Rezoning decisions

Rezoning decisions are challenging and complex. In each rezoning case, I examine our comprehensive plan, relevant local area plans, reports from staff, recommendations from planning commission, input from adjacent neighbors, and viewpoints from diverse constituencies across the city. Two large rezoning cases were decided by city council on Tuesday 5/2. I provide my reasoning in each case for the sake of transparency. I value resident input and look forward to continued dialogue about Raleigh’s growth and development. 

Z-54-22 Peace West St

This site (2.6 acres) is just north of Peace Street, on the east side of West St next to the planned Smoky Hollow Park. Current buildings on the site are 2 stories tall. The rezoning request was for 30 stories; its current entitlement is up to 12 stories. I motioned for this case to be denied, and denial was approved with a 6-2 vote (Baldwin & Melton in opposition).

The case for me hinged on whether the proposed height was consistent with our Comprehensive Plan. Comp plan policies in Table LU-2 provide guidance on this matter with height recommendations for three typologies in the central business district: core/transit, edge, and general areas.

Core/transit areas are located in the core of a mixed use center, for example in the heart of the central business district, or along corridors that are programmed for high capacity, frequent bus transit. Heights are recommended to range from 3 to 40 stories.

Edge areas are located within 150 feet of low to moderate density residential areas like the Glenwood Brooklyn neighborhood. Permitted heights generally don’t exceed 4 stories.

General areas pertain to locations where a conflict exists between edge and core/transit areas, such as when a site is adjacent to a transit corridor and a low density residential neighborhood. The max height of general areas in the central business district is 12 stories, which is what this site was rezoned for less than 10 years ago. The intent is for general areas to transition to edge areas which would be the west side of West Street.

I consider the site in question to be in a general area. As currently zoned for 12 stories in height, the site can contribute to a wonderful, dense walkable community. It also provides a natural stepping up to denser areas in the core of downtown southeast of the site. See the map at the top of the post. Moving from moderate density residential (R-10 in yellow) to 3 stories (IX-3 in purple) to 12 stories (IX-12 in purple) and then to heights as tall as 40 stories (DX-40-CU in red) is an appropriate progression to scale up heights.  

Another aspect of the zoning request is a development agreement between the applicant and the City of Raleigh to build Smoky Hollow Park. Raleigh has $14 million set aside with city funds for the park, the majority coming from our park bond monies. I am hopeful the applicant will continue to pursue partnership with the city on the park. A potential park agreement however does not change the facts of the appropriateness of scale and heights on this site.

Z-72-22 Lake Wheeler Rd

This is a large assemblage (31.29 acres) located in a dynamic area just east of Dix Park. I motioned for this case to be approved, and approval was granted with a 6-2 vote (Jones & Black in opposition).

I had two reasons to support this case : (1) The site has a form and scale that coincides with local area guidance via the Dix Edge area study, and (2) community benefits offered by the applicant are diverse and meaningful.

The Dix Edge area study, which city council adopted last month, envisions this area as urban center (up to 20 stories with public benefits) and urban corridor (up to 12 stories with public benefits) with flexible uses. See the map below for form and function details.

As for issues of form, neighbors adjacent to the proposed rezoning site were engaged in the rezoning process. I was happy to see that 60 feet setbacks at or below the 8th floor on the Maywood Frontage were added to ameliorate concerns regarding neighborhood transitions to Caraleigh & Caraleigh Mills. I also appreciate the neighborhood transition zone on the northside adjacent to Fuller Heights. The following map is of the approved rezoning site.

There are an array of community benefits provided with this rezoning case: a City bikeshare station, public art, green stormwater infrastructure, a contribution to the Walnut Creek Corridor Fund, and a pedestrian path for starters. Also, the peak stormwater runoff leaving the site is for the 25-year storm, an improvement from existing regulations that stop at the 10-year storm. Additionally, a minimum of 300 parking spaces will be available for public use after 5pm on weekdays and at all times on weekends, which will provide needed parking for Dix Park special events like Dreamville.

And finally, the property owners will dedicate at least 30 residential dwelling units for low-income households earning no more than 60% of the Area Median Income. Affordability restrictions for the first affordable housing unit[s] will be established at or before the issuance of the first certificate of occupancy (CO) which includes any residential units and will never be less than one percent of the total number of approved residential units until certificates of occupancy have been issued for all 30 affordable units. The number of dedicated affordable units will be rounded up to the next whole number so that no less than one or more entire units will be dedicated at the time any residential CO is approved, until all 30 affordable units are built. The property owners can also choose to pay to the City a fee in the amount of $40,000 per unit in lieu of dedicating the affordable units, which would amount to a total contribution of $1.2 million for affordable housing.

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