City Will Appeal Board of Adjustment Decision on Oakwood House

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The City of Raleigh is appealing a decision made by the Board of Adjustment related to a controversial modern house in historic Oakwood.

According to a press released issued by the city, “The appeal is being filed with Wake County Superior Court because of concerns about procedural irregularities.”

“We are appealing because we are concerned with some of the procedural things that happened in the Board of Adjustment decision,” said Mayor Nancy McFarlane.

Louis Cherry and Marsha Gordon began building their new home at 516 Euclid St. in December, three months after receiving a Certificate of Appropriateness from the Raleigh Historic Development Commission. A certificate is necessary when constructing or renovating a building in a historic district.

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Jennifer Wig / Raleigh Public Record

Opposing neighbor Gail Weisner filed a written notice of her intent to appeal in September, but did not formally appeal with the Board of Adjustment until November. In the meantime, Cherry and Gordon secured the necessary permits and began construction in October. The house is now 85 percent complete.

Weisner’s attorney, Andrew Petesch, said he could not comment on an ongoing appeal.

The concerns are related to arguments that were made by the city at the March 10 Board of Adjustment meeting.

Deputy City Attorney Dottie Leapley argued that the Board’s decision should have explained why Weisner had the right to appeal the case.

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Jennifer Wig / Raleigh Public Record

Leapley also said that when looking at the neighborhood for evidence during their deliberations, the Board should have looked at the entire district, and not just parts of it.

Cherry and Gordon also intend to appeal the Board of Adjustment decision.

“We hope that this appeal will ultimately save other property owners and homeowners from ending up in a similar situation, with a home nearly complete and properly acquired building permits threatened by an unhappy neighbor,” wrote Gordon and Cherry in an emailed statement. “We will be standing by the city with our own legal counsel to protect the RHDC’s processes and our hundreds of thousands of dollars investment in our almost-finished Oakwood home. We hope to affirm the value of a building permit and property owners’ rights in the city of Raleigh.”

During a press conference Friday, Cherry said that Oakwood should not be “a museum stuck in time.”

It’s unfortunate, Cherry said, that this debate is about his property, but “it’s an important conversation to have.”

Cherry and Gordon would not comment as to whether or not construction would continue at the house for now.

The group North Carolina Modernist Houses (NCMH) used the press conference to announce a legal fund to pay for Cherry’s lawsuit.

George Smart, with NCMH, said the Board of Adjustment violated those rules and his organization plans to join the city in its lawsuit challenging the board’s ruling. The board, he said, “bungled this one.”

“This is how it works in America,” he said. There are “well established rules and procedures” to resolve disputes.

The press conference was one of two dueling press conferences held Friday morning. The other was organized by neighbors opposed to the Oakwood house.

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