WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Wilmington residents hoped the short-term rental debate would continue with factual conversation Monday night, but it was not much of a debate.
Tom Harris, owner of Front Street Brewery, hosted an event for both sides to continue the conversation after nearly four hours of public comment at the December planning commission meeting.
Only those in favor of short-term rentals showed up Monday.
"I invited all sides," Harris said. "I'm not sure who's going to show up and who's going to stay away, but I did invite anyone who wants to have a fact-based approach about analyzing the problem."
Around two dozen people in attendance said they believe it is crucial for the city to conduct fact-driven studies before making any major decisions.
"The main fact would be what types of degrees of problems are the existing 400-plus short-term rentals in Wilmington causing?" Harris asked. "And are they causing more problems to a greater degree than long-term rentals or even owner-occupied houses?"
They discussed aspects of the current ordinance, and why they feel restricting short-term rentals could be so detrimental to the city.
"They want to be able to walk to the river and to go down and have dinner and drinks," Wilmington resident Karan Witt said. "It's important. I'm a retired flight attendant now. I stay in Airbnbs all over the county, and I'm afraid that if we limit the use of VRBOs and Airbnbs that people will go to another town, another historic district in Beaufort or Savannah or Charleston."