RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – After a year of negotiations. Five Points neighbors and Hayes Barton Baptist Church reached an agreement over the future of six homes on White Oak Road.
In an agreement between the church and neighbors, the church will demolish the three homes on White Oak Road closest to the church to make way for additional parking and a new entrance.
The three remaining homes will be developed into affordable housing.
“We feel like we’ve met in the middle and each side has been respected and honored, and come to a good agreement,” said HBBC senior Pastor David Hailey.
Monday night, church leaders and neighbors signed a “memorandum of understanding” laying out the plan. White Oak Road resident Jennifer Williams said the year of negotiating was worth it to reach an plan both sides are happy with.
“It’s taken a lot of time and understanding and compromise, for us to all come together on our side because we’ve all had to give things up and bend,” Williams said.
Last March HBBC told neighbors on White Oak Road about plans to demolish six homes there owned by the church. It was part of a long-term improvement plan to add parking, and handicapped accessibility to the church.
However, neighbors raised concerns that knocking down the homes would strip the neighborhood of some of its historic charm, as well as cause potential safety, traffic and storm water runoff issues.
Hailey said as part of the new agreement, the church will not get the all the additional parking it wanted, but will be able to build a new entry at the rear of the church.
Removing houses 1806, 1810 and 1812 on White Oak Road will the church HBBC to create a new exit/entrance to the street. Neighbors were concerned that doing so would lead to increased traffic on the narrow, residential street.
According to the agreement, HBBC will install a gate restricting the use of the new White Oak Road exit/entrance to Sundays, Wednesday nights, and other big church events.
“It’s a compromise in every sense of the word. Everyone walked away slightly unsatisfied having given up major concessions, and received major concessions on both sides,” said Vernon Hunter who worked on the negotiations on behalf of the neighbors.
The church and neighbors agreed to work together to develop affordable housing in the three remaining homes at 1814, 1816, and 1818 White Oak Road.
Last year, neighbors who wanted to preserve the homes organized as a group called “Save Six.” Williams and Vernon said they are closing the “Save Six” chapter, and moving forward a “Five Points Neighbors,” adding that they look forward to working with HBBC.
“This is a neighborhood and we’re a neighborhood church. We want to have good relations with our neighbors and they want to have good relations with us. We all want the same thing,” said Hailey.