Many of Raleigh’s residents have been reaching out to their representatives on City Council hoping to have a discussion about the city’s Missing Middle policies and what can be done to modify them to make them less harmful to established neighborhoods.
But, recently a lawsuit was filed against the city alleging the process used to implement these Missing Middle rules was illegal. Since that filing, residents have been told the City Attorney, who has since left for private practice, advised the Mayor and City Councilors not to make any public statements or engage in any discussions about the Missing Middle policies.
So, we were surprised when a story aired on WRAL on Wed May 24 about a neighborhood asking the city to revise the Missing Middle rules and the story included quotes from Mayor Baldwin. In that story Mayor Baldwin is quoted making two statements:
“The purpose of missing middle housing is to help increase the supply but also offer people choices so they can afford to live here”
“I’m not into tweaking this right now. The one thing I would consider is a mandatory kind of neighborhood meeting so the people are informed”
Watch it here: Raleigh neighbors seeing effects of missing middle policies
Note – WRAL has three versions of this story on their website. Not all three contain both of Baldwin’s quotes listed above. That is why we have two different links here.
Of course, a neighborhood meeting will have no effect on any proposed project at all. As the WRAL story notes, Missing Middle policies allow these types of development without rezoning. They are allowed “by right” and a neighborhood meeting would allow no input from the neighbors. It would simply be notification of what was going to happen, like it or not.
Councilor Melton weighed in on a neighborhood meeting with his concerns as well saying:
“I think it’s very important that we provide clear expectations to the public and if we require a neighborhood meeting with the understanding that the intent of these text changes is to allow these types of developments by right, I’m worried people are going to come with the expectation that there is going to be some sort of vote or some sort of impact on the process and that is not going to be there and so I think we have to be careful about that because we don’t want to create more confusion”
Watch it here: Raleigh City Council Work Session, March 21, 2023
We were doubly surprised when we saw that Councilor Melton went to Twitter to comment on the same WRAL story.
Melton has since deleted his tweet. But, you can see a screenshot of it here:
Do Baldwin and Melton simply think the rules don’t apply to them? Or is there something more sinister going on here?
When you dig deeper, you will find this story takes another twist.
As we noted, it was the previous City Attorney who advised the councilors not to speak about Missing Middle policies. But, did she? Or, did she just advise against making negative comments about the policies?
Both Baldwin and Melton made positive comments about the Missing Middle in this case.
So, we got to wondering. What did the City Attorney actually advise? Because the other “twist” to this story is that when the previous City Attorney left the city for private practice, she was immediately hired by the city to defend against the lawsuit filed against the Missing Middle.
This seems like a HUGE violation of ethics, especially if prior to leaving her job with the city, she effectively muzzled the councilors from speaking out negatively on the policy.
Livable Raleigh Editorial Team
Previous reporting on this neighborhood’s concerns: Missing Middle unintended side effects
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