flat top cottage

Heavy equipment sits ready to demolish a old flat top cottage in Southern Shores. 

SOUTHERN SHORES, N.C.

A plan to tear down a tiny oceanfront flat-top cottage and build a house five times larger with capacity for 24 people has many residents here fuming, with one calling the project a "monstrosity."

It is doubly distasteful to its critics who fear it will start a trend of event-style houses at the cost of a dwindling number of flat-roofed homes designed by the town’s founder in the 1940s.

SAGA Construction proposes to build a house on Ocean Boulevard of nearly 6,000 square feet with 12 bedrooms, 12 baths and 17 parking spaces. The house would follow an Outer Banks pattern of replacing older, smaller homes with massive vacation houses featuring big kitchens, lots of bedrooms, a pool, and other amenities that attract wedding parties or large gatherings.

The company has state permits and is waiting for approval from the town. If the plans are within the rules, the town would issue the project a permit, said town manager Peter Rascoe.

For future homes, the town council proposed a plan Wednesday for a district along the oceanfront that would require set backs, height limits and lot coverage maximums among other things. Town staff will review the plan and bring it back to the council later.

Southern Shores used to cap the number of bedrooms at seven before the General Assembly passed a law in 2015 preventing the practice.

Since then, Southern Shores and other Outer Banks towns have struggled with controlling house sizes. The town passed an ordinance in 2016 limiting homes to 6,000 square feet, but could not restrict the number of bedrooms.

At least four other homes have 10 bedrooms. This would be the first 12-bedroom home in Southern Shores.

The property owners association has protested the SAGA project, and a petition against it garnered 444 signatures from the roughly 2,900 residents.

“I pray you can stop it,” resident Lee Whitley told the council at Wednesday’s meeting.

She said the house was a “monstrosity” that is not in harmony with the town’s character.

In 1947, artist and developer Frank Stick purchased 2,600 acres along what is now N.C. 12 for $30,000. He named the area Southern Shores. He designed and built small cottages of concrete block and colorful wooden shutters with the trademark flat roofs. About 30 of the original 75 or so remain.

“We are not Kill Devil Hills, we’re not Corolla and we’re not Duck,” said Sally Gudas, who owns a flat-top cottage. “We are a very special place and we need to hold on to that.”

Jeff Hampton, 252-491-5272, jeff.hampton@pilotonline.com

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