Local News

Raleigh Planners Devise Options in 'McMansion' Debate

Posted December 3, 2007 3:10 p.m. EST

— City planners on Monday unveiled two alternatives to proposed zoning regulations that would squeeze the size of new homes in Raleigh.

Mayor Charles Meeker last month floated the idea of adopting new rules that 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.

The proposal escalated the debate over "McMansions" that has simmered in older neighborhoods inside the Interstate 440 Beltline for years. Almost 600 homes have been knocked down in Raleigh in the last five years to make way for larger residences, and many homeowners in older neighborhoods complain that the larger homes detract from the character of their neighborhoods.

The Raleigh Planning Commission last week voted against the proposed limits, which sparked outcry from numerous residents. The City Council hasn't acted on the proposal yet.

In a 12-page memo sent to City Council members, Planning Director Mitchell Silver outlined two alternatives to control infill development without resorting to citywide zoning regulations.

The first would limit the size of replacement homes – or additions to existing homes – to 125 percent of the existing square footage and no more than a 10 percent increase in height.

The second option would expand the use of Neighborhood Conservation Overlay Districts to set building standards in specified older neighborhoods.

Both alternatives have questions that need further research and discussion, Silver said in the memo.

The City Council might discuss the proposals at its Tuesday meeting.