Tag Archives: comprehensive planning committee

The Comprehensive Planning Committee (CPC) met on January 23rd to finalize the public discussion of including Backyard Cottages (BYCs) in Raleigh’s new Unified Development Ordinance (UDO). This was the last time citizens could join the public discussion. The goal of the meeting was for the CPC to come to a consensus for its proposal to the City Council.

You can watch the meeting on the City of Raleigh’s streaming site for RTN11 (Raleigh Television Network). Follow these steps:

Russ Stephenson proposed additional development standards, clarified other regulations, and introduced a document submittal requirement. Rear and side setbacks were increased due to privacy and fire safety. This also includes an additional increase to side setbacks depending on the height of the BYC. The former regulation of a max of 4 unrelated people per property was further defined to say only 2 people (related or not) in the BYC. There was some additional discussion of adult vs. child and resident vs. long-term guests. Other regulations were introduced for quality assurance and privacy – the BYC should be made of similar materials and roof form as the primary residence, and windows should be offset or screened from neighboring residences. The document submittal requirement would include site plan, plan, and primary elevation with additional notes and information.

The CPC agreed to propose the development standards in its complete and revised form, which would include modifications made by Russ Stephenson.

The second part of the CPC proposal to City Council refers to how BYCs will be implemented in Raleigh. The CPC agreed to an “opt-in/neighborhood pilot” where Council will create a overlay boundary where BYCs would be allowed, following the development standards. The neighborhood/boundary would be selected with extensive neighborhood engagement. It is considered a “pilot,” because Council could later modify the boundary to include more neighborhoods, or make it citywide.

The CPC will present its proposal to City Council on February 5th. The Council will vote on adopting the revisions.

See the CPC draft proposal in its current state with Russ Stephenson’s comments here:

CPC 112112 Backyard Cottages+RS3


The Comprehensive Planning Committee met on November 21 to continue the discussion of allowing Backyard Cottages (BYCs) in Raleigh. You can watch the meeting on the City of Raleigh’s streaming site for RTN11 (Raleigh Television Network). Follow these steps:

Staff began the discussion reviewing the topics covered or recommended for further research at the last meeting (November 14), including occupancy standards, parking requirements, size/setback regulations, design standards, overlay district regulations, and peer city research. Staff proposed these suggested modifications as topics for discussion:

  • Increase rear yard setback to 20 feet
  • Decrease building separation to 10 feet
  • Cap the number of unrelated people on the property at 4
  • Require paved parking spaces
  • Require similar building materials and roof forms of BYC to main house
  • Regulate primary entrance location – not to be at rear property
  • Use a Neighborhood Conservation Overlay District (NCOD) to regulate BYCs by neighborhood

Download the complete staff report to read further.

One area of focus was whether an “opt-in” situation would be a fair compromise. This would mean that BYCs would not be allowed city-wide, and a neighborhood could opt-in to allow BYCs with their specific regulations. People in support said this would protect all neighborhoods, and allow for BYCs to be allowed in only the neighborhoods that want them. People in opposition said that this would be the equivalent of keeping BYCs illegal, as it would be near impossible to gain the support of an entire neighborhood when only one citizen might be interested in building a BYC.
Another talking point was whether slumlords would exploit BYCs. Some worry that investors will purchase houses with the intent of building a BYC and maximizing on the rental potential of the property. They are also concerned that slumlords will build a BYC on an existing rental property to gain more income. These concerns are based in the idea that these properties will have low building standards, increase the number of undesired renters, and degrade the quality of existing neighborhoods.
Others believe that this is an issue that doesn’t revolve around BYCs, and that slumlords would not be interested in building BYCs. Currently, slumlords can build an attached accessory dwelling and exploit it in the same way that people are concerned BYCs will be exploited. These slumlords would rather build an attached unit taking advantage of existing infrastructure, rather than investing in the extra expense of constructing a new BYC with the additional costs of new plumbing and electric lines, and extra construction costs of foundation and grading.
This issue has yet to be resolved. The Committee recommended staff to research the idea of opting-in or opting-out of allowing BYCs, or potentially creating a new BYC Overlay District. The next meeting is tentatively scheduled for December 5th.

The Comprehensive Planning Committee met yesterday to discuss the heavily debated topic of allowing backyard cottages (BYCs) in Raleigh. I encourage you to watch the meeting on the City of Raleigh’s streaming site for RTN11 (Raleigh Television Network). Follow these steps:

Russ Stephenson led the meeting, starting with the idea that BYCs are good in places where they improve the neighborhood, but have the potential to hurt a neighborhood, based in the fact that the City cannot regulate that lots with BYCs are homeowner-occupied.
Staff presented a Case Study showing the number of eligible and ineligible lots in 5 neighborhoods that would allow BYCs, and would work with the lot dimensions. There were 946 potential parcels that fit the square-footage criteria. Of these, 543 (57.4%) were eligible, and 403 (42.6%) were ineligible. Here is the breakdown per studied neighborhood:
  • Brentwood: 127 (66%) eligible, 64 (34%) ineligible
  • Five Points: 88 (62%) eligible, 54 (38%) ineligible
  • Drewry Hills: 34 (34%) eligible, 67 (66%) ineligible
  • Mordecai: 122 (53%) eligible, 108 (47%) ineligible
  • NC State: 110 (59%) eligible, 76 (41%) ineligible
  • Southwest: 49 (60%) eligible, 33 (40%) ineligible
Russ Stephenson proposed a set of standards (low and high) to regulate the design/quality of BYCs, as a way to allow BYCs while setting restrictions to ease concerns. The elements that he proposed would be regulated varied from parking/driveway surfaces (erodible or nonerodible), to setting a maximum number of unrelated residents (4-6 or 3 or less).
The floor was opened to public comments, and nearly everyone present spoke. There were many who spoke against BYCs, but there were more supporters. See the video to hear all comments. I spoke at 2:15:18. In the coming days, I will highlight the positions of some of these people to show a range of perspectives.
At the conclusion of the meeting, the Committee reviewed a list of topics for further research. The next Committee meeting to discuss BYCs is yet to be scheduled.