Lake Norman & Mooresville

Vacation home owners protesting proposed ban

Owners of vacation rental homes in Cornelius are protesting the town's intent to ban them from single-family neighborhoods.

Several owners said Cornelius is going against its efforts to encourage more visitors to Lake Norman and would only hurt itself economically.

“We promote the lake and then want to prohibit families from coming here,” rental owner Bob Bruton said.

Town commissioners agreed earlier this month to have town staff remove vacation rentals from the town's “general residential” and “single-family neighborhood residential” zoning districts.

The move followed noise and other complaints about one vacation rental home.

It will take several months to make those changes in the town's Land Development Code, so the board also agreed to seek a moratorium on all new vacation rental permits.

By law, the board must hold a public hearing before it can impose the moratorium, and the board will hold the hearing on Oct. 20 at town hall.

Several vacation rental owners said they would urge the board to reconsider the measures.

They said they're also upset that town staff have returned their applications for additional vacation rental permits pending the hearing.

Bruton and vacation rental owners Rick and Jody Barton said they consider the rental of residential property as a vested right of property ownership. Banning short-term renting of residential property is a taking of that property without just compensation, they contend.

It's discriminatory, they said, to ban the short-term renting of residential property without an identical ban on renting other residential property.

The Bartons, who are Realtors, and Bruton, a business consultant, said Cornelius is sending a message to second home buyers and investors that the town isn't real estate-investment friendly and is willing to impose criminal penalties on anyone attempting to exercise vested rights of property ownership.

Mayor Jeff Tarte said towns can regulate land use, which is what Cornelius is doing in determining which zoning districts should or shouldn't allow vacation rentals. “Most towns in the United States do,” he said of regulating land use.

Town commissioner Jim Bensman said the issue of a ban is still open. He voted in favor of keeping the homes from single-family neighborhoods while saying he still has concerns about it.