RALEIGH: Modern home in Oakwood sparks debate - WRBL

Modern home in Raleigh's Oakwood sparks debate

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RALEIGH, N.C. -

A Raleigh home being built with a modern flair has the historic neighborhood of Oakwood fired up.

The home is almost completed but now the homeowner's plans might be put on hold.

"We got a building permit in October and here we are in March. We still have a building permit but because of the Board of Adjustment's making this decision to overturn the RHDC's decision to give us the Certificate of Appropriateness, we have no idea what is going to happen," said homeowner Marsha Gordon.

What Gordon does know is that her neighbor filed an appeal with the BOA, saying her home does not follow the city's historic guidelines.  

"If you can't trust a building permit, what can you trust," asked Gordon.

"This is an interesting case with valid arguments on both sides. The three members that voted to overturn the RHDC decision felt that the modernist design was inconsistent with the historic district guidelines," said BOA attorney John Silverstein.

He said despite the Raleigh Historic Development Commission's stamp of approval, the modern home on Euclid Street is still subject to the BOA's authority.

"That's not the way you do business," said Myrick Howard, president of Preservation North Carolina.

Howard spent the last 35 years working in historic districts and said Gordon's modern home is in line with the character of Oakwood.

"Why would we want fake buildings from our own time? Part of why Oakwood is interesting is because it shows you the layers of time," Howard said.

Some neighbors agree.

Molly Feichter lives down the street from the modern home on Euclid Street. Feichter said she is in favor of the home and believes there is a silent majority in favor of it as well.

For Gordon and her architect husband, Louis Cherry, their design was meant to keep the authenticity of 2014.

"You cannot build a historic home. You can only build a home in the year that you are building. In a hundred years from now, our home will be historic," Gordon said. 

Gail Wiesner lives right across from the modern home and is the neighbor that filed the appeal to the Board of Adjustments.

In a statement to WNCN she said,

"Most of the discussion regarding the home being built at 516 Euclid Street has been about modern architecture in the Oakwood Historic District, but my main concern and the reason for my appeal has been that the RHDC did not properly approve the application or correctly apply the City's historic guidelines.

 The Certificate of Appropriateness approval process includes a right to have the City's Board of Adjustment review that decision. That's right there in the rules. I provided the RHDC with notice of intent to appeal within 20 days of the COA's original approval on Sept. 9, 2013, so this is not an after-the-fact attempt to change something that's been finalized as I've heard many people suggest.

 All the parties involved were aware or should have been aware that this challenge to the 516 Euclid COA was going to take time to resolve and the approval would not be final until the appeal process finished playing out."

The BOA meets again March 10. If the overruling is upheld, the City of Raleigh will have a chance to appeal. If so, the trial will go to the Superior Court. 

Copyright 2014 WNCN. All rights reserved.

Eileen Park

Eileen joined WNCN after years of working as a foreign correspondent. During her time off, she enjoys relaxing with her dogs, reading, and exploring the Triangle. More>>

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