Raleigh, N.C. — “Save our neighborhoods” –the resounding theme coming from a host of concerned residents living in Raleigh Tuesday night.
We see the tall buildings and people moving here—it’s why city leaders are trying to get ahead of the growth of different parts of town.
Residents are upset over rezoning changes and proposals allowing for skyscrapers and the tearing down of historic sites. They’re calling out council members who they believe are siding with developers instead of listening to citizens who elected them.
They banded together outside Raleigh city council chamber and later voiced their concerns inside.
Tuesday’s meeting reached maximum capacity with residents fighting to protect their neighborhoods.
Malcolm Carroll, one of many pleading with the city council to slow down with approving rezoning requests, said it’s leading to an abundance of construction cranes and tall buildings taking over Raleigh’s skyline.
Which removes key parts of the city of oaks in the process.
“City council is beholden to developers,” said Carroll.
“What is going on is the destruction of neighborhoods,” said Raleigh resident Steven Jesseph. “Destruction of houses of worships.
Bob Mulder served 4 years as chairman of the Raleigh planning commission in the 90s.
During that time, he said they never dealt with rezoning requests to reach the heights developers want to take the city’s skyline now.
“There are tall buildings popping up everywhere,” said Muller. “Over time the development regulations have changed, so a person like me could end up with a multi-story, multi-unit building next to me.”
Mulder believes Raleigh leaders now need to slow down denser development until the city’s infrastructure and transit can support it.
“They’ve taken a sledgehammer approach at spreading density all over the city,” said Mulder.
WRAL News searched rezoning cases and discovered city council approved 19 rezonings to allow buildings up to 20 stories or taller.
19 more are working their way through the rezoning process right now.
Most are clustered in downtown, Midtown, and Brier Creek.
Those are all designated as Growth Centers on a map Mitchell Silver helped develop when he was the city’s planning director from 2005 to 2014.
“That’s where you’re going to see. More density and more height,” said Silver. “In exchange, your neighborhoods will be protected from encroachment of more intense development.
Council member Patrick Buffkin said he’s trying to strike the balance for growth while dealing with increased traffic.
“We’ve reached a point where I’m not sure we can approve more development without a commitment to build infrastructure to support it,” said Buffkin.
Some neighbors said council members are going too far moving forward with projects.
“You’re destroying neighborhoods and going to have a rude awakening in November,” said Carroll.
North Hills rezoning efforts
The most intense development is building up a new skyline in North Hills.
And now Kane Realty wants to rezone land with the potential to build towers up to 40 stories high.
Tuesday – the developer spoke before council members pushing to rezone land to build towers that are both 30 stories tall and 40 stories.
Kane is now offering to include affordable apartments based on midtown’s median income to, but residents say even those are out of reach for the everyday citizen.
“Challenge the status quo for once and start thinking of working-class people,” Kristen Havlik, who lives in Raleigh.
Former Raleigh Mayor Nancy MacFarlane is urging city council to take a step back and stick to the plans meant to guide new growth.
“I don’t think we have the infrastructure to support it and all the continued growth,” said MacFarlane. “It really goes back to having a really good overall comprehensive plan, which we do. But how many times can you one-off it just to do something different?”
MacFarlane sent a letter to city council with those concerns about the North Hills rezoning.
She told WRAL News it’s the first time she’s done that since she ended her four terms as mayor in 2019.
Tuesday night, council said it would continue discussion on North Hills on September 20.
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