Raleigh native Carmen Cauthen spoke at a public hearing on May 10. Her remarks are below:

Busy day Tuesday.

Spoke at the Raleigh City Council meeting about the rezoning of property at the corner of New Bern, Poole Road, extending back to Bart Street. While the New Bern BRT is in process, the developer has asked for this property to be rezoned for a 4 story, 40 unit apartment complex. The neighbors are against the proposal for several reasons.

1. The high density will encroach over and above the houses that are presently on Bart Street.

2. Stormwater issues already in play and flooding on Bart Street and down to the creek behind Battery Drive. (At the last community meeting, the developer/owner told the neighbors that if the rezoning didn’t go through, the broken pipe that is on his land wouldn’t get fixed and the neighbors could just get on the list for the city to fix it which would take 6-7 years)

3. The site for the redevelopment is believed to be part of the city’s fortification wall from the Civil War. The fortification walls were ordered built by the governor at that time and the state paid slave owners to allow their slaves to build it. They would have lived in engineer camps near or on the property. (The developer has allowed for a 90 day window after deconstruction of the buildings there now for a study to be done – neighborhood will have to find the funds for that.)

4. Traffic woes. Bart Street is one of the narrower streets in town. The property sits right in the curve of the street where it is already difficult for more than one car to pass through if anyone is parked on the street. Even with the BRT changing the street space turning into Poole from New Bern, the curvature of Battery Drive will still be available for parking on the street until it becomes a large enough problem for neighbors to go to the city.

5. Parking. The city no longer requires parking for new construction. The developer has allowed for 13 spaces of underground parking for 4 units. He has added a condition for off site parking within 660 feet for additional parking spaces for a 5 year period.

6. Battery Heights. Part of Battery Heights is a National Historic Register District. We have found out and verified now that 8 of the cottages that were originally on the old DMV site as part of the Confederate old Soldiers Home (built in 1891) were moved to Bart Street and sold to families in the 1940s. Four of those homes are still there being lived in. They need to be studied for historic designation.

7. We need more affordable housing. The apartments in this complex are considered micro units, between 360-500 square feet. The neighbors have been told consistently that these apartments will probably sell in the amounts of $200-250,000 apiece. The attorney told the City Council today that they didn’t know what they might sell for.

The developer’s attorney stated today at the public hearing, that they would like to close the public hearing and not have a vote on the rezoning until June so that they could add in additional conditions on stormwater. That was allowed.

I know that this seems to be a neighborhood thing, but this is the first use of BRT zoning conditions for New Bern Avenue. Keep a watch because what happens here will set precedents. Our communities are not guinea pig communities. We need to address affordable housing and not just find more ways for people to make big dollars.

Affordable housing could have been addressed years ago but it wasn’t important to prior councils to do some real work. When will people realize that Southeast Raleigh was created for freedmen after the Civil War and after it was created, white people who were there were able to move out and Blacks were not by law, codicil, community covenants, etc. until the late 1960s. Many people who were not able to make enough money weren’t able to move out.

This is what SYSTEMIC means. The system was set up to do what it did. And, changes that are supposed to make things better are based on the original systems, so they don’t move the needle.

Sharing photos below. Wondered why the Mayor came out to speak to the developer’s attorney during the 5 minutes between the work session and the public hearing. Do all developer’s attorneys get that kind of treatment?

Also showing the proposed plans for after rezoning and by right. I didn’t know what by right meant so I asked. That means what you can do right now by the law that is in place.

Click on images to expand