From an Outer Banks Voice report.
The Dare County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution Monday stating the county will not use a controversial and contentious provision that was inserted into the state budget to try and build affordable housing projects.
Dare County Chairman Bob Woodard subsequently announced that the first meeting of the affordable housing task force will be 9 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 18, in Room 168 of the Dare County Administration Building in Manteo.
The public is invited, although seating is limited. According to Woodard, there are about 20 members of the task force.
Municipal officials were infuriated and surprised by the provision that would have restricted towns from regulating housing developments funded with $35 million in state funds earmarked for affordable housing. On Oct. 6, the six Dare County municipalities filed a lawsuit against the state challenging that provision. No one has claimed responsibility for inserting that item into the budget, but news outlets have identified Rep. Keith Kidwell, who represents part of Dare County, as one of those involved.
Woodard, who drafted the resolution with County Manager Bobby Outten, told the Outer Banks Voice that the document formalizes what county officials had already been telling municipal officials.
“All along, we weren’t happy with the language that the state had put in there,” Woodard said. “We had no intention of overriding the town ordinances.”
“People will probably wonder why it did take so long,” to pass a resolution, Woodard added, stating that he wanted to make sure town officials got the county’s verbal assurances first.
In an email to the Voice, Nags Head Mayor Ben Cahoon said “I took Chairman Woodard at his word but appreciate the County committing this to writing. Hopefully, we can all begin working together to find a solution.”
The resolution passed Monday states that “the Dare County Board of Commissioners confirms their earlier verbal statements of their intention to solve the workforce housing problem in Dare County by working together with local governments, citizens and stake holders and not to use HB 259 (the provision in question) to exempt any workforce housing solutions from the local government zoning authority as part of any proposed solutions.”
Stating that the county never requested the provision, the resolution declared that it’s “been adamantly opposed by the towns located in Dare County to the extent they have filed legal action to set it aside.”
Another passage stated that the resolution was designed to “reduce the acrimony between the towns and Dare County and to help in the process of reaching consensus among the local governments, citizens and stakeholders.”
As for the failure to make progress on building housing, which includes proposed projects that were rejected in Manteo, Nags Head and Kill Devil Hills, the resolution flatly declared that “for many years Dare County has been working to provide workforce housing and has been unsuccessful in those efforts.”
And at this point, there is no public evidence of progress on the issue. The Woda Cooper Co., which ran into major community opposition in Nags Head and Manteo, recently announced it was abandoning its efforts to build housing in Dare County. The county’s second housing partner, Coastal Affordable Housing LLC, the group with access to that $35 million pile of state funds, has not publicly discussed any plan or proposal in the works.
In an attempt to build a broader consensus for generating that housing and take a new approach to the problem, the Dare County Commissioners in October approved the creation of an affordable housing task force. In his interview with the Voice, Woodard says the group will have its first meeting within the next few weeks.
This story is provided courtesy of the Outer Banks Voice, a digital newspaper covering the Outer Banks. Coastal Review is partnering with the Voice to provide readers with more environmental and lifestyle stories of interest about our coast.