By Mia Khatib
RALEIGH — City of Raleigh officials from the planning and development department held a neighborhood meeting Tuesday evening to discuss recommendations from the New Bern Station Area Plan and rezoning changes along the upcoming New Bern Bus Rapid Transit line. The meeting is required as part of the rezoning application process.
Raleigh Senior Planner JP Mansolf said the city is requesting to add the Transit Overlay District to the zoning map, increase building heights and require walkable development near transit. He said the current zoning will generally remain the same across the corridor, but existing three-story mixed-use properties will increase to five stories west of the Beltline and seven stories east of the Beltline.
“The goals of this rezoning request are to guide development in a way that supports transit by allowing increased density, putting buildings closer to the street, not allowing car-oriented uses, and incentivizing affordable housing and job creation through height bonuses,” Mansolf said. “[The subsidized housing and reduced transportation expenses] is a pretty powerful way to help our lower income residents live and access the amenities that we could all be able to access in Raleigh.”
Development of single family homes and duplexes, car-oriented facilities like dealerships and gas stations, and parking between buildings and streets are prohibited, and a minimum building height of two stories is required under the Transit Overlay District. However, Mansolf said existing facilities that are non-compliant with TOD standards can continue to operate as they do today, and residents can request their property be added or removed from the rezoning application through the Rezoning Engagement Portal online.
COMMENTS AND CONCERNS
Many residents raised concerns about property tax increases and being pushed out of their neighborhoods. “The goal here is to basically try to keep housing costs and prices from rising as quickly as they have been by expanding the supply and expanding the variety so people in different life stages and different incomes all have options for housing,” Raleigh Senior Planner John Anagnost said.
Jason Hardin, another senior planner, said there are existing programs that are aimed at helping homeowners with home repairs and property tax assistance. He said the New Bern Station Area Plan recommends additional funding for these programs and other ways to work with Wake County to help offset displacement.
Multiple attendees voiced a need for more safe sidewalks and pedestrian crossings. Mansolf said improving pedestrian infrastructure and safe connections to transit and encouraging the use of the BRT instead of driving is a focus of the plan.
A resident who lives on the corner of King Charles Road and New Bern Avenue said building seven story residences in neighborhoods that are mostly two story is “extreme.” He said it will drastically change the character of the neighborhood and the BRT won’t alleviate car traffic.
Anagnost said it’s impossible to do a traffic impact analysis for all New Bern BRT stations because it includes hundreds of properties and acres. However, when a development is planned, the department of transportation will assess whether or not a traffic impact analysis is needed and require the developer to include specific improvements to mitigate traffic around the site.
Resident Marian Moring told The Tribune she has seen two downtown Raleigh neighborhoods “destroyed” due to urban renewal and her neighbors pushed out. While she sees the advantage of a specialized transit system, she is worried about the implementation.
“I hope when they do set that up, they do it fair and decent and don’t impose on older neighborhoods,” she said.
Mia Khatib, who covers affordable housing and gentrification, is a Report for America corps member.