Wilmington one vote away from new allowances of short-term rentals

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New Hanover Co. Airbnb hosts rake in millions (Photo: Kirsten Gutierrez/WWAY)

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Tuesday night was the night many believed city leaders would make a critical decision on short-term vacation rentals across the city.

Wilmington city leaders began this debate more than two years ago. Over the summer, they approved for short-term rentals in neighborhoods where the owner of the home is present, homestays.

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Tuesday, they passed the first reading to allow short-term rentals in several areas of the city. The business is already allowed in commercial districts according to city leaders.

City leaders had before them an ordinance change to the land development code to ban or allow, with regulations, short-term rentals (STR) such as AIRBNB’s with no homeowner present in the residence.

Council members like Kevin O’Grady remain outspoken for the ban. He spoke specifically on how allowing the business in residential, historic, or multi family neighborhoods would endanger¬†ares of the city such as the north end.



The debate lengthened as several changes to the amendments were laid out by council members.

Essentially there was a change of the code to ban all absent homeowner STR’s before council and a change to the code to allow them under regulations of distance between units and amount per area of corporate limits.

The council approved Councilman Neil Anderson’s substitute motion for the allowance. In it 2% of all residentially-zoned areas inside the 1945 corporate limites can be rented out short-term. The same amount goes for homes outside of the 1945 corporate limits and totals around 200-300 homes.

The initial allowance regulated rentals to not be closer than 250 feet within the corporate limits. However, Anderson changed that to be 400 feet city-wide.

Homeowners must be within 25 miles of the rental and be accessible for 24 hours as well as have guaranteed parking per one bedroom.

That was enough to edge the amendment for allowance to pass with a 4-3 vote. The vote for a second reading was not enough to pass the new changes. The city council will have to return to the issue at a later meeting.