RALEIGH--During City Council meetings, Councilman Thomas Crowder frequently talks about the need for Raleigh to better protect what he refers to as its "challenged neighborhoods."
This evening, Crowder took his colleagues on a 90-minute bus tour of areas in Southeast and Southwest Raleigh that he believes are in need of immediate help.
The dozen stops on the tour were mostly places where multi-family housing had been awkwardly attached to a single-family home. While the additions were legal under existing zoning rules, Crowder argues that such construction is not compatible with the surrounding single-family homes.
He says such developments are exploiting vulnerable low-income neighborhoods and leading to instant blight and higher crime.
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"How can we stop this hemorrhaging?" Crowder asked at the end of the tour.
All of the City Council joined Crowder on the tour except Councilman Philip Isley. City Manager Russell Allen, Inspections Director Larry Strickland and Planning Director Mitch Silver also attended.
Most council members seemed to agree that the housing highlighted on the tour was not beneficial to the surrounding neighborhoods. Mayor Charles Meeker referred to the developments as "houses that drift on forever."
Other council members lamented the shoddy construction of some projects, as well as the placement of large parking lots facing the street.
Crowder clearly wants the council to come up with an immediate plan to prevent more of these projects from getting built.
Silver said the city is examining whether certain areas of Raleigh need to be rezoned as part of Raleigh's ongoing Comprehensive Plan update, a move that would help prevent such development in the future.
The city could also pass additional design requirements, or make sure that more projects get reviewed by the Planning Commission and the City Council.
Crowder, an architect, seemed open to that idea. The one stop on the tour that he praised were the apartments at 4202 Perseverance Court in southwest Raleigh.
Both the Planning Commission and the City Council initially rejected the project, which forced the developer to make changes to the design and landscaping.
City Council tours blighted neighborhoods