Westport rental discussions come to a grinding halt
LINCOLNTON – State law will prohibit Lincoln County Commissioners from taking significant action against a Westport rental house that’s caused problems for neighbors in recent months.
Neighbors say that instead of a quiet vacation rental, the Howard Lane house has hosted parties at all hours of the night and has disrupted their quality of life.
The vacation home owners largely ignored neighbors’ requests to tone things down and the county commission was looking toward creating a law that would restrict rentals.
But board chair Alex Patton said it’s probably not possible. The county can’t regulate vacation rentals without also regulating all properties.
He read N.C. General Statute 153A-364, which states the county can’t adopt or enforce any law that would require an owner of rental property to obtain a permit or permission from the county to lease or rent residential real property.
“I think it’s dead,” Patton said.
Commissioner George Arena requested that County Attorney Wesley Deaton look into whether there was a law that classified something as a business or hotel instead of a residence.
“That seems to be the only direction we can go with this,” Commissioner Jim Klein said.
The board had planned to hold a public hearing on the matter at its Aug. 6 meeting, but with Monday’s news, that won’t happen.
“I’m ready to move on to something else,” Commissioner Carrol Mitchem said. “County government has wasted enough time. … Let’s get on with more important matters.”
Commissioners also approved a special events and mass gatherings law that will require permits for events with 300 people or more.
Organizers are now required to obtain a permit 30 days prior to the event through the parks and recreation department.
“We felt we all needed this for first responders to be aware of events coming,” Assistant County Manager Martha Lide said.
Those who don’t obtain a permit could be subject to a fine, Lide said.
“This is the first year. Our intent would not to be heavy handed with this,” Lide said. “We want to educate as much as possible.”