Beaufort County is a step closer to establishing a set of rules governing short-term rentals of homes, apartments and condos.
Under the proposed rules, any short-term rental not operating as a bed-and-breakfast will need a business license and special-use permit before renting out their properties.
Stays would be limited to 72 days, and a property could not be rented out for more than 144 days in a calendar year.
“This is a step in the right direction,” Bob Semmler, the chairman of the Planning Commission, said Tuesday. “It’s tough. We’ve all heard the nightmares. This is a good amendment, but not everyone’s going to be happy.”
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Hincher could not be reached after two phone calls for comment.
The Planning Commission’s approval is only the first step in the process.
The proposal will now head to the county’s Natural Resources Committee. If approved there, it would go before county council for three readings and at least one public hearing before a final vote.
That means passage could come in February or March if everything remains on schedule, said Melissa Peagler, a long-range planner for the county. However, she said the county could also grant owners a grace period to get affairs in order.
“If this is approved, people will get 30 days to start the process and 90 days after that to complete it,” she said. “Our goal is to bring people in compliance, not punish those that aren’t.”
Semmler said his concern — one which was shared by other planning commission members — was about balancing the short-term rentals with the concerns of neighbors, whose daily lives would be affected.
“You’ve got to maintain a quality of life and maintain the spirit of the neighborhood,” he said. “This was about establishing more control — making sure there are enough parking spots and that people can’t party all night.”
“At a bed-and-breakfast or an inn, you have someone on-site (to handle questions and maintenance issues) ,” she said. “You don’t at these extended home rentals. We wanted to come up with something that’s within reason and also not harmful to neighbors.”