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Panel: Don't Rush Solution to 'McMansion' Debate

Posted December 11, 2007

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— The Raleigh Planning Commission on Tuesday called on the City Council to slow down in its efforts to regulate infill development in older neighborhoods.

Almost 600 homes have been knocked down in Raleigh in the last five years to make way for larger residences, and many homeowners in older neighborhoods complain that the so-called "McMansions" detract from the character of their areas.

Mayor Charles Meeker last month suggested new zoning rules to reduce the maximum height of homes and increase required setbacks from adjacent properties for many neighborhoods citywide. The regulations would have squeezed some of the excess out of McMansions, but vocal opposition from homeowners prompted the Planning Commission to reject the idea.

City Planning Director Mitchell Silver then offered two other options to restrict the size and scope of McMansions:

  • Limit the size of replacement homes – or additions to existing homes – to a total of 125 percent of the existing square footage and no more than a 10 percent increase in height.
  • Expand the use of Neighborhood Conservation Overlay Districts to set building standards in specified older neighborhoods.

The Planning Commission was most intrigued by the last option, but Commission Chairman Brad Mullins said Tuesday that more time is needed to study the issue before any "far-reaching policy change" is enacted.

"It's a complex problem," Mullins said. "As of right now, there's so much uncertainty. Our recommendation is to make no changes."

The City Council is considering all three options, and one member said the council would likely debate the infill issue at its first meeting in January.

That concerns some Raleigh homeowners and encourages others.

"I'm concerned that this issue is even out there, that City Council would tell me what I can do with my property," Philip Miller said.

"I can't even count the number of homes that have been torn down in my neighborhood," Rachael Wooten said. "People who don't have huge incomes typically have been able to live in our neighborhoods. This is going away now."


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  • doodad Dec 12, 2007

    Cra cker is slang for whites like the "n" word. That's why.

  • swisher1 Dec 12, 2007

    And why would WRAL "censor" my word "cra cker" box house? What in the world is wrong with the word "cra cker?" Have you folks lost your minds??????

    Response from GOLO:
    Our auto filter has to look for lots of words and is unable to make contextual judgments. In other words, there is no way for it to detect or understand the context in which a word is being used. So, because it looks for words without context, we err on the side of caution. We do however, take into account all queries on the matter and often add and delete words based on user feedback.

    Angela COnnor, GOLO Managing Editor

  • swisher1 Dec 12, 2007

    How much space does a family actually NEED or require these days - most of them are sitting behind a computer and require very little space. It's probably NOT like they're out being physically active,exercising or doing anything to help out anyone but themselves - the greed of some people in the world is all-consuming and one day, many of these McMansion-ettes will be forced to have to do with a LOT less than they're doing now.......and it serves them right for wasting space, money and resources that could be put to better use in society. Take these huge houses and move them out in the country where there is enough space to accommodate them and who wants a McMansion sidled up to a sardine-box house anyways.....makes both of them look stupid. Oh well, go figure the rich Raleigh-ites.....

  • blackdog Dec 12, 2007

    ...If you don't like the monster house next to you, I will paint your house purple with various colored polka dots, as well as your trees. Perhaps a few strobe lights in your windows...

  • monkeyboy Dec 12, 2007

    "The regulations would have squeezed some of the excess out of McMansions"

    Squeeze some of the excess? Jeez, someone sounds biased here. Who are you (or any of us) to judge what is necessary and what is excess? Pure slanted writing right there. Someone has an agenda...

  • Timbo Dec 12, 2007

    I should of said, as long as the land usage doesn't violate reasonable standards, such as building and safety codes, then no, Rachel et. al. shouldn't be telling others what to do with their own land or home.

  • I guess I will just type this Dec 12, 2007

    "maybe she shouldn't tell people what to do on their land" ...timbo, should you not follow the laws on building, and of course people can tell you what to do on your land; there are certain things that you shouldn't do, like build right up to the property lines, you're not allowed to have certain animals, or do certain things; anyone want a next door petting zoo, or a backyard orgy party?

  • mvnull Dec 12, 2007

    "Raleigh is not short on people with high incomes who are used to getting what they want. " Truer words were never spoken.

    "I look forward to the recession that is looming, it is going to sort out a bunch of foolishness like this." Unfortunately, this won't help. We are in the grasp of the "me Me ME" generation.

    Managed growth is generally a good thing. Unmanaged growth helps the McMansion folks and harms, well, just about everyone else.

    I do my part to help younger people by renting a basement apartment for way under market. It is my way of paying back those individuals who helped me get a start (I still remember my $45/month quonset hut).

  • Timbo Dec 12, 2007

    If Rachel can't count, maybe she should not try to tell people what to do with their own land?

  • Raydianse Dec 12, 2007

    "People who don't have huge incomes typically have been able to live in our neighborhoods. This is going away now." -
    The 27608 zip code as always been the "in" place to be. It has been where most of the people who are members of the Carolina Country Club live, and as time moves either you sink or swim and right now their area is swimming. They should be happy, and even happier that they don't have to worry about slums coming in!