Local News

Future of modernist Oakwood house in judge's hands

Posted August 26, 2014

(Courtesy of Louis Cherry)

— After almost six hours of legal arguments from four attorneys on Monday and Tuesday, the future of a home under construction in Raleigh's historic Oakwood neighborhood is now in the hands of Superior Court Judge Elaine Bushfan.

Marsha Gordon and Louis Cherry were granted necessary permits to build the contemporary house at 516 Euclid St., including a certificate of appropriateness from the Raleigh Historic Development Commission.

Neighbors argued that the house doesn't fit with the character of Oakwood, and they filed a complaint over it. That led the city's Board of Adjustment to reverse the certificate, which suspended construction on the home.

City officials, along with Gordon and Cherry, in March appealed the Board of Adjustment decision to Superior Court.

"This is not a question of whether the driveway is done properly. This is not a question of whether the house faces the side or front. This is a question of whether or not that style fits within the historic district," said John Silverstein, an attorney for the Board of Adjustment.

"A compatible new style is entirely appropriate. The guideline doesn't forbid it; it doesn't even discuss it," said Nick Fountain, an attorney for Gordon and Cherry.

Fountain also dismissed the neighbor's contention that the modernist home would hurt the value of their own homes, noting that property values in the area have risen since construction got underway and the dispute began.

It could be weeks before Bushfan rules in the case, and an appeal is likely, regardless of which side wins.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • George Herbert Aug 27, 2014
    user avatar

    There's a dispute between the timeline WRAL gives and the one on the NC Modernism site. According that the Modernism site, Cherry started construction in October 2013 before Ms. Wiesner filed her appeal in November.

  • beaupeep Aug 27, 2014

    View quoted thread

    According to the WRAL timeline, she filed her appeal immediatley after the initial approval.

    The owners chose to NOT wait for the outcome of that appeal. They lost. And now it's somehow the neighbors fault because thay took a chance?

  • bcbunn1968 Aug 27, 2014

    I am sure the people that are in such opposition to this house did nothing as far as an appeal process prior to it being partially constructed and then deciding they did not like it. It wasn't worth anyone's time to look into the permit, building plans, etc. until they saw it. Just a bunch of ridiculous people always wanting to cause a stir about this or that.

  • Anita Woody Aug 27, 2014

    View quoted thread

    I am sure the Judge will use her knowledge of the law and the arguments presented to offer a decision. As far as the last paragraph on your comment, they decided to continue with construction while the appeals period of the permit issuance was open.

  • Ijaz Fahted Aug 27, 2014
    user avatar

    I hope the judge uses his head and gives these folks the OK. It was already approved and started before this issue came up.

    As for the neighbor....

    If the style of construction is that important, then maybe you should get involved when you see construction starting, not after it is nearly completed.

  • byrdunc Aug 27, 2014

    I hope they sue the city of Raleigh and the neighbors.

  • Holly Atkins Aug 27, 2014
    user avatar

    I don't understand why it will take the judge WEEKS to make a decision! All rules were followed and all ducks in a row...let them continue their home!

    As for the neighbor, how often are you looking out your front door while you are home? If your biggest argument is you don't like the way it looks then you have no argument. This should not have even made it to trial.

    Elitist much?

  • Forthe Newssite Aug 27, 2014
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    NO, I don't agree with that. They got the proper permits in the proper way.....there would have been absolutely no reason to wait as you suggest....would YOU have waited once you got permits to build your house? Don't think so.

    As to living where there is an HOA....you couldn't pay me enough to live under one of those.

  • ytb781pearl Aug 27, 2014

    What a horrid house! Hope it has to be torn down. Build that ugly mess someplace else.

  • Lightfoot3 Aug 27, 2014

    I personally don't think it fits, and should have never been approved in the first place. But it was approved. However, the builders also knew that there could be an appeal, but chose to build anyway. Bam! Appeal happened, approval reversed. Was there a time limit for the appeal? If so, they should have waited until it expired to build, so judgment is the house goes. If no time limit, it's more complicated. That would make it more arbitrary, meaning it could be appealed 20 years from now. If that's the case, then judgment is the house stays.