling and soliciting.

“In a previous meeting, we had a very brief preliminary discussion about our perceptions about the current situation regarding peddling and solicitation that is currently allowed in our municipal code, and we suggested at that time a change to the municipal code that would eliminate the opportunity for commercial peddling and solicitation across the village,” said Village Manager Jeff Sanborn.

In large part, the village decided to do away with the allowance of any type of soliciting or peddling within Pinehurst, minus a few key exceptions.

“Due to some changes in the procedure of being able to do criminal background checks, which was a former part of our ability, the recommendation from the council was to remove the ability for for-profit or businesses from being able to solicit or peddle within the Village of Pinehurst,” said Village Clerk Kelly Chance. “This, with the exception of religious, political, or similar purposes. The corrections that were made focus on those areas, and really, the biggest change was adding the verbiage that no person shall canvas, solicit or sell food, beverages, services, or merchandise or engage in any act of canvassing or soliciting in any public or semi-public space, door-to-door or place to place within the Village of Pinehurst.”

The council was going to vote on the amendments, but council member Boesch moved to have the ordinance be brought back in a week or two after she has time to sit down and make minor edits and tighten up the language before the council approves it.

The Village of Pinehurst Council will next meet October 25.

By Ryan Henkel, North State Journal

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