Midtown Raleigh News

Neighbor files appeal in Oakwood modernist house case

Across-the-street neighbor Gail Wiesner filed her appeal Friday against the modernist Oakwood house, a move that sends the architectural battle to the N.C. Court of Appeals.

Wiesner lost the last round of appeals when Superior Court Judge Elaine Bushfan ruled in favor of the house last month.

Bushfan’s decision overturned the city’s Board of Adjustment – she said it used an “incorrect standard of review” – and allowed homeowners Louis Cherry and Marsha Gordon to resume construction. Bushfan also determined that Wiesner doesn’t have legal standing to fight the house.

Wiesner said Friday that the issues in the case are the same. She argues that the modernist design doesn’t fit historic rules for Oakwood and that Raleigh’s historic commission made a mistake by approving it.

“Nothing really has changed,” she said.

Cherry said crews have been working on the house since Bushfan’s ruling, and he’s not sure what effect the appeal will have on their ability to finish.

“Obviously, we’re very disappointed that it will be further prolonged,” he said.

The appeal will likely continue a bitter neighborhood battle that has stretched on for a year. The couple have been living in a rental property while their new home remains in limbo.

At the N.C. Court of Appeals, the case will get a look from a three-judge panel. The court can consider any errors of law or legal procedure made in Superior Court, but it doesn’t reweigh the facts of the case.

And as the appeals court reviews the case, city officials are looking at the historic district guidelines that sparked the debate.

More than 100 people weighed in on the guidelines at a forum last month, and a UNC Greensboro architecture professor will make recommendations based on the input Oct. 20.