City leaders vote to allow short-term whole house rentals in residential areas with restrictions

Residents filled Wilmington City Council chambers on Tuesday to discuss, among other things,...
Residents filled Wilmington City Council chambers on Tuesday to discuss, among other things, short-term rentals. (Source: WECT)
Published: Jan. 23, 2019 at 5:50 AM EST
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WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Wilmington City Council passed a substitute motion 4-3 at its meeting Tuesday to allow whole house short-term rentals in residential areas with restrictions and regulations.

A second and final vote still has to be made at the next meeting on Feb. 5.

The whole house short-term rentals would be capped at 2 percent of the residential area, and have to be spaced 400 feet apart. The spread was doubled from 200 feet citywide.

Residents against having whole house short-term rentals in neighborhoods voiced concerns about noise, crime, property values and absentee short-term rental owners. Those opposed say short-term rentals are already allowed in commercial districts and they don’t want it in residential neighborhoods.

There was a standing room only crowd on hand at Tuesday’s meeting and around 25 people spoke during the public comment period.

Phoebe Bragg, president of the Residents of Old Wilmington, has been advocating to protect family neighborhoods since the issue of rentals first became a focus about six years ago.

“I don’t oppose STRs (short-term rentals), in fact, I don’t oppose them in commercial areas, because that’s a business and that’s where businesses belong. And I don’t oppose homestays, because that leaves on owner-occupied house. What I do oppose is whole house STRs in residential areas. That negates any residential zoning that we have, and that’s unfair to come in and have the city unilaterally re-negotiate a contract so that we all, the whole city of Wilmington will lose our residential zoning.”

Bragg and a group of fellow residents wore yellow T-shirts with slogans including, “Neighborhood are for neighbors.”

“I really don’t know what we will do next," said Bragg about the possibility of short-term rentals in residential neighborhoods. "Once they’re allowed in residential areas, it’s really hard, what we’ve seen from other cities, is that they try to pull it back, but then it’s very difficult to pull it back.”

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