Local News

City of Raleigh appealing decision on modern Oakwood house

Posted March 20, 2014

— The City of Raleigh announced Thursday that it is appealing a Board of Adjustment decision that could stop construction on a modern house in the historic neighborhood of Oakwood.

The homeowners, Marsha Gordon and her husband Louis Cherry, are pleased of the city's decision.

"We are grateful that the City of Raleigh has decided to join us in appealing the decision of the BOA to reverse our RHDC-granted COS," they said in a statement. "We hope that this appeal will ultimately save other property owners and homeowners from ending up in a similar situation."

Neighbors had filed a complaint that the home, at 516 Euclid St., is too contemporary for the character of the neighborhood.

Marsha Gordon and her husband were granted necessary permits to build the house, including a certificate of appropriateness from the Raleigh Historic Development Commission.

But three months after the foundation was poured, the Board of Adjustment voted to reverse the certificate, which may halt construction on the home.

“The appeal is being filed with Wake County Superior Court because of concerns about procedural irregularities,” the city said in a statement.

The Raleigh Historic Development Commission’s building guidelines for historic areas allow new construction if plans reflect an “understanding of and a compatibility with the distinctive character of the district setting and buildings.”

The guidelines also say new construction in historic neighborhoods can enhance the district.

City Councilwoman Mary-Ann Baldwin said leaders felt it was best to have an "objective third party" look at the issue.

"As a former Oakwood resident, it hurts to see how the neighborhood has been impacted," she said. "People have strong feelings on both sides. The city needs to support a fair solution."


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  • sg11 Mar 28, 2014

    View quoted thread

    The appeal was filed in a timely manner. The builder was repeatedly warned that proceeding with construction prior to resolution of the appeal would be at his own risk. (A building permit does not supersede the appeal process. The permit holder does have the right to begin construction, but if an appeal is pending, and they lose, they are required to bring the building up to code or remove it.)

  • Boogalooboy Mar 21, 2014

    I assume these plans had to presented down town to be approved for zoning... looks like the older homes folks are out of luck... but I do agree with them..

  • archmaker Mar 21, 2014

    View quoted thread

    Go back and read what you just wrote, because you hit the nail on the head. You are right, you can't build a new 100 year old house - that's exactly WHY the historic guidelines encourage new buildings to be of their time and not copy historic buildings! The RDHC did not make a mistake, the Board of Adjustment made a mistake when they tried to do the same job as the RDHC without the expertise. And the CITY is defending the RDHC over the Board because of that mistake. When the CITY issued a building permit, it means the owners have the right to build it as it was approved. People have commented in the past that they were told to "build at their own risk," but anyone who said that doesn't understand the legal ramifications of giving someone a building permit. A building permit is not to "build it until we change our mind."

  • I Have a Discernible Chin Mar 21, 2014

    The fact that the RHDC made a mistake and for some unknown reason allowed building to proceed is irrelevant. That doesn't mean that the house is appropriate. Maybe we should look at the decision by the RHDC and see who made it, if they looked at the plans and if the builder has any sort of influence with any members of that commission.

  • Ginny Marcom Mar 21, 2014
    user avatar

    Archmaker, best comment yet!!!

  • I Have a Discernible Chin Mar 21, 2014

    The house obviously doesn't belong. They should have to make the same effort that the realtor made to have her house fit in instead of putting up something entirely and obviously different. No one can build a new 100 year old house. What type of person would come into a neighborhood and build this type of house? Don't they have any concern for their neighbor's feelings? They sure won't be making any friends. Why not build a house like that in a different neighborhood, maybe around North Hills?

  • archmaker Mar 21, 2014

    Let's talk about what's really going on. You've got a real estate agent living across the street that's spear-heading the opposition. She built her brand new house 6 years ago and is obviously bitter because she testified that it was "excruciating" and that it cost her 4 months and $35,000 extra to comply with the guidelines.

    And in the end, is her house any better? Looks like any common tract-built home with an attempt to please someone by putting an attic vent up in the gable to look like some style it really isn't. Maybe someone should question whether her three-tab asphalt shingles are "historically accurate" for this "Victorian" community???

    We should also question why the quasi-judicial board of adjustment didn't require experts to testify on her behalf as required of quasi-judicial hearings??? The fact is preservationists are on the side of building the modern house!

  • rougemontredneck Mar 21, 2014

    embrace the new and quit fussing over it already.

  • archmaker Mar 21, 2014

    View quoted thread

    It is not provocative at all. This is the house they wanted to build. This is the house they wanted to live in. Neighbors don't vote on whether they like someone's house or not - architects, preservationists, and residents of historic districts are appointed to a board based on their expertise - and they - have the authority to approve design based on the written guidelines. This was done and approved. If you follow the rules, it doesn't matter how many neighbors oppose. Mind their own business.

  • Michael Iantosca Mar 21, 2014
    user avatar

    Seems to me the City Council needs to permanently remove several Board of Adjustment members responsible for this injustice!

    "The Raleigh Board of Adjustment is a quasi-judicial body which acts on appeals for variances, special exceptions and interpretations in the zoning regulations. Its decisions are final but may be subject to court action. The Board consists of eight members: four regular members and two alternate members are appointed to two-year terms by the City Council and must reside within the City limits; one regular member and one alternate are appointed by Wake County Commissioners and must reside within the City's extraterritorial jurisdiction. Established by City Code Section 24-48."