Neighbors Voice Opposition to Mereidth Heights Development

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Wearing red shirts to signify unity, residents of a neighborhood off Hillsborough Street packed the city council chambers Tuesday night to show opposition to a proposed development they believe will be a detriment to their neighborhood.

The zoning case—Z-35-13—has been making its way through the city government for months. It concerns a 2.18 acre property on Hillsborough Street between Furches Street and Montgomery Street. The developer, Cedar Forks Investment, seeks to build a large apartment building, Meredith Heights, on the property.

This area off Hillsborough Street could eventually be home to a new housing complex

James Borden / Raleigh Public Record

This area off Hillsborough Street could eventually be home to a new housing complex

The change in zoning was said to be consistent with the Comprehensive Plan and the Future Land Use Map, and the Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend approval of the case.

A lawyer representing Cedar Forks Investment talked about the issue of the height of the building and the specifications of the building that would make it less pronounced in the neighborhood.

He noted that, through working with neighborhood representatives, his client had agreed to step down to three stories in the back of the building.

He also talked about the buffers, setbacks, and building footprint, saying that his client had designed the building with the largest setback from the neighborhood as possible. He said that his client would possibly eliminate four-bedroom apartments as well.

The residents of the neighborhood were represented by attorney Thomas Worth Jr.

He said that the proposed rezoning was not compatible, complimentary, or consistent with the existing neighborhood, as well as the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO). He said that the rezoning does not comport with the requirements of the UDO.

After he stated his case, residents played a brief video for councilors that featured the neighborhood.

“Homeowners have made an enormous personal investment [in the neighborhood], especially in the past 20 years,” the video stated. “We need neighborhood development that complements the neighborhood rather than divides it.”

In the public comments section of the public hearing, numerous residents spoke to the city council, saying that they wanted development that complements, respects, and enhances the neighborhood.

Height compatibility between the neighborhood residences and the proposed building was mentioned, as well as the concept of preserving existing neighborhoods and history. The lack of parking was also cited as a reason not to approve the proposed rezoning.

There was one supporter of the proposed rezoning in the audience, who said he was for more density in the city. “We want to create something beautiful that supports density and transit.”

The public hearing was then closed and councilors weighed in.

“I feel like we’re very close,” Councilor Baldwin said. “And this has been happening for a year.”

Councilors expressed concerns about the nature and size of the proposed development on the property, and noted that although the Planning Commission had voted unanimous approval of the rezoning, that other factors had to be taken into consideration.

“I think there are legitimate concerns for the scale of this development in that neighborhood,” Councilor Maiorano said.

The public hearing was held open for two weeks to allow the neighborhood residents and the developer to continue to negotiate.

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