Planning board votes to recommend removal of cluster housing ordinance in several districts

Published 6:51 pm Tuesday, April 11, 2023

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On the evening of April 4, 2023, some 35 people jumped to their feet, whooping and cheering and clapping. It was a grand celebration about a vote by the Dare County Planning Board.

Planning board members listened to 22 speakers, many pleading to take the cluster home ordinance off the Wanchese zoning map.

After the public comments, the board began its deliberation about revisions to the cluster home ordinance.

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Terry Gore started off: change the notice provision; remove cluster home from VR zone; create scalable density.

David Hines just wanted to prevent this from happening again.

Buddy Shelton said “nobody wants this next to them.” He suggested a special-use subdivision. To the folks in the room, he said, “I feel your pain.”

Beth Midgett said the intent of the ordinance was to help people. “It is not helping people. We just need to hash it out.”

David Overton, “It comes down to a way of life. We have to find the answers … We’ve got to make this right.”

After opening comments, the board turned to six possible revisions to the existing ordinance.

Dare County planning director Noah Gillam had proposed six different changes: increased setbacks and separation of dwellings; increased right-of way widths, addressing turnarounds; open space requirement that is free of improvements including wastewater systems and stormwater infrastructure; incremental density limitation dependent on parcel size; removal from zoning districts; and no changes.

Changing the zoning code is complicated, as the planning board found out.

Eventually, the board turned to the next to last Gillam suggestion: removal from zoning districts.

Initially, the idea was to just remove the cluster home ordinance from Wanchese zones.

Manns Harbor was added. Stumpy Point was added.

Gillam suggested adding “districts that do not allow multi-family developments.”

And, then it happened. Gore made the motion and Hines seconded. And all seven members voted in favor.

The board voted to send the Dare County Board of Commissioners the recommendation to remove the cluster housing ordinance from all zones in Wanchese; from Manns Harbor, MHA, MHS; from Stumpy Point, SP 2, SBC; and from all districts that do not allow multi-family developments.

Gillam had earlier warned the board and the audience “it doesn’t happen overnight.” The process will take 60 to 90 days. “There’s still a chance.”