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Dare County sets public hearing on workforce housing proposal

Dare County’s planning board will hold a public hearing July 9 to consider zoning changes to encourage workforce housing.

A year ago, the Outer Banks Chamber of Commerce put together a committee to look into housing needs in the region.

Earlier this month, Bob Peele, chairman of the chamber’s board of directors, told the Dare County Board of Commissioners “the housing crisis on the Outer Banks is real. This is not just a seasonal challenge, it has become a year-round one.”

In his presentation, Peele said “zoning is one of the core issues.” In his letter to commissioners, Peele presented eight zoning moves that “can allow for less restrictive lot sizes and higher densities for development in appropriate areas thus creating opportunities for private developers to address the housing crisis.”

The chamber requested Dare’s planning director to review the requests and report back. The planning board discussed the chamber’s requests at its June 11 meeting and set the hearing date.

The chamber’s requests are as follows:

Accessory dwelling unit

The proposal is to add accessory dwelling unit standards to the following in several zoning districts. Accessory dwelling units, permitted in East Lake and Wanchese residential zones, are defined as a dwelling unit associated with principal residential use subject to compliance with all supplementary local, state and federal permit approvals (Wanchese adds “guest house”). The two residential zones require the following:

– may be attached to or detached from the principal residence. Size of an accessory dwelling unit, whether attached or detached, shall not exceed 900 square feet of heated space.

– located on the site in conformance with the building setbacks of zoning district.

– owner of the property and/or family member shall occupy either the primary residence or accessory dwelling unit.

             – one additional off-street parking space required.

– travel trailers and recreational vehicles shall not be used as accessory dwelling units.

            – accessory dwelling units may be used for home occupations.

The Wanchese definition adds four additional rules:

– cannot be subdivided or segregated in ownership from the principal use structure.

– an outbuilding on a residential lot that exists at the time of adoption of this ordinance may be converted into an accessory dwelling unit, if lot coverage can be met for the accessory unit and the primary residence.

– constructed according to all applicable state and federal regulations and local building code requirements, including federal floodplain elevation regulations if applicable.

– submit annual verification of year-round occupancy of the principal use structure or the accessory dwelling unit to the Dare County Planning Department, if necessary.

The chamber request asks that the size limit for accessory dwelling units be subordinate in size only to the primary use structure and not exceed the total conditional space of the primary use structure. In the current definitions the size is limited to 900 square feet.

The letter urges removal of the requirement that property owners on parcels with accessory dwelling units, occupy the principal dwelling as permanent residence and supports standards such as limit of one accessory dwelling unit per lot and not sold separately unless lot can be subdivided.


The chamber’s letter asks that districts which currently allow duplexes be amended to make duplex lot sizes consistent with single-family lot sizes.

Multi-family structures

Two recommendations are made:

– amend parking requirements to be one parking space per bedroom instead of the 2.5 spaces per unit.

– increase dwelling densities per acre to those contained in the Family Housing Incentives Standards.



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