SAGA proposes KDH cottage court project

By on November 18, 2020

Plan temporarily tabled by Planning Board

SAGA Construction is seeking to develop a cottage court project along the Kill Devil Hills oceanfront at milepost 7.5 as an alternative to constructing two 20-plus bedroom homes. The project’s site plan, however, was tabled by the Kill Devil Hills Planning Board on Nov. 17 after the town staff requested more information.

The plan by SAGA comes amid growing public concern over the proliferation of large event homes in town, and on the heels of an amendment to the town’s zoning ordinance this spring aimed at further encouraging cottage courts and cluster homes instead of what are often referred to as “mega-mansions.”

SAGA’s site plan includes 12 four-bedroom homes and two five-bedroom homes, all with under-the-house parking and individual swimming pools. The detached single-family homes would not exceed 2,500 square feet of gross floor area, would have a shared driveway and dune walkover with an open and covered deck.

Sumit Gupta, SAGA’s Chief Executive Officer, told the planning board at the Nov. 17 meeting that when he first put the property at 709 N. Virginia Dare Trail under contract, the initial idea was for two larger houses on the site, each with between 20 to 28 bedrooms.

“Through the process, I stopped. I know there was some willingness or desire from the town to see a different type of development on the oceanfront,” said Gupta during the meeting, adding that he planned to make the cottages unique from one another and not all the same design. “We are [currently] showing two different cottage types, and my intention is to come up with seven more, so it looks really nice.”

Existing cottage courts had been non-conforming in Kill Devil Hills and Nags Head since the 1980s, meaning that they were no longer a permitted use under the zoning ordinance. Given that, and with large event homes becoming a lucrative investment, traditional cottage courts have been steadily disappearing from the Outer Banks landscape over the past decade or so.

However, both Kill Devil Hills and Nags Head in recent years have sought to reverse that trend by adopting changes to their zoning ordinance to encourage modern versions of the classic cottage courts of years past.

In 2016, Nags Head amended its zoning ordinance to allow for cottage courts that met specific requirements. Since then, the property that was once home to the Whalebone Hotel at milepost 16.5 was re-developed into Whalebone Ocean Cottages with seven new three- to four-bedroom cedar shake homes.

In Kill Devil Hills, where cottage courts like the Homestead and Wright Cottage Court are a dying breed, the Board of Commissioners in 2018 approved a similar amendment to its zoning ordinance.

At the suggestion of Mayor Ben Sproul, the Kill Devil Hills Board of Commissioners this spring went further to encourage cluster home and cottage court development along N.C. 12 by reducing the lot width requirements for such projects from 100 feet to 75 feet.

As for SAGA’s site plan, it was tabled on Nov. 17 at the recommendation of staff so that the company could submit required floor plans and elevations that were missing from the application.

“There is a lot of information that comes from floor plans and elevation that needs to be reviewed by staff and by the planning board that is not something that can be shown on an overall bird’s eye view site plan,” Assistant Planning Director Cameron Ray told the board before it tabled the site plan.

Gupta indicated that he would furnish those items so that staff and the planning board could consider the site plan for review, but he voiced some frustration over the process.

“There’s so much time, money and energy that goes into this, so much before you can get any kind of review or approval – tens of thousands of dollars,” Gupta noted. “And I am going against the grain – doing the cottages is much more difficult than doing the houses. This is where some of my frustration comes in. I feel like I am trying to do the right thing, and it seems difficult.”


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  • Patricia Rawls

    A cottage court would be preferable to the existing saga monstrosities. Our town has already been ruined so anything else would be better.

    Wednesday, Nov 18 @ 6:01 pm
  • Steve

    SAGA Destruction, intent on continuing to ruin this place.

    Thursday, Nov 19 @ 7:01 am
  • surf123

    So the choice is (2) 20 bedroom homes for a total of 40 bedrooms with two pools or (14) homes with a total of 58 bedrooms with 14 pools. I say no way on the latter as at least the first has 12 less bedrooms.

    Please do not give Gupta the cottage court option. Nothing makes me sicker than him continuing to attempt to change the rules while playing the victim. In my opinion no single person/company has done more damage to the Outer Banks than Gupta/SAGA while Kill Devil Hills just let it go and even acquiesced to his/their demands in many cases.

    The idea that he/they is trying to bring back cottage courts by asking for an additional (14) bedrooms is so disingenuous it is laughable. If he truly cared about the town he would have offered the cottage court at the same number of bedrooms.

    Friday, Nov 20 @ 10:11 am
  • OBX Local Girl

    Let’s just keep developing the Outer Banks until we look like Myrtle Beach! Let’s destroy the charm! SAGA has destroyed the Outer Banks, all while Gupta is making himself a rich man. He has no care at all about the fragility of this land. None of the developers do. How about build AFFORDABLE homes for the people that LIVE here instead of catering to those outsiders.

    Monday, Nov 23 @ 12:59 pm
  • Susie

    Most people would love to see the cottage idea come back. But SAGA’s plan is two 20-28 bedroom houses-wouldn’t those have to be seem as hotels? That is everything people don’t want here. Even now contractor’s are making outside entrance to each floor so each floor can be rented separately. 14 cottages-2500 sq ft is not a cottage. It is a complete home-bigger than many of the beach boxes we have enjoyed for years. If they are truly cottages, then they can share one pool, maybe two. SAGA is building a subdivision. Mr. Gupta says the cottages are harder, SAGA needs to think more of the community. Basic idea could be good, but there is no reason for 14 pools or 2500 sq ft cottages, or 20-28 bedroom homes.

    Friday, Nov 27 @ 6:30 pm