Wilmington presses pause on redefining short-term rental regulations, cites ongoing appeal

Wilmington presses pause on redefining short-term rental regulations, cites ongoing appeal
Short term rental changes proposed

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - After a lawsuit as well as a judge’s ruling deeming the City of Wilmington’s short-term rental restrictions ‘void and unenforceable,’ city staff worked to revise the wording in the regulations in an proactive effort to better align with state requirements.

However, the city has now decided to withdraw previous recommendations

At the crux of the debate is language in state statute that prohibits cities from requiring any property owners to obtain a permit or register their property with the city in order to rent it- but- Wilmington decided to do just that.

The city implemented the regulations in March of 2019 and set an amortization period that allowed homeowners to rent their properties until April of 2020. It also hosted a lottery system to decide who could rent their homes, and who could not.

In response to the lawsuit city staff had planned some revisions to the city’s language, mainly, changing the word ‘registration’ to ‘permit’

“Annual permits are a necessary tool for zoning enforcement to effectively and efficiently administer the short-term lodging regulations; however, use of the term “permit” instead of “registration” better aligns with statutory language, other land use approvals, and current operating procedures,” according to the Planning Commission’s previous agenda.

In December the Planning Commission agreed to move the revisions to the Jan. 6 meeting, at that meeting city staff decided to withdraw the request.

According to a city attorney present at the Jan. 6 meeting, since the courts have stayed any matters related to short-term rentals, there was no need to change the language in the code until the appeals process is complete.

City staff said the revisions would be brought up in the Land Development Code rewrite, which is an ongoing process the city is working on in phases. It will likely be brought back to city officials in March of this year. For now though, don’t expect any changes to the city’s rules.

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