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Raleigh Council To Hear More Feedback On Zoning Plan

Shotgun houses in Raleigh's historic Oakwood neighborhood.
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Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane says Oakwood residents have expressed concern over a mixed-use zoning designation, but that the historic overlay protects the neighboorhood's existing use and style.

The Raleigh City Council has scheduled another hearing for people who want to talk about proposed zoning requirements. An overflow crowd turned out at this this week's Council meeting.

At issue is a proposal to update zoning requirements for about one-third of the city to complete Raleigh's Unified Development Ordinance.

Raleigh Planning Director Ken Bowers says commercial zoning language is outdated. Bowers says it was written decades ago, when most development was happening in rural areas. Now, he says development is booming in urban centers, and design is taking precedent over occupancy rules.

"We needed standards in the code that dealt with this because when an area densifies and intensifies, the urban design elements become a much greater part of how we manage the impacts of growth than they were when we were mostly building lower density development on the urban fringe," says Bowers.

Residents crowded a City Council hearing on the issue Tuesday.

Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane says much of the pushback came from misunderstandings over language, as with a "mixed use" designation on old houses that have become offices in the Oakwood neighborhood, for example.

"Places like Oakwood have a historic overlay that protect it anyway," McFarlane says. "Overlay really supersedes anything that's a code change, but it is... It is confusing when all the sudden you see a notice that says, 'Oh, we have a three-story office here' and people are just, 'Oh my gosh, I don't want that next to my neighborhood.'"

McFarlane says she thinks the follow-up hearing on July 21st will be important so city officials can address residents' concerns.

Rebecca Martinez produces podcasts at WUNC. She’s been at the station since 2013, when she produced Morning Edition and reported for newscasts and radio features. Rebecca also serves on WUNC’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accountability (IDEA) Committee.
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