At a town hall meeting Wednesday evening, District A City Council representative Wayne Maiorano asked his constituents to share what was on their minds. The residents who filled the lodge at Durant Nature Park had a lot to say.
At the top of their list of concerns was water.
Resident Georgia McLain said she is tired of the trash, sewage and mosquitos accumulating when stormwater runoff flows into a ditch on her property in Village Grove.
“I have to clean it and get sick,” she said, a routine that wasn’t part of the deal when she bought the property 32 years ago.
Assistant city manager Tansy Hayward noted that Councilman Maiorano asked city staff to “take a bigger look at our stormwater management system as a city,” to determine how much cost and responsibility private property owners should bear for stromwater management versus how much the city should accept as the population of Raleigh continues to grow.
“Early next year, we’ll hopefully start to have a broader discussion about how we as a community are going to manage our stormwater,” Hayward said.
Resident George Farthing said he is concerned that a policy in Raleigh’s Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) that allows for balanced growth and environmental protections for watershed districts is up for review by the City Council.
“I believe this policy is sound,” Farthing said. “It permits growth and appropriate development and also protects the environment in a way that doesn’t allow for growth that harms the watershed.”
Maiorano said water quality and resources have to be “a primary concern” as Raleigh grows, but couldn’t comment on the specific policy, which is currently under review by city staff. “It would be premature for me to give you a perspective on a policy I haven’t fully analyzed,” he said. “I don’t think I’d be doing a service to our city and our residents if I were to try to tell you what my thoughts are on the direction that needs to go.”
Other residents said they were concerned about increasing traffic in their community, especially if a controversial rezoning request—which would allow a Publix grocery store to be built at the intersections of Falls of Neuse and Dunn roads—was to be approved. “If the rezoning goes through, we’ll have quadruple the (thousands) of cars on our streets that we already have,” said resident Brookshire McDonald. She said she has been trying for over six years to bring traffic calming measures to Southwalk Lane where she lives.
Resident Brian Fitzsimmons echoed McDonald’s concerns about traffic, adding that it can take him forty minutes to get from North Raleigh to the city center during morning commutes. Fitzsimmons asked if Maiorano was open to considering investing more in the city’s bus services.
“Doing nothing is not an option,” Maiorano said. “We have to do something. What that something is, I am absolutely open-minded to. We can’t take anything out of the equation.” He noted that city leaders will likely work closely with Wake County on a transit solution.
Finally, with the state Legislature’s elimination of the privilege tax—which will trim $7 million from the city of Raleigh’s budget this cycle—residents said they are worried that city services will suffer from the loss of revenue. The Legislature did, however, promise not to increase property taxes.
Maiorano said city departments are just beginning to work on proposals that will re-prioritize funds and identify areas to cut back on.
“We haven’t quite figured it out,” he said. “But seven million dollars will have a material impact.”