October 3, 2018
Commissioners Hear Proposed Zoning Changes
BY NEEL KELLER
THE OUTER BANKS SENTINEL
a process that began with a proposal from the Outer Banks Chamber of
Commerce to encourage the creation of more affordable housing and boost
the local economy, Dare Planning Director Donna Creef presented the
Planning Board's zoning change recommendations to the county
commissioners at their Oct. 1 meeting.
her presentation as "a pretty comprehensive set of amendments" that
adopted some of the chamber's proposals and modified others, Creef
explained that the purpose of the proposed zoning changes is to
"facilitate the construction of housing units that could be used for
amendments are designed to try to incorporate some flexibility into our
zoning standards," she added, "so that the private sector can respond
and hopefully construct some housing units that will be dedicated to
estimated that potentially 389 duplexes could be constructed, along
with 905 accessory dwelling units. The changes would apply only to the
unincorporated parts of Dare County. Asked by Commissioner Danny Couch
if her staff has sufficient "manpower" to administer the new
regulations, Creef said, "We're up to the task."
Manager Bobby Outten added, "At budget time we'll evaluate our manpower
and, if the demand becomes so great that it becomes a problem, we'll
react to that and make sure we staff accordingly."
After Creef’s presentation, the commissioners scheduled a hearing on the proposals at its next meeting, to be held on Oct. 15.
stressed she was using the term "year-round housing and not 'affordable
housing' or 'workforce housing' because...those zoning regulations have
qualifiers that apply to income levels."
explained that the changes will not supersede county flood rules or
wastewater rules by making an illegal ground floor enclosure below base
flood elevations legal or by allowing a building permit to be issued
without already having a septic permit.
ensure long-term occupancy instead of short-term vacation rentals, the
recommendations include defining short-term rentals as those for 30
days or less and having property owners sign a statement acknowledging
that the proposed structure is only for "year-round occupancy" at the
time a permit is issued, with the statement recorded in the county's
Register of Deeds.
Duplex lot sizes
her presentation into four main zoning "components," Creef said the
Planning Board recommends adopting the OBX Chamber of Commerce’s
proposal to make minimum lot sizes for duplex construction consistent
with what is currently in place for single family homes: 15,000 square
feet for lots served by central water and 20,000 square feet for lots
with a private well. This would affect a total of 25 zoning districts,
which currently allow duplexes.
Multifamily dwelling densities
chamber offered a proposal to make multifamily dwelling densities the
same as those found in the county's Family Housing Incentives Standards
for qualified low-income housing. The Planning Board modified that to
recommend increasing the allowable density by two to four units per
acre, with one district continuing to have its current floor area ratio
standard of 40% of the gross lot area.
explained that this increase would return most districts to the
original zoning ordinance dwelling densities adopted in 1975 and later
lowered in 2003.
Accessory dwelling units
Planning Board recommends permitting accessory dwelling units (ADUs) in
14 districts that currently allow duplex structures and making no
change in the ADU size limitations in East Lake and Wanchese since
those communities had specified that size limit when they developed
their zoning maps. The current standard in Manns Harbor, which allows
ADUs that are simply "subordinate in size" to the principal dwelling,
would remain unchanged.
all other areas, the Planning Board recommends limiting the size of
ADUs to 50% of the floor area of the principal use structure, with a
cap of 1,200 square feet.
maintaining the current 50% lot coverage for ADUs in Wanchese, Manns
Harbor and East Lake, the Planning Board recommends that other
districts set a maximum ADU size of 1,200 square feet and 38% lot
ADU would also be required to have two 10’ x 20’ parking spaces, be
constructed according to N.C. State building codes and Dare County
floodplain management regulations, not include recreational vehicles,
travel trailers or manufactured homes, and meet the principal dwelling
setbacks and required building height of the applicable zoning district.
Planning Board does not endorse the proposal from Outer Banks Home
Builders Association Legislative Chair Duke Geraghty to extend allowing
ADUs in more restrictive residential districts that currently only
allow single family homes, since these districts typically have
restrictive covenants limiting construction to one dwelling per lot.
These districts also have a long-established expectation of maintaining
single-family low density.
Cluster home developments
Planning Board also endorses a fourth proposal to allow cluster family
home developments. These are defined as the construction of more than
one small home on a property and would be allowed in districts that
currently allow group housing developments.
would have different restrictions from those currently applying to
group housing developments, including required year-round occupancy and
limiting dwelling size to 1,200 square feet, with reduced setbacks.
conditional use permit would have to be obtained, specifying that the
owner agrees to all these requirements. This would also be recorded in
the county's Register of Deeds.
by Board of Commissioners Vice Chair Wally Overman if the proposals
will make "a significant difference in terms of what we're trying to
accomplish," Creef answered: "I think so. I think anything we do is a
step in the right direction."
then added that, after evaluating the zoning changes' effectiveness, a
possible next step would be to "see if we can't expand this to other