Letters to the Editor about Short-Term Rentals
Tuesday, May 14, 2019
Counterpoint offered to STR discussion
I'd like to offer a counterpoint to the recent letter to the editor regarding Short Term Rentals (STRs) — published May 8, “Town residents urged to support short-term rentals,” by Bryan Bunn of Edenton.
In my opinion, the basic issue here is, are the owners/operators of these STRs in business or are they not? There really is no middle ground. When one takes money for accommodations from the paying public (“Consumers”) one is “in business” and as such has certain higher duties to those Consumers than in business to business transactions.
The writer aptly points out that we pay very high taxes to live in our beautiful “main street” town. I bought my home in a quiet residential zoned district. I don't want it to become a resort. I've seen this happen in Cape May, New Jersey and more recently in Venice, Florida. It's not a pretty picture. Many private residences are converted to rentals and private owners are driven out by higher taxes at which time few can afford a home that is not supported by rental income. The character of the town changes from a close knit community to a transient resort. None-the-less, our Town has seen fit to grant “Conditional Use Permits” to those legitimate owners of B&Bs who offer similar housing accommodations as do STRs.
We live in a town comprised of hundreds of 100+ year old frame tinder boxes. I can see no reason why the STR owners should be allowed to operate a business offering accommodations to consumers without applying for the same Conditional Use Permit and abiding by the same occupancy, health and safety regulations as the B&Bs. To allow them to operate without doing so is not fair to the consumers, Town residents or the B&B owners. STR owners are simply in the same business with presumably fewer units.
At the writer's suggestion, I took a look at the proposed STR ordinance. I found it to be simple and reasonable, however, not unfair to others in the same business. It has the stamp of a political settlement all over it.
Municipalities have a right to create zoning districts and regulate activities that are conducted within them. It might be difficult for the Writer and his colleagues to accept, however, it is the law.
I encourage other Edentonians to speak out on this subject to the Town Council. It's an important issue that could change our Town.
Hospitable town like ours needs choices
It was with personal interest that I read the opinion concerning the proposed disallowing of private home short-term rentals — published May 8, “Town residents urged to support short-term rentals,” by Bryan Bunn of Edenton.
My husband and I moved to Edenton one year ago. When we were deciding where we’d like to live, we stayed in an Airbnb in the Cotton Mill District.
We stayed for three weeks, to see what it would be like to actually live here, in a neighborhood. We took trolley tours, bought groceries at the Food Lion, ate ice cream at the drugstore, bought walking shoes at the shoe store, ate a special dinner at The Table, visited historic sites, walked a lot, and learned about hospitality, Edenton and her residents.
On our second trip, to meet with a realtor and find a home, we had a lovely few days snowed-in in a rented room making friends and experiencing the town in a more intimate way. During the past year, we’ve had guests to our home who have stayed at the Hampton Inn, rented rooms, stayed in B&Bs, and Airbnbs, depending on their preference. They’ve taken trolley rides, sunset cruises, eaten in town and rented kayaks.
Two weeks ago, hundreds of cyclists visited our town and they also needed the hotel, B&Bs, Airbnbs, short-term-rental rooms and houses, in addition to their tents. They needed all those options; they came because we have them.
I submit to the Town Council that one of the things that makes Edenton so appealing to visitors and tourists, as well as future residents, is the diversity in options for overnight stays. There’s something for everyone. The town is big enough in space and heart to accommodate all.
Also, consider that the history of Edenton includes private homes creating rooms-to-rent at different times in history, as seen in the historic district. In my opinion, if you disallow Airbnbs and rooms for rent, you are shooting yourselves in the foot! You miss the historical connection, and you will miss visitors whose needs aren’t met with only hotels and B&Bs.
A hospitable town like ours needs to have all the choices. Airbnbs and rooms for short-term rental are as necessary as B&Bs and hotels for a town that depends heavily on hospitality.
Deanna K. Klingel