Local News

Oakwood homeowners clash over contemporary house

Posted March 5, 2014

— Joy Weeber lives in her dream home.

Weeber, who moved to Raleigh’s historic Oakwood neighborhood nearly two decades ago, was drawn to the district’s charm and architecture.

“I wanted to live in a neighborhood where I didn’t have to live near modern houses,” Weeber said. “They have their own place, but not in this neighborhood.”

Around the corner, Marsha Gordon’s vision for her own dream home is taking shape, leading her to build a more modern foundation on the historic area.

“This is absolutely our dream house,” Gordon said. “We chose to build it in this neighborhood. We love Oakwood.”

But three months after the foundation was poured, Raleigh’s Board of Adjustment voted to reverse the certificate of appropriateness Gordon received from the Raleigh Historic Development Commission, which might halt construction on the home.

“We’re being told we may have to stop construction on our house,” Gordon said. “This just fails the common sense test.”

The Raleigh Historic Development Commission’s building guidelines for historic areas allow new construction if plans reflect an “understanding of and a compatibility with the distinctive character of the district setting and buildings.”

The guidelines also say new construction in historic neighborhoods can enhance the district.

Gordon said the city-issued permits prove she and her husband did everything right.

“When you give someone a building permit, it is absolutely necessary they can have faith in the value of that permit,” Gordon said.

But Weeber and other residents say the modern home is not compatible with Oakwood’s historic character.

“There’s a lot of people in the neighborhood who moved here because we knew it was protected,” Weeber said. “Just knock out some cement slabs and haul it off on the back of the truck … you don’t have to knock it down.”

Gordon said the definitions of modern and historic are not set in stone.

“Every home that’s ever been built in this neighborhood has been contemporary and modern when it was built,” she said. “You cannot build a historic house – that’s impossible.”

If the Board of Adjustment’s ruling stands, Gordon will have to stop work on the house, and the decision could end up in court.

Gordon and her husband might eventually have to tear the house down.

“It completely ruins us financially,” Gordon said. “Every single dollar we have is in this home.”


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  • True Mar 7, 2014

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    Many of the neighbors were wondering the same! Why and how did this happen. That is why an appeal was immediately filed and the homeowner was told to build at his own risk. Now they've put the neighborhood in a position where everyone is losing.

  • Mods Hate Me Mar 7, 2014

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    Read Archmaker's post. This house is being built on an empty lot and will be historical for it's time, the same as the lady who filed the appeal (Gale Wiesner) who built her house a mere 6 years ago. Apparently, in Mrs. Wiesner's case, what's good for the goose isn't necessarily good for the gander. She probably liked that nice wooded lot across the street from her house. This is similar to most development in the area. People always want to start preserving the area around their homes once they've moved in.

  • macy Mar 7, 2014

    Why would you build a modern home in a historical neighborhood - makes no sense at all!! And why was this approved??

  • True Mar 6, 2014

    Here is a link to the City Council meeting where the City Attorney tells City Council how many times the owner was warned to build at his own risk.

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  • dwr1964 Mar 6, 2014

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    And just how are you privy to these particular orders/revocations from the city? What proof do you have, that the city told these guys to "build at your own risk"?

  • True Mar 6, 2014

    Immediately after the COA was approved their was an appeal filed and the homeowner was told to build only at his own risk (He was told this at least twice before beginning to build). He knew it was very risky because of the appeal but he built anyhow (at his own risk).

  • whatelseisnew Mar 6, 2014

    Ah yes when Government controls things the people are always damaged. If these people are not allowed to complete this home, every penny they have spent should be paid to them by the City of Raleigh.

  • Jim Thomas Mar 6, 2014
    user avatar

    Time to lawyer up and file a law suit against the city, the board of adjustment, the Raleigh Historic Development Commission, and Mrs. Weeber. Way too late in the process for the AHJ (s) to change their mind(s).

  • Forthe Newssite Mar 6, 2014
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    how do you figure THAT??? Gordon did everything right so I'm not sure of your point here.

  • Forthe Newssite Mar 6, 2014
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    well then, sour grapes because she wasn't in on the sale of the lot so no $$ in her pocket....Some people just need to get over themselves and she's certainly one of them.