How much do you know about the zoning of our neighborhood? Until recently, there were no protections on historic structures in OWD? Or that your neighbor is currently allowed to chop down all of their trees,and build a 45-foot (3 story) house (or even a rooming house) on their lot?
It's true. That's why the OWDNA board, with the encouragement of the Planning Department and 96 unique landowners in the neighborhood who signed a Petition of Support, pursued the feasibility of a Neighborhood Protection Overlay (NPO) for Old West Durham, which would alter the zoning to be more protective of the neighborhood's character.
What our NPO addresses are the height and width of new buildings, encouragement to plant backyard trees (since street trees are the purview of the City), loosening off-street parking requirements, and encouraging further density with accessory dwelling units as affordable housing options in our increasingly expensive community. Guidelines that may temper incentives for developers to tear down small historic houses to build maximum-size (45'-tall) buildings with maximizing rents; and guidelines that simultaneously protect the character of the community.
OWDNA originally submitted an application to the Planning Department to start exploring NPO options with neighbors in 2014. The first public meeting was on January 31, 2017 at E.K. Powe Elementary School and 16 other open-invite or public-notice meetings followed in 2017. An NPO working group drafted NPO content during 10 work sessions in summer/fall/winter 2017-2018. OWDNA voted unanimously to endorse the resulting neighborhood protection overlay on January 25, 2018. On May 7, 2018 Durham City Council voted unanimously to create the NPO. To learn more, contact the OWDNA Board at owdna-board[at]googlegroups[dot]com, or attend a OWDNA Board meeting!
The three drafts of the NPO language are linked below, illustrating the progress from first version through final submitted version. Documents explaining what decisions were made in each revision and why were provided by the NPO working group. These are linked here:
More information about the NPO process and the content of the draft can be found here.