RALEIGH — Architect Louis Cherry will be forced to stop construction on his controversial modernist home in the Oakwood neighborhood five months after the city issued his building permit.
The stop work order likely will come in the next few days. The city Board of Adjustment finalized its ruling against the house Monday. The board had voted 3-2 last month to overturn the Raleigh Historic Development Commissions approval for the house on Euclid Street.
Oakwood residents are bitterly divided over whether Cherrys home is appropriate for the historic district. Cherrys across-the-street neighbor, Gail Wiesner, has led the opposition, calling the design garishly inappropriate and saying it towers over its neighbors.
But other neighbors, as well as some historic preservationists, say the citys guidelines arent intended to keep out new architecture. Theyre asking city leaders to appeal the Board of Adjustment ruling to Wake County Superior Court.
If the ruling stands, Cherry would have to tear down the nearly complete house, which preservationists say would gut the power of historic guidelines and the commissions that enforce them throughout North Carolina.
The Raleigh City Council will decide later this month whether to appeal or leave the next move to Cherry. But on Monday, city attorney Dorothy Leapley voiced legal qualms with the Board of Adjustments action.
Leapley said the board failed to establish whether Wiesner has the right to challenge Cherrys permits. She said Wiesner would need to offer proof that her property value will be affected something that didnt happen during Board of Adjustment hearings.
The courts said simply living across the street wasnt good enough in itself, Leapley said.
Leapley said Wiesners role is among several issues the board failed to resolve. The attorney also said the ruling needs to be based on the physical environment of the entire Oakwood neighborhood, not individual streets or homes.
The citys concerns at this point are whether there are procedural problems in what happened before the board previously, Leapley said. What the city is suggesting is that (Cherry and Wiesner) need clear guidance.
But the Board of Adjustment declined to make any major changes to its formal ruling. If people think we committed errors of law, Chairman Charles Coble said, thats for the superior court to hear.
The board also rejected claims from Cherrys attorney that the city code requires a supermajority four votes to overturn a historic commission ruling.
I think it gives us a way out of this morass, said Cherrys attorney, Nick Fountain.
But the boards attorney, John Silverstein, said a state law passed last year requires only a simple majority, and it takes precedence over any city rules.
After Mondays action, Fountain said he expects city officials will revoke Cherrys building permits within days. Crews will then secure the site and protect the building materials from the elements, because a court appeal could take months. Fountain said his client hasnt decided whether to take the matter to court or return to the historic commission with a revised design.
Campbell: 919-829-4802; Twitter: @RaleighReporter