Local News

Oakwood residents face off over controversial modern house

Posted August 25, 2014
Updated August 26, 2014

— The fight over a home under construction in Raleigh's historic Oakwood neighborhood went to court Monday, where a judge heard arguments on whether construction should be halted altogether or allowed to continue.

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.

Construction on the house irked neighbors, who argued that the house didn't fit with the character of Oakwood, and they filed a complaint over it. That led the city's Board of Adjustment to reverse the certificate, which suspended construction on the home.

City officials, along with Gordon and Cherry, in March appealed the Board of Adjustment decision to Superior Court.

Nick Fountain, an attorney for the couple, argued Monday that the Board of Adjustment isn't supposed to dictate design but that board members "bungled" the case because they aren't used to handling administrative appeals.

Fountain also maintained that Oakwood isn't a restaurant with a menu of acceptable architectural choices. Various homes in the neighborhood were built in the 1930s, 1950s and 1980s in styles to match their eras, he said.

"Oakwood is a collage," he said. "It isn't frozen in time the way (Colonial) Williamsburg is."

But Andy Pettesch, an attorney for Gail Wiesner, who lives across the street from the home, said the home would devalue Wiesner's property. Also, he said, she finds the home's architecture jarring and would have to face it every day.

"Her viewing vista is going to be dominated by this incongruous two-story home," Pettesch said.

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.

Superior Court Judge Elaine Bushfan halted arguments after more than two hours, and lawyers plan to return Tuesday to resume the case.


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  • Caryopteris Aug 26, 2014

    Once it was approved, it was approved. If the decision was wrong and somehow isn't caught before building starts, then fine the inspector who made the error, but everybody just get over it and let it be. The house isn't ugly at all; it's just different. You will get over it after landscaping goes in.

  • momeeee Aug 26, 2014

    If you go a few blocks from this area you are in very low income housing. When we lived in Oakwood my husband was asked for "dates" while grilling, asked if we wanted to buy bikes or other items that were obviously stolen. Ms Wiesner needs to think before she speaks on how "jarring" this new home will be.

  • Bart Iannetta Aug 26, 2014
    user avatar

    Bunch of snooty brats! Too bad if you don't like their house. It was approved and that should be that. Gail should stfu and pull the pole out of her ess! I bet anything that it would either do nothing to her value, or increase the value, but not decrease it. Also, the home is beautiful - much nicer than Gail Wiesner's house! Can't stand whiners!

  • kcfoxie Aug 26, 2014

    This lawsuit is damaging property values moreso than the house is. "New homes were built in Oakwood" is good press "Some of them were legally contested by existing neighbors" is not.

  • Garnerwolf1 Aug 26, 2014

    Ever wondered why the extremely small minority that whine seem to get their way, even if it conflicts with the much larger majority's view?

  • bushido2298 Aug 26, 2014

    You can buy the land, pay the taxes but you can't build it unless we like it??? Typical Oakwood mentality...you going to tell him what color car to drive now???? What a waste of time and taxpayer money. Tell the sweetie across the street to get a hobby!

  • Bill of Rights Aug 26, 2014

    View quoted thread

    Weirdly, Hans, I agree with you. This case is absurd. The owners secured the necessary permits and should be allowed to finish the beautiful home they've started. The naysayers are welcome to move elsewhere.

  • Fanny Chmelar Aug 26, 2014
    user avatar

    OK, Gladys Kravitz, just pull your curtains closed and stop staring at something that's none of your business. You don't get "jarred" by looking at someone's house. You have to prove your property value would go down with a statement other than "well, I don't like it so no one else will." And you don't own the air rights over someone else's property!

    I've driven through Oakwood a LOT. You have much bigger fish to fry than a new home going up!

  • babylaceycarpenter Aug 26, 2014

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    This is only your opinion. I have a different one. This country was built on the right for you to have your opinion. Just because you have that right, doesn't intend that I have to have that same opinion. Since you do not live in this neighborhood, just like me and 99% of the commentators here, none of our opinions will matter in the end. What will matter, is a perceived justice. Not every neighbor in this neighborhood, dislikes this home. Not every neighbor likes this home. I have a neighbor who is flipping heroine out of her home. I would prefer for them to be gone. Apparently, the Rocky Mount Police Department, doesn't. We all have given them all the proof they need. My opinion, in my case doesn't seem to matter. As long as these people who are building this home, are legal, and law abiding, I would welcome them.

  • abdavis4 Aug 26, 2014

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    Plot twist - ytb781pearl is the old woman across the street from this house :)

    Honestly, I like the design. It looks well built and high quality. Its not like they are building a shoddy home and masking it as 'modern'.