Housing projects in Dare detailed

Published 7:52 am Wednesday, May 11, 2022

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Housing has been on governmental agendas for the last several years.

Sometimes, the word housing is preceded by “affordable” or “essential” or “workforce.”

Both Dare County and Town of Manteo are actively working on projects.

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Most currently, Dare County is advancing projects granted to two groups.

Woda Cooper Companies is working on Dare County’s Bowsertown property and a not-disclosed parcel in Nags Head.

Woda Cooper is working with UNC-Chapel Hill’s Development Finance Initiative, which Dare County hired to identify possible sites and navigate tax credit programs.

Denis Blackburne, senior vice president – development for Woda Cooper, says his company does not yet have a contract, but has moved to the concept design phase. Woda Cooper is contemplating 40 units at the Bowsertown property.

Dare County has pledged $9 million to this corporation for essential housing.

On Monday, May 2, Dare’s county manager Robert L. Outten talked to the commissioners under the agenda item “Affordable Housing.”

The Coastal Affordable Housing consortium does not have a formal contract. To arrive at the answers to questions from Dare County, the group asked for funds to do a pre-development contract, including site procurement, development and design and infrastructure requirements.

Dare’s commissioners authorized Outten to execute a pre-development contract up to $5 million. A grant project ordinance will accompany the contract. These documents will allow Dare County to draw $5 million from North Carolina’s grant of $35 million allocated for affordable housing.

Coastal Affordable Housing is promising 350 to 400 housing units by the end of 2023.

“The Town of Manteo of Manteo has worked on affordable housing for decades,” said town manager Melissa Dickerson, in an April presentation to the town’s commissioners.

In 1982, the town’s commissioners sold some land to John Wellons for “low-income, elderly and handicapped housing.” For the sale to finalize, funding had to be secured from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. That sale resulted in Harbourtowne and Bay Tree Apartments.

In 2005, the town’s commissioners enacted the inclusionary housing ordinance, which grants a density bonus for including affordable housing units in subdivisions of five or more parcels or units. Individuals have met the requirements in three subdivisions in Manteo.

Manteo was one of the first governments in Dare County to enact an accessory dwelling unit ordinance.

On April 6, 2022, the Town of Manteo held a hearing on housing. Six people spoke.

Dave Stempel called for assisted living. Duke Geraghty with the Outer Banks Home Builders Association said the first step is “to determine what type of housing we are looking for and where do we put this housing.” Rosemarie Doshier encouraged Manteo to work with the Dare County. Also speaking were Willo Kelly with the Outer Banks Association of Realtors, Nicole Northrup, chair of the town’s Planning and Zoning Board, and Tim Teeple.

At the May 4 board meeting, Manteo’s Board of Commissioners approved an eight-lot subdivision for MKF Realty Corporation based in Manteo. The 1.632-acre property is bound by Exeter and Bowsertown. The plan is to build a primary residence on seven lots with an accessory dwelling unit with each residence. The property is zoned commercial. One lot will hold two businesses with apartments above.

In 2005, the town’s inclusionary housing ordinance was codified. The purpose as stated in 2005 describes the current situation in Dare County:

“The diversity of the town’s housing stock has declined because of increasing property values and construction costs. The town recognizes the need to provide affordable housing to low income households in order to maintain a diverse population and to provide housing for those who live or work in the town. Without intervention, the trend toward increasing housing prices will result in an inadequate supply of affordable housing for town residents and local employees, which will have a negative impact upon the ability of local employers to maintain an adequate local work force and will otherwise be detrimental to the public health, safety, and welfare of the town and its residents.”