The Outer Banks Voice – KDH ponders ways to ease the housing crisis
KDH ponders ways to ease the housing crisis
By Michael Wagner | Voices of the Outer Banks October 22, 2022
The Board of Commissioners and the Kill Devil Hills Planning Board met in a joint two-hour working session on October 20 to discuss potential regulatory changes and incentives they could initiate to encourage more housing to long term in the municipality.
“It’s something the board of commissioners has been focusing on for some time now and has made progress,” deputy director of planning Cameron Ray told the group at the start of the meeting, but he said the board had expressed interest in continuing their efforts with more dynamic changes.
Morgan Deane, a senior from First Flight High School who is interning at the planning department at Kill Devil Hills, spoke during the working session and recalled the extent of the problem for young people in the Outer Banks.
“I could go through my entire contact list now and ask people if they plan to live on the beach after they graduate and ninety-nine percent will say no, because we can’t,” he said. she declared. “I think that’s definitely an issue that needs to be addressed everywhere here because realistically you’re going to have a pretty large group of young people who won’t come back into the professional workforce and eventually that workforce. work will reach retirement age.
“I can say with certainty that I’m not going to live here unless this is fixed…I plan to be financially stable, not relying on four jobs just to make rent.”
Efforts the city has undertaken in recent years include changing setback requirements for mixed-use development in the commercial area to give existing businesses or new businesses the option to add apartments that can be used for employees. .
Commissioners also approved zoning amendments to allow secondary suites in commercial and light industrial areas and passed an ordinance allowing clustered homes – free-standing dwellings between 500 and 2,500 square feet with a shared driveway – in the residential zone at low density with restrictions for long term occupancy.
Additionally, commissioners amended the city’s ordinance by increasing the floor area ratio for multi-family development in the light industrial area, which Ray says has been successful in encouraging more multi-family projects in recent years. .
After several hours of discussing opportunities to help alleviate the housing crisis, Mayor Ben Sproul noted that “there is certainly a lot of energy trying to find ways to improve people’s lives and not only with parks and beach access, but housing mix.”
Ultimately, the group asked planning staff to explore several avenues, including revising the existing Workforce Housing Ordinance to remove income requirements to allow flexibility for housing all year round. At the meeting there was also support to explore additional regulatory changes that would reduce regulations for duplex housing in residential areas as well as reduce setbacks for mixed-use development in the light industrial area.
Another option on the table was to encourage mixed-use development with zoning concessions for long-term development, including no additional parking for residential uses. Planning staff have also been tasked with investigating grant funding opportunities for voluntary conversion from short-term to long-term housing.
Commissioner Terry Gray said he sees a lot of promise in reducing setbacks for mixed-use development. “There has been a lot of talk and a lot of expressions from business owners to help solve this problem and I think if [businesses] can have apartments overhead, i think that would free up other areas.
For his part, Commissioner BJ McAvoy questioned the municipality’s level of responsibility in solving the problem, “especially our city, however dense it may be, in solving this beach problem…I have a disagreement fundamental with many people in this room about the role of government.