Nags Head won’t ease lot size rule for big homes

By on November 7, 2019

Commissioner Siers said he didn’t think “the board was ever in favor of large homes.” (Michelle Wagner)

In the face of widespread opposition to the idea, the Nags Head Board of Commissioners on Nov. 6 unanimously voted to remove a proposal from its meeting agenda that would have eliminated existing lot size requirements for larger homes — effectively ending further consideration of the measure.

“I don’t feel the board was ever in favor of large homes,” Commissioner Michael Siers said, before making the motion to permanently remove the item from the agenda. Commissioner Renee Cahoon seconded the motion.

Following the vote, Mayor Ben Cahoon told a crowded meeting room that the proposal was “a dead issue at this point.”

Both Siers and Renee Cahoon initially voiced support for the idea of eliminating of the town’s 16,000-square-foot lot requirement on homes of 3,500 square feet or larger, with Siers first bringing the concept to commissioners in June. Since then, however, the measure has failed to gain support from both the planning board and town staff and was met with significant opposition in the community.

In October, the Nags Head Commissioners voted to continue a public hearing on the matter until its Nov. 6 meeting, noting at the time that several commissioners were not present and that postponing action on the amendment would allow more time for the public to provide feedback.

At that October hearing, a number of residents spoke out against the concept, including Lauren Nelson, a local realtor and resident of Nags Head. She told the commissioners the proposal was a “short-sighted plan that would move the development of Nags Head in the wrong direction.”

North Carolina Coastal Federation’s Michael Flynn argued at that same hearing that the amendment would increase density, adding to the volume of stormwater runoff into coastal waters. 

Shortly before the Nov. 5 municipal election, the Voice interviewed the three candidates running for the Nags Head Board of Commissioners – Renee Cahoon and Kevin Brinkley, who both won, and Keith Sawyer, who lost in his bid. Both Brinkley and Sawyer said they opposed eliminating the lot size requirement and Cahoon indicated she had not received any public input supporting an effort to eliminate it.

Had the text amendment been adopted, a town staff memo concluded that the total number of lots not excluded from large residential dwellings due to lot size would jump from 697 to 3,204 in the C2, CR, R-1, R-2 and R-3 districts alone.

The lot size issue in Nags Head has surfaced as Outer Banks communities continue to grapple with how to regulate what are critically referred to as ‘mega-mansions’ along the oceanfront.

In 2015, the N.C. General Assembly stripped local municipalities’ ability to regulate the size of homes by the number of bedrooms. Since then, municipalities have relied on a variety of strategies to maintain some control on the size of event homes, including square footage restrictions, set back and parking requirements and occupancy limitations.





  • Travis

    Bravo Nags Head.
    Pay attention, KDH. Some of your board members excuses to not reign in overdevelopment on the beach were lame, at best. In light of Nags Head’s action, they are completely worthless.

    Thursday, Nov 7 @ 9:47 am
  • wombatnc

    Finally! A town with some … foresight!
    New Jersey style, mini-hotel oceanfront homes will have to remain on the beaches to north – KDH, Kitty Hawk, etc. Greed and the fear of litigation will hopefully get stymied in KDH by the newly elected mayor and commissioners, although it may be too late. The town of Nags Head has once again led the rest of the beach communities (excluding Manteo) in doing what’s right for it’s citizens and for a community as a whole. “Keep it OBX”!

    Thursday, Nov 7 @ 12:09 pm
  • Daniel W Sink

    I was there October 14th thur the 17th and the best of it was the small town feel. I have been coming to the OBX since Hugo hit Myrtle Beach. I feel very Fortunate. That I found Haggs Head. I feel closer to GOD than anywhere I have ever been. Please keep Naggs Head a family destination.

    Thursday, Nov 7 @ 2:38 pm
  • Doc

    Not sure how lot size relates to home size there. I’m an outer stater but call Nags Head my home away from home, since the mid 70’s. Thinking of retiring there. I like the way it is now, with beach houses, not condos. Love the “neighborhood family” atmosphere.

    Thursday, Nov 7 @ 2:58 pm
  • Deborah Slovenski

    I just have a sad story. I lived in KDH for 30 years. My husband and I bought a home in Colington. My daughter lived close by. In 2017 my husband died with cancer and three weeks later my daughter died with cancer also. I tried my best to stay in my home but could not afford the mortgage and maintenance by myself. With my broken heart I had to sell our home and could not find a year round rental that I could afford. So after much pain and heartbreak I had to move away. I am very homesick and can’t believe the greed of people asking such high cost for year round rentals. I just want to come home.

    Friday, Nov 8 @ 9:53 pm