SOUTHERN SHORES, N.C. (AP) — Another town on North Carolina's Outer Banks is involved in controversy as it considers limits on the number of weddings and reunions at rental homes.

The Southern Shores town council proposes to limit houses to three special events per year and require a permit, The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk reported Tuesday. A special event is defined as a gathering of more than 25 people.

Under the proposal, owners would have to create a site plan and a traffic plan and get permission from the state alcohol commission if adult drinks are served. Decks would get inspected for weight tolerance if the group is larger than 125 people.

The permit also would allow officials to get information such as who is in charge at the party, where it is and how to get access to the house.

Realtors and builders have objected to the proposal.

"This has really escalated," said David Pergerson, director of strategy for Carolina Designs Realty and a board member of Outer Banks Visitors Bureau. "This ordinance is almost absurd, it is so heavy handed."

The Outer Banks Association of Realtors calls it the "party ban" ordinance, according to a letter opposing the change which was distributed to media outlets. Traffic and noise ordinances are already in place, said Willo Kelly, CEO of the association. The new limits could hurt wedding planners, florists, caterers and others, Kelly said.

Beach houses are built under the rules of a single-family dwelling, but such rentals set up for large events can be lucrative for the property owner. State law does not allow communities to limit the number of bedrooms, so officials are creating other means of control. Southern Shores limited house sizes to 6,000 square feet nearly four years ago and also proposed limits on events, but did not pass the rule then, said town planner Wes Haskett.

The issue received new attention with construction of two 12-bathroom, 12-bedroom houses with 17 parking spaces by SAGA Realty and Construction. They're the first 12-bedroom homes in Southern Shores. At least four other homes in town have 10 bedrooms.

The property owners association protested the new homes at public meetings and collected hundreds of signatures on a petition to stop them, but the houses were allowed under current rules.

To the north in the nearby town of Duck, people are being told they will be arrested for trespassing if they try to access the beach through land owned by a homeowners association. There's already been one arrest.

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Information from: The Virginian-Pilot, http://pilotonline.com

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