Summary of Annual Meeting of Supporters (June 2023)

Dear Neighbors,

Thanks to all of you who were able to attend our June 4 meeting. It is heartening to see so many of you supportive of our efforts to remove short-term rentals from our traditional residential neighborhoods. For those of you unable to attend, a summary of what was discussed is below.


  1. Prior to the pandemic, homeowners in a variety of residential neighborhoods began to notice a drastic increase in a new phenomenon – short-term rentals in their neighborhoods. After being told by Town officials that it was unclear whether the current zoning would prohibit such activity, even though the zoning stated “exclusively single family residential . . . no commercial activity . . . including overnight accommodations,” these individuals worked together to convince the Town that the zoning as written prohibited STRs in residential neighborhoods.
  2. In August of 2021, the Town attorney announced that enforcement would begin in January of 2022 to issue notices of violations to any R-1 owners who were using their homes as STRs. A lawsuit was filed against the Town challenging this action and the Town agreed to delay enforcement until such time the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) could be reviewed and amended if necessary to reflect the will of the voters to prohibit STRs in residential neighborhoods.
  3. In September of 2022, the Town adopted amendments to prohibit any new STRs in R-1 and R-2 neighborhoods. STRs in existence could continue to operate as “nonconforming uses” until the Town takes further action.

Current Status

  1. The lawsuit against the Town was put on hold until the NC Legislature adjourns sometime this summer. Several bills have been introduced to limit local governments’ rights to enact zoning regulating STRs. We have monitored this legislation and have been told it is unlikely to pass this session. But never say never when it comes to legislation.
  2. If no legislation is passed that would limit the Town’s ability to regulate STRs, the Town has indicated it will move forward with phasing out the STRs in existence through a process called amortization. IT IS CRITICAL THAT WE SUPPORT THESE EFFORTS!
  3. Currently a majority of the Town Board, by a 4-1 vote, has voted to restrict STRs in our residential neighborhoods. We need to encourage them to move as quickly as possible with amortization. Simultaneously, we need to pay attention to the November election when 3 commission seats are up for election.

Next Steps

  1. For almost three years, we have attended Town meetings, spoken during public comments sessions, written letters and met with decision makers. We have engaged the best land use attorney we could find to advise us how to move forward. We have advertised in the local papers to educate the public. We have asked you to show up and write letters and appreciate your efforts.
  2. The next few months are critical. We must continue with our education efforts and our political efforts. We need your support. We have two separate entities to engage in this work – please consider supporting either or both. The Highlands Neighborhood Preservation is a 501(c)(3) that accepts tax-deductible donations to engage in public education efforts. The Highlands Neighborhood Coalition is a 501(c)(4) organization that can engage in advocacy and support candidates for election to public office. Contributions to HNC are not tax deductible.
  3. Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions or suggestions you may have. Look for another in-person meeting once we know what the legislature has (or has not done) and how we can move forward.
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