Zoning and Density

Millennials be cryin’

If only I gave up avo-toast.


Hmm… “owning”, fascinating. What is this “owning” that the elders speak of? For I have only heard legends of such things.


I started in my 20s with a suburban condo that was cheap and entry level. With a cursory look at Wake Co. real estate listings. There are 38 condos under $100K listed. No, they are not downtown condos, but I didn’t start there either.

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Quality of construction (unit to unit noise) and a good HOA are so important. I have been lucky to have both in both condos I’ve owned.


I’ve been lucky so far with both noise and HOAs. My first condo was suburban stick built, but each subsequent condo was commercial construction (concrete). I always recommend that people check out the financial stability of an association before ever buying a condo. You don’t want one poorly run, or with many owners in arrears.


We bought our condo (townhome style) 2-3 years ago, and are very happy with it. But have been looking for something closer to Downtown.

What scares the hell out of me, is seeing the insane condo fees for older condos in good locations. I can’t make sense out of it financially.


There are going to be many things that will influence your HOA costs, not just age of the condo. Amenities and service levels can greatly influence your monthly costs. Some less obvious things should be considered as well. For example, when you have a condo building that has internal corridors, you have to consider that the building will have some sort of lobby, an elevator or elevators, and corridors. The doors to this internal shared area will need some sort of security system for you and your guests. In the most expensive case scenario, it might also include a lobby attendant. All of these interior spaces will also need to be heated, cooled, cleaned, and maintained.
When you look at any building, existing or new, pay attention to all of the little things, that will affect your living experience, and consider their ongoing costs. Think about materials of the overall building or project. For example, brick buildings won’t require as much maintenance as siding or stucco that needs regular painting.
Lastly, don’t be fooled by low HOA fees on new projects. Once the building is turned over to the association, I can guarantee you that the monthly dues will go up. Developers will do their best to keep the fees artificially low when selling the project, but the reality of ongoing costs is always higher.
In the end, only you will be able to determine what’s right for you, your budget, and your lifestyle. Good luck!


@John excellent summary. I pay a lot and it’s worth it. No water bill. No garbage bill. Insurance cheaper. Just be sure it’s a well run HOA.


Hat tip to @ADUsSomeday for sharing this. We had a great chat recently on the topic of missing middle and NCODs.

Everyone should watch this video, just the first minute of Ken Bowers, our Director of City Planning, sum up the general policy of neighborhoods and mixed-use areas, what’s actually happening, and why we don’t have any missing middle housing in Raleigh.

I thought it so great, I transcribed it:

"Our current zoning policy for multi-family and for housing in general is that if you are a residentially zoned, R-zoned neighborhood is that you should pretty stay as you are and that all the growth will be accomodated in either greenfield development or redevelopment of commericially zoned mixed-use properties, NX, CX, RX, etc. But the existing neighborhoods do not accomodate growth, they stay as they are and the mixed-use areas accomodate growth.

What we see that manifest physically on the ground is that you got low density areas and whereever there is a redevelopment oppurtunity that demand is being manifested through maxing out the zoning envelope for multi-story apartment buildings so that there is nothing in between. So the quesiton is do we want to see something in between and the only way to get it is to either downzone the mixed-use areas or allow additional desnity in the R zones. But that’s a big topic because that’s a substantial departure from current policy."


(Didn’t know if this should go in a new topic or not.)

Anyone know if there’s a more comprehensive legend of zoning terms than the one here? https://www.raleighnc.gov/business/content/PlanDev/Articles/Zoning/ZoningandRezoning.html

For example, I was reading this recent rezoning request: https://community.dtraleigh.com/t/the-raleigh-wire-service/748/281?u=mitch

Remarks: .99 AC FROM DX-5-SH TO DX-12-SH-CU

I see that it’s a request to rezone 0.99 acres from 5-story mixed use up to 12-story mixed use, but the above glossary doesn’t explain what the D or the SH mean (I know the SH is a frontage thing, but there isn’t an explanation of what SH actually means). These sometimes trip me up when exploring the rezoning alerts.

Yes but that gets into the abbreviations in the UDO. Good suggestion though. I should try and get a nice legend put out there and into the Wire Service.

Real quick, that reads

Downtown Mixed Use-5-Shop Front to Downtown Mixed Use-12-Shop Front - Conditional Use.

For anyone else, that’s a 5 story height limit change up to 12 story height limit change.

The UDO: https://www.raleighnc.gov/content/extra/Books/PlanDev/UnifiedDevelopmentOrdinance/60/#zoom=z


I would certainly appreciate it, for one! Thanks for the reply and clarification Leo!

Just 2 stories here currently. Would be cool to see something 6-12 stories go up here. Doesn’t surprise me that they want it upzoned. It would be a great block to live or work on, looking over Nash square in one direction, and Davie street in the other direction.


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My huge gripe has been why fund all of these professional growth studies and comprehensive plans when the elected politicians disregard or laugh at them? We have elected officials with no background in planning or development disregarding paid professionals work who are experts on the matter. It’s ridiculous if you stop to think about it.


Our UDO has a wide void between an R-10 lot at a min 45’ wide and Townhome lots at a min 16’. You can do a planned development, clustering or add some open space to get some limited flexibility, but the options all add a lot of complexity to a project.

Shouldn’t there be an option for a 30’ wide lot? That’s nearly 2x the size of the Townhome minimum. Or just make it 2x and give a 32’ wide option for a conventional single family lot.

It seems to me that density limits were written into the UDO wherever they got the opportunity. There are numerous examples of provisions that limit density on a very subtle level. It isn’t explicitly written out, but the effect is the same. When they were writing the UDO the consultants got their marching orders from somewhere and it’s clear that the intention was a moderately dense core with a very suburban cityscape surrounding it.

My biggest issue with this is that you limit the price points with new development. If you could do 32’ lots maybe you could have more of them and then the price/infrastructure/land cost ratios wouldn’t force higher prices. It’s like they have a min standard for how nice your lot needs to be, and the min standard that’s good enough for the PTB is 45’. Not everyone needs, wants, or should have to pay for that or be forced into a townhome or apartment.

I think the Council should hire a consultant to review the UDO and get recommendations on things they could change to promote a wider range of housing types and to remove any roadblocks to making new development more affordable.


You are spot on. After looking through the housing from 2018 I have been thinking about how we could start to get different results in the future, and this “hole” in our zoning is a big problem. There needs to be an effort or maybe citizen led movement to plan for a new UDO that actually allows some middle density. Currently it is “allowed” but only in places where apartment buildings are also allowed, so it never happens.

On a related note I have also been wondering where all these UDO limits are coming from. An interesting place where I think I found some actual evidence of real voices pushing for this stuff was in a Hillsborough-Wade CAC meeting a little while back.

Check out the 36:26 mark.

Then the case came to the planning commission and people organized to come speak and try and block any future apartments. By apartments they mean R-10 zoning. Where townhomes are technically legal, but all the restrictions you mentioned above apply. This is maybe 3 blocks from Hillsborought St. and half the lot has had small apartments for ~60 years. Hard to see this as anything other than an attempt to lock the area in amber.

Planning commission meeting here.


Shows how a very small faction of folks are controlling our growth and dialogue. I, for one, would like to expand that conversation to reflect more voices and broader dialogue. A few past planning commissioners are sharing their insight on how folks can show up and speak up to impact our community in a positive way. Encourage y’all to join in on that convo, details here: Redirecting...

Related, the next Raleigh 4 All meeting (group putting on event above) is tonight. Swing by if you’re able! Details here (6pm - 8pm at Transfer): Redirecting...


Downtown would look so much bigger and more dense if it had at least 10 more 10-12 story buildings surrounding the CBD (central business district). That’s my honest opinion drops mic

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6 posts were split to a new topic: Neighborhood Conservation

For sake of comparison, North Hills Walter Tower site plan submittal is on the City’s website. 36 floors, 386’ height, 376 residential units. Would be 4th tallest building in Raleigh. Top elevation 738’-6" (above sea level)!