Fallon Park Initiative

Community S C A L E


PRESERVING and CONSERVING the NATURE of the NEIGHBORHOOD

Established 2007  / Raleigh NC

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About Community SCALE

Teardowns: In the Media  

Presentation to the Raleigh City Council Comprehensive Planning Committee

I have lived in Raleigh for more than forty years, and grew up less than a mile from my current residence. I’m speaking today as a representative of Community SCALE, a new committee in the Fallon Park/Anderson Heights/Bloomsbury area whose purpose is to encourage zoning and development that takes into account the well being of people and the natural world from a big-picture, long-term perspective.

Community SCALE’s tag line is “conserving and preserving the nature of the neighborhood.”  The acronym SCALE stands for “Streets that connect people under a canopy of trees with architecture of different types and land preserved for a neighborhood everyone can enjoy.”

SCALE comprises a group of residents in the Fallon Park neighborhood who live in homes of various sizes built from the early 1900s up to the present day. These homes have a variety of architecture, but the acronym suggests what we have in common. Some of these homes have housed famous people of a literary nature: Reynolds Price, Anne Tyler, Kay Gibbons. 

Community SCALE has started small and is a work in progress, but we are already getting requests from adjacent neighborhood groups to consolidate forces. Our goal is to preserve the neighborhood character in our era of rapid redevelopment and growth. SCALE originally hoped to work with the City to develop a neighborhood plan and to file for an NCOD, Neighborhood Conservation Overlay District. When we met with planning department staff members last fall and again this spring, we learned that the planning department has had to put the neighborhood planning process on hold while it revamps the Comprehensive Plan.
 
Meanwhile, development continues. This dramatizes the basic inequity of freezing the neighborhood planning process without a concurrent freeze on development.  Every week brings a new spate of teardowns in our neighborhood. Often, a home that was intact in the morning is completely gone by the end of the work day. This suggests that materials from these homes are going straight to the landfill rather than being deconstructed for the Habitat Reuse Center or similarly recycled.  We want to start an RTN show called “Another Good House Bites the Dust.”

We are not here to insist that every old home needs to remain in perpetuity on the face of the earth. Not everyone has the inclination to do the remodeling to make an older home more livable, and some homes never had the quality of construction that makes remodeling desirable.
 
But we are here to ask that the City give residents in fully built-out neighborhoods the opportunity to have some input into what happens on the lot next door or across the street or down the street. The “historic lot line” issue is exhibit A for a system in need of help. Pressures on older neighborhoods are tremendous, and those of us who bought our homes to both live in and to sell for a profit later are finding that it can be hard to live in a home when a larger house is built next door that overshadows one’s windows.
 
And while we understand that infill development creates jobs, we know from first-hand experience that renovating an older home also creates jobs and brings plenty of money and work into the community.
 
Because SCALE cannot do a Fallon Park neighborhood plan, we are studying the possibility of asking the City to conform the current zoning to the development that is already in place. We have been canvassing the neighborhood and have held a meeting that 40 residents attended to ask people what they want their neighborhood to look like. Most want to preserve its character. We have collected 160 signatures of residents who would support a downzoning request. A few neighbors, of course, are primarily motivated by resale potential. But SCALE is interested in the big picture of what is going to hold home values for the neighborhood in the long run.
 
We understand that the Planning Department is unable do it all, but we come to you to ask the City Council to provide the Planning Department and neighborhoods with the resources to guide growth in a fashion that will not destroy entire neighborhoods in the name of economic development.
 
SCALE is about the long run, and the long run means cultivating development that does not ignore the environment (tree preservation, air quality, bird habitat, stormwater drainage, and global warming). The long run cannot ignore solid waste management, historic preservation, and affordable housing issues. If we continue on our current path, the character, history and diversity of our downtown Raleigh neighborhoods are truly facing extinction. 

--presented by a Community SCALE member on behalf of group