Hyde County puts
restrictions on travel trailers on Ocracoke
much fanfare, the Hyde County commissioners voted on Dec. 5 to put
restrictions on the use of travel trailers as permanent housing on
island has seen an influx in recent years of seasonal and permanent
workers living in the trailers because of a shortage of low-cost
housing on the island.
Rich, chairman of the Ocracoke Development Ordinance Board, explained
that discussions about travel trailers began in April after the
building inspector, Jerry Hardison, reported having difficulty with
enforcement since travel trailers are not in the building code.
been kind of a nightmare of abuse,” Rich said.
trailers were hooking into the septic systems of nearby homes and using
hoses from nearby houses for water, noted Ocracoke commissioner Darlene
noted that some trailers were leaking, and some did not meet the
each meeting, new questions came up that had to be addressed.
was whether three trailers on one lot required three separate water
went round and round on this issue and had public input,” she said.
tried to put definition into the code so that travel trailers have to
be hooked up to their own water, septic, and electricity and be in
compliance with health and safety rules,” Rich continued.
explained further, after the meeting, that members of the
public--sometimes 25, sometimes only five-- attended all the meetings
and that with their input, the ordinance parameters changed after every
why there was only one person at the public hearing on Dec. 5.
Haggerty, an Ocracoke resident, spoke against the ordinance, noting
that it was discriminatory.
discrimination involves the yearly fees, such as a Department of Motor
Vehicle fee and a possible yearly permit, she said.
discriminatory,” she said. “A fee every year is going to be
for a lot of working people. There are lots of people living in tents
and outbuildings, and they’re not regulated.”
also questioned how -- since the ordinance requires travel trailers to
be able to be quickly moved in the case of an emergency evacuation –
emergency officials will get more than 110 trailers off the island,
along with all the tourists and residents.
also was concerned that since the ordinance requires that travel
trailers be readily mobile, would they wash into the street or other
buildings should flooding occur?
Manager Mazie Smith explained FEMA requires travel-trailers located in
a flood zone to be ready at all times for evacuation. By not complying
with FEMA rules, the county would be ineligible for funding in the
event of another disaster.
added that the state regulates the use of travel trailers.
can’t enact a law that’s lesser than what the state already has,” she
said, adding that travel trailers are not designed to be permanent
residences. “The electric system is not to the same code as a
the ordinance, crafted after the numerous meetings, a trailer has to
remain registered with the DMV and insured, capable of passing
applicable safety inspections, and capable of being moved onto a public
highway without dismantling structures, such as decks.
the travel trailer must obtain all applicable permits, such as for
water, sewer, electric, and those required by state agencies, such as
the Coastal Area Management Act.
placement must comply with minimum setbacks and parking requirements,
maximum percentage of lot coverage, and height restrictions.
Rich and Styron said a fee for permitting travel trailers, which is
part of the ordinance, has not been set.
said they may not even set a fee if compliance can be enforced without
Pahl, a member of the development board, said that this ordinance
applies only to new trailers and not to those already in place that are
map drawn up by Brian Pompeii, a Ph.D. candidate in coastal
geography, and given to the Ocracoke Foundation, shows that this year,
27 percent of the homes on Ocracoke are owner-occupied. In
the percentage on Ocracoke was 35 percent. The national average is 60
are 247 year-round homes on the island and 115 travel trailers.
map also shows that there are 79 year-round rentals, 125 private summer
homes, and 331 weekly vacation rentals.