The Pinehurst Hot Mess: Empowering Tattletales

The Pinehurst Village Council dangled their threats to vacation rentals in front of us for nearly a year. This week, they finally made their move.

Comrade mayor Strickland, comrade mayor pro tem Pizzella, and their useful idiot Jane Hogeman finally lowered the boom on this perfectly legal line of business.  Current owners of vacation rental properties will have to jump through a whole new batch of red-tape “hoops”, but they will be allowed to continue to operate where they are.  The rental properties will be redefined as “non-conforming” and will have to be registered with the village government.  The registration will have to include all kinds of extra documentation that properties occupied year-round are not required to produce.

Supporters of Strickland, Pizzella, et. al. have spoken openly all year of wiping the vacation rental business off the map. Strickland and Pizzella openly mocked people seeking compromises to the ban efforts. So, it naturally came as a shock when the Strickland Three agreed to this “compromise.”  (Perhaps it had something to do with all of the lawyers taking an interest in the debate.)

Rental property owners should not pat themselves on the back and accept this as a victory.  Quite often, when you give government an inch, they take a MILE.  Giving up an inch on your property rights could likely lead to a further erosion of your rights down the road.  (These people behind Strickland and Pizzella are perfectly capable of pushing for something like that.)

Remember what the lawyer for CCNC told the council about all the extra problems landowners could be saddled with if their property gets rezoned as “non-conforming”?

CCNC is planning construction of some new short-term rental property.  Those plans would be up-ended by this ordinance change.  (Comrade mayor Strickland has been promising CCNC leaders they would get an exception down the road — after the BIG change got passed.)

Also, remember the crazy zoning changes that got passed some months back.  If a violation of city ordinances can be found within 100 yards of your rental property, your permit to rent your property can be pulled.  

Can’t you just see some Strickland pals locating a pile of dog poop 90 yards down the street, and telling village authorities it came from your renters?  How could you prove it didn’t?

How healthy is it for local government to empower and enable busybodies to tattle on their neighbors? Whatever happened to neighbors talking to each other?

The village’s planning and zoning director was asked how he planned to enforce the zoning changes. (No extra staff or funding have been allocated to support taking on that task.) The director said there will not be any proactive enforcement by the village.  He said they will have to depend on tips and complaints from residents.  (Just like the howling cabal of tattletales who whipped up the anti-vacation rental frenzy.)

This whole thing has been a solution in need of a problem.  No factual evidence was ever produced to justify cracking down on — or regulating — vacation rentals.  Strickland and Pizzella’s cocktail buddies would show up to yell at the council about unverified allegations of misconduct at various rental properties.  (Many of those same yellers would then stake out the driveways at the rental properties in question — screaming hate at the renters as they arrived at or left the property.) 

We were told the growth of vacation rentals was exploding within the village. We never were supplied with any verified, accurate, trustworthy numbers to support those claims.  There were no police reports to support claims that the rentals were hotspots for crime.  Major changes got pushed through based on exaggerations and outright lies.  Not exactly one of village government’s shining moments.  

The Pilot’s renaming the village “The People’s Republic of Pinehurst” is looking more and more apropos.  Pushing through crackdowns and aggressive regulations is not that different from what has been done in Cuba, the former Soviet Union, and communist Eastern Europe.

Next up?  Comrade mayor Strickland has promised a crackdown on exterior lighting in residential areas.  Apparently, that issue has his cocktail bodies hot and bothered.  The village’s planning and zoning director has told the village council he has no idea of how to enforce that crackdown either.  The streets are currently so dark in certain neighborhoods that you can’t read street signs.  Reducing lighting even further will put the populace even further in the dark.  Something that’s got to make comrades Strickland and Pizzella proud as punch.

This whole mess needs to be smacked down in court.  Pizzella, Strickland, Hogeman and staffers Sanborn and Newman need to be removed from local government life.  These five have been more destructive than any of us could have imagined.