Dare Board approves zoning measure for more accessory dwelling units

By on April 21, 2022

Commissioner Rob Robb has characterized the housing issue as “all-hands-on-deck.” (File photo)

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.

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  • Stephen McKenna

    I am afraid that permission for accessory buildings will just create more problems than it will solve. In other jurisdictions, such as the suburbs of Maryland, population density has gone up without a corresponding increase in the local public infrastructure. It has made bad situations even worse and will only increase local taxes to pay for such infrastructure elements to come on line, if ever. That is one reason why I longer own property there.

    Thursday, Apr 21 @ 3:23 pm
  • RAJ

    “ADUs have to be used for long-term rentals” I wonder how Dare County is going to enforce the long-term rental requirement. Neighbors snitching on neighbor?

    Thursday, Apr 21 @ 5:10 pm
  • Mike

    This is a terrific idea happening all across the country and some people just have to cast dispersions on it instead in of celebrating the good news…

    Thursday, Apr 21 @ 11:13 pm
  • Marius

    Anything over 30 days is considered long term rental so keeping in mind seasonal demand on str it may still not solve the year around housing problem

    Friday, Apr 22 @ 5:13 am
  • Joan mcminn

    Move these places out to east Lake and if they have no transportation how r they gonna be able to go back and forth to work. Can’t wait to hear where they intend on placing public housing in nags head

    Friday, Apr 22 @ 8:31 am
  • Mike Honcho

    To second what RAJ commented, how will Dare County enforce this? Also, this does nothing to incentivize homeowners to rent to locals. The revenue from an ADU used for a long term rental pales in comparison to that of one listed on Airbnb, vrbo, etc.. This will do absolutely nothing to help the housing problem.

    Friday, Apr 22 @ 8:55 am
  • Karen DelVacchio

    This is a great idea but what does it stop the homeowner from making it into an Airbnb rather than a long-term rental for those with housing needs?

    Saturday, Apr 23 @ 7:01 am
  • Larry cardwell

    This is not going to solve anything. Dare County residents need to look really hard at the planning board they don’t care about the home values that people have bought with hard-earned money to buy. Dare County needs to look at other Beach communities handle this problem. The housing problem could be solved by utilizing the other counties outside of the Beach area which is very expensive. The people that come to work in Outer Banks do not need to live in the most expensive areas. My whole life I lived outside the county I worked in because I couldn’t afford it. People looking for houses should do the same commute

    Sunday, Apr 24 @ 10:03 am
  • NotSure

    Let the complaints commence. It’s like the obxlocals fecesbook page.

    Sunday, Apr 24 @ 6:15 pm
  • mrbean


    Monday, Apr 25 @ 11:08 am