The week before Thanksgiving is usually pretty low key. Lots of people take off a few extra days and travel to see family. But this week there was a flurry of activity around a proposed text change in the Raleigh residential zoning language. Read the proposal here (opens a PDF). It basically changes the text to make setbacks more restrictive for the side, front, and back yards of residential lots.
Apparently the text change was proposed as a temporary solution to the complaints from many neighborhoods about all the tear downs and the oversized homes being built. The public meeting to discuss it was last night. I didn't want to miss it. I wanted to witness the debate because I was certain that it could be historic.
To make a long story short - the place was packed. As expected, most of the attendees were builders, developers, and REALTORs. I saw plenty of folks from YSU there as well as agents from other brokerages. However, THERE WAS NO DEBATE. When the time came to discuss the text change, Mayor Meeker asked if there were any speakers in support of the change. No one stepped forward. NO ONE! I was shocked. There are so many groups whose purpose is based around finding a solution to the current infill issues, and there was no one to speak in favor of the text change. Maybe they had already left town? No.
One of the first speakers was from Community Scale. They were against the text change because it was a blanket proposal that would effect everyone in Raleigh, and really didn't address the majority of the issues that they have with current community preservation.
So here is my question - if no one in the community supported this text change – then why was it even being discussed? Who put it together? Was any thought given to it at all? My only guess is that it came from a new council member who thought that they had all the answers. I can't imagine anyone with experience proposing something without anyone to stand up and support it in public. I mean, that's what politics is all about, right? Who goes to a meeting in the corporate world and proposes something new without talking to other staff in advance for feedback?
The only thing stopping me from saying that the whole meeting wasted everyone's time since there was no support for the proposal in the first place is this: developers, the public, and Community Scale were all in agreement on something. And that something was basic property rights. People are not stupid. I was very pleased to see a young man, who I don't think had any involvement professionally in the real estate business, stand up and speak about his property rights. He had over 400 signed petitions faxed to him in 2 days from friends who were against this proposal.
Anyway, I could go on. You should watch the meeting on RTN if you're interested. The news will likely focus on the developer/real estate turnout angle, but you really should watch the whole meeting. There were many citizens there who opposed the proposal.
Some comments that I liked were:
- one gentleman brought language from Alexandria, VA that showed how they dealt with infill issues. Certainly we aren't the only city to deal with this, so I thought that was smart.
- Gordon Grubb, a developer, suggested that council provide incentives to builders who *do* consider the neighborhood when building a new home. Most people's complaints with new construction where an old house stood have to do with the fact that the home looks nothing like any others in the neighborhood. That's architecture, setbacks, and general quality.
Tear downs have not hit my neighborhood yet. I don't want to live next door to a high rise McMansion either. There has to be a better way.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
There's nothing better in the morning than a big slice of Moravian sugar cake. Mmmm.. Anyone from Winston Salem needs no further explanation. It's the best bakery ever. Growing up there, every birthday cake came from Dewey's and now Dewey's is in Raleigh! Well, at least for the holidays. They have actually been here seasonally for 4 years in Cary, but this year have a seasonal store in Cameron Village from Nov 15-Dec 24.
It's a tradition in my family to have Dewey's cake squares or brownies at any family celebration: birthdays, holidays, dinner. You name it. There's always a good reason for Dewey's. Between that and Krispy Kreme, I'm surprised I don't weigh 300 pounds. You just can't say no to a hot doughnut or cake square. Please visit the store if you have never experienced Dewey's. They are in the old Belk spot in Cameron Village next to Nelson's and across the parking lot from Moe's.
If you fall in love and would like to join my efforts in bringing Dewey's here permanently, you can call the customer service number in Winston at 800-537-5374.
Friday, November 9, 2007
Did anyone else happen to catch that small fact in Greg Cox's article yesterday? The Pit is opening in the Warehouse district. Nana's Chophouse will close for a week and basically re-open as The Pit.
I've been talking about this with my friends and I guess Nana's wasn't doing so well? There do seem to be a lot of high end restaurants downtown. The choices in establishments seem to be fancy or super casual. It will be nice to have a new casual restaurant, but at the expense of a really good one?
I'm not a bar-hopper anymore, but it seems like that part of town is becoming much more of a club area, so perhaps an upscale restaurant doesn't fit anymore? I'm curious to hear your thoughts on this one.
Sunday, November 4, 2007
Another First Friday and another start to a great weekend. This time we spent the whole evening in the Seaboard Station area. We really didn't plan it that way, but that's how it turned out. The plan was to check out J Betski's restaurant. It's a German place and it's new and I'm always up for going somewhere new.
We kicked off the evening at Seaboard Wine at their wine tasting. I love wine, but I really don't know much about it. The folks at Seaboard Wine really know their stuff. The tasting included Austrian wines, which I never had tasted before. I've had a few German wines here or there on a trip, but nothing memorable. After a flight of reds, we were buzzed enough to buy a case. What a great strategy! Get people drinking so they'll buy more. So as part of the case we wanted to try something new. Seth gave us quite a history on French wines, which neither Scott nor I knew anything about. I can't wait to have a little tasting of my own!
After talking with the wine folks, they recommended getting reservations at J Betski's. Good thing we called, because their only opening was at 9am. The problem was, the tasting ended at 8pm. What to do for an hour?
No problem. Because it was First Friday - everyone had something going on. Capital City Grocery had a band on the front porch playing good ol'fashioned porch music. So we grabbed a rocking chair and hung out for a while.
Finally it was time to eat! The best part. After starting with some Bratwurst, I enjoyed every second of the Schnitzel. Mmmm. Say it with me. Schnitzel. It's just fun to order. Quite tasty. Scott had the duck with a side of kanoodle (it's potatoes, but in Germany we've actually had it fixed for us and they called it kanoodle - a potato dumpling with a sort of stuffing inside).
Overall it was a bit of an extravagant night for us, but we had so much fun. Everything we needed and wanted to do was right there in one place. I love First Friday!