Local News

Panel: Don't Limit Raleigh Home Sizes

Posted January 16, 2008 5:44 p.m. EST
Updated January 16, 2008 6:45 p.m. EST

— A City Council committee on Wednesday rejected suggestions aimed at limiting the size of homes built in older Raleigh neighborhoods.

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 so-called "McMansions" detract from the character of their areas.

The debate led Mayor Charles Meeker to propose revising city zoning rules to reduce the maximum height of homes and increase required setbacks from adjacent properties for many neighborhoods citywide. The regulations, which would have squeezed some of the excess out of McMansions, prompted vocal opposition from local homeowners.

"The fact that you are thinking about this is a bad thought," resident John McConnell told the Comprehensive Planning Committee on Wednesday.

McConnell said he and his wife plan to expand their Raleigh home to make room for their grandchildren. Building restrictions could keep him from doing that, he said.

"All these arbitrary restrictions we are talking about do nothing but penalize families," resident Allison Garcia said.

Planning committee members removed the proposal to limit building heights. Instead, they recommended creating more Neighborhood Conservation Overlay Districts, where individual neighborhoods could establish their own building standards.

"I think we heard you loud and clear," Councilwoman Mary-Ann Baldwin said.

About a dozen overlay districts already exist across the city.

The committee also called for forming an infill study group to look at the effect of regulations on local property owners and to seek out ideas from other cities.

"(We want) to get those best practices from other cities that have been through these kinds of growing pains," Councilman Russ Stephenson said.

The City Council is expected to consider the committee's suggestions next week.