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Court: Modern home OK to stay in Raleigh's historic Oakwood neighborhood

Posted February 16

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— A modern home built in Raleigh's historic Oakwood neighborhood won't go anywhere after the North Carolina Court of Appeals on Tuesday settled a dispute by ruling in favor of the homeowners.

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.

Despite that, construction of the home irked neighbors, who argued that the house didn't fit with the character of Oakwood and would bring down property values. Neighbor Gail Wiesner filed a complaint over the home, leading the city's Board of Adjustment to reverse its certificate and suspend construction of the home.

A Superior Court judge reversed that decision in September 2014, and the Court of Appeals on Tuesday upheld it.

The court said allegations that the home would bring down property values on the street were not sufficient reason to reverse the decision.

"The use of the property for a single-family residence is clearly lawful," the court said in its ruling.

Cherry and Gordon expressed relief at the court's unanimous ruling.

"One positive outcome of this has been there's been a lot of discussion about what the preservation guidelines are, which is to protect the old but not to freeze a neighborhood in time," Gordon said. "That would be an amazing thing to come out of this, that no one else has to go through what we went through because people understand the preservation principles better than before."

The couple, who have been living in the house for more than a year, said they look forward to being part of "the eclectic Oakwood neighborhood" for years to come.

Wiesner declined to comment on the court's decision, saying she hadn't yet read the ruling. Her attorney said they are reviewing their options, including asking the state Supreme Court to hear an appeal.

Other neighbors, meanwhile, said that scars from the dispute remain but that Oakwood is like a family and most people have already moved past the fight.


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  • David Bunn Feb 16, 2016
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    Good! No one should be able to tell a property owner what they can do with their land.

  • Betsey Duggins Feb 16, 2016
    user avatar

    Ms. Gail has far too much time on her hands and green eyes of envy. Fortunately, she is just one neighbor and may she sell her home. This is a gorgeous home and should be a wonderful asset for the neighborhood. Bless the homeowners for sticking to your guns and taking the high road. Need more neighbors like you!

  • Fanny Chmelar Feb 16, 2016
    user avatar

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    I remember when the original ruling was made, the owners went out of their way to make sure the neighborhood wasn't fractured by Wiesner's attempt to be Queen of Euclid. They took the high road and put it behind them.
    I don't remember all the details - getting lawyer costs would seem reasonable but if they're staying on the high road then kudos to them. Makes Gail look like even more of a b than she's been this whole time. Perhaps she'll be the one moving!

  • John Snow Feb 16, 2016
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    I agree, I think she should have been required to reimburse them for their expenses in defending her suit. If I were them I would have counter sued for that as part of my defense.

  • Dirk Snedly Feb 16, 2016
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    Gail Wiesner needs to be sued for harassment and compelled to pay Gordon and Cherry's legal fees. What that individual did was terroristic. If you want to control a piece of property, buy it, otherwise leave the owner alone unless they are causing you actual, physical harm.

    Wiesner is a horrible human being.