Raleigh city leaders approve measure to make up for ‘missing middle’ by allowing more townhouses, duplexes

Wake County News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — More townhomes and duplexes could soon be coming to Raleigh. The city council voted Tuesday night on a text change that will allow for denser development in many single-family neighborhoods.

Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin campaigned on it, promising to bring more affordable housing to the city. She said the measure is one component to making that a reality. 

“The point of the ordinance as drafted is to provide different choices and new choices in neighborhoods to cope with the changing world,” said Ken Bowers, the Deputy Director of Planning and Development for the City of Raleigh.

The city calls it the “missing middle” in Raleigh’s housing market for those who want a step up from renting an apartment but can’t afford a single-family home.

“On any lot in these districts, you can legally build a single-family house today. You can also put up a two-unit house,” Bowers said.

It will allow for more townhomes and duplexes in neighborhoods with mostly single-family homes. But not everyone is on board. Several people spoke out during public comment, both for and against it.

“Density does not equal affordability,” Stephanie Mendell said.

“Even those committed to the idea of housing affordability, generally sell to the highest bidder. If demand in the area is very strong, prices will be high,” Paul Bran said.

“Density does not give or provide equity,” another Raleigh resident said.

The city said a property owner can’t even rebuild a duplex in place of an existing duplex. The mayor said building townhomes can be even tougher.

“Right now, in our city, you can’t build a townhome in 80 percent of the city. That’s really reducing people’s choices,” Baldwin said.

CBS 17 asked the mayor what she would say to those homeowners who are concerned this is going to change the character of their communities.

“You know, I’ve asked this question before, cause I’ve heard people say we have to protect our neighborhoods. And I’ve said, ‘What are we protecting them from?'” Baldwin responded.

The city council voted 6-1 in favor of the ordinance. The sole dissent was from Councilman David Cox.

This will not apply to communities with HOAs as they are private communities.

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