|July 17, 2018
Concerns Voiced on Housing Crunch
BY NEEL KELLER
The Outer Banks Sentinel
a July 9 public hearing on proposed zoning amendments to address the
county's shortage of affordable housing, the Dare County Planning Board
directed Planning Director Donna Creef to draft specific language for
amendments that the board can vote on at its August meeting.
At the hearing, a number of community and business leaders spoke in
support of the proposed changes to the county zoning ordinance first
presented to the Dare Commissioners at their June 4 meeting by Outer
Banks Chamber of Commerce Board Chair Bob Peele.
At that meeting, Peele asked the county to consider significant zoning
changes — allowing accessory dwelling units and more multi-family
structures and increasing dwelling densities per acre — as a way to
address the county's affordable housing crunch and boost the local
Responding to the commissioners' call to proceed with Peele's requested
review of the proposals, the Planning Board scheduled the July 9 public
hearing. And what the board heard on Monday evening were repeated
concerns about the lack of affordable housing – and its economic impact.
Kill Devil Hills Commissioner John Windley, speaking as manager of the
Walgreens store, said filling store positions is becoming "tougher and
tougher" due to the housing challenges. He stressed that the situation
is difficult for both the business owners and the workers, who must
often work multiple jobs and commute from outside the area in an
ongoing "struggle just to make ends meet." He welcomed the "positive
changes" that will result from following through with the proposals.
Outer Banks Hospital Human Resources Director Mary Kelley detailed the
hospital's difficulties hiring and retaining certified and highly
skilled staff, many of whom move from outside the area and later
withdraw their applications once they discover the housing situation.
She emphasized the importance of taking the recommended "first steps"
toward meeting the housing needs.
Urging the board to approve "everything the chamber is asking for,"
Outer Banks Home Builders Association Legislative Chair Duke Geraghty
said the problem has been steadily worsening for the past 20 years and
"it's time for this." To delay or do nothing, he warned, will lead to a
Presenting the perspective of a property owner, Malcolm Fearing said he
supported the proposed changes and that the "enormity" of the situation
led him to bring up another option for consideration: "cluster type
housing." The term refers to a subdivision technique in which dwellings
are grouped close together, with larger areas of open space within the
development set apart for recreation and to serve as a buffer with
With Nags Head and Kill Devil Hills both taking up zoning proposals in
recent weeks designed to address the affordable housing shortage,
Phoenix Restoration owner Pat Broom asserted that the issue is one that
the county needs to lead the way in addressing.
"This is a really important first step," she emphasized. "And the first step has to come from the county."
Following discussion with the board, Dare Planning Director Donna Creef
said she had sufficient direction to proceed with drafting the language
of proposed zoning changes for the board to consider and vote on next
month. Following that vote and recommendation, the Dare Commissioners
would then be able to make a decision on the proposals at either its
second August meeting or one of its September meetings.
Creef added that it is important to avoid labeling the measure with the
term "workforce housing" or "affordable housing," due to their negative
"We want to ensure that we call it 'year-round housing' or 'long-term housing,'" she said.