After concerns raised by some residents, including a town board member, the Wrightsville Beach Board of Aldermen on Thursday will discuss options to enforce the 30-day time limit on anchoring in Banks Channel.
Alderman Elizabeth King raised the concerns at the July 10 board of aldermen meeting, citing concerns of overcrowding among other issues with boats that she said may be moored longer than the town’s 30-day limit.
“It’s grown from three to four boats to more than 15,” King said, noting the increased popularity of the town’s water for boaters.
King said it appeared some of the boats were mostly unoccupied, serving as vacation homes for some boaters, and that other were being rented for short-term lodging on sites like Air BnB and VRBO.
“When the winds are out of the west, they drag close to the piers,” King said.
Town Manager Tim Owens said they were monitoring the boats and have gotten some to move from their moorings after 30 days. However, there were questions raised at the meeting over whether town officials had to observe the boats for each of the 30 days to effectively enforce the law.
One boat owner who rents on AirBnB said he would attend the meeting to see if there was a way to establish the rentals as a service in the town.
Zach Toleman, wbo operates three boats on AirBnB in Banks Channel and stays on a fourth boat, said that he observes all boating rules, including dumping waste at the Sea Path Marina.
He said most of the problems in Banks Channel stem from two boats whose owners don’t stay on them.
“I often have to go out there and re-anchor those boats,” said Toleman, who said he did it to try to help protect the dock owners. “My boats never drag. I make sure everything is fine.”
Toleman said that the AirBnB service in Banks Channel has been a success, as he has served more than 120 people this summer. AirBnB also automatically collects the county’s room occupancy tax, he noted.
“Everyone I’ve talked to think it’s great,” he said. “It’s new so there is some resistance. I just think they don’t really understand what is going on.”
Toleman said he wanted to create a dialogue with town leaders and perhaps propose a permit system for short-term boat rentals in Wrightsville Beach.
“I’m crossing my T’s and dotting my I’s,” he said.
Tonight’s Board of Aldermen meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. in the Wrightsville Beach Town Hall on Thursday, August 9.