Nags Head eliminates multifamily dwellings in C-2 Zoning District

By on January 4, 2023

Mayor Ben Cahoon, seated to the right of Commissioner Kevin Brinkley, cast the lone vote against the zoning change (Photo credit: Corinne Saunders)

By a 4-1 vote at their Jan. 4 meeting, the Nags Head Board of Commissioners approved a zoning text amendment to remove multifamily residences as a permitted use in the town’s C-2 General Commercial District.

This followed an Oct. 19 vote that established a 150-day moratorium on development in the town’s “historic character area” between Danube and Hollowell streets between U.S. Highway 158 and N.C. 12.

Planning and Development Director Kelly Wyatt said at the meeting that the moratorium was adopted to limit development in the historic character area “until the town can develop and implement appropriate standards” for such development.

Only Mayor Ben Cahoon opposed the zoning text amendment, which the town’s planning board initiated and unanimously adopted in its Dec. 19 meeting.  Cahoon noted that multifamily residences have been a longstanding use in the C-2 District, predating much of the other development.

“We’re taking an essential use off the map and off the table for a large area of the town,” Cahoon said. “The C-2 is not just the area that’s been referenced repeatedly. C-2 is virtually everything between the highways in the town and much of what borders [U.S.] 158 on the west side of the highway.”

While supporting the amendment, Commissioners Kevin Brinkley, Renée Cahoon and Bob Sanders all expressed their view that the text amendment was likely a temporary measure.

“We need to do work on our end,” Brinkley said, observing that even some of the town’s definitions sometimes contradict themselves.

During the public hearing at the Dec. 4 meeting, six property owners spoke in favor of commissioners adopting the amendment, while three business owners spoke against it.

Several of those who spoke in favor cited the proposed 54-unit housing development that the Woda Cooper Companies, Inc. was hoping to build in the C-2 Zone as part of the county’s push for more essential housing. That proposal had generated considerable pushback from some in the community. In addition, Nags Head town staff produced a report concluding that many local workers earned too much money to meet the income requirements needed to live in the complex.

“I’m here to speak against the Woda Cooper project,” said Clara Mackenzie Smiley. She said her father bought a property in the historic district in 1969 and four generations of her family have vacationed there.

“It was a neighborhood then, as it is now, characterized by well-maintained, single-family cottages and supported by family-run businesses,” she added. “The Woda Cooper project would change the very character of our neighborhood in ways that would not be in keeping with what we and our neighbors invested in and want to preserve for future generations.”

“When I heard about the Woda Cooper project, I was very surprised and disappointed,” stated Frank Campanelli, a New Jersey resident who said he and his wife are hoping to retire here.

Debbie McConnell said she emailed several concerns to commissioners, “but I’m here today just to emphasize for those that say it’s a ‘not in my backyard concern;’ for us, it’s what we see in our front yard.”

Conversely, Bobby Harrell, a Roanoke Island resident who has owned businesses in Nags Head’s C-2 district for the past 22 years, asked commissioners to stay the vote for 30 days. He indicated concern that the vote was happening at the end of the holiday season.

“Research has identified the hospital alone needs 40 units for housing,” Harrell noted. “Eliminating multifamily housing will affect most of the area,” he said. “I don’t feel like people were given proper notice to study and understand what effect it might have.”

Peter Pinto, a Duck resident, said he and his partners own multiple properties in the C-2 district. “Our existing projects have been positively received by the Nags Head community,” he said, naming the Tar Heel Motel and the Sugar Creek Condominiums.

Pinto echoed Harrell’s sentiments, adding that “I think we’re all aware this is holiday season, and frankly, we were taken by surprise that this was put in at the time and manner in which it was.” He also said he has development plans in progress in Nags Head, stating that “we made significant expenditures of time, money and resources in good faith based on the uses that were approved in the town when we purchased the property.”

Commissioner Mike Siers later clarified with the town attorney that only properties without already approved applications or approved permits would be affected by the zoning amendment, to “make sure he [Pinto] was covered.”





ADVERTISEMENT FOR RE-BID: Barnhill Contracting Company will receive sealed proposals for the Kill Devil Hills – EMS/Fire Facility (EMS-1) project on Wednesday, February 08, 2023 @ 2:00pm for the following packages:

BP 400 – Turnkey Masonry, BP 505 – Light Gauge Metal Trusses, BP 833 – Overhead Doors, BP 925 – Drywall/Framing, BP 2200 – Plumbing, BP 2300 – HVAC, BP 2600 – Electrical

Scopes of work may be added and/or deleted at the discretion of the Construction Manager.

Bid Location and Time: Bid opening will be held in the Barnhill Contracting Rocky Mount Main Conference Room: 800 Tiffany Bvld, Rocky Mount, NC 27804. Time is as follows: Wednesday, February 08, 2023 at 2:00pm.

Barnhill Contracting Company will receive, open, and read publicly all bids received in person in the training room and listed with the virtual viewing at the link to be posted on Barnhill’s Plan Room.

Bids will not be accepted from bidders that are not pre-qualified. No facsimile or email submissions are permitted. Sealed bids are to be hand delivered to the bid opening location noted above or mailed Sealed Bids can be delivered before 9:00am the day of the bid to the Barnhill Contracting Company Office at 800 Tiffany Blvd., Suite 200 Rocky Mount, NC 27804. Attention “Clint Hardison.”

Bid Documents can be viewed or downloaded through Barnhill’s online Building Division Plan Room (

All Bidders are strongly encouraged to include opportunities for HUB participation wherever possible in their respective Bid submission.  HUB participation is a part of this contract and must comply with all requirements set forth in the Bid Documents.

The Construction Manager and Owner reserve the right to add pre-qualified bidders. The Construction Manager and Owner reserve the right to reject any and all bids. Should you require additional direction, please call Barnhill Contracting Company, (Clint Hardison – 252-802-0740).

Clint Hardison is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Dare County – Kill Devil Hills EMS #01 / FS #14 – 2 PM Re-Bid Opening

Time: Feb 8, 2023 02:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 874 0991 8806

One tap mobile

+16465189805,,87409918806# US (New York)

+17866351003,,87409918806# US (Miami)

Dial by your location

+1 646 518 9805 US (New York)

+1 786 635 1003 US (Miami)

+1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)

+1 470 250 9358 US (Atlanta)

+1 213 338 8477 US (Los Angeles)

+1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)

Meeting ID: 874 0991 8806

Find your local number:

Join by SIP

Join by H.323 (US West) (US East)

Meeting ID: 874 0991 8806



  • Chris

    Imagine that unless your rich they don’t want us here.

    Wednesday, Jan 4 @ 10:16 pm
  • Czarina

    So, no mini-mansions between the highways, since there is no way they are “single family” ?

    Thursday, Jan 5 @ 5:41 am
  • DE

    This decision seems in contradiction both to statements made at the hearing as well as direct action not only in Nags Head but the surrounding towns. For instance – the town is considering the opinion of non-resident property owners who are focused on the impact to their property alone not the broader issue of the desperate need for local housing to keep or draw workers to staff the very businesses that service these vacationers. Meanwhile – Nags Head and other towns are continuing the erosion of that idyllic, preserved Outer Banks to which Ms. Smiley referred, by allowing the ongoing construction of huge houses (mini-motels) and condominiums to bring even more vacationers to the area. The Outer Banks has reached an inflection point – many businesses have suffered from the lack of appropriate staffing – even in the medical field – and the resulting impact to customers has been noticeable to vacationers, some of which have grown frustrated by this dilemma and so may choose to take their needed money elsewhere. At what point will town leaders actually act in the best interests of the Outer Banks locals? If they were so interested in the preservation of our beloved OBX from years ago, why the continued allowance of huge, multi-family homes? You can’t have it both ways – either provide housing for workers to parallel the pace of tourism growth or slow the growth altogether and keep the OBX as we knew it and still love before it disappears.

    Thursday, Jan 5 @ 8:17 am
  • Charles

    Great news. Meanwhile let’s keep stuffing 50 people a week in a beach house that sleeps 20…

    Thursday, Jan 5 @ 9:48 am
  • Steven

    Non-residents should have no say on these matters, they only want to ruin the area further and have no right to do so.
    It’s similar to me purchasing a lot next door to wherever they live, then telling the town council that they cannot live there any more and their business must close their doors.

    Thursday, Jan 5 @ 10:05 am
  • lippy

    Woda Cooper needs to remove the provisions for “low income housing” as the town report specifically states the hospital, teacher and first responders make too much money to qualify for this housing project. That would also alleviate the concern this would wind up as a low income housing project…a magnet for those who don’t work, don’t take care of property and attract a criminal element…a blight on the community.

    Thursday, Jan 5 @ 10:13 am
  • Typical elitists'

    I’m not going to do any shopping in Nags Head anymore. I’ll shop online or in other towns, but I’ll not give Nags Head my tax dollars. It’s not much of an impact, however it’s me doing my part to protest.

    Thursday, Jan 5 @ 12:23 pm
  • LIHTC Low Income Housing Projects

    Many locals have been fooled into believing this propaganda being pushed by the powers that be in Dare County that these housing projects will be for locals who currently live and work here. They claim that these are not federal Low Income Housing projects, and instead use other nice sounds terms like “essential housing” or “workforce housing” which have no legal definition.

    Here are the facts:

    These LIHTC projects are federal Low Income Housing projects that must comply with federal rules. Tenants at LIHTC projects are limited only by their maximum income. It is against the law to discriminate against tenants based on where they previously lived, the source of their income, or their age. The developers are required by law to use an open application process with a first come first served wait list.

    The powers that be will not get to pick and choose local workers for these housing projects. A low income family from Raleigh or a retired couple on social security from Chicago will be treated the same as a couple of local restaurant workers. Y’all know the first thing these new Dare County residents will need after they move into their subsidized apartment one block from the beach; a family doctor.

    These Low Income Housing projects being pushed by the powers that be as “workforce” housing are not really “workforce” housing at all. In fact these Low Income Housing projects will make our workforce housing problems even worse.

    Thursday, Jan 5 @ 1:56 pm
  • Greg

    This is interesting. I will submit that a 3-4 story 10-16 bedroom Oceanfront home is multi family. These large homes have no fire suppression and are only 16’ apart. There are Hotels as well.

    Thursday, Jan 5 @ 4:55 pm
  • Charles

    Meanwhile on Hatteras, crickets……

    Friday, Jan 6 @ 10:52 am
  • Sean


    Friday, Jan 6 @ 7:02 pm
  • Annie

    The old ‘historical’ Nags Head that you are trying to preserve included hard working lower middle class families with a modest income. How much do you think your cashier makes at Food Lion, or your bartender, server, housekeeper, hospital employees (not including doctors and nurses..but those who are serving and cleaning? How about our fisher-people, retail workers , and everyone of us working for minimum wage or tips! What do you want to do..? Ship us all to an island that we can’t get to work from? If you want an exclusive home near the beach that excludes working class citizens who serve in a community ..then move to Beverly Hills. I hope we can have sustainable housing right here in the heart of Nags Head. I own a home in Old Nags Head Place. I can’t afford to live in it! I am not high income at all. I work for minimum wage and tips. My husband works construction. We depend on the few people we can employ to help us sustain our little piece of paradise. We need an affordable housing arrangement so real people can have living shelter and work… and not have to camp in a car! The old charm of nags head didn’t include a bunch of investors living high on their thrones while the other 99% had to serve them. I support affordable housing! If the plan near Jockeys Ridge comes through..I will be able to see it from my house, and so will all the families that vacation in my house. This would help the majority of the people who actually work to make your life sustainable.,
    Yours Truly and sincerely.. The Working Class

    Sunday, Jan 8 @ 1:10 pm
  • Tiny

    I just received a letter in the mail from the town of Nags Head.
    It states there will be a hearing related to this matter on Thursday January 12.

    Monday, Jan 9 @ 12:48 pm
  • Wayne

    No worries Kill Devil Hills is ruining the Outer Banks. It’ll be one business next to another. Encourage your workers to live in Currituck and furnish a bus to get them back and forth to work. Whole lot cheaper. And a whole lot safer with them not driving since they don’t have a driver’s license

    Monday, Jan 16 @ 9:57 am