Dare County towns file lawsuit against NC over affordable housing budget provision

By on October 6, 2023

Less than three weeks after being surprised by the now infamous Dare County affordable housing provision inserted into the state budget, all six Dare County municipalities have signed on to a lawsuit filed against the State of North Carolina challenging that provision.

The housing measure, for which no one has yet acknowledged responsibility, would have restricted the towns’ ability to regulate affordable housing projects funded by $35 million in state money awarded the county for that purpose. Various town officials have vocally criticized the measure for eroding and encroaching on local authority over development and zoning.

According to Andy Garman, Town Manager for Nags Head, the litigation, which was filed in Wake County Superior Court on Friday, Oct. 6, seeks a temporary restraining order, a preliminary injunction, a permanent injunction and declaratory relief. Four different groups of lawyers, including those employed as town attorneys, are on the complaint on behalf of the six plaintiffs.

A joint statement released by the six towns on Oct. 6 noted that the effect of the budget provision “is to require Plaintiffs to allow these Dare County Affordable Housing Projects to be constructed within a town or area of a private party’s choosing and to be completely exempt from certain zoning and regulatory controls that otherwise apply to all other development of property within Plaintiffs’ jurisdictions…despite the fact that citizens throughout Dare County have expressed strenuous objection to the placement of these Dare County Projects in certain zoning districts and other parts of some of Plaintiffs’ jurisdiction.”

“In this action, Plaintiffs seek a declaration that the Dare County Local Act is a constitutionally prohibited local or special enactment and otherwise violates certain provisions of the Constitution of North Carolina and also deprives Plaintiffs of their property for a purpose other than a constitutionally permitted purpose,” the statement added.

In explaining the process that led to the towns agreeing to be plaintiffs in the suit, Garman said that “Basically, [the town managers] all found out about it on the nineteenth [of September] and we started talking about it among ourselves.” After that, the managers alerted the town boards and municipal councils and boards and brought in the town attorneys.

At the municipal level, the outcry against the mysterious provision was loud and instant, with local officials in all six towns writing letters of protests and/or passing resolutions calling for the removal of the budget item and for Dare County not to enforce it.

Passions on the matter flamed up at an Oct. 2 Dare County Board of Commissioners meeting during a contentious public comment session and a response by Board Chairman Bob Woodard. At the meeting, the county commissioners did move to establish an affordable housing task force that would include representatives from each of the municipalities.

At the same time, the county has consistently stated that it had no knowledge of, nor any role in the insertion of that affordable housing budget provision. At that Oct. 2 meeting, County Manager Bobby Outten told the towns that the county had no intention of “bulldozing” them with large unwanted housing developments—although it’s not clear how much that statement allayed the towns’ concerns.

When asked for a response to the litigation filed by the towns, Outten told the Voice that he was not aware of it.  For his part, Woodard declined to make a statement on the subject.

Click here to view the Complaint: File-Stamped Complaint Dare County Municipalities

SEE ALSO: County to create affordable housing task force



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Bid Location and Time: Bid opening will be held in the Barnhill Contracting Rocky Mount Training & GPS Technology Room: 800 Tiffany Bvld, Rocky Mount, NC 27804. Time is as follows: January 09, 2024 at 10:00am and 2:00pm. Times per packages to be given on via addendum #01.

Barnhill Contracting Company will receive, open, and read publicly all bids received in person in the Training & GPS Technology Room at the main office 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.”

The pre-bid meeting will be held in Person & Zoom Meeting on December 06, 2023 at 10:00 am at the Barnhill Contracting’s Rocky Mount Main Conference Room: 800 Tiffany Bvld, Rocky Mount, NC 27804.

The pre-bid meeting link can be located on Barnhill’s online Building Division Plan Room ( https://app.buildingconnected.com/public/54da832ce3edb5050017438b) and below. A preferred brand alternates meeting will be held via the same link at the end of the Prebid meeting.

Bid Documents can be viewed or downloaded through Barnhill’s online Building Division Plan Room (https://app.buildingconnected.com/public/54da832ce3edb5050017438b) after 12/04/2023.

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.

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Clint Hardison is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Dare EMS – Phase 2 Pre-Bid Conference

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  • Freenusa

    Thank you to every town for coming together and standing together in this landmark case. If this is pushed on Dare County towns by the state for the sake of “the dollar” and Coastal Affordable Housing LLC, it definitely proves our elected representatives are not on our side. Where is Norm Sanderson, Keith Kidwell and Ed Goodwin 🦗 🦗🦗. It seems they do not care much for their constituents. I hope The Voice is following up with these elected officials and 🦗🦗🦗🦗from the DCBOC as well.

    Friday, Oct 6 @ 8:20 pm
  • Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice

    We’re on it, Free

    Saturday, Oct 7 @ 9:43 am
  • Thanks Mark

    Mark Jurkowitz — Thanks for actively covering this important story. Unlike some of our Dare County “public servants”, you are actually providing a valuable public service to Dare County.

    Nancy Pelosi Woodard “declined to make a statement on the subject.” There’s a first. Surely he can rant and rave and find some honest taxpaying citizen of the county to bad mouth.

    Friday, Oct 6 @ 9:03 pm
  • Drajon

    Is the full complaint available online for the public to review?

    Friday, Oct 6 @ 9:18 pm
  • Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice

    I’ll post in to our site.

    Saturday, Oct 7 @ 9:47 am
  • Obxserver

    From the article linked just above the “comments” link we have this paragraph:

    “All six Dare County towns have officially protested that measure as an encroachment on their local zoning and development jurisdiction. The county has denied any knowledge of, or role in the insertion of that provision into the budget. And thus far, no one has come forward to acknowledge any involvement in creating it—sparking a great deal of speculation about who is responsible. The $35 million in state money is earmarked for projects built by Coastal Affordable Housing LLC,”

    to repeat we have this statement: “And thus far, no one has come forward to acknowledge any involvement in creating it—sparking a great deal of speculation about who is responsible. The $35 million in state money is earmarked for projects built by Coastal Affordable Housing LLC, one of the county’s two development partners.”

    From the article posted just before this article about the tricky new rule concerning public records of legislators titled ” turning Public Records into Private Assets” which was attached to the same budget we have this language or statement :

    “An amendment slipped into the new state budget bill absent debate or notice will allow General Assembly members to decide what, if any, of their records — present or future — will be available to the public. The measure will also grant state lawmakers the right to destroy their once-public records, or if they’re so inspired, to sell them.”

    So apparently. pending future legal challenges or rulings. it is possible that any legislative records pertaining to the matter of the authors or initiators of “The $35 million in state money is earmarked for projects built by Coastal Affordable Housing LLC, one of the county’s development partners”…. as well as information or previously public records about the who and why behind the zoning restrictions about which the 6 Dare municipalities as described in this article are filing a joint lawsuit protesting “that measure as an encroachment on their local zoning and development jurisdiction. The county has denied any knowledge of, or role in the insertion of that provision into the budge”

    Any of these previously public records which by the way are currently public records in the entire rest of the USA; Could be legally destroyed based on the OTHER little item slipped into the by now deservedly infamous budget? At least prior to some sort of restraining order?

    Good work by the OBX Voice bringing this news to the Public. It would be surprising if these precedent setting news items don’t receive national attention.

    Friday, Oct 6 @ 11:34 pm
  • PJ

    What a clown circus politicians have turned our government into, on all levels from Washington on down. Mysterious bills passed that no one will claim they requested. Four GROUPS of lawyers…not just 4 lawyers…hired to try and fight a bill than no one has the guts to say requested it in the first place. Id like to know what WE will be spending just paying all the dang lawyers to fight a bill no one knows who authored it in the first place. Government at its best. This kind of incompetency reflects on every politician from top to bottom. They all come out looking clownish to say the least and we end up paying for it all. There is a lot of stink to this whole deal, but what else is new!

    Saturday, Oct 7 @ 6:52 am
  • Jay R.

    It’s starting to feel like the tide has shifted from “let’s subsidize a few noisy whiny slavewage biz owners” over to “how about those biz owners have their own meetings and find their own solutions.”

    Look, we simply do not have enough tax dollars to create enough cheap housing for everyone who will ever want to live here, so there will always be a “crisis.” Let’s be realistic about that. For 35 million bucks you’re better off just buying existing homes.

    Saturday, Oct 7 @ 8:01 am
  • Dan-O

    No one knows who inserted the provision? Gee, not too much a red flag. Woodard won’t comment? Gee, not too much a red flag. Outten says: “We have no intention of forcing affordable housing onto the towns.” Gee, not too much of a red flag. If Dare doesn’t see this entire program is full of filth & corruption, then Dare gets the representation it deserves.

    Saturday, Oct 7 @ 10:17 am
  • Dylan

    This is what happens when government has an incestuous relationship with business. With an economy based on tourism and faced with businesses failing and not producing tax revenue at expected levels to fund bloated government, it was inevitable that Dare County would try to save themselves from themselves through this misguided initiative.

    Saturday, Oct 7 @ 10:54 am
  • Not surprised

    Good job to all the towns represented and also to the Outer Banks Voice for continuing to cover this.

    Saturday, Oct 7 @ 11:08 am
  • Rick Hodgens

    Enjoy your cluster houses.

    Saturday, Oct 7 @ 12:02 pm
  • The reality

    The legislature usurping municipalities power to determine what’s best for their communities is only part of the story. The other is the public records change in the bill that was also “unexpected, last minute, and unknown sponsor.” They are clearly related. We may question who locally was involved in all this but ultimately it had to be a legislator who introduced the addition of these two nefarious aspects to the budget bill. We all would like to think we the voters would hold them accountable come election time but ultimately it’s unlikely we will. As history shows we keep electing and re-electing politicians who shouldn’t be in office. This is why our government at the state and federal level would surely disappoint the hopes President Lincoln had for a “government of the people, by the people, for the people.”

    Saturday, Oct 7 @ 12:34 pm
  • I Know Nothing

    Woodard does not want to respond to citizens and journalists who are asking questions about the power grab and trying to follow the money. He wants y’all to just shut up and pay your taxes.

    Saturday, Oct 7 @ 4:53 pm
  • Jay

    Pushback from the citizenry must be devastating for County Manager Bobby Outten. Bullies like Bobby don’t like pushback. You can tell from what he says to citizens at meetings. Bobby “wants y’all to just shut up and pay your taxes.” I wonder if Bobby believes some of Dare County need deprogramming?

    Take some of the vacant land on the Dare County mainland and subdivide it into 50’x150′ lots for sale and allow manufactured housing (not trailers) or stick built housing to be installed by the owners to build a community. Bobby no one wants to pay rent.

    Sunday, Oct 8 @ 8:13 am
  • Look At Truckee

    Im in agreeance with Jay R regarding using the allocated 35 million towards existing homes. Truckee (Tahoe) is mountain locked as we are island locked. They had a similar situation as the OBX in that the homes were bought up by retirees and second home owners and the actual local workers were being forced out due to lack of housing. This of course led to a major staffing shortage which meant the tourist/money got disgruntled and started to go elsewhere. The tourism board stepped up and created a program which subsidized local workers buying existing houses. The caveat is the buyer had to be fully employed at a Truckee business and could only ever sell the home to another fully employed, Truckee worker. Its working well for them. Why not try something like that here with that 35 million? And to a further point, since workers are an essential part of what makes the OBX tourism – Why isnt our tourism board helping us?
    Mysterious bill. Loads of lawyers. Millions allocated. And yet we still have no idea of the whats, whens and whys of it all. Another pocket lining smoke show that we get to pay for.

    Sunday, Oct 8 @ 9:39 am
  • RicknKDH

    This is a Dare County Commissioner issue. If we keep reelecting them, they get the message that it’s ok to continue the corruption. Next time you vote, simply vote against the incumbents.

    Sunday, Oct 8 @ 10:10 am
  • Greg

    This is simply the continuation of the GOP majority’s campaign to consolidate power in the NCGA over all localities in NC. They have an agenda and they are attempting to make it an edict over the entire state. This started with the so called “ bathroom” bill which sought to prohibit local ballot measures on workplace discrimination and wages. Our representatives in Raleigh are fully on board with this agenda. Those representatives are not from Dare County. They have been invisible here as they are locked into the national right wing agenda and have to support it or be challenged in a party primary. Reps Kidwell, Goodwin and Senators Sanderson and Hanig are all chained to the national GOP agenda to limit voting rights, lift environmental protections and compromise public education.

    Wednesday, Oct 11 @ 8:17 am
  • Confused

    I’m stupid. Can somewhat put in simple terms what the issue is? I’m sort of getting that the state gov’t wants to just give the 35M to developers to build where they please, while the local gov’t feels they should be able to apply these funds how they see fit. Is that what’s up, or am I way off???

    Wednesday, Oct 11 @ 11:47 am