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Raleigh Group: We Have Right to Improve Our Property

Posted January 21, 2008
Updated January 22, 2008

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— A group of homeowners and business people on Monday began lobbying against proposals to limit the size of homes built in older Raleigh neighborhoods.

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

The debate led Mayor Charles Meeker to propose revising city zoning rules to reduce the maximum height of homes and to increase required setbacks from adjacent properties for many neighborhoods citywide. His plan was to squeeze some of the size out of the McMansions.

Vocal opposition at recent meetings has led the city Planning Commission and a City Council committee to pan the idea. Now, a group called Renew Raleigh, which held its first meeting Monday, has pledged a coordinated effort to defeat such restrictions.

"We all have property rights, and I shouldn't have somebody in some other neighborhood telling me what I can do with my property," said Philip Miller, a Raleigh lawyer and member of Renew Raleigh.

The group argues that the new, larger homes are good for the local economy and help boost property values.

But Robert and Clarice Kennedy, who have lived in an older neighborhood for 40 years, said rebuilt homes near them are so high they block the sun, obstruct their view and change the look of their street.

"The uniqueness of the neighborhood is almost gone now," Robert Kennedy said. "(I wish) they would just limit the height of the house in keeping with what's already here."

Tuesday, the City Council is expected to discuss establishing a committee to study the effect of regulations on local property owners and to seek ideas from what other cities have done. Council members also could debate revising the process for establishing Neighborhood Conservation Overlay Districts.

More than a dozen of the districts, which allow building standards for individual neighborhoods, exist in Raleigh, but they take more than a year to establish. City planning officials have discussed shortening the process to a few months.

A majority of property owners in each neighborhood would have to support creating an overlay district.

"We have 170 neighborhoods, (and) instead of having one standard, we could have individual plans for the neighborhoods who want them," Meeker said. "That might be the right solution."

54 Comments

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  • Hammerhead Jan 22, 2008

    Doc, it goes both ways, as many of the posters have said. You can have your McMansion, if I can have chickens, work on cars, and paint my garage whatever color I want.

  • UNC Doc Jan 22, 2008

    "Why would I want to pay excessive tax increases just because some pompous greedmonger wants to flaunt and puff themselves up with a grossly oversized, arrogant, gluttonous house?"

    When you resort to name-calling, you have effectively lost the argument. You know nothing about any person's personal motives, and this attack says a lot more about you than it does about them.

    Thanks for playing though. Enjoy your bitterness.

  • IfByWhiskey-a-go-go Jan 22, 2008

    I am a strong defender of property rights, but a preservationist at heart. I like old neighborhoods, they have a character that cannot be duplicated. And this is not improvement, this is redevelopment, be real. In light of that, if you got the money, hire an architect who can blend in the old with the new. And to be quite honest, a 3 story McMansion looks pretty darn stupid next to some 40s era bungalows. C'mon folks, meet in the middle so everyone can be happy.

  • SEOpro Jan 22, 2008

    Think of this from an ecomonic standpoint. There is a house that is worth $100,000 sitting on lot that is worth $300,000. "Tax value $400,000. Tear down the older home, build a $700,000 new home and now you have a tax value of $1,000,000. This is a 150% increase in revenue from the city and county and this new home will also help to raise the property value of the homes around it."

    While living in my appropriate neighborhood home I personally picked out myself because of the neighborhood style and charm.... Why would I want to pay excessive tax increases just because some pompous greedmonger wants to flaunt and puff themselves up with a grossly oversized, arrogant, gluttonous house?

  • UNC Doc Jan 22, 2008

    Lots of typical class envy going around here. The "rich", meaning anyone who makes more than you do, are to be vilified and ridiculed as dishonest and evil.
    I guess if it makes you feel better to ridicule those who have achieved more and made better choices than you have, knock yourself out. However, it doesn't give you the right to tell someone what to do with their own property, especially if it doesn't apply elsewhere in Raleigh.

  • downtownbrown Jan 22, 2008

    "After he left, I cranked rap music on the car's radio and placed empty beer bottles on the radiator and left the car on blocks until the next day. Am I white trash? Maybe. But I do have property rights!"- Try_Me

    Haha. That's awesome. I hope it ruined his party.

  • OLD PIRATE 2 Jan 22, 2008

    Now which side does John Edwards represent?

  • Steve Crisp Jan 22, 2008

    To Beachnut:

    Feel free to park that trailer and sell your collards on the property next door to me. It's you're property, is it not? And what right do I have to tell you how to use that property within the guidlines of differentiation between commercial and residential areas? I would not want you to erect an industrial ammonia factory or a strip center in the middle of a residential neighborhood, but a home-based business is just fine with me.

    And just what right do I have to tell you what you can live in as long as it conforms to the various safety, plumbing, electrical, sanitation, etc codes imposed on everyone equally?

    IT'S YOUR PROPERTY.

    What do you not get about that concept?

  • jm18668 Jan 22, 2008

    Think of this from an ecomonic standpoint. There is a house that is worth $100,000 sitting on lot that is worth $300,000. Tax value $400,000. Tear down the older home, build a $700,000 new home and now you have a tax value of $1,000,000. This is a 150% increase in revenue from the city and county and this new home will also help to raise the property value of the homes around it.

  • ghimmy47 Jan 22, 2008

    Those same property owners who want mansions not fitting the neighborhood are the first to complain how anything the older residents do detracts from THEIR property values.

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