Local News

Battle of Old vs. New Brewing in Some Raleigh Neighborhoods

Posted May 18, 2007 8:36 p.m. EDT

— In Raleigh's Five Points neighborhood, you'll find tree-lined streets that give the area a lot of charm.

Neighborhood residents, like Carol Majors, say they want it to stay that way, but say population growth is taking over and pushing out the character that defines the neighborhoods.

Majors, who has lived in the Five Points area for 30 years, is part of a group called Community Scale, which wants the city to establish building limits for developers.

As more people move to Raleigh, developers are building newer, taller and bigger dwellings in older neighborhoods.

Community Scale members say their neighborhoods are losing the charm that originally attracted buyers in the first place.

"It's not a matter of personal preference but a matter of heritage," Majors said. "Do we want to do so much rebuilding and so much redevelopment that we don't even have the charm that the people were attracted to in the first place?"

But builders say it is unrealistic to think that a family of four, for example, would want to move into a small house built decades ago. With the development, they say they are also adding value to the neighborhoods.

Raleigh City Councilman Russell Stephenson says the City Council is working to find a balance between developers and the longtime community.

One thing the Council is considering is putting limits on how high developers can build relative to the houses already on a street.

The city's zoning code essentially allows all residences to be the same size, despite the number of people living in a home. That would mean most single-family homes would be 40 feet high.

Stephenson says for some neighborhoods, a 40-foot building makes a lot of sense. But for other neighborhoods, it is out of place.

"The one that really seems to get people most concerned is when buildings get very tall they tower over their neighborhoods, they cut off their light, they cut off their views," he said.

Stephenson says this issue of residential infill is happening not just in the Five Points area but in several Raleigh neighborhoods.

Council members will discuss the ordinance at an upcoming special committee meeting.