Terry A. Henderson is a native of the Hickory area and long-time resident of the Hayes Barton neighborhood in the Five Points area. He is a UNC-Chapel Hill graduate with a BA in English and Political Science and  a Masters in Public Administration. His early career was devoted to non-profits for improving the quality of local government in North Carolina. After 9/11, he worked for Fortune 500 companies in defense and  national security, including as business development director for the Lockheed Martin Corporation. He is the author of “Hayes Barton @100-Stories of the People, Places and Events that Shaped Raleigh’s Premier Neighborhood.”
Terry delivered the following comments to City Council on February 7, 2023:

Thank you for entertaining public comment. This is a necessary and valuable part of governing.

When the mayor and former council passed the Missing Middle changes and upzoned nearly the whole city, they did the wrong thing in the wrong way.

Now with the so-called “listening tour,” the city planning staff is conducting around town, you’re doing the right thing–in the wrong way.

I urge you finally to do the right thing, in the right way: declare a moratorium on the Missing Middle until it can be repealed and start over or make major changes that address serious unintended consequences.

What do I mean by The Wrong Thing in the Wrong Way?

By passing the Missing Middle changes in the dark of Covid, having already done away with Community Advisory Councils, and without effective citizen input. The mayor and former council adopted boiler plate language and principles from other so-called “progressive” cities. The problem is they applied it to the whole city, although it’s most appropriate in distinct areas where it fits. In a rush to solve one problem, the city didn’t consider the unintended consequences of these actions for Raleigh, such as:

    • Encouraging buyers and developers to tear down single family houses and replace them with more expensive, often luxury, multiplex housing;
    • Drastic and radical increases in density that supposedly makes way for affordable housing;
    • Displacing current residents and encouraging and accelerating gentrification in predominantly Black areas;
    • Destroying forever naturally occurring affordable housing;
    • Perverting the market by increasing already high land prices, making it even more expensive to buy a single family home.
    • Ignoring the architectural, historic, and unique context of neighborhoods that offer variety and character instead of cookie cutter sameness of more “progressive” cities.

In other words: you did the wrong thing in the wrong way.

Then You Did the Right Thing in the Wrong Way: What do I mean?

The city should have had intimate neighborhood conversations, not about “text changes” but about these far-reaching zoning amendments, BEFORE the law was changed. Now staff is going throughout the city meeting with residents who have questions about how these changes will affect their specific neighborhoods and who have come to have their concerns answered. Instead of answering their questions, staff is delivering a scripted, rapid-fire, jargon-filled presentation of “happy talk” to make people feel better about an ill-conceived program with lots of problems. The presentations are structured in a “divide and conquer” format that leaves people angry, feeling handled and managed.

In other words, the city did the right thing in the wrong way.

Soon, this council will own the problem of the Missing Middle, for yourselves, in its entirety, not as a legacy from another time. Every day that you wait to change or repeal the Missing Middle, our single-family neighborhoods are vulnerable.

Even now, developers are considering their options for tear downs, and dense infill that will shock single family owning neighbors into even louder protests as we are seeing here and in various cities throughout the country.

“People don’t fear change, they fear loss.” I believe the loss that Raleigh will experience from the Missing Middle will be profound and irreversible.

I urge the council to do the right thing, in the right way. Implement a moratorium until the Missing Middle can be repealed or replaced.  Restore Raleigh Zoning!

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