Construction halted at controversial home in Raleigh's Oakwood neighborhood

The fight isn't about a new home going up but instead it boils down to its contemporary look.
March 10, 2014 2:49:54 PM PDT
The Raleigh Board of Adjustment voted Monday to halt construction of a controversial home in the city's Oakwood neighborhood. The board said approval given to build the house was a mistake.

After more than six months of construction, the house is almost completed. However, because of Monday's vote by the city's board of adjustment, the homeowners will now need a judge's order to keep the work going.

"Because this house was a little different than others they had seen, they let that get in the way of letting those decisions be made by the historic development commission," said the attorney for the homeowners, Nick Fountain.

Raleigh's Historic Commission approved the homeowner's architectural application last year.

"They were named the number one preservation commission in American," said Fountain. "The committee's job is to evaluate those applications and apply the guidelines. It is not to freeze Oakwood in time as a museum piece."

However, once a neighbor saw its modern walls going up, she appealed.

There has not been a reversal of the Raleigh Historic Development Commission in more than 20 years until now.

"The local Board of Adjustment, they simply don't have the expertise that the Historic Development Commission did," said Fountain. "For them to substitute their opinion in the face of the skill level that these folks had is, in my view, a legal error."

Raleigh's city attorney even warned the board it was out on a legal limb. Now, the homeowners' attorney says they'll still press forward.

"Obviously, we'll need to straighten that out -- just depends which way," said Fountain.

Fountain says his clients could file another certificate of appropriateness with the Historic Commission, take the city to superior court, and/or both.

People connected to the state's preservation group say this case has implications for anyone wanting to build in a historic district.

They say just because a neighbor doesn't like your house as long as you go through the legal process for approval, and you get that approval, you should be free to build your house.

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