Several members of the public spoke in opposition to the mass upzoning proposed for New Bern Ave through the city-initiated case Z-92-22. We are publishing a selection of those comments made by speakers who have given us permission to print their comments.

At the end of the January 30 Public Hearing, Council took no action on Z-92-22 and held it over until their March 5 meeting. Based on the conversation at the council table after public comments completed we are cautiously optimistic that council is heading in a positive direction. Here are a few comments we heard from the councilors. Council will work on modifying the TOD before taking any action on upzoning. The TOD will not be mapped over properties that are covered by an NCOD (Neighborhood Conservation Overlay District). The council will start their efforts with vacant properties, city-owned properties and strip malls leaving residential properties to be worked on later. Council asked staff to break up the corridor into smaller tracts that can be worked on individually in order to make decisions based on the different characteristics of different segments of the corridor. Councilors also recognized they have to ensure the affordability density bonus and height entitlements are set carefully to incentivize the use of the bonuses.

Cole McMullin, an active member of Raleigh Democratic Socialists of America spoke to City Council on January 30, 2024.

I’m opposed to this case because I think it gives away housing density for free. I think the increase in base zoning that is allowed before the affordable housing density bonus kicks in is a giveaway that doesn’t benefit our community and will only amplify inequality and ultimately lead to displacement. I do think density is needed along this transit corridor but it needs to include community benefits such as guaranteed affordable units or funds for fire service just as another example. I think a much more measured and nuanced approach is needed along this corridor. BRT should be designed to benefit BOTH current residents and future residents and to do that this corridor may need to be rezoned one piece at a time. This case raises concerns that the city is demonstrating a lack of discipline and poor stewardship.

Lisa Hughet has lived in Raleigh for nearly 30 years and says “my activism really kicked into high gear during the pandemic. Ironically, coinciding with a new City Council who appears not to have the residents of Raleigh as their highest priority. I’m also active in affordable housing matters and animal rescue.”

The city’s primary objective with BRT is clear – to reduce reliance on cars. Promises of affordable housing, job creation, and increased ridership were stated. They’re good headlines but they are simply mitigations to offset the potential harm stemming from this massive upzoning.

In response to the presentation, the research on development around BRT is mixed at best. Was the area already primed for development or did development come as a result of BRT? There isn’t a consensus.

This rezoning is not ready for a vote. A considerable scale-back is necessary. Thoughtful development is needed here, not by-right construction. This rezoning needs to be much more conservative because it sets the stage for the other corridors. We need to learn what happens with the New Bern BRT and refine before we start planning for the others. Regarding the affordable housing bonus – as the plan states now, heights of 5 stories are planned for everything west of the hospital. Do you know why most apt buildings in Raleigh are 5 stories or less? Because everything above that requires steel construction; much more expensive. If the only option for affordable housing is the bonus density, you will not get one affordable unit. Not one.

A distrust lingers between this community and the city, despite numerous community engagement events. Notification is not engagement; it's time for genuine involvement. City Council, the onus is on you to safeguard Raleigh’s rich history, traditions, and culture for future generations. Preserve and rezone thoughtfully, with residents and the city collaboratively guiding this crucial development. Resist the temptation to reduce this monumental decision to a mere plaque – let this not be the legacy of a once-historic black community, but a testament to our collective commitment to progress, equity, and justice.

Matthew Brown has restored three historic houses in Raleigh, and has assisted with the restoration of many others. He has financed renovation of six houses for affordable housing.

Thank you for your service and thank you for letting me speak.      

I can’t believe they are telling us that this upzoning will avoid displacing people. That is impossible! It will upzone 744 properties. These are not vacant properties. There are houses or apartments on them. There are people living in the houses. If they are going to build a 5-story building on the property, the house will have to be torn down, and the people will be displaced. Now, they can say “We will move the people to a project down the street.” That is still displacement! It’s moving people around like pieces on a chess board, because they are in the way of development. These are human beings. They are your citizens.      

If we really want density, why not upzone the hundreds of subdivisions that have nothing but big houses on big lots? Why pick on these old neighborhoods that have mostly small houses on small lots, with duplexes and  apartments mixed in? They are already denser than average.      

If this is for the bus, the people who live in these neighborhoods now actually ride the bus. If you push them out and build upscale condos, the new residents will never ride the bus.       

If this upzoning is for affordable housing, why doesn’t it require it? And why does it upzone the part of my neighborhood that has the most affordable housing, like apartments that rent for 6 or 700 dollars.      

The advocacy groups pushing this upzoning are funded mostly by the development and construction industry. Because this would be the biggest giveaway to that industry in the history of Raleigh. But it is wrong to sacrifice these neighborhoods for one industry.       

You are our leaders. Most of you are dedicated to serving all of us citizens, not one industry.

Please remember that and vote NO! Thank you!

Image Joshua Bradley

Joshua Bradley moved from Brevard, NC to Raleigh in 1992.  He is the accountant for 6 hotels in the Triangle area. He is currently a Co-Chair of the Northern Piedmont local of the Socialist Party USA, member of the North Carolina Green Party.  He ran for Raleigh City Council in 2019 (for District A) and 2022 (At Large).

The TOD for the upzoning of New Bern Ave has been opposed by the planning board and has strong opposition in the affected community. The upzoning will cause displacement and accelerate the already break-neck speed of gentrification. 

I don’t oppose the BRT, but it will be doomed to be a failure if the people who ride the bus are pushed out of the area it services. Let’s face it, the wealthy don’t ride buses. It would be best to make sure the ridership after implementation justifies the existence of the BRT. Any action that displaces the ridership is a set up for failure. 

This rezoning seems to be a new wave of “urban renewal” that decimated large swathes of the black and brown community in this city in times past. Don’t be responsible for Jim Crow part 2. Do you really want to be remembered in the same light as the racist, segregationist, and white supremecist councilors of the past? If you don’t please don’t pass the TOD as submitted. 

Density bonuses will not help hold back displacement unless they are set at 30% of the AMI or below and are required. Any presentation to the contrary is just whitewashing. 

Remember that gentrification leads to displacement which leads to homelessness which leads to increased crime rates. (A majority of crimes committed are crimes of desperation). 

Don’t be remembered as the villains in the future history of Raleigh and vote down this TOD. Thank you!

You can read our previous reporting on Z-92-22 here: Z-92, a Truly Destructive Plan

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