Wanchese citizens get update on the cluster housing fight

Published 1:58 pm Monday, April 3, 2023

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Over 65 people from Wanchese came to the village’s community building Tuesday, March 28, 2023 for an update on the fight against a cluster housing development proposal.

Most likely, those citizens and others will show up at the Dare County Board of Commissioners meeting on Monday, April 3, at 5 p.m. at the usual Meeting Room at 954 Marshall C. Collins Drive in Manteo.

The commissioners have scheduled a quasi-judicial hearing on a development proposal from Brad Alexander of Aria Construction to build 60 houses on 10.5 acres of land off Old Wharf Road. The land is zoned Village Residential (VR).

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On Oct. 15, 2018, Dare’s Board of Commissioners adopted the cluster housing development rules for 24 zoning districts mapped in unincorporated Dare County. On Sept. 16, 2019, the commissioners amended the rules by adding another 10 zones, according to the listing in the published ordinance. For Wanchese, cluster housing is permitted in 10 zones.

Lorraine Tillett led the community meeting and announced one of the long-term goals of the protest: rescind cluster housing in Wanchese.

“We thought we were the only one,” said Tillett. She announced support for the Wanchese effort is coming from the north end of Roanoke Island and Manns Harbor. Tillett showed a letter delivered that evening with a signed petition and a $50 check from someone in Manns Harbor.

A non-profit organization has been formed. It is called Wanchese Preservation Alliance.

An attorney, Andrew Petesch from Raleigh, has been retained. Tillett announced that attorney fees have been taken care of.

Petesch will meet with Wanchese folks at 3 p.m. at the Wanchese Community Building on Monday, April 3, two hours before the commissioners meeting is set to begin.

For the alliance, a website is active and still under construction. The address is wanchesepreservation.org.

“A lot can happen after April 3,” pronounced Tillett.

For example, the very next day, April 4 at 6 p.m., the Dare County Planning Board will meet in the same location, the Commissioners Meeting Room, at 954 Marshall C. Collins Dr. in Manteo. The planning board is charged by the commissioners to take a look at the existing cluster housing ordinance.

One of the conditions of the draft special use permit reads: “All supplemental State and Federal permits shall be secured prior to ground disturbing activities. Copies of these permits shall be provided to the Dare County Planning Department.”

Among the permits cited in the memorandum from Dare County planner Noah Gillam, but not specifically mentioned in the draft special use permit, are:

– U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for wetland fill permit for 4,023 square feet of wetlands delineated by Seaboard Surveying.

– Erosion and sediment control permit from the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality.

– Stormwater management permit from Department of Environmental Quality.

– Septic permits through Dare County Environmental Health for the six onsite septic systems proposed to handle 10 houses each.

– Filing of an as-built site plan recorded with the register of deeds once infrastructure improvements are completed.

Required in the draft special use permit are:

– Certification by a state licensed engineer that the roads installed meet the weight specifications.

– Driveway permits or approval from NCDOT before land disturbing activities begin.

– Certification that the fire flow for the development is 1,000 gallons per minute.

– Approval from the Dare County Fire Marshal of all water lines for required fire hydrants and basic road improvements before issuance of a building permit.