A neighborhood off Glenwood Avenue where residents want to preserve the area’s historical character is one of the last puzzle pieces in a citywide zoning update.
Planners are trying to figure out how the Glenwood-Brooklyn neighborhood north of Peace Street will best fit under the the city’s new development rules, called the unified development ordinance.
It’s a question of how to make technical definitions match, but the broader dilemma is how best to preserve a historic downtown neighborhood as the area grows. The houses in the neighborhood primarily were built between 1910 and 1940, many in the bungalow and craftsman style popular at the time.
Now, most of Glenwood-Brooklyn has an unusual zoning, one that comes with special rules about setbacks, heights and other architectural elements in the mostly residential neighborhood.
“That has given us protection from tear downs and very dense infill that would be out of character for the neighborhood,” said Philip Poe, a resident and member of a neighborhood committee that has tackled the issue.
Residents fought for the designation in the 1980s, when some historic homes were being converted into multi-unit buildings or torn down to make way for new apartment buildings, according to the committee.
But that zoning classification does not exist in the new code, raising the question of how those protections should be maintained.
The Raleigh Planning Commission has recommended a combination of rezoning designations that potentially would allow more mixed-use properties in the neighborhood.
Some neighbors are skeptical of the potential for commercial properties, especially if they come in place of homes. They think the best route would be for the city to put new zoning districts in place and also include a neighborhood conservation overlay district that would offer some of the same protections as the existing zoning.
But some other neighbors are worried they could lose out if they face limitations on what they can do with their property because of the changes.
“We don’t have a silver bullet here,” Steve Schuster, chairman of the planning commission, said during a discussion of the zoning category earlier this year.
City staff said at a meeting Tuesday the council has the authority to include an overlay district.
Councilman Russ Stephenson said he’s interested to see how the neighborhood will decide between the overlay district and other similar options. He expects to see some effort to continue the longstanding efforts to preserve the neighborhood’s character.
“My sense is that all along, folks have said this is a worthwhile endeavor,” he said.
The city council is expected to discuss the neighborhood zoning again at a meeting Monday.