Proposed Wanchese development brings citizen voices to Dare Board of Commissioners meeting

Published 2:33 pm Thursday, March 16, 2023

The Dare County Board of Commissioners heard from Wanchese speakers opposed to the cluster home development slated for 10.5 acres in the Roanoke Island village.

The proposed development, called The Village at Old Wharf Road, calls for 60 two- or three-bedroom single family houses, each with a maximum of 1200 square feet of conditioned space.

The development requires a special use permit.

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The Wanchese community has launched a “Save our Village” campaign. Watch for bumper stickers, yards signs and a billboard.

“Please don’t betray our trust,” pleaded Lorraine Tillett at the March 6, 2023 meeting. She called for a moratorium to further study the cluster housing section of the Dare County zoning ordinance. She charged that provisions are too vague.

Sandy Barile read from a portion of the 2009 Dare County Land Use plan. She urged the commissioners to vote “no” on the special use permit. “This is not what we were asking for.”

Ralph Barile acknowledged that workforce housing has been a problem for years but urged the commissioners to revisit the ordinance. “Take a hard look.”

Michael Ruffer said to the commissioners “nobody wants this.”

Nancy Silver worked really hard on the village’s zoning plan adopted in 2006. She, too, urged the commissioners to “reconsider what’s happening.”

At the end of the meeting, Board of Commissioners Chairman Robert L. Woodard said the matter was not on the March 6 agenda because the county is waiting for a transportation study from NCDOT.

One of the citizen complaints is that the only ingress and egress for the development is a street on a blind curve.

It is anticipated that the traffic study will be available by the April 3, 2023 meeting, which is expected to be held starting at 5 p.m.

Woodard also said he wanted to be “very, very, very clear” that the development is not Section 8 housing. He said “it is a proposal for market rate housing.”

Under commissioner comments, the last item on the agenda, commissioner Ervin Bateman called for sending the cluster housing section back to the Dare County Planning Board.

He specifically called for standards for open space, stormwater management, engineered wastewater treatment systems and traffic analysis.

Commissioner Steve House said “take a look at it.”

Board Vice Chairman Wally Overman said “I wouldn’t disagree with taking a second look at that.”

Commissioner Rob Ross asked for empirical data, like published studies on the issues. He wanted as much objective data as possible.

Woodard commented that cluster housing applies to all of unincorporated Dare County and that Wanchese was not singled out.

Woodard did not call for a vote. Instead, he asked county manager Robert L. Outten if he was clear on what the board wanted. Outten responded affirmatively and added that the second look would include density and setbacks.