Manteo commissioners discuss housing standards

Published 4:52 pm Wednesday, January 17, 2024

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On the morning of Thursday, Jan.18, a Dare County task force on essential and workforce housing will convene for its first meeting.

About 20 people have been called together by Robert L. Woodard, chairman of the Dare County Board of Commissioners. The task force includes representatives from the county’s six incorporated municipalities, Dare County commissioners and other stakeholders.

Dare County’s Board of Commissioners passed on Jan. 2, 2024 a resolution stating its intention to solve the county’s housing problems by working together with the county’s municipalities and declaring that any housing built with the state’s special $35 million appropriation will not use General Assembly-passed legislation to exempt any workforce housing solutions from local government zoning authority.

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That very next evening at the Town of Manteo Board of Commissioners meeting, commissioner Eddie Mann appreciated the action by the Dare commissioners. Mayor Sherry Wickstrom joined with his comment.

Housing was the main topic at that Manteo board meeting.

Before the meeting was a draft of a 20-page ordinance for minimum housing standards.

A public hearing was held.

Malcolm Fearing spoke. “Look at the document real carefully,” he said. “The document needs more consideration.” He challenged the screen door requirement. He asked about a definition for “noxious weeds.” He was concerned about the procedures. “If non-compliant, town would take property.” He suggested helping individuals toward compliance first.

Wickstrom described the document as “dense” and said the board could take its time reviewing. “We do not have to make a decision tonight,” she said.

Commissioner Tod Clissold said, “I think the intent was good … but it comes across as big government.” He acknowledged that the town had a few substandard houses.

Wickstrom agreed.

Commissioner Ruth Stetson reminded the board that over a year and a half ago, the board learned of large holes in the floor in a rental home.

The draft ordinance was modified from Hertford’s with standards from Edenton, said town attorney Ben Gallop.

The mayor was concerned about unintended consequences. She would like to see “a home repair program,” including a program for urgent repairs.

To work on the draft ordinance, the board tabled action until its second meeting in February, Feb. 21, 2024.

The second housing action was easily handled. Town manager Melissa Dickerson told the commissioners that the affordable housing ordinance doesn’t work. The ordinance gives additional density for building affordable housing, but no guarantee that the housing unit would remain affordable. The commissioners voted unanimously to repeal the ordinance.

A quasi-judicial hearing was held on the Osprey Point special use permit application, delayed from the December 2023 meeting

The property is located at 501 Hwy. 64/264, with two parcels totaling 1.5 acres with 1.84 acres of upland area. The property is in the town’s B-2 General Business District.

The commissioners’ agenda book states: “The proposed development recombines the two existing lots and proposes to subdivide it into 5 lots. Lots 1-4 would house residential use with duplex units proposed for each lot. Lot 5 is proposed to hold 6 townhome units contained into two buildings. The proposed development also includes 14 boat slips in the existing basin. Boat slips are intended to convey with the housing units and the marina is proposed as a private marina with no fueling capabilities.

“The site plan provided meets the standards of the ordinance.”

Staff recommend approval of the special use permit application and suggested the following as conditions to the special use permit:

– Provide as-built utility site plan.

– The marina slips shall be kept in private use and that no commercial boats/activity be conducted from the private marina.

– The wastewater collection system be approved by the town’s Water and Sewer Department


– The water distribution system be approved by the town’s Water and Sewer Department

director and fire marshal.

Clissold started the discussion with “looks great.”

Commissioner Michael Basnight said the development established “high standards.” He suggested a slip for town use. At the head of the basin, no slip is assigned and can be used by the town.

The board approved the special use permit with the four conditions. Gallop will prepare an order.

The commissioners adopted a meeting schedule for 2024.

The commissioners made the following appointments to the indicated committees:

Planning Board: Newly appointed Bob Keeney and Randy Fenninger, both of whom spoke to the board during the meeting requesting appointment. Reappointed Jamie Daniels. Hal Goodman remains chairman.

Cemetery Committee: reappointed Christine Walker and Amy Etheridge Crawford.

The next meeting of the Manteo Board of Commissioners is Jan. 17 at Manteo Town Hall at 6 p.m.

The meeting for the Dare County Housing Task Force is set for 9 a.m. on Jan. 18 in Room 168 of the Dare Administration Building, located at 954 Marshall C. Collins Dr. in Manteo.