Kill Devil Hills reduces max square footage of cluster home, cottage court structures

Published 1:06 pm Monday, April 8, 2024

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At their March 27 meeting, Kill Devil Hills commissioners voted to reduce the maximum square footage of cluster homes and cottage court structures from 2500 square feet each to 1800.

Also passed were regulations related to cluster homes/cottage court maximum structure height, setbacks and a mandatory 20-foot separation between structures.

Assistant planning director Cameron Ray said town staff and commissioners had a conversation last August about the need for regulations due to “some unforeseen effects” related to cluster home/cottage court development.

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He said that this type of development was created as another development option. “What’s another viable development option other than just what we’ve been seeing for the last few years of large homes?” he explained as he shared the history behind cottage courts and cluster homes in town.

Planning staff brought ideas for increasing separation of structures, reducing the size, and also a greater setback on the oceanfront to help cottage court and cluster home development blend better than with what the town has been seeing in the past, Ray said.

In October, the planning board recommended a maximum of 1500 square feet for structures in cottage courts and cluster homes.

This was met with mixed opinions.

Duke Gerrity, of the Outer Banks Homebuilders Association, has been vocal at commissioners meetings that 1500 square feet was too small. He explained that buyers wanted more square footage and homes that size would discourage builders because of a lack of profitability.

At the March meeting, Gerrity agreed that 2500 square feet might be too large for cluster homes and cottage courts and suggested 2000 square feet.

KDH resident and Fealtor Alan Creech disagreed, saying that 1500 square foot homes sell all the time and they rent all the time. “The community – the actual residents of Kill Devil Hills – have actually been pretty vocal and I guess we’re coming down to where the rubber meets the road. Do you represent the citizens or the developers? … The homes don’t need to be that size. If you build it at 1500 feet, it’s like Field of Dreams. If you build it they will come.”

Newly elected commissioner T. Dillon Heikens said that settling on 1800 square feet “seems like a fair compromise in the middle to me.”

Commissioner Ivy Ingram made the motion to approve the amendments as written, and commissioner Terry Gray seconded. The motion was approved 4-0 (commissioner BJ McAvoy was absent).