Frank Hielema is a native of Oxford, NC.  He holds degrees in physical therapy and epidemiology. He has lived in his present home in Raleigh for 30 years. Advocacy for justice at the national and international levels extends back to his senior year of high school. Now he finds that indeed, all politics are local, as he speaks out against Raleigh’s implementation of the Missing Middle in Raleigh without sufficient public notice, citizen input or transparency. 

He is a member of the Steering Committee of Save Our Neighborhoods RestoreRaleighZoning

Frank delivered the following comments at the June 6, 2023 City Council meeting: 

Thank you, Councilor Jones, for your motion this afternoon to place a moratorium on the Missing Middle, even though it failed. And, thank you, Councilor Black for your second. I also appreciate the substitute motion made by Councilor Patton which passed.

The negative effects of the Missing Middle text changes continue to be felt by more neighborhoods. Opposition to text changes that have stripped traditional zoning from single family neighborhoods grows as neighbors learn of projects that destroy naturally occurring affordable housing and disrupt the character of the neighborhoods where they have made their biggest financial investments.

The appeal of City Planning’s approval of the building of 17 townhomes in the middle of a single-family neighborhood at 908 Williamson Drive is being heard by the Board of Adjustment. The city has hired Robin Tatum, its own former attorney, who is now in private practice, to oppose the appeal. Her first move at the May hearing was to ask that the appeal be dismissed, which would deny citizens due process.

Neighbors abutting the 908 Williamson property have also filed a lawsuit against the city regarding the process of implementing Missing Middle through text changes rather than through the traditional rezoning process which would allow neighborhood input. Missing Middle is itself a text change that denies citizens’ right to due process. The city has filed a motion to dismiss this lawsuit which is yet another effort to deny due process. We watch the erosion of democracy in city government.

One of the greatest problems with Missing Middle is that it takes a machete approach, chopping through city neighborhoods. A scalpel would be a better instrument for cutting out areas where denser development would be promoted. There is no appreciation for context. A startling example of this is how seven, three-story townhomes will look, clustered on one lot in Woodcrest, which until this point has been a beautiful neighborhood of 1950s ranch homes sitting within its own forest. Frequent Transit Areas and Transit Overlay Districts that extend beyond the streets on which buses travel is an excessive encroachment into established neighborhoods.

Mayor Baldwin is fond of saying that she likes it when citizens propose solutions to the problems they bring to city council. In response, a group of citizens with good knowledge of the problems created by Missing Middle formed a task force to propose modifications to the text changes. These proposals have been shared with Council by Councilor Jones. To date, nothing has been done to ameliorate the negative effects of the text changes in spite of repeated pleas from citizens to take action. The More Homes, More Choices presentations resulted in a refrain of voices calling for reform.

A lawsuit against the city is not an excuse to sit on your hands. It is only a tool used by the Mayor and Councilor Melton to silent dissent or stop action while they themselves, violate the gag order placed on the rest of you to discuss what you know, based on citizen input, should happen.

Do something. Be bold. Take action.

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