Nags Head Commissioners are considering curbing development in the C-2, or General Commercial, neighborhood following community feedback on the location of essential housing and labor at the Oct. 5 meeting.
Commissioner Kevin Brinkley introduced a motion to impose a moratorium of up to 150 days on the development of C-2. There will be a public hearing on October 19 to discuss and vote on the matter.
Several weeks ago, at the September 14 Dare County Commissioners meeting, the council approved an agreement with Woda Cooper Companies, Inc. to develop approximately 100 housing units between the Bowsertown Road site on Roanoke Island and what is known as the Nags Head site – only then revealed to be the vacant 4.7 parcel across from Jockey’s Ridge State Park at 100 E. Hollowell Avenue, between Conch Street and E. Hollowell Avenue.
The Hollowell property is under contract with Sanderling Commons Limited Partnership, a subsidiary of Woda Cooper, for a purchase price of $3.7 million. Dare County provided $9 million for the 100-unit essential housing and workforce project. Fifty-four units are expected to be built at Nags Head.
Neighbors of the Nags Head property called on their commissioners to reconsider the chosen location, citing stormwater issues, already overwhelming traffic and the complex inconsistent with the city’s land use plan, which gives the priority to an abundance of open space and generally low-density development. .
The units are planned for a mix of one to three bedroom apartments. They will be limited to two people per room. Rent will be determined by the household’s total AMI or area median income. The planned construction start date is mid-2023, with completion expected in 2024.
Although the site is already zoned to allow multi-family housing, residents are calling for rezoning to prohibit high-density housing. During the meeting, Mayor Ben Cahoon and City Manager Andy Garman took turns reading a dozen letters from concerned citizens, all calling for development to stop in their neighborhoods.
Nadeen Johnson wrote: “While we understand and appreciate the need for affordable housing in the Outer Banks, we do not believe the Hollowell site is the appropriate choice for this project…We are very concerned that the development and population oversaturation in this area could potentially further stress the integrity of the dunes. One of the main reasons people gravitate to Old Nags Head is that it has retained its historic character… The planned redevelopment of the area will further jeopardize and degrade the unique geological features of the sand dunes. Additionally, we are concerned that the juxtaposition of multi-storey multi-family buildings will diminish the quality and value of the area.
Jeff and Pat Pavlak, who live east of the proposed development site on S. Virginia Dare Trail, asked about the impact on adjacent property owners. They questioned the type of oversight that will exist to ensure tenants do not sublet their homes during peak season, and how the property will be maintained once tenants qualify to live there.
According to Kimberly Worley, “This use just doesn’t seem to fit the vibe or charm of the neighborhood, which was my reasoning for buying at Old Nags Head. access to the beach and falling home values. There must be a better place for this project.
After all the letters had been read and the Commissioners had finished with other business, they went into closed session. Upon their return, Brinkley introduced a motion to enter into a maximum of 150 moratoria on any development in District C-2, which includes the parcel under discussion.
The commissioners expanded on the reasons for the moratorium, saying other issues in recent months have prompted a slowdown before proceeding.
The city has been in discussions with Nags Head Pizza Co. and owners of nearby residential properties to discuss parking, zoning and noise. There has been frustration on both sides between what neighbors call the charm and character of a primarily residential area and the legal right for a business to operate in a commercially zoned neighborhood.
Renee Cahoon endorsed the moratorium: “In light of the last few months, the things we’ve heard, as well as the review of our land use plan, I think [the moratorium] would be appropriate. We had a lot of concerns in more than one area…this started to come to light in August and I think this will give us some leeway for staff to take a look at our zoning map for the plan of land use.
Questions from Coast time sent to Mayor Ben Cahoon to find out whether or not the Nags Head has committed to providing affordable housing somewhere in the city or why the city is holding back a project that is properly zoned for space had not received a response to the press time.
In a statement released by City Manager Andy Garman on Oct. 7, it appears the city’s overall plan, which sets out a goal of its desire to preserve Jockey’s Ridge and the historic district, may not be consistent with its current zoning ordinances. :
“When we adopted our comprehensive plan in 2017, we established several character zones throughout the city with specific development goals. This included a Historic District Character Zone, with the goal of preserving the integrity of Jockey’s Ridge and the Historic District.
“It was shown in the plan as the area east of US 158 from Hollowell Street to Danube Street. This area has been zoned C-2, General Commercial, for many years, allowing for the widest range and intensity of uses in the city. For example, the shops at 10.5 and the shopping center are zoned C-2. The overall plan suggested that C-2 zoning is not appropriate in these locations and that further study was needed to establish appropriate standards to protect these areas.
“It’s a project that we hadn’t started yet, but the recent problems [have] brought it to the fore and made it a priority for the board. The study may relate to the type, intensity and character of authorized uses, and it could lead to the proposal of new neighborhoods and/or standards.
It came as a surprise to property company Woda Cooper, which has already signed a contract to provide essential housing and labor in Nags Head.
Senior Vice President of Development at Woda Cooper Denis Blackburne declined to speak officially in a phone interview with Coast time October 7. However, the contract between Dare County and Woda Cooper Companies, Inc. (WCC) states, “WCC intends to create the development so that it is both consistent with the vernacular architecture of Nags Head and Manteo communities, including scale and design, and also provides development residents with access to community amenities and employment opportunities. The full contract is available at darenc.com/home/showpublisheddocument/11481/637977151305567755.
All parties will have an opportunity to discuss the project and vote on the development moratorium at the October 19 public hearing in Nags Head.
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