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Raleigh Eyes Limits on Home Sizes

Posted November 14, 2007

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— The size of new homes built in Raleigh could be squeezed by zoning regulations under consideration by the City Council.

The proposal would reduce the maximum height of homes from 40 feet to 32 feet and increase the required setbacks from 5 feet to 10 feet on either side of the house and from 20 feet to 30 feet in the back yard for many neighborhoods citywide.

"It poses as a significant threat for what I want to do with my property," homeowner Mike Petty said, noting he would like to raze his old home to build a larger four-bedroom house.

Mayor Charles Meeker is the driving force behind the changes, which could be superseded by rules adopted by the city Planning Department after its staff completes a citywide study next spring.

"It's something that I certainly support, and we ought to have fair infill standards for people redeveloping their properties," Meeker said.

The proposal escalates a debate that has simmered in older neighborhoods inside the Interstate 440 Beltline for years.

A homeowners group, for example, recently tried to to rezone 141 lots on nearly 66 acres in the Fallon Park and Anderson Heights neighborhoods to restrict the size of homes that could be built. The Raleigh Planning Commission unanimously rejected the proposal, but it is still before the City Council.

Almost 600 homes have been knocked down in Raleigh in the last five years to make way for larger residences, with most of the activity concentrated inside the Beltline north of Wade Avenue and west of Wake Forest Road, according to a city report released in September.

Many homeowners in those neighborhoods complain about the so-called "McMansions," saying they detract from the character of their neighborhood.

City Councilman Philip Isley said the new rules are being fast-tracked and violate people's property rights.

"I think this is a complete overreach. It's heavy-handed. It is absolutely hitting the nerve of individual property rights and home ownership in Raleigh," Isley said. "Frankly, the entire city is effectively going to be under a homeowners association, an architectural review committee."

Meeker countered, "The city code is, in effect, a homeowners association with rules."

The City Council will hold a public hearing on the proposed zoning regulations during its next meeting, but a final decision is unlikely before the new council is seated in January.


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  • rcsinclair Nov 15, 2007

    Where's the problem? Why the rush to adopt such heavy handed rules? Who is pushing this? How does this affect a home owner's property values---especially in a depressed market? I am very concerned that most property owners have no clue what is going on.

  • Foster W Sikes Nov 15, 2007

    raleighwakenative,, I know the streets that you have mentioned and there is not a house in the vicinity that was built that brings your property down. You might not like the taste of something but you don't have to live in it. How would you like it if I told your house looked like a misfit or reject?

    As for people talking about large houses filling up small lots, that is funny. Most of the smaller older houses are wider and set closer than the new ones.

    Class and envy are not synonymous.

  • jenmaris Nov 15, 2007

    The city of Raleigh set zoning limits when they build these neighborhoods. The zoning cooresponded with the sizes of the lots and the proximity to the downtown. Don't reinvent the wheel when we have spent our hard-earned money on our property for years. I can't believe that people who are aware that these actions can and will finacially hurt their neighbors ignore that for their own personal agenda. How horrible and shameful.

  • doodad Nov 15, 2007

    clint, I think the city of Raleigh should set zoning limits. They should have also zoned for more schools a long time ago.

    These limits would not be in question if a few homeowners hadn't already built excessively large houses on small lots. It only takes one bad apple to spoil it for the hole bunch.

  • jenmaris Nov 15, 2007

    The people WITH the money aren't the ones who are trying to legislate the taste of their neighbors. NOT having money doesn't make your opinion matter more than the rest of us. People's taste vary, so what you find unattrative, don't buy. Simple.

  • doodad Nov 15, 2007

    Just because people have money doesn't necessarily mean they have class or taste. Money doesn't buy everything.

  • Joshua Nov 15, 2007

    HadEnough, that's only if you keep it on your front lawn.

  • HadEnough Nov 15, 2007

    I hear they also are looking at an ordinance standardizing patio furniture styles and color.

  • Bozo652002 Nov 15, 2007

    Whatelse, that was hilarious!

  • ncwebguy Nov 15, 2007

    The mayor only has one of eight votes in City Council. He would need four other votes to get this, or anything, passed. Meeker has been reelected twice. Anyone who disapproves of the work he has done had ample opportunity to run against him.

    The "slums" are actually shrinking. In other parts of the city, people know how to play by the rules and either fix up existing structures or build new structures that fit in with their surroundings. If people want to build a McMansion, there are plenty of places to do that across the city.