Local News

Raleigh Eyes Limits on Home Sizes

Posted November 14, 2007 6:40 p.m. EST
Updated November 14, 2007 6:56 p.m. EST

— The size of new homes built in Raleigh could be squeezed by zoning regulations under consideration by the City Council.

The proposal would reduce the maximum height of homes from 40 feet to 32 feet and increase the required setbacks from 5 feet to 10 feet on either side of the house and from 20 feet to 30 feet in the back yard for many neighborhoods citywide.

"It poses as a significant threat for what I want to do with my property," homeowner Mike Petty said, noting he would like to raze his old home to build a larger four-bedroom house.

Mayor Charles Meeker is the driving force behind the changes, which could be superseded by rules adopted by the city Planning Department after its staff completes a citywide study next spring.

"It's something that I certainly support, and we ought to have fair infill standards for people redeveloping their properties," Meeker said.

The proposal escalates a debate that has simmered in older neighborhoods inside the Interstate 440 Beltline for years.

A homeowners group, for example, recently tried to to rezone 141 lots on nearly 66 acres in the Fallon Park and Anderson Heights neighborhoods to restrict the size of homes that could be built. The Raleigh Planning Commission unanimously rejected the proposal, but it is still before the City Council.

Almost 600 homes have been knocked down in Raleigh in the last five years to make way for larger residences, with most of the activity concentrated inside the Beltline north of Wade Avenue and west of Wake Forest Road, according to a city report released in September.

Many homeowners in those neighborhoods complain about the so-called "McMansions," saying they detract from the character of their neighborhood.

City Councilman Philip Isley said the new rules are being fast-tracked and violate people's property rights.

"I think this is a complete overreach. It's heavy-handed. It is absolutely hitting the nerve of individual property rights and home ownership in Raleigh," Isley said. "Frankly, the entire city is effectively going to be under a homeowners association, an architectural review committee."

Meeker countered, "The city code is, in effect, a homeowners association with rules."

The City Council will hold a public hearing on the proposed zoning regulations during its next meeting, but a final decision is unlikely before the new council is seated in January.