by Josh Carpenter
Lincoln County commissioners are weighing their options on how to regulate loud music and parties at a vacation home in Denver’s Westport community.
The 7880 Howard Lane house was sold in February and has served as a vacation rental since.
Neighbors have complained about loud music and drinking, among other rambunctious activities in recent months. Some recently asked county officials to take action.
The county is somewhat handcuffed legally in what it can control through the Unified Development Ordinance, County Attorney Wesley Deaton said.
Planning Director Kelly Atkins described some contradictions in county tax records and what’s actually inside the lakefront home. Records list the house as having four bedrooms, but the owner is advertising seven, Atkins said.
“With those discrepancies, there’s a lot of questions that have to be answered,” Atkins said at the May 21 County Commission meeting. “This may not stop what’s going on but the owner will have to be compliant.”
Neighbors say the additional three bedrooms are located in the home’s basement. If that’s the case, fire escapes would be required, Atkins said.
He described the possibility of taking out walls to check plumbing and electrical wires to make sure there weren’t any fire hazards.
Lincoln County deputies responded to the house four times in April for calls about loud music. Police also said a neighbor filed a report May 14 saying a van with Florida license plates backed over her mailbox and damaged it.
“It has disrupted our lives and just turned everything upside down,” neighbor Sharon Malmberg said. “I don’t even feel comfortable being on my own deck. It’s weird.”
The owner of the house, John Hettiarachchi of North Wilkesboro, declined to comment.
Commissioner Carrol Mitchem recommended the unhappy neighbors go straight to the police force.
“If that’s what’s happening to me and my neighbor and I have a problem, I’m going to call the law and they’re going to take care of it,” Mitchem said.
Commissioners toyed with putting more restrictions on all rental homes in Denver, but didn’t want to penalize others for one owner’s mistakes.