Wanchese cluster house development approved by Dare commissioners

Published 6:48 am Wednesday, May 3, 2023

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The Dare County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the special use permit for a cluster house development in Wanchese.

Five commissioners voted for issuing the controversial permit. Commissioner Ervin Bateman asked for a motion to recuse because he had talked with the developer. Commissioner Jim Tobin, participating by telephone, asked to be recused because he had not been present for the quasi-judicial hearing held in April.

Folks from Wanchese filled the commissioners meeting room Monday, May 1. During public comment, 24 people spoke, almost all voicing opposition to the proposed 60-house development on 10.53 acres just off Old Wharf Road.

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Some speakers voiced anger at the commissioners and developer Brad Alexander. Other speakers said political retribution will happen in November 2024. Others pleaded with the commissioners and with Alexander to modify his proposal.

The commissioners changed the agenda lineup. The change put a proposal to remove cluster housing from 22 different zoning districts before the commissioners permit decision. Under the proposal, the cluster housing ordinance would remain in 12 zones.

The cluster housing ordinance removal had been advocated by those Wanchese residents opposed to the development.

Initially, the commissioners set a June date for public hearing on the zoning amendment. At the last of the meeting, the commissioners pressed county planning director Noah Gillam, who must advertise the hearing at least twice. The commissioners said if the advertisement schedule works, set the hearing for May 17, 2023 at 5 p.m. A public notice was published, setting the hearing for the requested May date and time.

Before the approving vote on the Wanchese development, Dare County attorney and manager Robert L. Outten formally read findings of fact and listed conditions for the permit. One of the conditions changed the required length of rentals from 31 days to 365 days, as agreed to by Alexander during the quasi-judicial hearing.