Local governments on North Carolina's Outer Banks are unsure how to respond to a recent trend in the barrier island real estate market: the move by a few builders there to construct single-family homes with a dozen or more bedrooms, designed as summer rental properties targeting vacationing beach-goers.

The Outer Banks Voice had this update on November 17 (see: "KDH: No headway on big houses; disc course moves forward," by Michelle Wagner). "Kill Devil Hills commissioners came up short last week in making any recommendations to the Planning Board on ways to control the growing number of large single-family homes popping up along the town’s oceanfront," the Voice reported.

"Commissioners were expected to provide guidance to the Planning Board last month, but Mayor Sheila Davies said during last week’s Board of Commissioners meeting that her biggest [issue] was safety, more so than the economic impact or aesthetics," the paper reported. "She added that despite the initial public concern, a recent town forum garnered no commenters on the issue. Davies asked the planning staff to investigate whether state law would allow the town to impose requirements for sprinklers and other safety features once a house reached a certain square footage. Other commissioners echoed Davies’ concerns and said they weren’t sure what the answer was."

The towns are working within the confines of new limits on local government power, the paper noted: "A state law passed earlier this year prohibits a town or county from regulating the number or types of rooms a home can have. While Kill Devil Hills has no ordinances regulating the size of homes, neighboring towns have had to scramble to revise their ordinances to adhere to the legislation. Towns still can control height, bulk, orientation or locations of structures on lots."