No Stranger to City Hall (Donna Burford)


The Raleigh Board of Adjustment met in regular session on Monday, August 11, 2008 at 1:00 p.m. in the City Council Chamber, Room 201 of the Raleigh Municipal Building, Avery C. Upchurch Government Complex, 222 W. Hargett Street, Raleigh, North Carolina with the following present:

Board Members Staff

-Larry McBennett Vice-Chairman, presiding (City) John Silverstein, Attorney to the Board
-Lee Van DeCarr, Jr., Secretary (City) Zoning Enforcement Administrator Fulcher
-Mildred Flynn (City) Chris Crum, City Forestry Specialist
-Tommy Jeffreys (County) Ralph Puccini, Assistant Deputy Clerk
-Timothy Figgins (City Alternate)
-Mary Smith Morrison (County Alternate)


-Kenneth Haywood (City), Chairman
-Charles Coble (City Alternate)

These are summary minutes unless otherwise indicated.

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WHEREAS, Donna R. and Michael Burford, property owners, appeal for a 2 foot variance in the maximum 6 foot height requirements for a privacy fence per Code Section 10-2085 to install an 8 foot high privacy fence along the west and part of the south property lines in the Residential-4 zoning district at 1424 Fairway Ridge Drive.

Zoning Enforcement Administrator Fulcher (sworn) gave the following testimony:

The applicant is requesting a 2 foot variance in the 6 foot maximum height requirements to erect an 8 foot privacy fence along the west and part of the south property lines. Staff’s position is that a 6 foot high privacy fence would accomplish the goals of less noise more security without the need for a variance. The code height requirement is not causing a practical difficulty or unnecessary hardship on the properly. Staff is opposed to this request.


Donna Burford, 1424 Fairway Ridge Drive (sworn) indicated she wanted to build the fence in order to abate noise. She stated she wanted to concentrate building the fence on the west side as it slopes down 2 feet from the rest of the property. She noted she wanted to create a safer place for her children to play. Mr. Van De Carr questioned if the neighbors were okay with the proposed fence with Ms. Burford indicating the neighbors on the that side of property were okay with the fence and noted there are trees located on her neighbor’s side of the property which also help in giving shade.

Brief discussion took place regarding the amount of natural buffer that already exists around the property. Ms. Burford pointed out the house is located near a major thoroughfare, Western Boulevard.

Topography of the property and how the fence would be built to conform to that topography was discussed.



Findings of Fact

  1. Applicant seeks a variance from Raleigh City Code Section 10-2085 to install a privacy fence.
  2. The Board has considered Applicant’s verified application and the evidence and testimony adduced at the hearing.
  3. In order to comply with Raleigh City Code Section 10-2085, Applicant would have to limit the height of the fence to 6’.
  4. Applicant is unable to comply with Raleigh City Code Section 10-2085 because a 6’ fence would not provide adequate privacy.
  5. Applicant’s property backs up to a major thoroughfare, Western Blvd.
  6. The Applicant’s lot slopes up from Western Blvd., which would make a 6’ fence inadequate to provide privacy and noise abatement.
  7. Strict compliance with the provisions of the ordinance would deprive Applicant from the reasonable use of the property.
  8. Applicant’s hardship is related to the unique circumstances of the property, namely its proximity to a major thoroughfare and its typography.
  9. The Applicant’s actions did not create the hardship or the practical difficulties.
  10. The character of surrounding properties would not be adversely affected by the granting of the variance.
  11. Denial of the variance would result in insignificant public benefit but would greatly harm Applicant.
  12. Pursuant to Raleigh City Code Section 10-2141(b), the Board has considered the following relevant factors:

(a) The character and use of buildings and structures adjoining or in the vicinity of the property mentioned in the application.

(b) The number of persons residing, studying, working in or otherwise occupying buildings adjoining or in the vicinity of the property mentioned in the application.

Conclusions of Law

  1. There are practical difficulties or unnecessary hardships in complying with the strict letter of the ordinance.
  2. The variance is in accordance with the general purpose and intent of the ordinance and preserves its spirit.
  3. The granting of the variance secures the public safety and welfare and does substantial justice.
  4. This decision is subject to review for fraud, material misrepresentation, or other misconduct at the proceeding or for violations on the subject property of either any provision of Chapter 10 of the Raleigh City Code or an imposed limiting condition, and if such a determination is made by the Board, its prior decision may be reversed, modified, or affirmed.


Ms. Morrison made a motion to approve the variance as requested. Her motion was seconded by Mr. McBennett and received the following votes: Ayes – 4 (McBennett, Van De Carr, Morrison, Figgins); Noes – one (Flynn). Mr. McBennett moved the motion adopted.

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