Can A ‘Single-Family Home’ Have 24 Bedrooms?

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Unless you’re regularly hosting the likes of the seventh Earl of Chichester at Downton Abbey, your notion of the term “single family home” probably doesn’t include anything more than a few bedrooms. But one homeowner in North Carolina’s Outer Banks has spent four years trying to convince local lawmakers that this term applies to her under-construction 24-bedroom home.

The sprawling house is currently sitting unfinished in Currituck County, NC, down the coast from Virginia Beach. The property owners recently sued the county in an effort to complete their dream home, reports The Virginian-Pilot.

According to the lawsuit, the county’s development regulations and state codes don’t set a size or bedroom limit for houses. In 2013, the homeowner says the county agreed that the home could be zoned as a residence and granted her a building permit two years later.

The house includes three sections laid out in a “U” shape with enclosed hallways connecting two of the wings. All told, the buildings comprise 15,000 square feet of living space. At the heart of the matter is how the house will be used: It’s intended to be an event house, the kind of place someone might rent for a large gathering like a wedding or reunion.

This is causing locals in the area to worry about things like traffic and noise. Neighbors who live on an adjacent property think houses like these should be zoned as businesses, and have fought construction since the start. The North Carolina Court of Appeals agreed in June 2016, ruling [PDF] that the house should not be considered a single-family dwelling.

That forced the county to revise its interpretation of its own development ordinance, and it ordered construction to stop on the building in Sept. 2016. In January, officials declined to amend that rule to allow work on the home to resume.

The homeowner claims in the lawsuit filed week that she has a “recognized and protected right to develop her lot,” and that the development ordinance is “arbitrary, capricious and unconstitutional. She wants to finish construction, arguing that the building permit issued by the county gave her a legal right to do so, and that no court has ordered her to stop.

The county now has 60 days to respond.

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