Nags Head Board approves development moratorium

By on October 19, 2022

Town and county officials at odds during public hearing

Nags Head Mayor Pro Tem Mike Siers, left, and Dare County Commissioners Chair Bob Woodard disagreed on the moratorium.

During its Oct. 19 meeting, the Nags Head Board of Commissioners voted 4-0 to adopt a 150-day moratorium that temporarily halts development in the C-2 General Commercial district and within the Historic Character Area between U.S. 158 and N.C. 12 from Hollowell Street to Danube Street. Single-family and duplex homes are exempt from the moratorium.

Mayor Ben Cahoon was absent from the meeting, which included a public hearing on the moratorium that will be in effect until March 17, 2023. More than a half dozen residents and community leaders spoke during the hearing, as well as a representative of Woda Cooper, a developer working with Dare County to build 54 workforce housing units on a 4.7-acre parcel at E. Hollowell Street and U.S. 158 as well as additional units on Bowsertown Road on Roanoke Island.

News of that project, while not yet submitted or presented to the town, spurred a number of nearby residents to voice their concerns to commissioners about the possibility. For months, Dare County had indicated only that an undisclosed location in Nags Head was being considered.

According to the terms of the moratorium, the 150-day window will “provide for the necessary study and review of the type, intensity, and character of the uses allowed in the Historic Character Area and could result in new districts and/or standards being proposed.”

The moratorium also stated that the current ordinances “do not adequately regulate or address development to protect the values and goals” of the town’s Comprehensive Plan adopted in 2017.

“At this time, the Board believes that, based on the broad number and type of uses allowed in the C-2 district, as well as the density/intensity criteria allowed in this district, that any new development, other than single or two-family dwellings, poses a serious and permanent threat to the integrity of the area,” the moratorium states.

Comments at the meeting by Dare County Commissioner Rob Ross and Commissioners Chairman Bob Woodard, as well as Outer Banks Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Karen Brown and Dare County Board of Education Chair David Twiddy, expressed the need to build more workforce housing in the county. Several of them also voiced clear opposition to the Nags Head moratorium.

“This is an issue that we’ve been talking about for years, and it’s not just a county issue,” said Woodard. “It’s up to the towns as well. I would hope that you would really take a hard, hard look at establishing a moratorium and plans, as rumored, to change the zoning in this area so this would not be allowed. If not this site, commissioners, then where?”

“If we cannot find solutions to the year-round and seasonal housing issues faced by our workforce, we will be unable to provide the level of services our visitors, guests and residents enjoy year after year,” Brown said. “If Nags Head moves forward with a moratorium on any development that could include much needed workforce housing, we will be taking a step backwards in our efforts to help our community.”

In countering the opponents, Nags Head Mayor Pro Tem Mike Siers asserted that the moratorium was not about affordable housing. “They want to make it about affordable housing, but this isn’t about affordable housing,” Siers said, adding that Nags Head hasn’t been introduced to any plan for such a project at that site and had essentially been left in the dark about intentions for a project. “It’s about a moratorium…There are other issues there besides this property.”

Commissioner Kevin Brinkley echoed Siers. “Let’s partner, let’s talk about what is going on and how we can partner together to do affordable housing, but at least let us know what’s going on. This was slipped in… last minute and I would just like to separate the topics. But I am in support of a moratorium in regard to how it relates to our [Comprehensive Plan].”

Commissioner Renee Cahoon added that, “We need to address the zoning map to make it fit more with the character of the district.”

There were also a number of residents who spoke during the public hearing or submitted emails commending commissioners for adopting the moratorium. Susan Kalan, who owns a home on E. Hollowell Street, told commissioners that she was attracted to the historical character of the area, the close proximity to Jockey’s Ridge State Park and beach access as well as stores and restaurants.

“We are definitely in favor of a moratorium…We are really against having any more traffic on East Hollowell,” she said. “We are really maxed out. We agree we need affordable housing, but we also don’t think that this is the area to do it.”

Also speaking at the public hearing was Woda Cooper Senior Vice President Denis Blackburne. Speaking of the proposed housing project, he said, “It’s a privately owned development that will be owned by Woda Cooper companies or an affiliate. It’s not a HUD project, we do not have any Section 8, so it’s not public housing and it’s not a development that has vouchers.”

Noting that it will be financed through federal and county funding structures, he added, “We are not requesting any specific financial support from the town of Nags Head and we’re not requesting any change in the zoning.”

Blackburn told commissioners the proposal includes three buildings with 111 parking spaces and a total of 10 one-bedroom units, 38 two-bedroom units and six three-bedroom units with each unit having a total development cost of $240,000.

“We are targeting people who earn between 40, 60 and 80 percent of the Area Mean Income,” he said, pointing out that at 60% level of AMI, the rent for a one-bedroom unit would be $936. And at 80% AMI, the rent for a three-bedroom unit would be $1,291.

As for the moratorium, town staff will initiate planning studies with the planning board at its Nov. 15 meeting, one of several meetings with the board that will be held over the next few months. Any recommended ordinances or zoning map changes would likely be scheduled for public hearing at the Board of Commissioners’ March 1 meeting.


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  • Howard Johnson

    We just keep going around and around on this issue and no one (ie town or County) is willing to step up and do something about it. This problem will not go away nor fix itself. It’s a problem that’s going to take months if not years to fix. This is probably the biggest threat to our economy!! It’s not a bridge or lack of hotels but not enough workforce to keep it all chugging along.

    Thursday, Oct 20 @ 12:01 am
  • Hal McCray

    Nags Head has known about the potential for affordable housing in their town. The truth is they enacted a moratorium because they equate “affordable housing” with minorities and malcontents. “We all need affordable housing, we all need homeless shelters, mental health facilities, but not in our town.” Sound familiar?

    Thursday, Oct 20 @ 12:37 am
  • Shelly

    I think it’s interesting that the commissioners of the Town of Nags Head are so concerned with the look and integrity of the area around Hollowell and beyond while, just a mile away, in my neighborhood across the by-pass, there are apparently no ordinances about having as many as 11 cars permanently parked on the front lawn of some houses, flocks of chickens running free all over the neighborhood, and people not picking up after their dogs. We renovated our house, retiring here because of the unique beauty of Nags Head and the Outer Banks. But I have been disappointed in the lack of response of the town to preserve the neighborhoods that do not have an ocean view.

    I believe we need affordable workforce housing in Nags Head. I also believe there should be some control over the look of this housing. However, I also believe that the town needs to start looking around at the issues that exist in the un-gated, affordable neighborhoods in the area and enact some simple ordinances that will help clean up the mess and make us proud to live here.

    Thursday, Oct 20 @ 7:29 am
  • M

    I am all for affordable housing, but Currituck and Dare are doing a poor job of infrastructure planning for all this housing they are allowing and the amount of people that are coming to OBX. You can’t keep adding businesses to 168 with no turn lanes, add houses/apartments with inadequate sanitation and water facilities, inadequate medical care, etc.; Nags Head and KDH letting mini hotels to be built is proof of that. The people running these Counties are ruining OBX!

    Thursday, Oct 20 @ 8:30 am
  • NH Resident

    Everybody is all about affordable housing until it’s in their back yard. Interesting how it was “an undisclosed location” for so long. The Town has a duty to consider the negative impacts on those existing property owners surrounding the site. It will obviously pull surrounding values down. 5 -10 years down the road when much maintenance and repair is needed, who will fund that? These typically operate for some years on county/state funding then get renovated and repurposed by investors into for profit vacation rental units when the subsidies dry up or other projects become priority. On another note, it will be nice for the tenants to get some NH Pizza and enjoy all those swimming pools their neighbors have….lol

    Thursday, Oct 20 @ 11:10 am
  • Local

    The woman they quoted about not wanting this in her neighborhood does not live here she is from New Jersey and her “home” is a vacation rental that lists for almost $8K per week in peak season with Joe Lamb. Let’s just be honest, this is all about the money.

    Thursday, Oct 20 @ 9:10 pm
  • Miguel

    Totally excellent comment$ by all. It’$ alway$ about the money.
    It’$ alway$ NIMBY. We under$tand that real e$tate developer$
    have extraordinary influence in the deci$ion$ that affect
    every community in the Outer Bank$.
    That’$ how it ha$ changed from a $tring of friendly local beach communitie$ into a major Ea$t Coa$t touri$t de$tination. Money. Moolah. Greenback$.
    The OBX infra$tructure ha$ not maintained pace with the big buck
    developer$; average familie$ cannot afford to purcha$e rea$onably
    priced home$, and the $ea$onal workforce iS forced to commute
    from beyond the bridge$.
    After forty year$ of living here, the dynamic$ of thi$ dra$tic overdevelopment are obviou$ly not changing with the current leader$hip; not a$ long a$ ALMIGHTY DOLLAR call$ all the $hot$.

    Friday, Oct 21 @ 6:44 am
  • OBX Resident

    Shame on the Voice for not detailing that Mayor Ben Cahoon has provided consultation with Woda Cooper, the workforce housing contractor. The County Commissioners including Chairman Woodard ridiculed Woda Cooper publicly in Board meetings for pursuing this site because of the site’s purchase price. The KDH site was denied by the KDH Board of Commissioners because that property was gifted to the Town by the donor for uses that are not compliant with the workforce housing use. It is not NIMBY’ism. The County has 470 acres of uplands located 10 miles (travel time of 12 minutes) from the County Courthouse. They could build a village there consisting of market and workforce housing on the property. Traffic would not plague existing neighborhoods. Their current plan is about benefitting certain people and not doing what is best for the County citizenry to resolve the workforce housing issue.

    Friday, Oct 21 @ 12:51 pm
  • Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice

    Rsident, so how does that explain Cahoon supporting a moratorium that could well spell the end of the Woda Cooper Nags Head project and Woodard coming to the Nags Head Commissioners to oppose the moratorium?

    Friday, Oct 21 @ 3:17 pm
  • OBX Resident

    Thanks, Mark. I was not saying that Mayor Cahoon is for or against the project, just acknowledging that he has provided professional services to Woda Cooper. With his absence from the meeting and not voting, how are you able to ascertain that he supports the moratorium. Talk is just that, it is casting a vote that matters. Look back at the Dare Board Meeting and one will see the many of the commissioners including the chairman ridiculing the NH site in question. Rather than ridiculing Woda Cooper potential acquisition of the site, these same commissioners could have been working with NH to and the townspeople to further the project.

    Friday, Oct 21 @ 8:37 pm
  • Linda Green

    I am a homeowner on intersections of Va. Dare Trail and Hollowell.
    Who is going to make up the decline in my homes value when you build this monstrosity ? If Woda Cooper is managing the facility, charging $900.00 base rent.
    They would already live elsewhere with at least 1 other, by the time you factor in water,utilities, cable/internet to live here .

    This is a such a slap in the face of all Homeowners especially the ones who DO NOT PARTICIPATE a IN THE RENTAL PROGRAMS !
    Trying to keep this UNDERGROUND. we will dig until we find out what’s really going on here.
    I’ll bet, somebody is getting a huge tax break, and somebody is going to become a slumlord. Namely the Town of Nags Head !

    Saturday, Oct 22 @ 11:04 am