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Wrightsville Beach Board of Aldermen tables short term rental discussion

Published: Aug. 13, 2021 at 12:02 AM EDT
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WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, N.C. (WECT) - A discussion on short term rentals in Wrightsville Beach is cut short Thursday night.

Some residents in Harbor Island raised concerns after finding a home in their neighborhood listed on several short term rental sites. Town Manager Tim Owens started to discuss it at Thursday’s Board of Aldermen meeting with plans to get direction from the board regarding the possible regulation of short-term rentals and whole-house rentals on Harbor Island.

Right before Owens was about to begin, town attorney Brian Edes informed the board that there is pending legislation in the General Assembly right now and the law may be in a state of flux.

“It’s a complicated, involved issue that merits a lot of discussion and thought, so we didn’t want to get down that road and then have a law passed in Raleigh that trips us up or turns us around and waste everybody’s time,” Mayor Darryl Mills said after the meeting.

House Bill 829, which essentially defines the limits of a local government’s ability to regulate short term rentals, passed the House in May and now sits in the Senate.

Mayor Mills asked the town’s attorney to monitor that bill, and the board ultimately decided to hold off on the discussion until more guidance comes out of Raleigh.

“Once a final law is enacted — now nobody knows when that will be a week, a month, six weeks, who knows — once that is in place, then we can put it back on our agenda and have some context to work from,” Mills said. “Hopefully it will be some guidelines, hopefully it will tell us what we can and can’t do. We don’t want to misstep, we don’t want to jeopardize anybody’s rights, we’re not looking to impair anybody’s quality of life, we want to do the right thing.”

The issue came up after Michael Kupferman and his wife recently closed on a place in Harbor Island. They use it as a second home but also a vacation rental to supplement their expenses, according to Kupferman.

The couple started listing the house on Airbnb and Vrbo when it was under contract, which is when Kupferman said his wife was “cornered” by neighbors “feeling that they had a better idea or how our property should be handled.”

“I addressed certain neighbors that had the concerns. I was under the impression that everything was okay until I saw that it was on the agenda tonight,” Kupferman said. “I was not informed that it was on the agenda until a friend of mine reached out.”

Kupferman had a statement prepared to address the board Thursday night and will be ready if and when the issue comes up again.

“I feel that if I buy a $900,000 house in Wrightsville Beach and furnish it with $30,000 of my own capital I should be able to rent the house out how I feel fit until I give the neighbors or the town of Wrightsville Beach a reason to tell me that I cannot do so anymore,” Kupferman said. “I actually handled multiple Airbnbs and short term rentals with no problems, complaints or no issues with the police or town whatsoever.”

On the Airbnb posting, the Kupfermans explicitly note, “PLEASE KEEP IN MIND THIS IS FAMILY NEIGHBORHOOD! PLEASE RESPECT NEIGHBORS AND NOISE POLICY. NEIGHBORS WILL CALL POLICE.” They also add that there is a $150 fine should any problems arise.

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