Town Of Nags Head Looking At Reducing Square Footage To Deal With New Law

Town Of Nags Head Looking At Reducing Square Footage To Deal With New Law

Dated: 07/31/2015

Views: 1304

Town looks at reducing square footage to deal with new law

By on July 30, 2015

The town has encouraged the old Nags Head look with a maximum of eight bedrooms . (Joe Lamb Jr. & Associates)

Nags Head officials will look at lowering the town’s limit on square footage instead of using a building moratorium to buy time to conform with a new state law that restricts local control over housing construction.

Deputy Town Manager Andy Garman said the Board of Commissioners will consider a limit of 3,500 square feet at its next meeting Aug. 5.

The maximum square footage now allowed under Nags Heads ordinances is 5,000 with a limit of eight bedrooms. But in addition to taking away local powers over appearance, the new law prohibits restricting the number of bedrooms.


Earlier this month, the board had agreed to hold a public hearing on imposing a temporary moratorium on building permits to give staff members time to rewrite ordinances to align with  the new law.

But town officials subsequently learned that a state law enacted in 2011 prohibits moratoriums.

Garman said a 3,500-square-foot house generally can accommodate up to five bedrooms. The limit is a stopgap but will stand until the board decides to amend the ordinance again.

“That’s the only legal way to do this,” he said.

The new law went into effect immediately after Gov. Pat McCrory signed the legislation earlier this month, giving localities no time to rework ordinances, Garman said.


Features that towns can no longer restrict include exterior colors, siding and the appearance of decking.

Several years ago, Nags Head adopted an ordinance that capped the number of bedrooms at eight. The town also instituted a point system for houses with five or more bedrooms and 3,500 or more square feet whereby incorporating exterior features commonly known as the Nags Head look — hip roofing, wraparound decks — allowed more non-permeable lot coverage.

Other municipalities in Dare County and across the state have enacted similar rules.


Proponents say the change was merely a clarification of current state law that prohibits local governments from requiring building standards that exceed the state building code.

Property rights advocates also backed the law, including state Rep. Paul Tine and state Senator Bill Cook, who represent Dare County.

The law does allow for some exceptions. For example, historic districts, such as the historic cottage district in Nags Head, are exempted. Commercial buildings also appear to be exempt.

Local governments can continue to regulate height, required parking spaces per house and bedrooms as they relate to available area for septic tanks and floor-area ratios.

Also, existing and new subdivisions with homeowner covenants that are part of a contract to purchase, such as The Village in Nags Head, can continue to regulate aesthetic features.

Garman said only the limit on square footage will be considered net week. He said the town hopes over time to rewrite appearance incentives that comply with the new law.

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Kathleen Argiroff

Kathleen relocated to the Outer Banks of North Carolina with her husband and three children in 1989 from the Philadelphia and Stone Harbor, NJ areas. One of her greatest pleasures is introducing peopl....

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