Letter to the Editor: Dare County Local Act draws concern; possible solutions suggested

Published 6:09 pm Wednesday, November 1, 2023

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Dear Coastland Times,

This letter is sent in reference to the Dare County Local Act (DCLA) allowing development in Dare County to be completely exempt from certain zoning and regulatory controls that otherwise apply to all other development in the same jurisdiction. The passage of such legislation is outrageous for a few reasons. First, it is a “taking” without due process of law prohibited by our Constitution, because “take” it will, burdening the local citizenry with problems extremely expensive or even impossible to remediate. Second, why bother to even have local ordinances, town planners and zoning laws if they can be totally ignored with impunity? Why do laws apply to some but not others? The DCLA was sneaked in on page 512 of the 624 page state budget. If our elected representatives claim ignorance, then they voted for a bill which they failed to read. If they did read and approve it, then they ignored their constituents’ and their communities’ best interests which they swore to uphold when taking office. These representatives, whose salaries we pay through our taxes, is not our only expense due to either an inadvertent or purposeful dereliction of duty. In order to fight this legislation, we are now forced to engage legal counsel to file and pursue an expensive lawsuit. Oliver Anthony’s song “Rich Men North of Richmond” could have its lyrics modified to “Rich Men West of Dare.” We, the voters, will not forget.

Turning to two possible solutions: a rental solution followed by a larger plan incorporating rental and home ownership possibilities. As someone forced to move four times in thirteen years while living in Raleigh due to out-of-control but “legal” rent increases, I understand sudden, huge rent hikes at the end of a lease, often without notice, and feel for people struggling with this issue in North Carolina. Our legislators need to focus on a long-term remedy for renters which protects them, something along the line of rent stabilization/rent control laws which exist New York City, effectively prohibiting sudden, large rent hikes. Without such restrictions placed on rental increases, further construction to create a larger rental housing market will never result in affordable housing.

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Another solution is the development of county-owned undeveloped property offering the possibility for both rental and home ownership, with desirable appurtenances like athletic fields, even schools and retail. This project could tap into the impressive talent at our state universities to create a “poster child” for the rest of the nation, by way of just one example, harnessing geo-thermal and solar power like Babcock Ranch in Florida. Such a creative and out-of-the-box idea is being proposed by Mr. Malcolm Fearing. I submit that at least a study be undertaken to consider if the brilliant minds here in North Carolina can develop a fiscally responsible, environmentally respectful blueprint for a desirable community that incorporates the latest technology, while offering affordable home ownership and fair rental options.


Jennifer Hamlen
Full-time Manteo resident