Local News

New Development Not So Bad in Older Neighborhoods, Some Say

Posted November 16, 2007 6:24 p.m. EST
Updated November 16, 2007 6:27 p.m. EST

— Alison Garcia and her husband recently tore down a small ranch house in Raleigh's Lyons Park neighborhood and built a 4,500-square-foot home.

"We just wanted to build a family home that was going to be in a stable neighborhood," she said.

Next door, is Clyde McDowell's much smaller, older home, where he has lived for 53 years. Unlike many other residents who live inside the Interstate 440 Beltline, he does not mind the Garcias' home.

"It makes my property value go up, considerably," he said.

Most homes within the Beltine, typically, are about 1,200 square feet. McDowell said the handful of newer and bigger homes in his neighborhood changes its dynamics, for the better.

"The income of people, today, is greater than it was when I bought this house," he said. "Therefore, they want a bigger house, particularly if they have a family."

Just how big new homes can be is something the Raleigh City Council is considering for neighborhoods citywide.

It is proposing to increase required setbacks from property lines from 5 feet to 10 feet on either side of the house and from 20 to 30 feet in the back yard and impose a maximum height on homes from 40 feet to 32 feet.

Driving the change is concern in other older neighborhoods about the so-called "McMansions," which homeowners of older residences say detract from the character of their neighborhoods.

Mayor Charles Meeker said he hopes the proposal will create a balance.

"Certainly, there are areas that need additions or houses that need to be replaced," Meeker said. "At the same time, we don't want those new houses to, really, dwarf or overshadow the existing neighborhood."

Garcia said she fears the proposed zoning regulations will scare off potential buyers.

"It scares us to think that, instead of being in a neighborhood that we can count on improving, it's going to be declining," she said.

The City Council will hold a public hearing on the zoning requirements during its next meeting Tuesday night.

There is also another proposal that would put more restrictions on new home that replaces an older home. Raleigh's city planners said that would not be debated until next month.