The Raleigh City Council is meeting tonight, and we're here to give you the play-by-play. But we're not the only ones in the house. A bunch of Raleigh firefighters are here, too ... and they are pretty angry that the city keeps disregarding their push for a raise.
Here's a little bit of background on their ongoing fight from WNCN
7:08 p.m. — The meeting has begun and the first order of business is requests and petitions of citizens.
7:09 p.m. — Officials from Habitat for Humanity came to thank the city for its support of the organization's Build-a-Block Project. Melanie Rankin told the board that the organization's goal is to raise more than $700,000.
7:13 p.m. — Carole Meyre, a representative from the Raleigh CAC, presented a request from the organization for the council to make several changes to the UDO to better define the CAC's role in the rezoning process, but before she finished her piece, she got the buzzer. Mayor Nancy McFarlane showed her mercy, and allowed her to finish her presentation. By the way, it took nineteen minutes. We wonder if the firefighters scheduled to speak tonight will be afforded the same courtesy.
7:33 p.m. — Care First Animal Hospitals spokesman Chad Essick asked the council to approve a text change in the UDO to allow animal care indoors as a limited use in the Office Mixed-Use zoning district—and to consider increasing the number of animals that can be engaged in outdoor activity at a time. "Instead of going through a rezoning process, we thought it would be more prudent to address the issue holistically," he said, adding that nearly twenty similar businesses are being hurt by the restrictions as well. The Planning Commission said the request was "reasonable." The text changed was approved.
7:40 p.m. — Ted Van Dyk and Neil Riemann showed up to request that the board consider reinstating review of more involved projects by the Planning Commission and Appearance Commission. They argued that the quality of design on projects has declined in recent years and a change in the UDO could rectify the issue. "A growing city like ours deserves good architecture," they said. Mayor McFarlane said she wasn't sure a change in the UDO would help, but Van Dyk and Riemann said "a lot more work" could be done on the code to create a process by which more attractive buildings are constructed in the city. Councilman David Cox didn't seem convinced, either. "I don't know that we could ever legislate perfection," he said.
7:53 p.m. — Harold Merritt III wanted the council to know that his business, Northridge Auto Spa, is losing money because of ongoing construction on Sandy Forks Road. "We're nine months in and I understand we have nine months to go," he said, adding that he would like the board to approve posting a temporary sign on Falls of the Neuse Road that would notify potential customers that his shop is, in fact, open for business. They attempted to put their own sign up but were told to remove it. "Our business is down 20 percent. It's difficult for customers to navigate." Councilman Dickie Thompson said he agrees with Merritt and that Sandy Forks Road "looks like a war zone."
8:01 p.m. — Aaron Michael Voss spoke on behalf of Raleigh Firefighters United about the "troubling double-standard the city uses" when it comes to pay raises. He got very emotional because many of these firefighters "can't even put food on the table" and have to work multiple jobs to support their families. "Starting pay for Raleigh firefighters is somewhere in the range of $33,000 a year," he said, adding that comparable departments start the firefighters off at close to $50,000 a year. After he spoke, the board moved on fairly quickly, although one member—it was hard to tell who, given how quietly it was uttered—thanked them for their service.
Public hearings are up next.
8:07 p.m. — A hearing to confirm liens on several properties. We will provide a list of the properties later tonight, so check back if you're in to that kind of stuff.
8:09 p.m. — Zoning Case Z-10-16 involves a request from TK Desco LLC to rezone nearly two acres located on Old Poole Road. The Planning Commission recommended approval, but the council argued the the property owner misled his neighbors and told them something different than what the Planning Commission approved. The council, though, decided to hold off on taking action to give him time to adjust his plan.
8:26 p.m. — Here come three hearings on text changes. "Hooray," said nobody ... EVER. We'll spare you the incredibly technical, not to mention boring, details.
And like that, "poof," we're done.