TODAY   |  May 01, 2014

Modern-style home causes neighborhood controversy

A nasty dispute over a new house that’s being built in North Carolina has neighbors choosing sides. Some residents say the design just doesn’t fit in with the rest of the area. NBC’s Kerry Sanders reports.

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>>> talking about earlier, this nasty dispute over a new house being built in raleigh, north carolina . it is a construction project that now has neighbors choosing sides. nbc's kerry sanders has more this morning. kerry, good morning.

>> reporter: good morning, savannah. there are about 600 homes in this neighborhood. victorians, old shotgun bungalows. the value of the homes here is anywhere from $200,000 to several million dollars dollars. but as i walk across the street here, you can see there is another home here that neighbors say doesn't quite feel like it fits in with this historic neighborhood. now at issue is whether the couple building this home can be ordered to tear it down. the streets of oakwood. quiet, picturesque, beautifully restored homes from the 19th century . but one of these homes is not like the others. this two-story two-bedroom house is being built in a style known as modernism, made famous by architects like frank lloyd wright . lewis cherry, an architect himself and his wife marsha gordon say they made it clear all along they planned to build a different sort of home in this neighborhood.

>> we believe that this is good for the preservation of this neighborhood. this neighborhood needs to be alive. it needs to be invested in. and it did not stop in time in 1880 or 1910 .

>> reporter: the couple got a city building permit and started construction.

>> when you're given a building permit from a city, you expect that it means that you have permission to build.

>> reporter: but when neighborhood started to see what was taking shape, the complaints began.

>> but it is completely inappropriate for the neighborhood. it is totally in congruous.

>> reporter: the fight is now headed to court as the house sits unfinished and empty.

>> it is devastating for us. the cost to us is very high emotionally and financially.

>> i just don't think it fits in a historic district .

>> reporter: some neighbors say they cherish the history of the homes here and fear if a different architectural style takes hold, more will follow.

>> that's the reason why this historic district was started in the first place, is to protect all of the homes in the district. to keep anything that's inappropriate out.

>> reporter: those fighting the construction say lewis cherry and his wife knew they were taking a risk.

>> kitchen, dining, living.

>> reporter: for cherry, the dispute is a simple case of property rights .

>> i don't think it is appropriate to exert your taste on other people's property rights .

>> reporter: those in opposition say that this is not about property rights . they say they feel that it just doesn't seem to fit in. one thing that the judge will be taking into consideration is that this home here was built on what was a vacant lot. it is not as if there was an old victorian in disrepair that was torn down to make room for this construction. back to you guys.

>> kerry sanders in raleigh.

>> they got the plan approved by the city. they got permits. come on.

>> all right. end of story. we know where al comes down on this one.

>> appreciate it.

>> zoning laws, just a hob