Winston-Salem City Council voted to allow a house in the city’s Ardmore neighborhood to be converted into a duplex, despite community opposition. At Monday's council meeting, the issue sparked a larger discussion about how the city should change to accommodate a rising demand for housing. 

Over 150 residents signed a petition opposing the request from investor Spendra LLC to rezone the house at 1700 Academy Street from single-family residential to residential duplex. 

Residents, including John MacMillan, told council the rezoning would increase density and change the character of the historic neighborhood. 

“There are also concerns among neighbors about reducing the number of available single-family units, making it more difficult for first-time homebuyers who would like to settle long-term in the neighborhood," MacMillan said. "When investors are outbidding others and flipping or renting properties, this does not necessarily translate to affordability.”

MacMillan pointed out that the city’s 2016 ward plan for the neighborhood prioritized the development of single-family homes. But Councilmembers Kevin Mundy and Jeff MacIntosh both said the city is in the process of updating that plan, as younger workers flock to the city and increase demand for housing of all kinds. 

“If we don't make accommodations for them in areas that we already have streets, we already have sewers, we already have sidewalks, we already have fire stations, we already have schools, what happens is they move further out," says MacIntosh. "When that happens, the cost to the entire community goes up dramatically.”

Council voted six to two to approve the rezoning request, with Councilmembers John Larson and Annette Scippio opposed. 

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