RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Raleigh and Wake County leaders continue to search for ways to accommodate continued population growth.
Tuesday night, Raleigh City Council reviewed ten rezoning requests, the majority of which could bring higher buildings, more housing, offices and shops.
The city approved increasing the possible height for two downtown buildings up to 40 stories, while still preserving a longtime downtown restaurant and bar, the Berkeley Café.
The meeting’s public comment period was filled with community concerns surrounding affordable housing and dense development.
City leaders are looking to build up and out, in order to accommodate the estimated 20 percent population increase in Wake County by 2030.
But some people who live in the potentially affected neighborhoods want them to slow down.
“The city needs to take a step back. Take a deep breath,” ‘Save Our Neighborhood, Restore Raleigh Zoning’ committee member Frank Hielema said.
His group believes Raleigh leaders are rushing to figure out ways to accommodate massive population growth.
Wake County currently has an estimated 1,150,204 people. In 2030, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates the area will have an estimated 1,387,427 people.
That means there needs to be a lot more places for families to live.
“They should look at areas that have already been paved over and change, and develop those areas first,” Hielema said. “The city owns land that they can put affordable housing on.”
He said that’s just not happening right now.
The group’s fight started with a 97-year-old home on Williamson Drive.
“We’re trying to prevent this parcel of property from being developed into townhomes,” Hielema said.
17 of them, to be exact.
It’s part of the new movement, called “Missing Middle,” that aims at creating other housing options beyond large apartment buildings or expensive single-family homes.
City leaders passed the initiative because of the number of high-density apartment buildings being built in the area, and to combat the increasingly high cost of buying a home.
Hielema told CBS 17 it’s not sensible to cram the buildings into just any open space in existing neighborhoods.
The group is also concerned with the rezoning proposals that would change the height restrictions on buildings.
Hielema does not want any neighborhood to be in the shadow of 20 or 40-story buildings, like the ones proposed across the city, including North Hills.
“It puts people in shadows, it changes the character of cities,” he said. “It concerns me in terms of the livability of spaces, and the neighborhoods that butt up to these spaces that are seeking rezoning.”
Heilema and the group hope city leaders listen to them, so they can work together to find a better solution for everyone.
“We have to find a balance between those that have made the city what it is, and have lived here, and those who want to come in,” he said. “Those who have lived here should not have to give up all their rights to property and the zoning that they bought into, to welcome newcomers.”