Wake County

Raleigh council plans to approve remapping despite criticism

From left, Glenwood-Brooklyn neighbors Bob Fesmire and Tina Larsen stop to talk at the corner of Filmore and Adams streets as they walk their dogs Thursday. They are part of a neighborhood group that asked the city to adjust the Unified Development Ordinance to protect the area’s residential zoning.
From left, Glenwood-Brooklyn neighbors Bob Fesmire and Tina Larsen stop to talk at the corner of Filmore and Adams streets as they walk their dogs Thursday. They are part of a neighborhood group that asked the city to adjust the Unified Development Ordinance to protect the area’s residential zoning. hlynch@newsobserver.com

The city’s controversial remapping effort is expected to end with City Council’s approval on Tuesday, not long before three councilors are replaced on the board.

Remapping will apply new development codes to more than 35,000 Raleigh properties to match the city’s Unified Development Ordinance, which was adopted in 2013. The change will prescribe land uses that would allow things like shopping centers, condos and suburban offices, but it won’t affect most residential areas.

It’s the last step in a process to replace a 50-year-old Unified Development Ordinance, often called the UDO. It’s been working its way through various city committees and boards since 2007.

In some cases, proposed zones would allow for a wider variety of development – a provision that drew concern from more than 100 residents at two public hearings in July.

Council members have addressed each concern from the public hearings since then, either in neighborhood meetings or by grouping concerns by topics in work sessions.

Still, some constituents are unhappy with the remapping and don’t see the need for the current council to approve it.

Councilors Wayne Maiorano, John Odom and Eugene Weeks will be replaced at the end of the month by three candidates who successfully campaigned this fall on protecting neighborhoods from development.

David Cox, a neighborhood activist from North Raleigh, will take over Odom’s seat. He’s been especially critical of approving the remapping before the end of the year.

“There’s tremendous value in waiting and letting the new council work,” Cox said.

Current city councilor Russ Stephenson said the approval before the new council takes over is an “artificial deadline.” Stephenson kept his at-large seat in the October elections.

Stephenson had a list of concerns about the remapping and most were addressed, he said. He’s still unsure about some changes made to downtown, especially new building-height allowances.

But other issues can easily be handled by the new council, said councilor Bonner Gaylord, who was reelected in October.

Remapping will provide clarity across the city, which still has properties zoned under the old UDO. It can be challenging and inefficient for property owners, Gaylord said.

“It’s really our responsibility to implement (the remapping),” he said.

Neighborhood changes

Lonnette Williams, who chairs the Central Citizen’s Advisory Council, said there’s no reason to rush an approval, especially since some residents, herself included, aren’t happy with the remapping.

“What’s the rush? The city will still be here,” she said.

Williams lives in the South Park community, just south of downtown. She’s still unsatisfied with the city’s decision to designate parts of the neighborhood as “downtown mixed use,” which would allow for tall buildings, dense housing and non-residential uses such as bars.

Members of the historic Oakwood neighborhood had the same complaints. The council decided to remove some of the mixed-use designations in that neighborhood.

But even residents who saw changes made in their favor thought the remapping process seemed fast.

“It appeared to be really quick if we only knew about the July meetings,” said Bob Fesmire, a resident in the Glenwood-Brooklyn neighborhood. “Outreach should have happened (sooner).”

Fesmire said he is mostly happy with the council’s decision to change some of the zoning in his neighborhood, which included removing proposed commercial zoning on parcels of land that currently have homes.

Glenwood-Brooklyn is also working on a historic streetside overlay district, which would limit certain styles of development. Residents wanted city council to rezone the neighborhood separately, but council did not make a decision about that.

Paul A. Specht contributed to this report

Mechelle Hankerson: 919-829-4802, @mechelleh

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