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Judge sides with modern house in NC neighborhood

RALEIGH — A Superior Court judge says a local board was wrong to halt construction of a modern home in a historic neighborhood in Raleigh.

Architect Louis Cherry and his wife, Marsha Gordon, had nearly completed their 2,100-square-foot house in Raleigh’s Historic Oakwood District when the city’s Board of Adjustment revoked their “certificate of appropriateness” in February.

Real estate agent Gail Wiesner, who lives across the street, had filed a complaint saying the contemporary interpretation of a Craftsman-style house was “garishly inappropriate” for Oakwood. The case sparked national debate over the issue of new building in historic neighborhoods, and split the residents.

Judge Elaine Bushfan wrote in a memo released Thursday that Wiesner had no standing to file the complaint in the first place.

The board “used the incorrect standard of review and reweighed the evidence and substituted their own judgment” for that of the Raleigh Historic Development Commission, Bushfan wrote. “Therefore, the BOA committed reversible error.”

Wiesner said she plans to appeal the decision despite being the target of ridicule.

“I’m a grown-up. … I’m not the least bit influenced by things like that,” said Wiesner, who argues that proper procedures were not followed when the construction was approved last September.

Gordon and Cherry thanked those “from all over the country who have offered their financial and emotional support during these months,” and extended an olive branch to their neighbor.

“We can now move into a period of healing,” they wrote in an email to The Associated Press. “With this legal battle behind us, let’s be good neighbors to each other and focus on the things that make Oakwood the dynamic, diverse, and wonderful neighborhood that it is.”

First developed following the Civil War, Oakwood is an eclectic mix of 19th and early 20th century architectural styles. Neighbors formed the historic district in the 1970s to fight a proposed highway.

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