Zoning History

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The following pages provide further information about zoning, rezoning, the petition process, the city's comprehensive plan, conservation districts, and more information than we know what to do with.

Neighborhood Zoning History

Before 1980’s, much of the area was zoned R-6, probably dating to the original zoning density when policy was to zone to the highest density even though at that time the area had been fully developed at a density of R-4. Several rezonings were widely supported in the 1980’s to preserve the desirable character of the neighborhood.
In 1984, 26 acres in the area of  Reaves, Avon, Pine and Hudson were rezoned R-10 to R-6 (the original petition requested rezoning to R-4, but the planning commission ruled that rezoning to R-6 would create fewer non-conformities).
In 1986, in the Anderson Heights/Fallon Park area, approximately 74 acres were rezoned from R-6 to R-4 including lots on Royster Road, the NE side of Hazelwood Drive, Cooleemee Drive, Overbrook Drive, Kittrell Drive, Anderson Drive, and the southeast side of Claremont Road, and Walden  Place. 
When the 1986 Fallon Park rezoning petition was submitted, all lots conformed to the  R-4 density although some older houses may not have conformed to some of the R-4 setbacks. This 7-block area was already completely developed as a single family residential community. The petition notes “The present R-6 zoning does not reflect the actual development of this already established residential neighborhood.  Zoning the area R-4, which reflects actual development, will help assure preservation of the desirable character of this neighborhood. This in turn will help to provide stability to the neighborhood even as residents change.”
Council minutes reflect that the petition in favor of rezoning to R-4 was signed by 235 people, including 148 owning property to be rezoned, 50 adjacent property owners, and 40 other concerned neighbors. At the 3/18/86 Fallon Park rezoning public hearing, approximately 100 people stood in favor of the request and 9 people stood to oppose.
While the petition was under consideration, subdivisions of the lots at the northeast corner of Kittrell and Royster and at the southeast corner of Anderson and Royster were approved, and permits were issued that could not be rescinded.  The resulting four lots are still R-6. The 8/5/86 planning commission recommendation to Council recommends that the rezoning be approved “deleting 4 lots....” It notes that "3 of the lots excluded are less than the minimum required for R-4 zoning. The 4th lot allows for a continuous  R-6 zone to link these smaller lots to a larger residential-6 zone to the south, avoiding the creation of a ‘spot’ of R-6 surrounded by R-4."  The Wake County real estate site now reflects that 2 of those 4 properties have enough acreage to conform to R-4 rules.  An inspections department memo of 5/27/86 says: “Please note that no permits may be issued except for uses permitted in both R-6 and R-4.”

Zoning Terms and Definitions:

Zoning ordinance: consists of 2 parts: the zoning map, which divides the community into various designated districts, and the text of the ordinance, which sets forth the type of use permitted under each zoning class and specific requirements for compliance. The purpose of zoning laws is to protect the residential environment – to ensure that development and growth take place in a rational way that is compatible with the desires of residents in a community.

Rezoning: The amendment of a property classification under use and building by-laws or ordinances.

Residential 4 (R-4) = up to 4 units per acre allowed
Residential 6 (R-6) = up to 6 units per acre allowed
Residential 10 (R-10) = up to 10 units per acre allowed

Spot zoning: Occurs when a property within a zoned area is rezoned to permit a use different from the zoning requirements for that zoned area. If the rezoning of a property is to benefit the property owner & has the effect of increasing the land value, the spot zoning is illegal and invalid. It is also illegal to single out one person’s property for spot zoning that will place a burden on that property & not on surrounding properties.

Conditional Use: Conditional use zoning is a rezoning process that permits the attachment of conditions to the rezoning petition to ensure that development on the rezoned land will be compatible with surrounding uses and that adjacent properties are protected from negative impacts or loss of value that might result from the rezoning. The conditions typically address potential impacts or circumstances unique to the property or properties being rezoned and usually vary from case to case. Usually, these conditions consist of on-site design restrictions and requirements. However, they can also include requirements that the developer construct or pay for the construction of public off-site improvements. Conditions may dictate building placement, access point location, landscaping, lighting, use of the building(s), and nearly any aspect of the proposed development of the property. Although approved by the decision making body (City Council), the conditions must be identified by the rezoning applicant.

Nonconforming use: A legal nonconforming use occurs when the use of property in a zoned area is different from that specified by the area’s zoning code. When zoning is first imposed on an area or when property is rezoned, the zoning authority cannot require property owners to immediately discontinue an existing use that does not now conform to the zoning ordinance, because it was preexisting at the time the zoning regulation was instituted.  Property owner is allowed to continue a nonconforming use, which is lawful. A significant renovation often requires a variance before proceeding.  The variance makes the property conforming.

An illegal use is one that is contrary to the existing ordinance at the time the use is instituted. The difference between this concept and that of the nonconforming use is that the latter was preexisting at the time the zoning regulation was instituted.  The illegal use and the nonconforming use give rise to violation of the current code, BUT since the illegal use is a violation of the present law, it may be stopped or removed by injunction, whereas the nonconforming use cannot.
Variance: A variance is typically a small variation from code.  For example, if code says your side yard is supposed to be 5 feet or more, you could go before the Board of Adjustment to request a variance for a 4 foot side yard.  [Note: Variance requests go to the Board of Adjustment. A rezoning application goes to the Planning Commission and City Council.]
Setback: The required minimum horizontal distance between the building line and the related front, side, or rear property line.

Comprehensive Plan: Raleigh’s official long range policy statement adopted and amended by formal resolution of the City Council. A major component of the city’s planning process as it guides the long-range, comprehensive decision making process involving primarily physical development and city actions expected to influence development in the long-term.  Contains goals, objectives, policies and guidelines for growth and redevelopment for the city.   

City of Raleigh: Comprehensive Plan link