Thursday, October 30, 2008

Good Question

Letter to Editor | News & Observer | here

Because good schools help us sell homes and therefore help preserve property values in Wake County, we will never understand why Realtors are not leading the fight for stable funding for better schools.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Comprehensive Planning Committee Votes to Pave

City committee recommends paving Broughton lawn
BY DAVID BRACKEN, Staff Writer | News & Observer | Raleigh NC

RALEIGH - Raleigh's Comprehensive Planning Committee recommended Wednesday that Broughton High School be allowed to pave most its front lawn to add up to 100 student parking spaces. ...

The Comprehensive Planning Committee is the third city body to weigh in on Broughton's plan to turn its tiered lawn into a parking lot. The plan has received the support of the Raleigh Historic Districts Commission, but was rejected by the city's Planning Commission last month. ...

At one point during the meeting, Baldwin asked Mitch Silver, the city's planning director, how the Historic Districts Commission and the Planning Commission could have such different positions on the same plan.

"We're dealing with the memory of a place, which is not covered in a code," Silver said.

The full City Council is expected to vote on the recommendation during its Tuesday meeting.

Monday, October 20, 2008

At Home in the Hamptons

One/third acre-lot rings a bell.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Last Hope for Stanhope

View Larger Map

Letter to the Editor | News & Observer | Raleigh NC

In your Oct. 15 article "City approves two projects," council member Nancy McFarlane said, "I feel I have a real fiduciary responsibility to the city to make sure we have good development that would help the city as a whole."

McFarlane's comment suggests that she would be abdicating her fiduciary responsibility by honoring the city's comprehensive plan. The two are not mutually exclusive, and the councilor knows they are not mutually exclusive. To suggest that they are is dishonest.

The problem is that the corporation in question wants to make more than a profit. It wants to make a killing.

A profitable student housing complex could exist comfortably within the bounds of Raleigh's comprehensive plan.

--Tom Hennessy, Raleigh

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Up in the Northeast Corner

Here Quoth a Realtor/Lawyer from a distant blog:


A reader asks, "This post brings up a question that has been nagging me for a while...does it make sense to put money into a now depreciating asset in anticipation of making it more desirable to sell at a later date? What determines whether or not a house is a 'tear down'? "
. . .

What makes a tear down? In happier days, any older house that sat on decent land was quarreled over by builders and first time home buyers alike - picture sea gulls fighting over a fish carcass. Now that the builders are on hiatus there are fewer tear downs and a much better opportunity for young families who can't afford a mansion to move in, maybe add that new kitchen you so wisely avoided, and live happily ever after. Personally, I like that development; I represent a couple of builders, whom I like and admire, but I also live in this town and I'd be glad to see the return of "normal" families.

Another neighbor heard from.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Alexandria Says Yes to Infill Standards

Looks like a plan to me. Oh yeh, a Plan, that's what we wanted.

I guess Santa isn't going to bring this to Raleigh this year since Alexandria got it. For the uninitiated, (citizens of Raleigh) this is what studying a problem looks like. I think this is called Planning.

Infill Task Force
City Council Approves Comprehensive Infill Regulations

On Tuesday, June 24, the City Council approved the recommendations of the Infill Task Force, with a few minor amendments. The recommendations are comprehensive, and include amendments to the zoning ordinance for the following:
  • Height
  • Front setbacks
  • Garages
  • Floor Area Ratio
  • Tree Coverage
  • Teardowns on Substandard Lots
The amendments are generally applicable to one- and two-family dwellings in the R-20, R-8, R-5, R-2-5, RA and RB zones, outside the historic districts. To view the new ordinance language on the above, please see the following link to the Council docket item:

The regulations are effective as of Wednesday, June 25, 2008. As such, all new applications submitted from that day forward will be subject to the new regulations. Any complete applications for building permit or grading plan submitted prior to that day will be processed under the prior rules.

In addition, the City Council directed staff to prepare a scope, timeline and budget proposal for a Citywide Pattern Book to bring back for their consideration in Fall 2008.

If you have any questions or comments, or have a specific project that you would like clarification on the applicability of the new regulations, please contact Peter Leiberg or Valerie Peterson at 703-838-4666. Planning Commission recommended approval of Infill Task Force recommendations at its June 4 hearing. The recommendations will go to City Council Hearing on June 14 at 9:30 am.

Background on the Infill study:

In April 2007, City Council approved a Resolution to establish an Infill Task Force, whose mission is to:
  • Study the impact of large new housing construction and major residential additions in existing, established single-family neighborhoods.
  • Analyze existing City regulations that pertain to limiting infill impacts and make recommendations to the Planning Commission and City Council for any regulatory changes.
  • Keep the public informed about the study, briefing the community at large on the progress of the infill study, and briefing the Planning Commission and City Council on their analysis and recommendations.
Schedule & Meeting Agendas

Infill Task Force Members:
[snip], Chair, Planning Commission
[snip], Architect
[snip], Builder/Developer
[snip], Architect
[snip], Northern Virginia Association of Realtors
[snip], Resident, Mt. Jefferson/Del Ray
[snip], Resident, North Ridge
[snip], Resident, Rosemont
[snip], Resident, Strawberry Hill

Meeting Materials:
June 3 Planning Commission Hearing
  • Infill Task Force Recommendations
Thursday, May 1, 2008, Infill Community Meeting
  • Presentation
April 17, 2008
  • Agenda
  • Draft Proposed Zoning Ordinance Changes (proposed new language underlined in red, and existing language in plain text)
  • Height Definitions
  • Subdivision
  • Substandard Lots
  • FAR and Related Changes
  • Average Front Setback and Threshold Height
  • Supplemental Regulations
  • Overlay Districts and Pattern Book (Policy Recommendations)

April 8, 2008 Joint Worksession with Planning Commission and City Council
› Presentation
› Summary Table of Preliminary Recommendations from Infill Task Force

March 18, 2008
› Agenda
› Meeting Summary
› Detailed Discussion of Potential Regulations
› Proposed Regulations and Staff Recommendations

February 21, 2008
› Agenda
› Meeting Summary
› Presentation
› Presentation on Annapolis, MD Conservation District
› Overview of Existing and Proposed Regulations

January 30, 2008
› Agenda
› Presentation
› Meeting Summary

January 17, 2008
› Agenda
› Presentation
› Meeting Summary
› Preliminary Concepts for Consideration FAR and Bulk

December 6, 2007
› Agenda
› Presentation
› Preliminary Concepts for Consideration
› Meeting Summary

November 15, 2007
› Agenda
› Presentation
› Meeting Summary

October 25, 2007
› Agenda
› Meeting Summary
› Summary of Infill Measures in Other Jurisdictions

October 16, 2007
› Agenda
› Meeting Summary
› Presentation

August 28, 2007
› Meeting Summary
› Presentation to Infill Task Force

Background Information:
  • Interim Ordinance #4457
  • Emergency Legislation Enacted Addressing Residential Infill Concerns
  • Staff Report on Infill Interim Regulations June 6, 2006
  • Presentation to Planning Commission March 9, 2006
  • Report to Planning Commission March 9, 2006

Sunday, October 12, 2008

How Tall Is It??

After watching the discussion on height this week -- in Stanhope and Cameron Village areas -- Fallonia has been doing her homework and researching the impact of height on communities. We know that height in infill homes is quite an issue. What about when commercial projects are being built in the edges of neighborhoods? You know, this ...

Urban Form/Community Character
The height, design, materials, and location of buildings contribute to the quality of the urban environment. That quality can be degraded by buildings that are of inappropriate scale and insensitive design. Existing buildings in the [snip] Corridor are predominantly one or two stories in height, and many have large floor plates and blank concrete walls. New buildings might be taller and architecturally distinct and will therefore change the character of the area—both as viewed from the public spaces on the perimeter of the study area, or as experienced from the sidewalks, parks, and plazas within new mixed-use neighborhoods.

Research led to a study from Bellevue WA where this question was asked and answered. The url indicates it is an official city document. If any analysis like this has occurred in Raleigh, FP would like to know about it. Isn't this the sort of thing neighborhoods are asking for ... impact analysis? It just seems so willy nilly around here.

Locations of Taller Buildings
The arrangement of taller buildings can become a very prominent part of a community’s identity. Some urban critics assert that where taller buildings occur, they should be limited to iconic structures or public buildings, such as cathedrals, iconic towers, or major public buildings. This logic has been used to prohibit higher building forms in large portions of some cities (e.g., Washington, D.C., and Paris).

Others assert that if taller commercial and residential buildings are placed in the right locations, these buildings can provide a sense that a community has well-defined and carefully planned centers of development. By contrast, an urban form of high-rise buildings distributed across the landscape with no strong sense of focus can give the impression of unplanned and haphazard growth. Because they are visible from a distance, taller buildings can strongly affect community character and identity, for better or worse.

Maybe our comp plan will be a guiding light for us all. Surely they are up there doing planning in the Planning Department. Surely.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Teardown of the week (weeks ago that is)

No plans on file that reveal the future for this lot. Selling price is a couple of hundred thou over the property valuation.

Fallonia predicts something Eurofabulous, in the $2.5-3.5M range.

Zoning R-4
Acreage .31
Permit Date 8/15/2008
Permit # 0000077258

Transfer Information
Pkg Sale Date 7/9/2008
Pkg Sale Price $825,000

Heated Area 2,125
Originally built 1944

Location Location Location ...

Fallonia's concern is that a family could move in and work with this house, as a good investment and a growing home. When the neighborhood's "entry level" houses -- those of good size and quality -- are demolished for an expensive and speculative upgrade (and yes, this is an LLC doing the job, not a homeowner), then we are basically shutting out potential good neighbors and a diversity of community. As a city, we need to pay attention to this, and to one other thing: will our economy be able to sustain this many multi-million dollar homes?? These ITB neighborhoods have been more expensive for decades, but this is something else.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Raleigh any more

FROM THE N&O | David Bracken | 10/07/08 | 2:53 PM

Raleigh Council OKs development proposals

RALEIGH - The City Council approved two development proposals today that have drawn intense interest from residents who live nearby the projects.

The council voted 6-2 to allow a developer to build a private 10-story student apartment building and a parking deck off Hillsborough Street for N.C. State University students. The project, called the Stanhope Center, was first submitted to the city 10 months ago. ...

The council also voted 5-2 to approve Crescent Resources request to rezone 2.67 acres at Clark Avenue and Oberlin Road in the Cameron Village shopping center in West Raleigh.

The rezoning increases the height limit on any building it constructs from 50 feet to about 85 feet. The building could include up to 28,000 square feet of shops and 232 apartments or condominiums. ...

More information about developments in Cameron Village can be found here at New Raleigh dot com.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Oberlin Village Needs You ...

Oberlin Village -- on the edge of Hayes Barton, Wade Avenue, Cameron Village, and University Park -- is on the verge of becoming a historic marker. When you know the story of this community, you have learned also about the history of the areas surrounding. This placard gives a glimpse of the rich history that Oberlin Road connects.

As a steward to the community; we will serve as a vessel to promote the history of the Latta School, its founder and other historic facets of Oberlin Village. These offerings will be rendered through educational and cultural
opportunities for all.


Following the Civil War, parcels of land were subdivided and sold to freed slaves. Oberlin Village would be one of Raleigh’s first communities of freed slaves. The land had belonged to a wealthy plantation owner, Duncan Cameron who was a North Carolina state politician and state banker. Former slave, James E. Harris, established Oberlin Village in 1866. He graduated from Oberlin College in Ohio for which the community was named after due to its opposition to slavery. It was also an institution that opened enrollment to African Americans. The 149 acres primarily consisted of farmland where its new citizens pursued self-sufficiency by erecting schools, businesses and places of worship. Some of the original homes were quaint and of Victorian style. Today, few can be found along Oberlin Road, Wade and Clark Avenues.

  • Wilson Temple United Methodist Church- Founded in 1865, the church was established to meet spiritual needs and to provide ministry to the Oberlin community. The church continues to this day to be a refuge with open hearts, open minds, and open doors. All are welcome! - W. E. McLeod, pastor.
  • Oberlin Cemetery- Located on Oberlin Road behind RE/MAX, the 142-year-old cemetery has laid to rest generations of Oberlin Village’s earliest residents. Some born unto slavery. The last burial is as recent as 2007.
  • Latta University-A former school and orphanage for the children of freed slaves. Founded by Reverend Morgan London Latta in 1892. The former slave of the Cameron family was one of Shaw University’s first graduates. The historic landmark was lost to a fire in January of 2007. It was the last of remaining of 26 structures. The 2-acre site is currently owned by the City of Raleigh. It’s the Latta House Foundation’s desire for it to be converted into a memorial teaching park and cultural center.
  • The following are some of the privately owned homes listed with the National Registry of Historic Places: Willis M. Graves House, Rev. Plummer T. Hall House and the John T. & Mary Turner House.


  • Dr. James E. Shepherd – In 1909 founded North Carolina Central University. Formerly known as the NC College For Negroes, it was one of the first state supported colleges in the nation for African Americans.
  • John H. Baker (1935- 2007) -served as North Carolina’s first black sheriff for nearly 2 decades. He was also a former pro football player for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
  • In 1956, Joseph Holt Jr. and his family would be one of the first to challenge Raleigh’s segregated school system.
  • Historic Oberlin Village had a host of educators, doctors and those who served in the military. Some honorably sacrificing their lives for our country.

  • “As a child, I can remember the early morning visits from the milk truck and the ice man. The neighbors who had farms would come by to sell fresh vegetables.” – Mrs. Minnie Pearce Turner Williams
  • “Easter Sunday everyone would visit Mr. Arthur Sheppard’s flower garden for a corsage or lapel. They would also pick flowers to place on the graves of loved ones passed.”- Mr. Joseph Holt
  • “There was a pond off lake Boone Trail where people would walk down for baptisms.”- Mrs. Rose Morgan Goode
  • “I do remember during the summer months when gypsies would set up camp in Cameron Woods. (Location of Harris Teeter) They would come in their wagons and were dressed in colorful clothing. They would stay for weeks.”- Mrs. Mamie Haywood

  • Contact the City of Raleigh’s Historic District Commission
  • Visit your local library or book store to read Culture Town by Linda Simmons–Henry
  • Tour the Raleigh City Museum
  • The senior residents are your best source yet. Make an introduction today!

This outreach placard was brought to you by
and sponsored by the

Oberlin Village has been vigilant in its civic participation to protect its heritage, key buildings, and cemetery. This inside-the-beltline community has given up homes for the city to build Jaycee park, the Wade Ave overpass, and has negotiated with developers on Oberlin Rd to protect their cemetery and a way in. It is giving up many of their old homes one lot at a time for business development, on Oberlin south, and new homes, on Oberlin north, of Wade.

Having recently resolved a way to coexist with the new developments across the street from Wilson Temple, they are sounding the alarm again, the problem now being the Crescent project at Cameron Village.

The City Council will be hearing this zoning request at 1:00 pm on Tues, October 7. Research the issue here at See ya downtown on Tuesday.

The community’s history is often overlooked, and the village is often erroneously referred to as Cameron Village, a shopping center built in 1949 within Oberlin’s parameters. In recent years, development has erased much of Oberlin Village’s physical and historical landscape. While welcoming economic opportunities and urban growth, many descendants of the original villagers are ensuring that Oberlin Village is preserved and its history told.

Source:  Linda Simmons-Henry, Culture Town : Life in Raleigh's African American Communities (Raleigh, 1993) By Judith Guest, Latta House Foundation

Friday, October 3, 2008

Which Is It?

Bob Geary, over at, has a piece on the current quagmire known as the Raleigh City Council. In the news recently have been several bones of contention: the Planning Commission nomination process, and a couple of development issues in the old town. Is a recommended read....

The real irony lies in these quotes, tho.

The problem is defined here:

While these issues were being debated behind the scenes, The News & Observer reported that the four councilors have been meeting and talking as a group throughout the year, a practice that is completely legal but which Meeker nonetheless called "improper" if they were plotting to block a development project.

Under the state's open meetings law, five members of the eight-member council cannot meet in private because they constitute a majority capable of making decisions outside of public view. There's no bar in the law, though, against four councilors talking together—and such meetings, in various combination, are common in Raleigh City Hall.

And a suggestion from the Mayor to solve the other problem goes this way:

The initial council vote, two weeks ago, was 4-1 for Vance, with Meeker among the three declining to vote. His MM allies want the mayor to follow his past practice of "governing from the middle," which meant joining four-vote pluralities to make a majority. Meeker was noncommittal in an interview Tuesday.

"I'm encouraging the councilors to resolve that issue informally," he said.

Exactly how does he envision that happening?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008