Historic Districts and Certificates of Appropriateness: Raleigh's Latest Land Use Soap Opera

by Womble Bond Dickinson

A compelling land use row is well underway right here in Raleigh.  It allows commentary over anything from aesthetics, to history and historical context, to equity and fairness, to neighborly (or unneighborly) behavior, to the public perception of legal processes.  We'll spend our time on the legal processes.
Basically, here's what you need to know.   Oakwood is self described as "a nineteenth century neighborhood and historic district located near downtown Raleigh, North Carolina. The neighborhood includes hundreds of homes in a variety of architectural styles."  
The Oakwood neighborhood is in a local historic district as defined by the City's Unified Development Ordinance, which means the neighborhood is and the properties therein are subject to the jurisdiction of the Raleigh Historic Development Commission (RHDC).  The RHDC is charged with issuing certificates of appropriateness for work done in Oakwood, decisions on which are appealable to the City’s Board of Adjustment. 
The Certificate 
Oakwood residents Louis Cherry, a local architect, and his wife applied for and were awarded a certificate of appropriateness to build their “modernist” home in Oakwood.  Yes, Mr. Cherry’s design is not Victorian but neither are the host of other styles making up the rich skyline of Historic Oakwood. 
The Appeal
The day after the certificate issued by the RHDC, a neighbor notified Mr. Cherry that she would appeal the issuance of the certificate of appropriateness.  Shortly thereafter, that neighbor and fellow Oakwood resident filed a timely appeal of the issuance.  “Timely” is key.
"We Build Build Build Build Build the Whole Day Through"
Despite the timely appeal by the dissenting neighbor, Mr. Cherry obtained a building permit and began construction of his “modernist” home.  Construction continued.  And it continued.  Then, the Board of Adjustment heard the appeal and ultimately reversed the RDHC’s decision to issue the certificate to Mr. Cherry.  

A simple timeline sums up succinctly the significant milestones:
September 2013: RHDC approves a Certificate of Appropriateness for a new home on 516 Euclid St.
October 2013: Resident and neighbor Gail Weisner files an appeal.  Louis Cherry begins pulling the permits needed for construction, and begins construction.
January 2014: Board of Adjustment defers the case in order to have more time to review the evidence.
February 2014: Board of Adjustment votes 3 to 2 to reverse the decision by the RHDC.
March 2014: Board of Adjustment will legally certify its findings. Any construction on the house must stop.

It’s reported to be Mr.Cherry’s view that the City needs “to honor their permit not to protect us but to protect the integrity of their approval process”.  The Land Use Litigator understands that some visible local people have started a fund to provide for Mr. Cherry's defense or otherwise publicly expressed their support for the home and in criticism of the Board of Adjustment decision.  For its part, the City announced today that it will, itself, appeal the Board of adjustment’s decision so that an “objective third party” can look at the issue.  This saves Mr. Cherry and his wife from the time and expense.
It is unclear to us why Mr. Cherry built and built and built with knowledge of the pending appeal of his certificate, and it’s even less clear to us why Mr. Cherry thinks the City should now take the reigns from him against its own Board of Adjustment.  Again, Mr. Cherry:  “We thought the worst thing that could happen was it would be remanded back to the RHDC and they may have had to have some review of those proceedings….  And if it had to go back to the RHDC any errors would be corrected. We were encouraged to begin construction and told we didn't have to go to the appeal meeting and that we were being notified as a courtesy.” 
That's one notion.  The other is to call a land use lawyer when you see the opposition mounting before your certificate is even debated by the RHDC.
"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, Mr. Cherry."  


DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Womble Bond Dickinson | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Womble Bond Dickinson

Womble Bond Dickinson on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.


JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at info@jdsupra.com. In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: info@jdsupra.com.

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.