Planning Board To Address Residents Renting Rooms For Profit

Planning Board To Address Residents Renting Rooms For Profit Featured

By / Local News / Wednesday, 10 June 2015 04:00

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

CAROLINA BEACH - The Carolina Beach Planning and Zoning Commission will consider an amendment at their June 11th, meeting to address homeowners who advertise rooms for rent through various online services.
According to Senior Planner Jeremy Hardison, "The applicant, Richard Walsh applied for a zoning amendment to amend the Bed and Breakfast Regulations.  Staff received a complaint about a residence located at 141 Lighthouse Dr. running a business out of the home. Upon investigation, the home owner, Richard Walsh was advertising a Bed and Breakfast from his residence."
Hardison explained, "According to on-line advertisements advertising a Bed and Breakfast staff reviewed that you can make a reservation at a daily rate with no nightly minimum and designated check out/in times were posted, much like you would see at a hotel site.  Bed and Breakfast are allowed by a Conditional Use Permit in certain areas of town, but not the residential district (R-2) where the business is occurring.  The proposed ordinance would allow Bed & Breakfast by a Conditional Use Permit in all zones except" the residential R-3, R-1B, conservation C, and industrial I-1 districts.
 He explained, "A proposed condition would be if only one room is being offered then it would be permitted by right. This would reduce negative impacts on residential neighborhoods."
Hardison said there's a growing trend of people renting rooms through online services.
He explained, "The Town of Carolina Beach is a destination for tourism and provides a market for room renting businesses. Through online sites a homeowner can easily convert a room in their home into the equivalent of hotel unit with little effort. These businesses are often operating without meeting minimum regulations and paying relevant fees, sales and room occupancy taxes.  They can also be seen as unfairly competing with hotels and B&B's that pay these taxes, insurance, inspections."
He explained, "Staff researched different types of rentals occurring in Carolina Beach by exploring on-line sites such as Airbnb, VRBO, and Home Away. These websites facilitates the short-term rental of a room or rooms or an entire private home. Staff found that a large majority of homes that are being advertised are from an absentee owner looking for weekly rentals. The Town does not currently regulate the term of a lease or stay. Rentals have always been allowed as long as the permitted use remains" such as single-family, two-family homes and others. 
Hardison said, "Staff found just a small number of on premise home owners advertising rooms for overnight stay in residential areas. Currently this type of use would be regulated under the provisions of a Bed and Breakfast regardless if a meal is being served."
The proposed amendment states, "Only one family shall be located within the building being utilized to accommodate the bed and breakfast" and, "Signage must comply with the applicable regulations of the zoning district.  In all zoning districts one 2x2 sign shall be allowed to identify the location of owner and/or tenant parking."
The amend states, "Conditional Use Permit shall only be required when two or more rooms are offered for rent" and, "Approval from Building, Fire, and Health code regulations along with payment of sales and room occupancy taxes shall be maintained to stay in compliance with the zoning approval for bed and breakfast."
Short term accommodations such as hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts and even camp grounds must pay a room occupancy tax to New Hanover County. Those taxes go to fund beach nourishment projects as well as tourism related expenditures and promotion. The Commission will consider the change at their June 11th, meeting at 6:30PM at Town Hall.

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