Council's decision to continue looking for a more immediate solution came weeks after the Beaufort-Port Royal Metropolitan Planning Commission struggled to decide how it would proceed on the issue.
After lengthy discussion at its February meeting, the commission recommended City Council deny a application from John and Erica Dickerson to allow short-term rentals in all residential districts by special exception. It planned to revisit the general concept at its next meeting.
Short-term rentals are currently allowed only in commercial districts.
"The board felt... that changing the ordinance on a city-wide basis was raising too many complicated issues for which there were no easy solutions," Beaufort Planning Director Libby Anderson wrote in a city memorandum.
Mayor Billy Keyserling cautioned against bypassing the Office of Civic Investment, led by a group of consultants hired to create a master plan that goes lot-by-lot throughout the city detailing strategies for redevelopment and growth.
"We've invested in this process and told people we're coming block-by-block, neighborhood-by-neighborhood," Keyserling said. "To just say, 'OK, we're going to make a fundamental change,' I'm not comfortable with it."
Councilman Mike Sutton disagreed.
"I just don't think the civic investment group is the right tool to determine that level of information for a governing body to make a decision," Sutton said.
The sometimes-contentious issue first arose in July, when the Dickersons applied to allow short-term rentals in Beaufort's historic district by special exception -- later changed to allow them city-wide.
Zoning allows such rentals in a home they own on Charles Street, but not in one they own on Duke Street.
The city subsequently cracked down on property owners who were offering short-term rentals illegally.