Dare County to try again on Woda Cooper housing proposal

By on September 18, 2023

Woda Cooper official Denis Blackburn at a Nags Head Commissioners meeting last year. The company’s proposed 54-unit project was rejected there.

Two weeks after its proposal was unanimously rejected by the Manteo Board of Commissioners, the Dare County Commissioners will be looking for a way to move forward on a planned Woda Cooper housing development when they meet on Tuesday, Sept. 19, in special session.

The latest in a growing string of housing setbacks for the county came on Sept. 6 when the Manteo Commissioners voted against allowing the proposed 46-unit development at the end of Bowsertown Road to be connected to the town’s wastewater system. That marked the second time in the past few years that the Manteo Board has rejected such a hookup, although the first project was much larger, at a planned 120 units.

After the Sept. 6 verdict in Manteo, Dare County Manager Bobby Outten told the Voice that “we’re disappointed in the Manteo decision, but we’re going to continue to work to bring workforce or essential housing to the county.”

In a brief email to the Voice, Outten said the idea of the Sept. 19 Dare Commissioners meeting is “to find a way to move forward, not necessarily in Manteo.”

Thus far, county efforts to build what they call workforce or essential housing has run into a wall of opposition at the local level—with municipal commissioners, reflecting the view of many constituents, soundly rejecting several proposals involving the county’s development partners, Woda Cooper and Coastal Affordable Housing, LLC.

In August 2022, the Kill Devil Hills Commissioners defeated an effort to rezone the 44-acre Baum tract to potentially pave the way for a high-density multifamily housing site envisioned by Coastal Affordable Housing and the county. And early this year, the Nags Head Commissioners, responding to significant community opposition, opted to rezone an area that would have potentially housed a 54-unit Woda Cooper housing development.

In unincorporated Wanchese, which is governed by the Dare County Board of Commissioners, that board’s May 1 approval of a 60-unit cluster home development occurred in the face of impassioned efforts from a community that turned out in force at a series of meetings to register their staunch opposition.

And even after greenlighting the cluster home project, the Dare Commissioners, acknowledging that intense level of opposition, voted to remove 22 districts from the cluster home ordinance that had paved the way for the Wanchese project.

As the county tries on Sept. 19 to come up with a way to bring the Woda Cooper housing plan to fruition, it is seeking a thus far elusive victory on the housing front. And for his part, Outten hopes that one success will lead to others.

“It’s much like beach nourishment was back in the early 90’s,” he told the Voice earlier this year. “Everybody was reluctant until we finally did it and found that it was beneficial, wasn’t harmful, and was a good thing.”


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  • Local Bob

    Im not going to read the article its to damn log but good riddance! we dont want the obx turn into san fransisco !!!

    Monday, Sep 18 @ 2:10 pm
  • Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice

    For the record, the story came in at a svelte 485 words.

    Monday, Sep 18 @ 2:41 pm
  • Ed

    In no way does everyone agree beach nourishment is or was a good thing.

    Monday, Sep 18 @ 4:56 pm
  • bill

    People complain about the lack of workforce housing. But no one wants it near them.

    Monday, Sep 18 @ 5:00 pm
  • Tyrrell Johnson

    Clearly Manteo and its one race leadership is scared that someone that looks different than them may move into any “affordable” housing. Maybe Ben Crump can get involved?

    Monday, Sep 18 @ 7:08 pm
  • Tom

    Bob, it’s actually a digitally published article, not carved on a log. Wondering if you’ve been to the city of San Francisco? Not sure how all of the outer banks would become like a city in California due to a single government funded housing project on a small island in North Carolina.

    Monday, Sep 18 @ 7:53 pm
  • Kitty Hawker

    No we are already similar to San Francisco because Airbnb has caused a housing drought. Let’s asked some of those opposing this to turn their Airbnbs back into long-term rentals….

    Monday, Sep 18 @ 8:39 pm
  • Travis

    I enjoyed the movie Groundhog Day, too, but the Dare BOC trying to act it out in real life…eh, not so much. Leave the drama to the Theater of Dare and move on to Plan B.

    Monday, Sep 18 @ 9:59 pm
  • Currituck

    Why do so many think the solutions are to be paid for or created via other people’s assets. Successful businesses will find a way to house or import their workers or they will go the way of the Dodo.


    Tuesday, Sep 19 @ 6:39 am
  • Jay

    Dare Counties push to build housing units for workers reminds me of the company owned housing provided by the owners of textile mills back in the day across NC. The workers didn’t own their housing. It was a place to stay as long as you worked for the mill. They even had a company store run by the mill owners. Will the Dare County housing complex(s) also include a county owned store?

    Tuesday, Sep 19 @ 7:18 am
  • lippy

    The commisssioners are listening to their constituents, they want their votes. Good.

    Bobby Outten is not an elected official and neither are these developers.

    Hey Bobby, propose one of these developments next to where you live.

    Tuesday, Sep 19 @ 7:48 am
  • Don't be a johnson

    Manteo has six commissioners. They all care about Manteo and do a great job. Two of the six (one-third) happen to be African American.

    Tuesday, Sep 19 @ 9:50 am
  • surf123

    Mainland Dare or Currituck where no one will fight it and possible even welcome it. Yes it sucks if you work here chances are you cannot live here, but that is life.

    Tuesday, Sep 19 @ 11:40 am
  • RicknKDH

    The article should have stated, “The Board didn’t care to listen to the community and bullied their proposal onto unincorporated Wanchese, which is governed by the Dare County Board of Commissioners, that board’s May 1 approval of a 60-unit cluster home development occurred in the face of impassioned efforts from a community that turned out in force at a series of meetings to register their staunch opposition.”

    Tuesday, Sep 19 @ 1:49 pm
  • BK

    Anyone in either Dare of Currituck counties ever think to retrofit existing buildings for affordable housing? Some areas might need zoning adjustment but with clever, sustainable design and environmentally friendly landscaping it could be a less costly win/win.

    Tuesday, Sep 19 @ 2:28 pm
  • Liz

    Lack of workers is seen in numerous businesses on the Outer Banks. Standing in a line of ten+ people and only one cashier, shelves 2/3 empty and in disarray, floors that never get mopped, etc. Some people say people are lazy and don’t want to work. How about low pay, and having to work two or three jobs to make ends meet? That and a severe lack of housing, duh.

    And yet at about MP 2 in KH, near one of the most seasonally congested intersections, a garish 7500 sq ft. Sugar Kingdom is going up. Five or six “single family” giant homes are still being built where a single house once stood. Oh goody, just what we need!

    Maybe the tourist bureau should quit inviting everybody to “come on down.” Disband and re-form as the housing bureau. Try to solve some of the problems they helped cause. It’s not like they don’t have the money. But there’s the chronic NIMBY problem, of course.

    I figure some day it’s all going to hit the fan. Probably gradually, as it seems to be doing now.

    Wednesday, Sep 20 @ 9:40 am
  • james


    You load 16 tons, what do you get?
    Another day older and deeper in debt
    St. Peter, don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go
    I owe my soul to the Dare County Store

    Wednesday, Sep 20 @ 10:39 am
  • Human Untensil for the Rich

    Liz nailed it! Nothing else needs to be written………………..

    Wednesday, Sep 20 @ 11:35 am
  • TwoFaced

    First and foremost: Outten and The Tourism Board run this county and are worshiped. (especially by the BOC)
    Second, but just as important are Property Rights. Government can not and should not tell a property owner what he can or cannot do with his property. The property owner must adhere to the zoning laws. Understood.
    Thirdly, There is no such thing as affordable housing in Dare or Currituck County. Let’s all be honest. It sounds GOOD, but no one wants it near them or their property. Everyone has seen this via town meetings.
    Fourth: you can not say that housing is for one race, one sex, one group. It is called Fair Housing. If you have the money and you make make a purchase, you cannot be turned away. Having purchase power supersedes if you are a local, a worker or an out of towner.
    Fifth: Why does Dare BOC expect me or anyone else to subsidize someone else’s home? No one gave me a down-payment for my house. No one assists me in paying my monthly mortgage. As a matter of fact, I am barely getting by. Anyone that would like to subsidize my mortgage, please step forward.
    Sixth: This is all Smoke and Mirrors so Wooda and investors make their money.
    Seventh: NIMBY

    Most of the remarks here are pretty accurate.

    Wednesday, Sep 20 @ 12:52 pm