Kill Devil Hills approves cluster home development

Published 3:49 pm Friday, June 30, 2023

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Kill Devil Hills commissioners approved a site plan review on June 14 for 21 cluster homes on just under two acres on West Martin Street, behind the Walgreens and Starbucks Coffee.

Ten three-bedroom, 1388 square foot homes and eleven two-bedroom, 1297 square foot homes were proposed by applicant Eddie Goodrich. Written into the deed of the properties is the requirement that the homes be used for long-term occupancy.

“This opportunity to build in this style is intentional. It’s our goal as a board to find ways to create an incentive to have a deed restriction like this,” said Mayor Ben Sproul.

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But some community members were not in favor of the development, citing concerns with traffic, wastewater and potential crime. Others questioned if the homes would actually be affordable, given the steep increase in long-term home rental prices and the average sales price of even modest sized homes.

“What if it doesn’t work?” asked neighbor Matt Walker. “If it is just more expensive houses packed together for people who can’t afford them, it’s not solving the intended problem. In which case, it was the wrong thing to do.”

For Mayor Sproul, the priority is increasing the number of long-term units.

“It’s the ratio of short-term to long term that is really our housing challenge. Affordability is secondary to that. There are just not enough year-round residences to live in for all of the employees that our businesses need to run the beautiful place that we have,” Sproul said.

Assistant planning director Cameron Ray, in response to Walker’s question, said that the town is willing to reexamine ordinances and make changes in the future if needed.

Goodrich said there will be credit checks and background checks for all renters. “I agree with a lot of what you’re saying. I understand your concerns,” he said to the crowd of residents, “but people need a place to live.”

Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the site plan.

“They will be the first modest size houses to be built in a while … and I for one am glad to see it happening,” the mayor added.