Southern Shores sets 6,000-square-foot limit on new houses

By on January 25, 2016

This 4,994-square-foot house for sale on Ocean Boulevard has seven bedrooms. (Coldwell Banker Seaside Realty)

Southern Shores has decided to keep things simple by limiting the size of new houses to 6,000 square feet.

In approving the change to its ordinance Friday, the Town Council opted against several other options, including a tiered system based on lot sizes that would have allowed up to 8,600 square feet of enclosed space.

Measures to block construction of  big “event homes” have been under discussion since word got out on plans for a 16-bedroom house with a ballroom on Ocean Boulevard. That was not long after the state enacted a new law barring towns from limiting the number of bedrooms.

Until the new state law was passed, Southern Shores had limited construction to seven bedrooms and septic capacity for no more than 14 people.

Larger homes to accomodate wedding parties and receptions have become more popular on the Outer Banks, and it was apparent that the 16-bedroom house was aimed at that market.

Town Manager Peter Rascoe said about 14 houses in Southern Shores are more than 6,000 square feet. The average townwide is 2,443 square feet. The town recorded 149 houses between 4,000 and 6,000 square feet, he said.

Already on the town’s books is a regulation that restricts event venues to the commercial district. Other than small changes in language, the council kept the rule in place. Under it, a house advertised as an event home could not be built or operated in a residential zone.

The council also changed parking specifications to base them on septic capacity rather than numbers of bedrooms.

Duck has passed an amendment to its ordinance that sets occupancy numbers based on the size of a lot and septic capacity.

Nags Head eliminated its maximums on bedrooms and kept square footage limits that have been in place since 2003 — an absolute maximum of 5,000 square feet and 3,500 square feet on lots less than 16,000 square feet.

Kitty Hawk does not have a bedroom limit. Kill Devil Hills has discussed whether to set limits on size but has taken no action.

The vote in Southern Shores was 3-2, with Gary McDonald, Fred Newberry and Leo Holland voting for and Chris Nason and Mayor Tom Bennett against.

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