Letter to the Membership 2/25/23

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

2022 was a busy year for HNC. And 2023 is looking to be even busier.

Beginning in the fall of 2021 and culminating in September of 2022, HNC monitored, researched, advised and ultimately was successful in advocating for a ban on short-term rentals in residential neighborhoods (R-1 and R-2) in the Town of Highlands. In addition, Tourist Homes, which includes the rental of a portion of one’s primary residence, inns and B&B’s, are only allowed in R-2, limited to a maximum of 4 bedrooms, and require a Special Use Permit.

Although the ban enacted by the Town of Highlands on September 15, 2022 only applied to new short-term rentals (those not in operation on 9/15/22), HNC remains hopeful that additional action will be taken by the Town in 2023 to eliminate all short-term rentals in R1 and R2 neighborhoods.

The Mayor and Commissioners have recently announced they will wait for the NC Legislature to adjourn in August before taking further action. The stated rationale is that there may be legislation forthcoming to clarify the powers of local governments to regulate short-term rentals. As you might imagine, local governments throughout NC would be affected and are lobbying to preserve local zoning powers. We welcome anyone who has influence in Raleigh to weigh in our behalf!

In the meantime, HNC remains committed to educating homeowners about the new enforcement rules, and assisting the Town with its enforcement efforts. We are currently working to obtain information that lists the location of operating STRs in R-1 and R-2 neighborhoods that the Town’s consultant has been able to identify so far. This information would help residents monitor any new ones that might spring up.

On another note, Macon County sent out its new property assessments this week – many properties have more than doubled in value! (HNC is currently researching the impact of STRs on property values.) Appeals are due by March 13, so don’t delay if you have the requisite proof that your value may be inflated.

We appreciate all of our supporters and ask that you consider renewing your membership for 2023, as well as making an additional donation to enable us to continue this fight. You can renew your membership online at highlandsneighborhoodcoalition.com. Annual dues are $100.

If you wish to make a tax-deductible donation to help support this effort, it may be made to Highlands Neighborhood Preservation, Inc., a 501(C)(3) organization that supports our educational and related efforts on this issue. Checks can be mailed to PO Box 2103 Highlands, NC 28741.

We have used past support to pay for legal advice to enable us to advocate effectively, and to advertise in local papers to educate the public. There will be an election in November of 2023 to fill three vacancies on the Board of Commissioners and it is imperative that only candidates who clearly oppose the proliferation of STRs in our residential neighborhoods are elected.

Join us in the fight to stop Highlands from being taken over by those who only want the money and care little for the quality of life in our beloved town.