Good evening everyone, and welcome to the INDY Week live blog that you may or may not see in real time—we'll see how the technology goes. (I am squarely blaming the Wi-Fi connection in city council chambers that derailed my live blog this afternoon; no amount of turning everything off and then turning it back on was able to salvage things.)
So here we are.
Things that happened today: City Council approved a contract with Sasaki for more than $1 million to develop construction plans for the Moore Square Park revamp. Council discussed getting rid of downtown parking space requirements so that needed hotels will have an easier time getting built, and less traffic downtown (!). Rezoning cases on Six Forks Road were denied. And Council chambers have fancy new projector screens that are, admittedly, quite awesome.
7:05: Mayor Nancy calls the meeting to order.
7:08: Requests and petitions of citizens. First is Joey Stansbury. He is discussing the process for appointment of Raleigh citizens to vacant Council seats. He notes when Councilman Thomas Crowder passed away last year, there was no process in place to fill the seat. Crowder's wife Kay Crowder was appointed to the seat. Mr. Stansbury would like to see an application process with public input for a future process.
7:10: Jeremiah Frederick is here to discuss a city sewer pipe that is causing him some problems. He says the pipe is open and exposed and is a public nuisance. He says it's bringing down his property value and would like it removed.
7:12: Mayor Nancy says it's not a city pipe. David Simonton, a Lorimer Road
resident is next. He says the city has 2 different policies for sidewalk petitions, one for UDO-conforming streets and one for non-conforming. Lorimer, an old road, was non-conforming.
7:13: In the case of a non conforming road, a petitioner controls the process with no oversight from the city. No notification of property owners, no requirement for neighborhood meetings. "And the petitioner is patently biased," and is trusted by the city to handle the process themself. He says in the Lorimer case, the petitioner was not trustworthy.
7:14: He asks why there is no appeal process when these kinds of petitions can be abused? Charlotte has one. He says door to door petitioning is problematic, as with Lorimer and Laurel Hills Drive, and the only recourse for neighbors is to sue the city. The Council should table a petition when there is an abuse of petition process.
7:15: He got cut off by a fancy new timer system.
7:16: Tony Coates is here about Hillsborough Street Revitalization. He owns a property that was forcibly condemned, not happy about that but shares desire to redevelop Hillsborough Street. He says the city taking his property delivers opportunity to revitalize the street at his expense. Staff made an offer to compensate that he says is not adequate. Basically the property will be a lot more valuable when revitalization is finished. "Does Council genuinely believe the project as designed and planned years ago can be completed within budget constraints at reasonable cost to taxpayers?" He thinks it may too expensive. Also, redevelopment is already way underway. He's cut off too, but keeps talking...
7:19: Kieran Shanahan and Jim White are here. He says the timer violates the city's noise ordinance. Heh. Not sure if this is Shanahan or White, but he's here to ask about changing UDO to provide a process to approve the location of fences with in a tree conservation area. The UDO has no mechanism to allow for fences in tree conservation area. "Best thing to do is allow citizens to apply for a permit to build a fence. He asks them to consider a UDO amendment to provide for a process to build fences in UDO conservation area. He concludes by asking Council to keep his taxes low.
7:22: Up next: matters for public hearing. First is 2016-2017 annual budget optional
7:23: Guiding Lights Caregivers Support Center's director is here. Her name is Nicole Bruno. They provide care to seniors with Alzheimers and dementia. They also provide CNA training. They have gotten Community Enhancement funds from the city in the past, but didn't get any this year. They had to suspend the CNA training program.
7:25: Chante, a graduate of the CNA training program, is speaking. "I came to say how gracious and appreciative I am of Nicole (the director) and the Council for funding the program, because I wouldn't have had enough money to pay for it. To get in that class for free and get this training..." She says she was unemployed 6 months ago, now after the class she has paid for her own car, apartment and can take care of her son. She says she is really thankful for the class. There is a complicated reason for why the funding for the program wasn't included in this budget cycle that I didn't catch, something to do with community college funding..
7:26: Those are the only comments and they're accepted for consideration.
7:28: No one here to comment on petition annexation for Linville/Shady Grove Road and Children's Lighthouse. The Council approves.
7:29: Here's a request to rezone 22 acres across from Shady Grove Road, from rural residential to residential conditional use. The Planning Commission approve this rezoning. Mayor Nancy is concerned there hasn't been a traffic study, "because traffic is bad out there."
7:32: Dickie Thompson says he's "putting on his RDU hat" and asks if planning staff has received info about airplane noise. Apparently there is not a statement from the Airport Authority yet.
7:34: Hearing is open. The applicant is speaking. He wants to rezone to R6- it's consistent with FLUM, which classifies it as low density residential. It will be single family, detached housing, capped density at 3.9 units per acre.
7:41: Kimberly Brown, HOA president for a neighborhood just to the south of rezoningthe land which is currently in application to be annexed from Durham County, says she wants "responsible development." The neighborhood is on federal wetlands that are protected, which she is concerned about. Also concerned about fire safety. Also protective buffers/wastewater management. She wants a study on the sewer system. She's also concerned about traffic.
7:49: There seems to be a consensus that traffic study would be helpful. The applicant says that would be overkill, but would do one if necessary. He says it will only be 60 lots at most. "If you're insisting that I'll do it, it will be wasting money."
7:51: Crowder says adding additional cars will add to an already congested area, "it's a cumulative effect." Applicant says a traffic study for the whole area is unreasonable. He says NC DOT doesn't think there will be a traffic problem.
7:52: BG says there has been a lot of complaints about traffic on nearby Leesville Road. MAB asks if traffic evaluation could be done internally by city staff? The applicant interrupts her. "Sir, I'm trying to help you out here," she says. (Basically what I feel like I'm saying to everyone, all the time!) Staff says they could look at number of trips. 90 units could actually be allowed. This could bring in 500 trips per day.
8:02: RS: This development is going to happen sooner rather than later.
8:03: Lol at this Tweet from the Raleigh Planning Dept.
8:04: I feel the same way, @RaleighPlanning! Mayor Nancy says all of the neighbor's concerns will be addressed in the applicant's site plan. She closes the hearing and tables. MAB moves approval, with new condition to be added. Re. traffic?
8:05: Larry Booth is now here for a citizen petition from earlier. He wants to save the oak tree at 3109 Hillsborough Street. He wants to save it from a Duke Energy Transformer bunker that has a construction easement on that location. Hero. He says he wants the city to find a new location for Duke Energy's electrical system, and actually, there are plenty of alternate locations, per a Duke Energy rep. He is straight speaking over the timer alarm, does not care.
8:10: Ruffin says staff will provide info on the project. "It's a real estate acquisition item you may see in future, so we can provide a report on the request."
8:12: He says there is a more cost effective property to do this on that the city already owns.
8:13: That's it! I wish all the meetings were this long. #2016goals. Thanks to the city's IT and communications departments for fixing the Wi-Fi, and bringing you this live blog.