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September 13, 2016
Oriental’s Town Board holds a public hearing Tuesday night on some proposed changes to the town’s Growth Management Ordinance. Among the changes suggested by the Planning Board are standards on drainage and the town’s height limit.
But the last of the 7 proposed changes could bring a big change to the residential neighborhoods in the heart of Oriental – in the old village between Academy, Hodges, Vandemere, Third, Pittman, Church and the river where the homes are zoned R2 and on upper Midyette where the are zoned R3
Here’s how the change reads in the official language of the public notice:
SECTION 7. That Section 66. “Table of Permissible Uses” of Article IV. Permissible Uses by District of the Growth Management Ordinance of the Town of Oriental be and the same is hereby amended by deleting subsection 1.530 in its entirety and inserting in its stead the following:
1.530 Tourist Homes and other temporary residences X L L L L
Here’s what it means.
Under the current Permissible Uses, you can rent out your home to a long term tenant but not for short terms. In other words, residential use OK, revolving door of visitors, not so much.
Right now, if you want to rent out on nightly or weekly basis in the R2 and R3 neighborhoods, you have to apply for a Special Use Permit and a public hearing would be called where your neighbors could cite their concerns (about, for instance increased traffic, noise, disruption of residential character of their street) and then the Town Board could decide if the SUP were to be granted and with what conditions.
That would change in a big way with the proposed change.
No more SUP required. Short term rentals would simply be allowed in the R2 and R3 neighborhoods. Neighbors who bought their homes on the understanding their street was residential, would have no recourse, no public hearing, no conditions set.
Town Manager Diane Miller says the change in the GMO is needed. She says there isn’t enough lodging in town and that that hurts the tourism trade in Oriental. Miller adds that few in the R2 now seek SUP’s – the process to rent out their houses short term. She cites, in particular, the several hundred dollar SUP application fee as an obstacle.
Short term rentals are already allowed – no SUP required – in the MU and MU1 – Mixed Use – areas of Oriental. That is, both sides of Hodges street and toward the harbor, as well as all of broad street over to Midyette street south of North Street are currently zoned that way.
There is, however, no shortage of buildings in town where short term rentals can happen right now.
Meanwhile, while there are fewer than 100 beds in Orientals commercial lodging establishments, they are rarely filled to capacity. Vacancy signs hang more often than “no vacancy” signs.
The issue of not enough places tends to come up with periodic events where hundreds would be seeking lodging.
But if that is the reason for the proposed change, why not allow short term rentals in all of Oriental? Why stop at the R2 and R3 ? Why not include the R1 neighborhoods – Sea Vista off off Neuse Drive, Whittaker Creek, Dolphin Point – in the change?
Another option: instead of changing the GMO to allow short term rentals all the time in the R2 and R3, and changing their character, develop a system of allowing such rentals town-wide for specific events.
The public gets a chance to speak on the proposal Tuesday night, September 13.
The meeting starts at 7p.
Postscript: Several residents spoke against the proposed changes re short term rentals during the Public Hearing.The proposed changes to the GMO regarding short term rentals in residential neighborhoods did not pass at the Sept 13 meeting. The board agreed to leave the existing rules in place.
Those who wish to rent out their R2 property short term will have to apply for an individual Special Use Permit from the Town Board. In keeping with existing policy, a public hearing will be called for each permit request, and decided upon on a case by case basis.. More public hearings are likely in the cards; because some R2 and R3 homes have been used for short term rentals without an SUP, it is expected that at least some of those property owners will seek the permit.
Posted Tuesday September 13, 2016 by Melinda Penkava
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