Dare Board adds $1.5M for new housing project

By on September 19, 2023

Plan is for Woda Cooper to build 57 units at unspecified site

Referring to the lack of progress on housing, Commissioner Steve House declared: “I’m tired of being pushed out.”

Meeting in special session on Tuesday, Sept. 19, the Dare County Board of Commissioners unanimously voted to appropriate another $1.5 million to help its essential housing partner, Woda Cooper, proceed with an effort to build a 57-unit development in the county.

The measure passed with a 5-0 vote of the board of commissioners, with Commissioners Woodard and Tobin not present. The site for the new project has not been selected by the development company, and according to Dare County Manager Bobby Outten, the process would likely take 18-24 months before units would be ready for occupancy. During the meeting, Commissioner Rob Ross indicated that the average rent for the proposed development would be slightly over $900 per month.

The Sept. 19 action comes two weeks after the Manteo Board of Commissioners rejected a request by the county to hook up a 46-unit Woda Cooper development at the end of Bowsertown Road to the town’s wastewater treatment system—a move that appears that have effectively killed that project.

Outten told the commissioners that any new Woda Cooper project “would be the same project we were working on in Bowsertown.”

In asking for the additional $1.5 million for the developer to embark on a new effort, Outten told the commissioners that the lengthy and thus far unsuccessful process of getting such a project built means that “the cost of doing this has gone up significantly.”

“They believe they can move forward,” Outten said in reference to Woda Cooper, adding that “We have the funds available from the fund balance. We’re good with this financially.”

Back in March 2022, Dare County announced that it has selected Woda Cooper to build about 100 essential housing units at two different sites, and it earmarked $9 million to accomplish that. As Outten told the Voice after the Sept. 19 meeting, that $9 million in funds had already grown to $10.5 million, and the addition of the $1.5 million approved at the meeting, increases the pot to $12 million.

During the meeting, some signs of frustration with the lack of progress on housing emerged.

Commissioner Steve House, who attended remotely, asked bluntly: “When can we actually see sticks in the ground? I’m tired of being pushed out.” Then, alluding to the housing shortage that has triggered an employee shortage for some local businesses, House added that, “We’re at a critical stage right now. I know of three companies that are thinking about closing because they can’t find help.”

Asked after the meeting how Woda Cooper could overcome the resistance to such projects at the municipal level, Outten responded that “They’ve got to find a site that’s zoned correctly to do what they want to do.” A moment later, however, he added that Woda Cooper had found such a site in the ill-fated Bowsertown project.


  • Lots of Money

    $12 Million is a lot of money to through around by a government entity working as a developer, while the leaders claim to be fiscally conservative and free market capitalist.

    Tuesday, Sep 19 @ 1:09 pm
  • RicknKDH

    Commissioner Steve House, when did it become the role of government to save businesses by providing housing for employees? ie. your comment, ““We’re at a critical stage right now. I know of three companies that are thinking about closing because they can’t find help.”

    Tuesday, Sep 19 @ 1:42 pm
  • sandy toes

    When big money is involved, have someone slip one in at the last minute!

    Tuesday, Sep 19 @ 2:11 pm
  • Terrible Idea

    No matter where they build these taxpayer subsidized housing projects they are a terrible idea for Dare County. Under federal rules these LIHTC (Low Income Housing Tax Credit) projects are especially well suited for retired seniors (Non-workers) on fixed incomes. Most of our local essential workers will not qualify because their income is too high.

    These housing projects will be open for Non-locals because under federal rules Non-locals must be treated the same as Locals. Spending Dare County taxpayer’s money to build housing for Non-locals and Non-workers is a terrible idea that will do more harm than good and just make our local worker housing shortage problem even worse.

    Tuesday, Sep 19 @ 4:40 pm
  • Charles

    Businesses closing because they can’t hire workers because would-be workers can’t find housing they can afford at the wages they would be earning…

    Tuesday, Sep 19 @ 5:44 pm
  • Ann

    Maybe Woda should look at Currituck County

    Tuesday, Sep 19 @ 5:45 pm
  • Chris

    There is not a housing shortage on the Outer Banks. For 8 months of the year about 70% of the houses here sit empty. The problem is greed. Property owners see more money in short term rentals and Airbnb. We need regulations on short term rentals….. but then that cuts into tax money, so….????

    Wednesday, Sep 20 @ 6:19 am
  • Dan-O

    “We’re at a critical stage right now. I know of three companies that are thinking about closing because they can’t find help.”—Lemme’ guess, Mr. House…those businesses AREN’T doctors offices, hardware stores or schools…Are they candy stores, restaurants and stuffed toy stores?

    Wednesday, Sep 20 @ 8:24 am
  • Voidless

    It will be interesting to see which town gets the new wastewater treatment plant….

    Wednesday, Sep 20 @ 9:16 am
  • Concerned

    Why not build some affordable apartments in East Lake….all that land

    Wednesday, Sep 20 @ 9:32 am
  • Local as it gets

    Why is it being kept a secret which town/citizens are going to have this awful project jammed down their throats?

    Wednesday, Sep 20 @ 10:25 am
  • Refund Our Tax Dollars

    Apparently, Dare County has too much of the tax payer’s dollars. Wow. How about refund some of my dollars so I can actually afford to pay my mortgage and buy groceries? My family and I are struggling and we work full time jobs. To be fair, the BOC should Subsidize my mortgage as well as many others.
    Just tell the truth for once. You promised Wooda would make some money and you are Marching to the Beat of Their Drum! Thanks Steve.

    Wednesday, Sep 20 @ 12:57 pm
  • Ash Williams

    Sandy Toes is paying attention *someone* just slipped some language in the state budget that would allow this affordable housing project, anywhere in Dare, regardless of zoning, and require utility hookup if within 1 mile of a local govt that provides them.

    Wednesday, Sep 20 @ 5:00 pm
  • Wondering

    @Local as it gets
    Probably they are keeping it a secret so there won’t be time to organize opposition.

    @Refund our tax dollars
    Great idea! We who already live here could use some help to make our existing homes more affordable, rather than filling the county’s bank accounts.

    Thursday, Sep 21 @ 9:29 am
  • Muriel

    Hello all, I am doing ethnographic research (in the form of a film) on the issue of overdevelopment in the Outer Banks, from the perspectives of local working people. How do these monstrosities benefit anyone who is actually from here and works here? If you have something to say and are interested in participating in my research and/or film, please email me at murielbkruize@gmail.com. Looking forward to hearing from you!

    All the best,

    Friday, Sep 22 @ 8:25 am
  • Donald Ball

    $210,526.32 per unit (12 million divided by 57) has bought us what? It certainly cannot be called affordable. Q for

    Sunday, Sep 24 @ 3:30 pm
  • Donald Ball

    Question for the board: If we’re spending this much money why not just go ahead and develop it ourselves?

    Sunday, Sep 24 @ 3:43 pm
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