Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Setbacks: Part III

Investigation Continues Into Rolesville House Fires

The heat from the flames were so intense, it melted the siding on nearby houses. The fire chief said that because the homes were so close together, the blaze was hard to contain.

As a result of the fire, residents are raising questions about the proximity of the houses and how that may have played a role as to how the fire spread so quickly.

A committee made up of building inspectors and developers is being formed to discuss whether zoning laws may need to be changed. (from WRAL-TV5)

Fire Destroys Nottingham Road Home (video)
RALEIGH, N.C. -- An early morning house fire burned a home under construction near the intersection of Farrior and Nottingham roads Wednesday. Investigators said the home, which was in the 1500 block of Nottingham Road, was unoccupied at the time the fire broke out just before 4 a.m. Wednesday, Aug 01, 2007 - By NBC17

Early morning fire tears through $900,000 home

Fire all but destroyed a 4,000-square-foot house under construction inside the Beltline early Wednesday morning. Investigators have not determined what caused the fire at 1419 Nottingham Drive.

. . .

Given the severe damage, work crews will have to tear down the house, Bland said.

"When all that's charred like that, you have to knock it down completely and start over," he said.

Bland said that firefighters told him the flames were shooting up 30 feet from the roof when they arrived shortly after 4 a.m.
The main living area appeared to be completely gutted, though the attached garage was untouched. (from N&O, see link above)

So, it is possible that setbacks affect more than community character. As in the fire in Rolesville, the possibility that stick built homes 10 feet apart can spread to the next home is cause for pause. In the Nottingham case, the house is one of 5 in a row that are being built in R-10 zoning. This house is on .28 acres. The description of the flames in the fire make one realize how lucky the neighborhood was that it was contained so quickly.

Here are setback tables for Raleigh zoning.

R-4 is 4 units per acre
  (10,890 square feet minimum lot size)
R-6 is 6 units per care
  (7,260 sq. ft. minimum lot size)
R-10 is 10 units per acre
  (5,000 sq. ft. minimum lot size)

Yards and setbacks
Zone .. Front .. Side .. Aggregate* .. Rear
R-4........ 30’ ..... 10’..... 20’ ..... 30’
R-6.........20’ ..... 5’ ..... 15’ ..... 20’
R-10.......20’ ..... 5’ ..... 15’ ..... 20’
* The total of the two side yards. There are variations for corner lot side yards.

Just because you can develop to minimum setbacks does not mean you should. Common sense and a sense of community are always the best guide to setback standards, in Fallonia's humble opinion.

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