Court sides with owners of modern house in historic district

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Posted: Feb 16, 2016 5:55 PM
Court sides with owners of modern house in historic district

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A couple who has fought for years to build a modern house in a historic Southern neighborhood won the latest round in a legal battle that has drawn national attention.

The North Carolina Court of Appeals ruling Tuesday upheld local officials' decision to allow the two-story house with modern twists in Raleigh's Oakwood neighborhood. The house is owned by architect Louis Cherry and his wife, Marsha Gordon.

A real estate agent who lives across the street, Gail Wiesner, had fought the couple from the Raleigh Historic Development Commission all the way to the appeals court.

Wiesner argued the house didn't fit in and would "contribute to erosion of the neighborhood's value," according to court documents. She also said she'd been negatively impacted by journalists "waiting to ambush her" for an interview, along with attention from outlets including NBC's TODAY show.

The appeals court ruled those issues weren't enough to give Wiesner legal standing to challenge the design.

"Even if she is correct in her assessment of the Cherry-Gordon house's design, respondent has failed to show that she is an 'aggrieved party' as the law defines that term," the judges wrote.

Wiesner referred questions about the ruling to her lawyer, who didn't immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

Cherry and Gordon issued a statement thanking friends and their lawyers for helping them get through the "long and difficult process."

They have been living for more than a year in the house with exposed beams, masonry piers, deep overhangs and shallow-pitched roof. At one point, they faced the possibility of having to tear down what they'd built.

The dispute dates to 2013 when the local commission approved their plans. Months later, another board voted to overturn the certificate of appropriateness, and construction was temporarily halted. A Wake County court later ruled in the couple's favor, setting up the appeal.