In an effort to address critical housing needs in Dare County, the Dare County Board of Commissioners on April 20 unanimously approved a zoning amendment to extend the areas where accessory dwelling units (ADUs) can be located in the county’s unincorporated areas.
An ADU is a secondary, smaller dwelling either attached or detached from a principal dwelling unit. ADUs are independent units in the sense that they have full cooking, sleeping and living areas, with a stove or cooktop and associated electrical service.
The approval means these units can now be permitted in the unincorporated county’s R-1 low density residential zoning districts on Roanoke Island, Colington, Avon and Buxton as well as the East Lake Natural Historic Zoning District.
Dare County Planning Director Noah Gillam told the Voice that the addition of the new zoning districts to ADU regulations is a significant step, but he added that property owners will still have to abide by their Homeowners Association rules when applicable and that the ADUs have to be used for long-term rentals.
Citing the current housing crisis in Dare County, the commissioners in January directed the county planning department to revisit the ADU ordinance and draft language that would extend ADU regulations to the more restrictive single-family residential districts in the unincorporated areas.
At the time, the commissioners voiced the need to move on the text amendment, with Commissioner Rob Ross noting that “the housing issue is all-hands-on-deck.”
The quest to create more workforce and essential housing has been challenging, and the county is pursuing new partnerships. In March, Dare County announced it will enter into a partnership with the Ohio-based firm Woda Cooper to develop roughly 100 essential and workforce housing units at two sites – the county-owned Bowsertown Road property and a not-yet-disclosed location in Nags Head.
That is one of two recent ventures the county commissioners have pursued on the housing front. In February, they voted unanimously to enter into a public-private partnership with a North Carolina-based consortium called Coastal Affordable Housing. That group plans to construct up to 400 housing units at various Dare County locations by the end of 2023.