Dare County reimburses housing partner nearly $400K

By on March 22, 2024

Coastal Affordable Housing could receive up to $5M for pre-development expenses

Amid word that Coastal Affordable Housing LLC is potentially looking at building housing in Kitty Hawk, the company has been billing the county substantial fees for expenses incurred in its thus far unsuccessful efforts to generate such a project.

At least one Coastal Affordable Housing invoice paid by the county was for expenses totaling $389,633.73 that were accrued during pre-development work during the period from Sept. 7, 2022, to April 30, 2023. The invoice, dated, May 8, 2023, includes payable expenses ranging from A@E Fees/Consultants (almost $118,000) to Miscellaneous (more than $15,000.)

In an interview Dare County Manager Bobby Outten told the Voice he believes another invoice for expenses was recently submitted by the Coastal Affordable Housing LLC, but he added that he has not yet seen it.

Efforts to reach Jordan Hennessy, a principal in the Coastal Affordable Housing LLC, for comment were not successful. Hennessy, who had been a top aide to former State Senator Bill Cook, is also a top official at EJE Dredging, which owns and operates the Miss Katie Dredge.

According to the Pre-Development Agreement signed between Coastal Affordable Housing LLC and Dare County, the county is obligated to pay properly documented invoices “for pre-development expenses associated with the project…not to exceed in the aggregate, the sum of five million dollars.”

Coastal Affordable Housing was one of two partners selected by Dare County to help ease the housing crunch for its workforce. The other company, Woda Cooper, ended its efforts late last year after its proposed housing projects in Manteo and Nags Head were derailed by local opposition. The Coastal Affordable Housing LLC effort to build a major housing project in Kill Devil Hills was blocked by that town’s board of commissioners in August 2022.

In explaining the provision requiring the county to reimburse Coastal Affordable for expenses, Outten said that the LLC “can’t go out and buy a million-dollar piece of property” without doing a great deal of “preliminary work” regarding the site that involves expenditures. He said that there was no such reimbursement provision in the agreement with Woda Cooper because “they came to us with a property ready to go” in Nags Head and with another project on county-owned property in Manteo.

Outten also told the Voice that Coastal Affordable housing is currently “working with Kitty Hawk” on a housing development.  “I think they’re trying to figure out what will fit there.”

When contacted by the Voice, Kitty Hawk Town Manager Melody Clopton said she had “not received any proposals” from Coastal Affordable regarding a housing project, later adding that “to my knowledge, there have been no conversations with this group.”

Last year, the Coastal Affordable Housing LLC was involved in controversy when Dare County municipal officials learned of a provision inserted into the state budget that curtailed the municipalities’ authority to regulate affordable housing projects funded by $35 million earmarked by the state for that purpose. That $35 million has been designated for Coastal Affordable Housing efforts. Multiple media outlets have identified State Representative Keith Kidwell, who represents part of Dare County, as being involved in inserting that housing provision in the budget.

Surprised and angered by what they viewed as the state’s attempt to undermine their authority to regulate development within their jurisdictions, all six Dare County towns sued to invalidate the budget provision last October.

In January 2024, the Dare County Commissioners passed a resolution declaring they would not use that provision to circumvent town zoning regulations regarding those housing developments.

 



Comments

  • OBX Mermaid

    that invoice for “services”is outrageous! since when should Dare County pay for overhead? where are the items billed for? whoever approved this for payment should be fired! is the person approving this be “mr beach nourishment”? what qualifies him to now work on affordable housing? who approved this agreement. should be fired! resign!

    Saturday, Mar 23 @ 4:00 pm
  • Aida Havel

    The word “reimbursement” in the title of this story is somewhat misleading. It appears that $80,000 went to “Developer Overhead” and $15,371 to “Miscellaneous.” This $95,000+ was apparently paid directly to Coastal Affordable Housing, LLC (Jordan Hennessey). There was another $25,000 for “Pre-construction Services” that may have been paid to CAH as well. As far as I can see, these monies would not be considered “reimbursements” unless they were first paid out by CAH to another entity.

    Saturday, Mar 23 @ 4:39 pm
  • Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice

    I don’t understand your point.

    Saturday, Mar 23 @ 6:47 pm
  • Taxpayer

    @Derek, I believe Commissioner House is running interference for Jordan Hennessy. The voters will remember at election time!
    This group has taken advice from the Basnight Handbook on getting rich via tax dollars.
    When will Outten retire? Surely he has made enough money from Dare County.

    Saturday, Mar 23 @ 5:04 pm
  • OBX Mermaid

    i find it interesting that the initials on this invoice “E.D.”
    authorizing payment do not match the initials of any Dare County employee! so who authorized payment for real? and since when would dare county have to pay overhead and rent? where is the rental space?

    Saturday, Mar 23 @ 5:15 pm
  • Dawn Stultz

    Regarding the article, so a bill of almost $400,000 has been submitted and the Kitty Hawk Mayor doesn’t recall having any conversations with this company? I realize they billed the county but I would think they would be having “conversations” with the town…. anyone else find this interesting??

    Saturday, Mar 23 @ 6:51 pm
  • Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice

    As the story notes, the expenses that were billed were for the period from late 2022 to April 2023. So that may well have predated any effort in Kitty Hawk.

    Saturday, Mar 23 @ 7:14 pm
  • Aida Havel

    Mark, to me, reimbursement means repaying someone or some entity for something they paid out to someone else. The amounts I mention seem to be payments directly to CAH, and not payments to pay back CAH for monies that CAH paid to someone else.

    Saturday, Mar 23 @ 9:50 pm
  • Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice

    Let’s agree to say the county owed the LLC almost $400K in fees/expenses/reimbursements in its thus far unsuccessful effort to generate a new housing project.

    Monday, Mar 25 @ 8:55 am
  • outis

    This whole thing stinks from one end of Dare County, to the other. You have to wonder why, at this point, Dare County is sticking with this Coastal Affordable Housing ripoff. It is obvious that some people in Raleigh and eastern NC are out to fleece Dare County, and pad their pockets.
    Is Dare County government complicit in this? Otherwise why hasn’t Coastal Affordable Housing been fired? In addition to getting almost $400,000 from Dare County, plus more on the way, for producing nothing of benefit to the County, they and some cronies in Raleigh tried to circumvent all the local zoning laws in Dare County so they could build where ever they wanted to. WOW! And Dare County government is still dealing with these people? Still paying them money??!!
    And on top of all this, these same cronies are picking on Jockeys Ridge State Park! Do they want to try and get control of that property, so they can turn it into a massive “affordable housing project” (retirement community)? The hogs are at the trough!
    Please Dare County, get rid of Coastal Affordable Housing for the benefit of almost everyone in the County. And do it now, before they rack up another half million dollar bill!

    Sunday, Mar 24 @ 7:13 am
  • Greg

    In this article there are the names Jordan Hennessy and Keith Kidwell. Hennessy worked for the useless State Senator Bill Cook. He is someone who works schemes to get money from government. Kidwell is supposed to represent a portion of Dare County. He is agenda is to rise in State Politics not to act in the interests of his constituents. As for affordable housing in a beach resort area, the land is not available or affordable. Affordable housing in most every other beach resort area on the Southeast Coast is located in the mainland areas adjacent to the beach resort. Kitty Hawk already has affordable housing options on the West side of US 158. These options are apartments, town homes and smalller homes. There is no large tract of land in Kitty Hawk suitable for dense development.

    Sunday, Mar 24 @ 9:11 am
  • Liz

    I’m probably clueless, but isn’t this like a company building a couple of spec homes that don’t sell, but the builder still gets “reimbursed”? Coastal Affordable Housing gambled and lost the big prize, but they get paid anyway? As others have pointed out, Dare County residents pay the bill. Isn’t that special!

    Sunday, Mar 24 @ 10:05 am
  • Greg

    This article points to the non representation we have in Raleigh. Our NC Senator and our NC Representitives vote for a National right wing agenda. Our previous representatives Cook and Boswell did the same. Our representatives in Raleigh constantly vote for measures put together by development and agribusiness special interests inland that pollute our water. However they love the tax money we alll work hard to generate. Dare and Currituck Counties collect a great deal of sales and use taxes as well as gasoline tax.

    Sunday, Mar 24 @ 10:57 am
  • OBX Resident

    Prior to Coastal Affordable Housing aquisition of a parcel(s) of land, the County has agreed to pay them up to $5,000,000, approximately 14% of the $35,000,000. If CAH does not aquire any property and withdraws from the project, the contract allows CAH to be reimbursed up to $5,000,000 for all ‘pre-development costs’, and the contract states ‘under no circumstances shall the developer (CAH) be required to refund all, or any portion, of the pre-development costs paid to the developer (CAH) by the County pursuant to the terms of this agreement. Under normal circumstances, a developer would discuss development plans with the local municipality or governing body prior to the expediture of funds and studies, but in this case CAH is going to work to shove this right down the throat of Kitty Hawk as the legislation allows. Again, it appears that CAH palyed a hand in the passage of this legislation. While the County passed a resolution against the legislation, they have not joined the lawsuit to overturn the legislation. It is rumored that the Kitty Hawk parcel is across US 158 from the KH Elementry School to the east of Woods Road. The more information that comes out will be of benefit to the taxpayers. It is shadowy and sketchy that someone (CAH) is given $35,000,000, yet they are not held accountable, do not have to show up at a commissioners meeting to provide project updates, or respond to inquiries from the press or citizens.

    Sunday, Mar 24 @ 4:27 pm
  • Terry Gore

    I just want to make sure we have the facts clear.

    This money was allocated to be spent in Dare County by the state. No one is taking money away from other parts of Dare County. It is state money, allocated for use in Dare County. IT IS NOT DARE COUNTY MONEY! It is not part of the property taxes paid by the citizens and NRPOs to the county, it is not occupancy tax paid by visitors to the county, it is money paid to the State of North Carolina that they are choosing to use in Dare County. Please keep in mind, the state is under no obligation to allocate this money into Dare County. It does not come from ad valorem or occupancy tax. The funds have specific limitations on how they can be spent. It cannot go toward giving county employees raises, improving schools, or promoting tourism. It can only (by law) be spent on ‘Housing’. If you want more specifics, here is a link to the bill: https://www.ncleg.gov/Sessions/2021/Bills/Senate/PDF/S105v8.pdf it is on page 459.

    (It should be noted that Dare County employees have received raises over the last couple of years at the direction of the commissioners.)

    As it is the state that appropriated these funds, the state gets to make the rules. If Dare County does not follow their rules, then the state will take the money back. It is not a carte blanche check to do with as Dare County pleases. Also, if Dare County does not use it, in the way and manner the state prescribes, they (the state) will take it back and use it in another part of the state that wants it. Which is becoming increasingly likely. If that happens, then (it is my belief) there will not be any more money coming our way from the state for an exceedingly long time.

    It is my opinion that the County Commissioners are the subject of unfair scrutiny over this matter. Here is the role the county and its commissioners played in this matter:

    1) According to the Bill the county had the obligation of distributing a request for qualification (RFQ) formally soliciting submissions from developers. Which they did in December of 2021.
    2) From there they got two submissions. Just two; Woda Cooper Companies and Coastal Affordable Housing, LLC. Anyone could apply, but two did!
    3) Based on the criteria given to them by the state (that they legally had to follow) they chose the applicant that best met the guidelines given.
    4) Then when the state passed a law that said municipalities could not interfere with development from these funds. The Dare County Commissioners passed a resolution OPPOSING it!

    They are not taking Dare County money and giving it to a developer. They are following the law as prescribed by the state legislature. If you do not like the fact the state allocated money to build housing in Dare County, take it up with your state legislator and ask them to spend the money in Wake or Mecklenburg counties.

    Sunday, Mar 24 @ 5:17 pm
  • Pearl

    Terry Gore,
    Are you not aware that Dare Co. residents pay close to 5% of their income to state taxes. Are you not aware that we pay near 5% in sales tax on nearly every purchase to the state? That every tourist that we welcome and serve or entertain pays state sales tax?
    We are saying that these representatives are not using our
    STATE paid taxes to our benefit. They are lining their own pockets.
    We are not acting entitled. We are sick of politicians taking and taking and THEIR sense of entitlement.

    Sunday, Mar 24 @ 6:56 pm
  • OBX Resident

    @Terry Gore: I would like to add clarity to some of your points.

    .5) Members of CAH were instrumental in drafting the legislation which awarded the funds to Dare County in a manner to limit other qualified organizations by including language regarding a ‘forgivable loan’. The forgivable loan relates to their award of the dredge contract.
    1. Yes, you are correct, I agree.
    2. They received more than 2 (two) proposals, but again the legislation was written in a manner to limit those that were qualified for the benefit of CAH. I believe 5 were received.
    3. Yes, it was up to Dare County Commissioners to award the contract, but also in a manner that insures no collusion. How was an LLC with zero collective experience and assets evaluated higher than a company that has built tens of thousands of units and as a successful history of completing projects? This is where your analysis falls apart. More transparency would assure that there was no collusion in the award of this contract, and this is the concern of many.
    4. Regarding the legislation, it is unique to only CAH. The commissioners passed a resolution, but resolutions carry no weight. If they were truely against the legislation they would join the other Dare municipalities in their lawsuit to have the legislation overturned.

    Sunday, Mar 24 @ 8:47 pm
  • Russ Lay

    There is a pattern here. I am a conservative and registered Republican. I have and will continue to support GOP incumbents pn this board.

    But sometimes you need to punt and admit you made decisions that in retrospect, perhaps should have been subject to more due diligence.

    You cannot convince me that a person who snagged a job as a Legislative Assistant to Sen. Cook right out of high school , finished his college degree while working for Sen. Cook, and after the senator leaves office, suddenly finds these opportunities fall into is literal lap:

    1) An LLC in which he is a member obtains a contract whereby that LLC actually owns ‘our’ Dare County dredge, rather than the county owning the same.

    2) Is a member of an LLC that is one of only two in contention for state money to build ‘affordable housing’ under Dare County rules.

    3) Is a member of an LLC that somehow wrangled the General Assembly into passing a bill that benefited their LLC and caused the other housing group to withdraw from seeking the grant.

    I fully support the current BOC in our county. That said, I tried to warn certain BOC members and all local news organizations about the optics of issues surrounding this former LA to Sen. Cook.

    I was met with indifference. I even had elected officials meet with local journalists to back up my concerns. Still no takers.

    It took someone local to obtain this invoice, thus providing ‘cover’ via ‘documentation’ before anyone would actually report on this.

    This is not Harry Potter. There is no ‘he whose name cannot be uttered’ scenario . The names are Jordan Hennessy, Sen. Bill Cook, and Rep. Kidwell.

    Either all of this is aboveboard ethically and legally—or it isn’t. No reason for anyone to refuse to question whether the optics here pass muster.

    Sunday, Mar 24 @ 9:35 pm
  • Freenusa

    Added to the Jordan list, is being appointed to the Coastal Resources Commission, last year and then the unnecessary controversy with a NC treasure, Jockeys Ridge State Park.

    Monday, Mar 25 @ 9:35 am
  • Stinks to High Heaven

    Mr. Lay hit the nail on the head. I am also a conservative but this stinks to high heaven.

    There is more than enough prima facie evidence of political corruption and criminal conspiracy here to trigger an investigation by the NC Attorney General and/or the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina. They need to use their legal authorities to investigate and follow the money.

    Monday, Mar 25 @ 9:52 am
  • charlie

    Coastal Affordable Housing is an LLC.. There is only one person listed for this LLC with the Secretary of State.. None of the other partners, just like in all LLC’s, are listed… Imagine if the citizens of Dare County found out who they are?…. How many names would not be a big surprise…

    Monday, Mar 25 @ 10:21 am
  • Obx mermaid

    I think these issues should be brought to the attention of Josh Stein, the NC Attorney General who is currently running for governor of NC.
    I think this is a NC issue,
    Not a federal issue. All
    Involved
    Should be investigated!

    Monday, Mar 25 @ 7:38 pm
  • Very Concerned

    1.) Bobby Outten has got to go! How can a single individual serve in two full-time capacities for the county? Isn’t it illegal for any other county employee to serve in more than one full-time position?

    2.) Keep your eye on Jordan Hennessy. The county would have you believe that we own the dredge, the Miss Katie, but it is owned by EJE Dredging. That’s how Jordan got his foot in the door of Dare County, and now, we are seeing his name pop up in various other activities across our county. Jordan purchased property at the end of Harbor Road in the Wanchese Marine Industrial Park, and the park is currently having sewer lines installed – Coincidence, I think not! The best thing we can do is send him packing with Bobby Outten.

    3.) Let your voices be heard and make your votes count in November. Our board of commissioners has taken advantage of this county for far too long. It’s time to clean house & get some fresh blood in those seats!

    4.) Lastly, THANK YOU MARK, for this investigative reporting! We need to see a lot more articles of this nature. I have a very strong inkling that there are some shady deals being made between the county and Mr. Hennessy. Please continue to pursue any and all leads.

    Wednesday, Mar 27 @ 1:53 pm