Thursday, April 24, 2008

A reader asks ...

I gather from reading your post that your objection is that the house being built on Landor is a speculative house that will go up for sale. Would you still have a problem if someone removed the house to build a new home for their family?

Would that it was so simple. ...

What we know so far is that families have been buying and renovating homes in these neighborhoods quite happily for the past 20-40 years. We know that construction companies have been doing a good business in town. We know that the renovations are exciting and creative and strengthen the character because they tend to respect the history.

We know that this has been a desirable area with steadily rising property values. We know that people want to live here because of that indefinable character thing. We know that because they say it. Visitors come to the house and say, "I love this neighborhood."

We know that the neighborhood changes are a one-way street, so to speak. Once the mature hardwoods are gone, it will take a lifetime to grow them back. Once the old ambiance is dumped, it will take a lifetime to age back. We know that.

We know that once certain residents have to sell, they will not be able to come back, not matter how long they lived here.

We know it has something to do with being older. We know it has something to do with being settled. We know it has something to do with a sense of passion about living in a place that does not have it all, but has such depth and value in what matters to those who choose to call this home. Why else would people want to live in smaller homes on small lots, and pay more for the privilege?

So we struggle to put a finger on what exactly it is that is ripping the heart out of our older neighborhoods.

They might as well have found oil under our land. A land rush is on and we're sitting on the gold. Some are wondering if they want OUR neighborhood, or do they wish to replace us with THEIR neighborhood. Thoughts like that have never happened here, unless a commercial development was looming near.

What makes a speculative house stand out is usually 3 things -- 1) lot scraping, 2) a financing sign, 3) a house that does not try to blend style, size or price-wise with the street.

A resident-buyer may very well do all 3 of these things for themselves, but a resident will be living in the home as a neighbor and will have the burden of payments, taxes, landscaping, and relationships with the neighborhood. So, as a general (very) rule, folks who buy homes tend to make decisions in a way that speculators do not.

FP has observed some outliers to this theory. Just as she has observed some beautifully thought out speculative homes, she has seen some outlandish private developments. But one thing is really troubling. One teardown seems to bring on another and another. If the new house(s) are way outside the original price-point, the older houses start looking like sitting ducks. And the hunters are not far away.

FP has observed beautifully renovated older homes become sandwiched in by huge structures, each of which represents a completely novel style of architecture for the neighborhood. Someone is not thinking clearly; people in older neighborhoods have rarely made drastic changes that would affect their neighbors without consideration of the impact.

Clearly the "rules" have changed.

So how do you approach a loss of sensitivity and respect, do you resort to using regulations? Wish on stars?

So here is the real irony. The people who are doing the thing to our neighborhoods say they can do this because the regulations allow it. But when the planning department looks into the regulations to see if our ordinances really protect the rights of residents with investments on the ground in existing neighborhoods, the outcry is shrill, and that outcry is very business-related in its perspective.

Regulations may not be such a bad thing if they are measured well and protect equally the rights of each party predictably.

But Fallonia does agree, she would rather live in a world that needs far fewer of them.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Does it get better than this?

I am posting this to show where strict philosophical / political POV meets the ground. In the ground's own words.

Thank you so much, but...
Monday, April 21, 2008 12:16 PM CDT | Jefferson Post
We have seen with concern a remarkable amount of outside interest in what is purely and simply a local matter: the upcoming vote on the county transfer tax.

We have received several letters to the editor from groups in Raleigh opposing the tax. We have deferred publication of these, only to give space to letters on both sides from local citizens.

Now we have in hand a study on the subject done by the John Locke Foundation, a Raleigh-based conservative/libertarian think tank.

We appreciate all this interest, but it is our position that the citizens of Ashe County are quite capable of deciding how they wish to be taxed without all this outside help. One wonders where these groups were back in the fall of 2001, when our county was shattered by plant closings and West Jefferson’s downtown had far too many “for rent” signs in storefronts.

Historically, Raleigh tends to ignore us here, which is generally fine with us. A notable exception is Jim Long, commisssioner of Insurance, who has done so much for our local fire departments and rescue squads. Now we seem to have suddenly become the focus of quite a few folks inside the Raleigh Beltline.

The transfer tax issue is fairly simple. We face some financial challenges in this county, specifically paying for two major capital projects, the new law enforcement center and the library expansion. Both are important and necessary -- though we believe the services offered by the improved library will, in the future, reduce the need for a jail here. At the same time, county government is facing the same staggering cost of gas and fuel oil we are all facing. That is the reality.

We, as citizens of the county, must pay these bills. The question is how -- by increasing the ad valorem (property) tax or having a transfer tax for non-family land sales. We do not believe this is all such a mystery that our citizens are not capable of deciding how we, as a county, shall pay our bills.

We hope our new-found friends in Raleigh will not forget us after May 6, as we struggle to deal with the serious layoffs and transfers now taking place at Leviton. We trust they will have the same interest, as we struggle to face this and many other challenges here in the “Lost Province.”


Saturday, April 19, 2008

Teardown Watch

Cutting through Drewry Hills I turn the corner at Landor and notice, first, the urban Renewal signs, perhaps 3 on one lot. The house has been missing for several months now. It was the RR signs that alerted me that something speculative was on its way.

Here is the history:

Zoning R-4
Acreage .40
Permit Date 12/19/2007
Permit # 0000071343

Transfer Information
Deed Date 7/31/2007
Pkg Sale Date 7/31/2007
Pkg Sale Price $609,000

Land Value Assessed $603,750
Bldg. Value Assessed
Total Value Assessed $603,750

Take a stroll through the neighborhood here and you can get a sense of its current character.

View Larger Map

Just around the bend is Marlowe Rd, which is getting a bump in prestige these days as the site of several new estate-style homes. It seemed to begin on the short spur of highrise homes near the greenway that were an infill development, say, 7 years ago. Ironically, several homeowners on W. Drewry Lane who were now looking at houses instead of protected flood-plain woodlands (FP note here: how does this happen?) commented at the time that while they did not understand this trend in large houses, to each their own. They did not know at the time that their neighborhood could be redeveloped in this way.

So this is one of two teardown lots with urban Renewal signs on them on W Drewry, and there is one house for rent on E Drewry with a yellow sign too. Drewry Hills, the Teardown Watch is for you. The real estate activity in your neighborhood shows signs of coming redevelopment. If you watch these properties you can get a sense of the intent for your neighborhood.

At $600K purchase price, this will likely be a $2M house. How long can you afford to call this neighborhood home?

. . .

RESEARCH UPDATE: Permit plans indicate a 8114 SF house is being built here.

8 1 1 4 ... W O W

Did FP mention that one owner of this project is a prominent spokesperson for personal rights by way of Renewal of Raleigh....

Quiz Answer

It is not easy to find -- the answer is here.

And if that inspires further research, your journey can be started here.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Pop Quiz

Where are these goals stated?

  • To recognize and promote the contributions of neighborhoods to the unique identity of Raleigh.
  • To promote and guide Raleigh's path toward optimum conservation and utilization of all its resources.
  • To encourage proper respect for human dignity.
  • To recognize open space, recreation and culture as essential needs for the enrichment of human lives and to promote the availability of a broad range of recreational and cultural opportunities for all citizens.
  • To encourage, through both private and public initiatives, policies and programs for the development of affordable housing for all citizens.

You may choose only one:
  1. Magna Carta
  2. SCALE manifesto
  3. Renew Raleigh 
  4. Something to do with the city
  5. Preservation NC

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Does this sound familiar?

Influx of new large homes has eroded ... traditional look, some residents say
Some suggest voluntary design guidelines

Inadvertent window peeping can be a hazard of living next to a "McMansion," say ... residents who recently listed it as a major gripe about new homes in their ... community.

"I can see right into my neighbors' bedroom, and they don't seem to care," said a resident who lives next to a super-sized new house.

While conceding that they sound like the town's "good taste police," the residents gathered at ... Hall to develop a set of voluntary home-design guidelines for new home builders.

Among their dislikes: Fake Palladian windows, bulging turrets and oversize stone balusters. Such elements clash with the character of ... traditional homes, especially the beloved, but vanishing, century-old Victorians, sprawling ranches, stately Georgians and palatial Tudors, the residents said.

Geolly gee. What is going on here? How about this example from Winnetka. "Perhaps no single tear-down better exemplifies what Winnetka is losing than the planned demolition of a Walnut Street home built in 1910 built for John L. Hamilton, a partner of famed Prairie School architect Dwight Perkins. ... Harder still, some say, is what replaces them: behemoths plopped in the midst of traditional homes where critics say they stand out like sore thumbs," the story adds.

This entire article can be found at

The guidelines are a novel approach that neighboring Glencoe and a handful of other suburban towns have taken recently to attempt to influence what goes up in their back yards without violating anyone's property rights. Whether it works is debatable.

"I don't think the process has prevented the mega-mansion from being built next door to the little ranch house, but if people want to participate, it may result in more compatibility with the existing neighborhood," Glencoe Village Manager Paul Harlow said.

That's a big 'if,' said Peter Wall, a North Shore Realtor who runs a Web site called, which specializes in matching potential tear-down properties to developers. As of this month, he had 1,380 Winnetka homes on his list of replaceable homes.

"I'm not even sure what the voluntary guidelines are," he said. "We look at what we can build on the property and what we could sell it for, and that dictates what happens to it."

Under pressure from its residents to have some say-so over what goes up in their neighborhoods, Winnetka adopted new zoning regulations a few years ago to put a lid on the sky's-the-limit approach to home building. It didn't do the trick.

"Instead of tall bad houses, we got short bad houses," said resident Chris Rintz, who is leading the town's latest effort to develop a brochure for newcomers that helps explain what Winnetkans like and dislike about new homes.

Note the definition of Value (from the OED). Money is not number one. "The Importance or preciousness of something." I like that.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

An insufficient mansion?

A picture is worth a few words.

Col. Raynal Bolling, an architect of American air power in World War I, died of a German bullet in 1918. The aviator's Greenwich mansion, featuring 13 fireplaces and a shooting gallery, survived until 2007.

Hedge-fund manager Spencer Lampert spent $7.6 million to buy the home, designed by the same firm that created the New York Public Library. Then, last year, Mr. Lampert razed it to the ground. Asked to describe what he has in mind for the now-vacant six-acre lot, he said in an e-mail: "Planning on building a house."


In Greenwich, his sprawling estate with five stone chimneys was sometimes open to the public for teas and concerts hosted by his widow, Anna. By the 1960s, the colonel's offspring sold Greyledge, as the estate is known. "It was too big for continued use. There was an entire servants' wing," recalls Trish Twining, the colonel's granddaughter. "In the '60s, people didn't live that way."

In 2001, Greyledge was bought by Mr. Lampert, managing director of Tudor Investment Corp. (The hedge fund was founded by Paul Tudor Jones, who himself stunned many Greenwich residents in the 1990s by tearing down a waterfront home and building a 13,000-square-foot, dome-topped mansion it its place.)

Mr. Lampert -- no relation to hedge-fund manager Edward Lampert, another Greenwich resident -- says he initially wanted to preserve Col. Bolling's manor. "I designed a renovated Greyledge with a well-known architect," says Mr. Lampert, who currently lives down the street. "The cost [of renovating] was materially the same as or insignificantly different from building from scratch."

Last year, Greyledge disappeared.

From the Wall Street Journal Online:

Founded by English colonists in 1640, Greenwich evolved into an exclusive retreat from nearby New York. In 1848, a railroad linked the town to Manhattan. By the 1920s, Greenwich had one of the country's highest per capita incomes.

One of the earlier arrivals from New York was James McCutcheon, who made a fortune in the linen trade. In 1886, a Boston architect built him a house of rough-faced granite blocks and archways. Nils Kerchus, a consultant to the nonprofit Greenwich Historical Society, says he scoured Connecticut for another residential specimen of the style -- Richardsonian-Romanesque, like Boston's landmark Trinity Church -- but found none.

In December, Rene Kern, managing director of the General Atlantic hedge fund, bought the property for $10.2 million. The seller was Arthur Malley, whose family had purchased it from the McCutcheons in 1927. Mr. Malley says his broker told him that Mr. Kern and his wife planned to renovate the house.

In February, according to town records, Mr. Kern applied for a demolition permit.

The city's Historic District Commission imposed a 90-day stay to encourage the new owners to reconsider. "I compare it to someone demolishing the pyramids in Egypt," Mr. Malley says.

Mr. Kern declined to comment. A General Atlantic spokeswoman says Mr. Kern and his wife "continue to evaluate all options for their home."

Monday, April 14, 2008

N&O Series: Openings

Raleigh recaptures its low-rise past
A stretch of seven low-rise buildings on the west side of the 200 block of downtown Raleigh's Fayetteville Street either have been renovated or are being renovated, creating 'a very cool block,' according to one tenant.

Hundreds of feet below the surging shimmer of Raleigh's new RBC office tower, a humbler but equally dynamic transformation is taking shape.

Down along the broad new sidewalks of Raleigh's reborn Fayetteville Street, entrepreneurs and preservationists are restoring century-old storefronts in vibrant colors, decorative facades and historic textures.

It is indeed wonderful to see that time is becoming the friend of history. "Like others scattered throughout downtown, the reincarnated cast-offs, standing as thick as seven abreast along Fayetteville Street's 200 block, are helping to revive the city's forlorn heart -- one costly, painstaking renovation at a time." Those of us who have loved the downtown blocks throughout its time, feel lifted a bit to see these images. Preservation has been sneaking up on this block from the side streets, and now, with the arrival of main street, energy is beginning to flow again.

One wonders if eventually the idea for a movie theater or a really good department store, with a southern style cafeteria, could be too far away. Fallonia notices the trend seems to be about a 5-7 year lag from the time the last of a thing hits the landfill before someone wants to re-invent it. Think Restoration Hardware.

The interview with Marvin Malecha, dean and professor of architecture at N.C. State University, is reassuring, and can be found here:
Fayetteville Street's spirit is rediscovered in mix of old and new

Q: What do you think of the emerging look of Fayetteville Street as these old buildings are effectively unmasked, the past coming back storefront by storefront?

A: The city is rediscovering its spirit with the uncovering of the old storefronts as though a weight is being lifted from the shoulders of downtown. The old and the new can be continued into a new urban framework. The mixing of new additions and the old is a pattern set by Memorial Auditorium. The Convention Center continues this tradition by establishing a scale derived from the historic factory while utilizing new strategies.

This is what has made Raleigh's fabric special all along, periods of history next to periods of history, sometimes in a full cloth and other times like a crazy quilt. One era did not completely topple the previous era, they lived side by side.

Just as Oberlin Village and Cameron Village have done; they tell different stories woven together through time in the parts that remain. I digress, but I shall continue, this history is from the Latta House Foundation site.
Neighborhood History and Evolution
After the Civil War, farmland west of Raleigh was sub-divided and lots were sold to freed African-Americans who quickly established a family community complete with homes, churches, schools and business places. The area became known as Oberlin Village, named for Oberlin College in Ohio, which had been prominent in the anti-slavery movement. Several important institutions were established in Oberlin, including Latta University, which was founded in the late 19th century by Reverend Morgan Latta. The university ceased operation around 1920 and today only one building remains, at 1001 Parker Street. Much of the original Oberlin Village gave way to redevelopment as residential suburbs expanded around Raleigh. Cameron Village was developed in 1950. Increased enrollment at N.C.S.U. prompted the razing of housing to construct apartment buildings. Today, most of the original homes are found in an area extending from Oberlin Road about four or five blocks west and from Clark Avenue to just north of Wade Avenue. Efforts to preserve some of the heritage of Oberlin Village have resulted in several buildings and houses being designated as Raleigh Historic Landmarks

This is Raleigh. And Raleigh's heritage is worth preserving. Malecha says it best:

Q. It seems unusual that so many old buildings on Fayetteville Street escaped the wrecking ball. Does Raleigh have an opportunity to create a rare mix of old streetscapes and soaring towers, a sense of history and the future?

A. It is indeed fortunate that downtown escaped the wrecking ball. The challenge will be to find a way to ensure that the sense of family business is also not lost. ... It is natural that old and new co-exist. It reminds us of the extended families that make up North Carolina society. Healthy families celebrate members of all ages. Each generation teaches the next, and the next generation challenges the previous.

Sustainable Design

Preservation is Sustainability
by Lloyd Alter, Toronto on 04.07.08

Speaking at Bernard Maybeck's historic First Church of Christ, Scientist in Berkeley, the President of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Richard Moe, made an historic speech about how saving old buildings is not about the past, but the future.

In the speech he notes that existing buildings"are vast respositories of energy." "It takes energy to manufacture to extract building materials, more energy to transport them to a construction site, still more energy to assemble them into a building," he says. "All of that energy is embodied in the finished structure — and if the structure is demolished and landfilled, the energy locked up in it is totally wasted." He calculates that even if 40% of the materials in a new building are recycled, it would take 65 years for "green, energy-efficient new office building to recover the energy lost in demolishing an existing building,

From the speech, on the meaning of preservation:

"I'll begin with a reminder of what historic preservation is all about. When you strip away the rhetoric, preservation is simply having the good sense to hold on to things that are well designed, that link us with our past in a meaningful way, and that have plenty of good use left in them."

On current planning:

One of the first and most important things that must happen is a thoroughgoing revision of current government policies that foster unsustainable development. For decades, national, state and local policies have facilitated – even encouraged – the development of new suburbs while leaving existing communities behind. As a result, an epidemic of sprawl ravages the countryside, devouring open space and demanding new infrastructure. Look at almost any city in the country, and you'll see new houses springing up in rural areas that are underserved by roads and public services – while in the urban core, disinvestment has left viable housing stock abandoned in areas where infrastructure is already in place, already paid for.

It makes no sense for us to recycle newsprint and bottles and aluminum cans while we're throwing away entire buildings, or even entire neighborhoods. This pattern of development is fiscally irresponsible, environmentally disastrous, and ultimately unsustainable.

On old buildings being green:

"The key phrase is "sustainable stewardship."

The retention and reuse of older buildings is an effective tool for the responsible, sustainable stewardship of our environmental resources – including those that have already been expended. I'm talking about what's called "embodied energy."

Here's the concept in a nutshell: Buildings are vast repositories of energy. It takes energy to manufacture or extract building materials, more energy to transport them to a construction site, still more energy to assemble them into a building. All of that energy is embodied in the finished structure – and if the structure is demolished and landfilled, the energy locked up in it is totally wasted. What's more, the process of demolition itself uses more energy – and, of course, the construction of a new building in its place uses more yet.

Let me give you some numbers that will translate that concept into reality.

* According to a formula produced for the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, about 80 billion BTUs of energy are embodied in a typical 50,000-square-foot commercial building. That's the equivalent of 640,000 gallons of gasoline. If you tear the building down, all of that embodied energy is wasted.

* What's more, demolishing that same 50,000-square-foot building would create nearly 4,000 tons of waste. That's enough debris to fill 26 railroad boxcars – a train nearly a quarter of a mile long, headed for a landfill that is already almost full.

* Once the old building is gone, putting up a new one in its place takes more energy, of course, and it also uses more natural resources and releases new pollutants and greenhouse gases into our environment. It is estimated that constructing a 50,000-square-foot commercial building releases about the same amount of carbon into the atmosphere as driving a car 2.8 million miles.

* One more point: You might think that all the energy used in demolishing an older building and replacing it is offset by the increased energy efficiency of the new building – but that's simply not true. Recent research indicates that even if 40% of the materials are recycled, it takes approximately 65 years for a green, energy-efficient new office building to recover the energy lost in demolishing an existing building. And let's face it: Most new buildings aren't designed to last anywhere near 65 years." Read it all at ::preservation nation via ::WFFA

See also Big Steps in Building: Ban Demolition and Demolition by Neglect: Use It or Lose It

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The More Things Change . . .

The subprime crisis is just the tip of the iceberg. Fundamental changes in American life may turn today’s McMansions into tomorrow’s tenements.

Strange days are upon the residents of many a suburban cul-de-sac. Once-tidy yards have become overgrown, as the houses they front have gone vacant. Signs of physical and social disorder are spreading.

At Windy Ridge, a recently built starter-home development seven miles northwest of Charlotte, North Carolina, 81 of the community’s 132 small, vinyl-sided houses were in foreclosure as of late last year. Vandals have kicked in doors and stripped the copper wire from vacant houses; drug users and homeless people have furtively moved in. In December, after a stray bullet blasted through her son’s bedroom and into her own, Laurie Talbot, who’d moved to Windy Ridge from New York in 2005, told The Charlotte Observer, “I thought I’d bought a home in Pleasantville. I never imagined in my wildest dreams that stuff like this would happen.”

In the Franklin Reserve neighborhood of Elk Grove, California, south of Sacramento, the houses are nicer than those at Windy Ridge—many once sold for well over $500,000—but the phenomenon is the same. At the height of the boom, 10,000 new homes were built there in just four years. Now many are empty; renters of dubious character occupy others. Graffiti, broken windows, and other markers of decay have multiplied. Susan McDonald, president of the local residents’ association and an executive at a local bank, told the Associated Press, “There’s been gang activity. Things have really been changing, the last few years.”
. . .

This article is provides a fine overview of the big picture, the changing factors that equate to a change in way real estate is designed and marketed in our current time. According the article "A structural change is under way in the housing market—a major shift in the way many Americans want to live and work. It has shaped the current downturn, steering some of the worst problems away from the cities and toward the suburban fringes. And its effects will be felt more strongly, and more broadly, as the years pass. Its ultimate impact on the suburbs, and the cities, will be profound."

Arthur C. Nelson, director of the Metropolitan Institute at Virginia Tech, has looked carefully at trends in American demographics, construction, house prices, and consumer preferences. In 2006, using recent consumer research, housing supply data, and population growth rates, he modeled future demand for various types of housing. The results were bracing: Nelson forecasts a likely surplus of 22 million large-lot homes (houses built on a sixth of an acre or more) by 2025—that’s roughly 40 percent of the large-lot homes in existence today.

And then there is the quality of the construction to consider:

... Many of the inner-city neighborhoods that began their decline in the 1960s consisted of sturdily built, turn-of-the-century row houses, tough enough to withstand being broken up into apartments, and requiring relatively little upkeep. By comparison, modern suburban houses, even high-end McMansions, are cheaply built. Hollow doors and wallboard are less durable than solid-oak doors and lath-and-plaster walls. The plywood floors that lurk under wood veneers or carpeting tend to break up and warp as the glue that holds the wood together dries out; asphalt-shingle roofs typically need replacing after 10 years. Many recently built houses take what structural integrity they have from drywall—their thin wooden frames are too flimsy to hold the houses up.

The article explores the walkability and urban core movements, the gentrification of the urban core, the resulting shifts in demographics from loss of affordable inner city living to suburban neighborhoods, and the reverse migration from expensive homes in the suburbs to new expensive homes in the city.

No Impact Left Behind. "By the estimate of Virginia Tech’s Arthur Nelson, as much as half of all real-estate development on the ground in 2025 will not have existed in 2000. It’s exciting to imagine what the country will look like then. Building and residential migration seem to progress slowly from year to year, yet then one day, in retrospect, the landscape seems to have been transformed in the blink of an eye."

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Complete article can be found here.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Teardown of the week

Since FP is into recycling, this is recycling.

The 2148 SF house was not recycled. It was, in fact, prematurely torn down. (Remember, square footage figures on older homes do not include attached garages, so they are not as small as they sound.) It is an example of what is wrong with the concept of tearing down houses for lot potential, rather than letting the families buy the homes and fix them up as they wish.

This is the difference between potential and opportunity. It is what is changing in the way properties are bought and sold.

This house (see earlier post) was sold on 6/15/2007 for $460,000. Neighboring properties were contacted by the realtor looking for more property so that the proposed 5000 SF house would have a deeper yard. No land was sold. Nonetheless, the home was demolished the last week in June.

Sometime in the next few months, the property returned to the market, for $499,000. No house, just the .48 acre lot.

Recently the lot price has been reduced by $50K. This means it will sell for less than it was bought.

You gotta wonder, would there actually be a family contributing to a stronger neighborhood if this property had remained intact?

Friday, April 4, 2008

Resident's Report on Infill Public Workshop

Fallonia had the good fortune to get out of her obsolete house this week and go downtown -- to attend the Public Workshop on the Infill Study. Making it all the way downtown to the Progress Energy Center, aka Memorial Auditorium, she found plenty of "Progress" and plenty of "Energy" -- if bulldozing is your thing.

Upon signing in, the first observation was a temperous man who was complaining to all comers that there was a test to compare infill houses and they would be showing slides of houses, and some of them were his houses. Fair enough, I thought. Here is a chance for some feedback about your work.

This became the tenor of the meeting, however. Citizens had come to see the results of the study (a year in process, not a new study as reported on WRAL-TV), and offer some feedback on what is going on in their neighborhood.

The business side of this debate came to prevent the issues from seeing the light of day. Childish tactics ensued.

The presentation did continue, the Planning Department did a good job of trying to explain the study and the findings. Some residents did speak up, in the midst of this climate. The "test" was completed, the scoring will be indicative of a person's perspective. As a resident, I tried to accept some refill homes as not harmful (there was not a check box for "yuck, but acceptable") having seen the tip of the iceberg. I believe there were some from the residential other camp that tried in earnest to rate the qualities that make one building offensive and another acceptable. But the comments from the rest of the peanut gallery indicated that there was nothing wrong with this picture. (The pictures they used were another matter, unclear context in many cases).

Suffice it to say, the collective personality of the assembled people who are doing business in your neighborhood demonstrated the one trait picked up so clearly from their work, they really do not care what you think or feel about what they are doing. It is an American right, freedom, and perhaps even a favor, they are doing.

I found it very telling, and very sad. It answered the one burning question tho. There ARE people doing business in your neighborhood that see you as the problem. But using a bulldozer to talk is not going to get it.

BTW, the Mission of the Planning Department is this:
To provide guidance for the growth, preservation and development of the City of Raleigh in order to maintain a community of lasting value.

FYI: Fallonia also dusted off her sliderule this week to take the city data and run a calculation.

70% of the new houses on a demolition site are ITB, as per the map above. The average size of a NEW HOUSE in Raleigh is 2800 SF (97% of the new construction). The average size of an INFILL house is at least 4250 SF, according to the most generous calculations. It is not your imagination.

NEW: posts the City's presentation.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Ding Ding Ding Ding ...

We have over 300 signatures.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Tonight, Tonight ...

won't be just any night ...

Neighborhood Infill Study

The Department of City Planning will host a public meeting to discuss residential infill construction. The public meeting will reveal the results of a six-month study of residential demolition and reconstruction. The study was authorized by City Council in July of 2007, and examines residential building patterns from 2002-2007.

An analysis of issued demolition permits and building permits cross-referenced with GIS data and field survey results form the basis of the study. The meeting will be held on Wednesday, April 2, 2008 in the Carolina Room at the Progress Energy Center (2 E. South Street). The meeting will begin at 6:00 p.m.

A presentation of the collected data will be followed by pictures of examples of recently constructed homes and examination of their characteristics. It is the intent of City staff to examine the data in a public forum in an attempt to determine if a problem exists, and in that event, suggest possible solutions.

This is the first of two public meetings to discuss residential infill construction. The second meeting will be held in late May or early June. The date, time and place will be finalized at a later date. City staff hopes to present an impact report to the City Council by July of 2008.

NCODs provide a rezoning process for individual neighborhoods to customize zoning regulations such as setbacks, height, lot size and parking location to reflect the built character of the neighborhood. The proposal will shorten the process for requesting this overlay district by eliminating the lengthy requirement of the drafting of a Neighborhood Plan and the subsequent adoption of the approved Neighborhood Plan into the City’s Comprehensive Plan. Other changes address the process for Council’s adoption of the regulations associated with a proposed NCOD.

More info found here.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

This just in

Tatton Hall Makes Way for Wal-Mart