Housing project to come before Nags Head Board of Adjustment

Published 12:20 pm Tuesday, January 3, 2023

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The Nags Head Board of Adjustment is scheduled to take up a zoning appeal by Woda Cooper Development, Inc. on Jan. 12, 2023.

The appeal is about the company’s proposal to build multi-family housing at 103 E. Hollowell Street in Nags Head.

The Woda Cooper appeal application questions a moratorium interpretation by Kelly Wyatt, the Nags Head director of planning and development and the administrator of the united development ordinance for the town.

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On Oct. 19, 2022, the town’s Board of Commissioners adopted a “moratorium on all non-residential developments located within the C-2, General Commercial Zoning District.” The moratorium applies to the area from Hollowell Street to Danube Street between U.S. Highway 158 – or Bypass – and NC 12, often called the Beach Road.

On Oct. 21, 2022, Denis Blackburne, senior vice president – development for Woda Coper Companies, wrote to Wyatt asking her to confirm that “Multi-Family Dwelling Uses” are “Residential Uses.” In his email, Blackburne indicated that a site concept plan had been submitted to the town.

Under the Woda Cooper development, called Sanderling Commons Nags Head, three apartment buildings will be built with 54 units of varying size. The proposal is part of the essential housing initiative developed by the Dare County Board of Commissioners.

On Monday, Oct. 31, Wyatt wrote Blackburne saying “As the UDO Administrator, it is my determination that the proposed Sanderling Commons multi-family use is a commercial use and therefore would be subject to the moratorium.

Cited were nine references to various sections of the ordinance spelling out that the town’s ordinance holds multi-family housing to commercial standards, such as stormwater management, lot coverage and commercial architectural design standards.

Complicating the situation is that the area under the moratorium is labeled “Historic Character Area.”

On behalf of Woda Cooper, attorney Amy C. Crout with Smith, Anderson, Blount, Dorsett, Mitchell and Jernigan, of Raleigh, responded Nov. 28, 2022. The response – the appeal – points out sections of the ordinance that support multi-family housing as a residential use.

The decision of the Nags Head Board of Adjustment is appealable by either party to the Superior Court.

Some confusion exists about the financing for the proposal of Woda Cooper, which is an employee-owned and vertically integrated development company specializing in affordable housing.

For the Sanderling Commons Nags Head project, Woda Cooper Development would apply to the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency for a 4% Low-Income Housing Tax Credit. Tax credits become equity financing instead of conventional debt. The program reduces a project’s overall upfront costs, enabling affordable rents.

Woda Cooper manages the projects it develops and builds.

Woda Cooper and Dare County have a memorandum of agreement about the two projects that will be built by Woda Cooper. The second project will be on county-owned property called the Bowsertown Road site.

The unit mix for the two sites is 24 one-bedroom units, 66 two-bedroom units and 10 three-bedroom units. The final mix will be determined by Woda Cooper and Dare County. The agreement calls for a ground lease of 65 years to Woda Cooper by Dare County which will own both properties.