Local News

Neighborhoods to control 'McMansion' development

Posted July 1, 2008 4:56 p.m. EDT
Updated July 1, 2008 6:18 p.m. EDT

— The City Council turned the debate over replacing older homes with larger ones over to neighborhoods Tuesday, allowing residents to decide what limits to place on new construction.

Most of the infill development has occurred northwest of downtown in neighborhoods inside the Interstate 440 Beltline. Some residents have complained that gargantuan new homes – they are often called "McMansions" – have damaged the character of their neighborhoods, prompting city officials to begin studying the issue last year.

After looking at a range of possible solutions, including citywide restrictions on home sizes, the council agreed to speed the creation of Neighborhood Conservation Overlay Districts, where individual neighborhoods could establish their own building standards.

"It won't end tear-downs, but it will control what can be built," Raleigh Planning Director Mitchell Silver said.

Sixteen neighborhood districts already exist in Raleigh, and Silver said he expects applications for at least 10 more in the next few weeks. Property owners would need to petition the City Council to create a district, and a majority of neighbors would then decide what's best for the neighborhood.

"The goal of the Neighborhood Conservation Overlay District is to have new development that fits in with the old development. It can be renovations (or) additions (using) similar materials to really fit in," Mayor Charles Meeker said.

Renew Raleigh, a group that opposed restrictions on infill development, sees the new proposal as a reasonable solution with at least one potential problem.

"I suspect, like anything where you've got neighbors dealing with neighbors and people have different opinions, there could certainly be conflict over it," said Spears Mullen, of Renew Raleigh.