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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Welcome to our Raleigh City Council live blog

Posted by on Tue, Jan 19, 2016 at 12:59 PM

 

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Happy Tuesday, everyone! It's cold and there are rumors of snow in the forecast, so enjoy this bit of civic engagement before the whole city shuts down—or maybe we'll be spared, who knows.

Lots of fun on the agenda today, including a revisit to the dangerous dog ordinance, which is designed to make penalties on owners of dogs who attack people more stringent—will the council vote on it this time??—and a presentation on the Wake County transit plan. There's also a rezoning case on Spring Forest Road and Atlantic Avenue. And more. Always more.

The consent agenda is lengthy, and includes some grant awards as well some as grant authorizations. Burt's Bees Greater Good Foundation is giving the city $10,000 for an Urban Pollinator Garden on the Union Station site. It will "support human and honeybee heath and foster future partnerships with local universities and scientists studying pollinators in urban environments."  
Union Station is happening, BTW, as a kickoff/Pat McCrory campaign stop last week at the Dillon Supply Co. warehouse portended. It's been a slow process—you'll recall that groundbreaking for Union Station was last May...

And the city gave or is giving Wake County Pubic Schools $828,142 for the Safelight red light camera program in proceeds, which, uh, seems excessive. 

Looks like everyone's here and we're getting started.

1:12: Mayor Nancy proclaims it Raleigh Sister Cities today. It's a city effort to connect globally by fostering partnerships and collaboration with 5 cities in China, France, Germany, Kenya and England. People come here to visit Raleigh and people from Raleigh go to these cities to "broaden their global perspectives." 

1:18: Agency grantee presentation from the Boys and Girls Club's Ralph Capps. City of Raleigh gave them a a $250k grant for a teen center on N. Raleigh Blvd. More teens will enjoy academic success, active citizenship and healthy lifestyles. Boys and Girls Club is legit. The teens get a tech center, music recording studio, lounge, gym, commercial kitchen...they register to vote, learn how to cook food, feed the homeless, plant azaleas...50th anniversary of their founding here in Raleigh is coming up.

1:24: Corey Branch says he is a product of the club when it was just the "Boy's Club." 

1:25: Some items being pulled from the consent, including Bees and Safelight. MAB has a conflict with the pollinator, so she's excused and the grant is accepted. Dickie Thompson wants to hold Safelight to get more info. Good move. 

1:27: RS is talking about Hillsborough Street revitalization. He wants a report on that before moving onto the next phase, outreach to residents etc. But apparently property values on Hillsborough have gone up, so. Apparently there have been a lot of public meetings according to city staff; they've met with every property owner and have had ongoing conversations.

1:29: Are they aware of increasing property values from Phase 1 of the project, RS asks? Do they get the benefits of this? Staff says he has tried to emphasize that to them, and from Wake County property valuations. A Hillsborough Street property owner who has an alternative plan (he spoke last week about saving a tree on his property from a Duke Energy transformer) isn't allowed to make a statement. Council approves the condemnation of land where his property is located t stay on schedule with the revitalization. 

1:32: Report from the Planning Commission. They're trying to schedule a rezoning hearing on Hillsborough Street west of Wolfe Green Drive. It's from 2013. The Planning Commission wants a 60-day time extension before deciding whether to recommend approval. RS says this has been a tremendous expenditure of private and public resources to hear his case over and over and he wants thee applicant to hurry up and submit final conditions. Council approves the extension. 

1:38: Special items is up, and the dangerous dog ordinance is first. The city attorney runs down concerns on defining "vicious" "terrorizing" and "provocation." RS suggested making child proof latches on enclosures, and making sure enclosures are secure. And there were questions of rehabilitating dangerous dogs- is there psychological help available for dogs to make them not dangerous and stay with their families? 

1:41: RS says another proposal he has: addressing problem of repeat escapee dogs, fine the owners more. People are afraid of big dogs escaping and running free in neighborhoods. Because obviously this will reduce the opportunity of having "a dangerous dog episode."

1:45: Council votes to vote on the ordinance first week in March. Shady Grove rezoning is approved.

1:46: We're talking about parking on Toxey Road, near North Hills and Saint David's school. Parking is a big mess up there an residents are complaining that there's parking on both sides of the street is slowing traffic. They want restrictions. St. David's School is building a parking lot they hope will solve the problem. KC says she wants to comply with residents wishes because Toxey is a hard road to travel on when there's parking clogging it up.

1:49: The lot is currently under construction and will be done by March. BG says wait for the parking lot. David Cox suggests implementing parking restriction effective first week of March. Dickie Thompson says this is worst time of the year for construction, because of the weather.

1:51: We have citizens who are being completely crushed by the amount of parking on Toxey and it is the school's responsibility to do something, KC says. RS says people on the first block of Toxey need relief, spread the load of parking, and make zones two hour limited. 

1:54: BG says ideal situation is future parking lot. KC asks why neighbors should be burdened 2-3 more months. They submitted a 100 percent petition asking for 2-hour limited parking. BG says there is no immediate solution. DT supports BG's substitute motion to wait until March when the parking lot is finished.  RS says there will always be parking pressure on these residents. People can park further away. Corey Branch says this can always be removed in the future.  They vote down the delay motion.

1:57: They take up original motion to limit parking. That passes 5-2. There will be two-hour parking on this first block of Toxey Drive.

Up next, an update on the Wake Transit plan. 

1:58: Tim Bender from City Planning is presenting. So, the plan was developed over the past year with a lot of groups' input. Including community input. We got a recommended plan in December released to the public. Lotta public outreach. 

1:59: 4 big moves: Big move 1: Stronger regional connections. 37 miles of commuter rail, Garner to W. Durham, maybe Wake Forest and JoCo in future. Expanded bus service to RDU, Durham and Chapel Hill. Big move 2: connections to all communities to Raleigh urban core with all day frequent service. Big move 3: frequent urban bus, more than 83 miles, 7 days a week, very frequent. Expanded evening and weekend service too.  Big move 4: Enhanced access to transit all over the county; more areas will have all day service, but also flexible service areas.

2:03: Revenues: existing 5% vehicle rental tax, existing city contributions ($18.6 million a year), new half cent local sales tax, new $7 vehicle registration, regional vehicle registration going from $5-$8, fare box revenues, federal (New Starts) and state support of existing bus service etc. Most funding will go to BRT, second most to commuter rail. Short term bus plan will begin immediately after the transit referendum this fall. Commuter rail is 10 years out. Next steps: CAMPO, Wake Commissioners' approval. April 2016 action will get referendum on the ballot by fall. 

2:08: Corey Branch, who was on Wake Transit Advisory Committee has questions. Says he wants to make sure "Raleigh proper is completely taken care of as we work to connect the rest of the Triangle."

2:12: DT asks who will owner operator of rail portion be? Bender says they don't know right now. DT asks about a business model for the plan? Finances are solid, Bender says, but doesn't know if there is a full-blown business plan. 10 year horizon of plan includes initial operating, and ongoing studies will figure out how to keep funding. 

2:14: MAB: Don't focus on mode, focus on corridor, per Jarrett Walker, the transit consultant. Also, expect change: this is a ten year plan, think of how technology changed in last ten years. This plan will be modified and adapted based on technological changes. Think about this in terms of the ten year window, without getting caught up with the mode.

2:15: Next up: Eric Lamb is presenting on the US DOT Smart Cities Challenge. David Cox recuses himself. A partner approached City of Raleigh to think about this. There is a short time window to apply for and submit this grant request: first week in February. It's a unique, bold grant opportunity US DOT i offering to cities to come forward with ideas addressing a smart city vision for emerging transportation technologies. Bold, innovative, evolutionary and revolutionary. It's a $40 million winner take all competition (one city). Only available to cities between 250,000 and 800,000 in population- around 64 cities in the US. The winning city has to have a public transit, and be open to emerging technology. 

2:20: Read more about it here: https://www.transportation.gov/smartcity

This emerged in September. Submit application by February, five finalists will be chosen and given $100,000 to refine their strategy. Overall winner will be chosen in June. 

2:23: "Eric, you can do it," the Mayor says. The city is working with NC State on the application as a partner. Staff needs authorization to work with NCSU today. It will review the application with City Council February 2, and submit application Feb. 4. Lamb says he thinks we have a strong chance to be a finalist. The Council approves partnership with NCSU to develop an application for this grant. 

2:27: Next up: Wooten Meadow Park Master Plan. 21 acres at Leesville, Millbrook Roads in Northwest Raleigh. It's in a flood plain and has been under-utilized and under-developed, according to Matthew Keough of Parks and Rec, in part because it lacks a master plan. They want to chart a course where the city is proactively owning and managing the property. 

2:37: It looks pretty cool. We all love parks. BG calls it an exciting facility he can't wait to enjoy. But, he notes, not many natural hiking trails to use around city: how much natural, how much paved? We could use some additional natural trails. Keough says there is an opportunity for hiking trails and a connector to the greenway system eventually. But until there's a connector, there could be loop trails for family hiking experiences. BG says he would encourage more natural trails going forward.

2:44: Dickie Thompson says it's somewhat disgraceful that the Wooten Family gave it to the city and it didn't know what to be for so long—20 years it has been different things. I'm glad resident ill be able to give it a lot more use. The master plan is approved.

2:44: RHDC is presenting their 2013-2015 report. Coming up in next 2 years: revision of design guidelines, which Council will see soon. Identifying historic resources—Glenwood Brooklyn will become one soon, Anderson Heights has expressed interest as well in becoming a historic district. Check tomorrow's INDY for more on historic neighborhoods and district designation!

2:47: Requests and petitions from citizens. Joseph Hartman would like to make a proposal from 20-mph zones in some Raleigh residential areas. He says it will cut down on pedestrian and bicyclist injuries.  Seattle, Portland, NYC and London have these slower 20-mph zones and have seen fewer accidents. Start around schools and day-cares, on streets with no sidewalks and around playgrounds and parks. Hopefully Raleigh neighborhoods be all 20 mph zones unless otherwise posted.

2:50: Elizabeth Gardner is here from the Neuse River Kid's Club, along with 3 kids from the club's adventure program. They are asking for a donation from the city for kid-sized equipment for whitewater rafting and other adventures. The kids have raise some money from the community already. 

2:52: Chief Joseph Conover is here from the Nova Agency Company Police Dept, a private law enforcement agency. He has ongoing concerns related to RPD and lack of response to complaints from City Council. RPD interfered with their attempts to subdue a felon recently. RPD has been investigating their police officers, which undermines their ability to do their jobs. They have asked Council to address this and have met with Police Chief Deck-Brown but haven't made much progress. Chief Conover admonishes RPD officers not to call them "idiots" or "Rent-A-Cops." Ruffin Hall says staff will send Council a report reviewing these complaints. 

2:56: Larry Booth, the Hillsborough St. property owner whose land on Hillsborough will be condemned for a Duke Energy transformer under Hillsborough Street Revitalization Phase 2, is here to speak. He wants the Council not to approve the condemnation, find somewhere else to put the transformer. And he presents alternatives, like on Rosemary Street. The time buzzer is going off. Larry Booth is talking over it.

3:00: Matters scheduled for public hearing. An unfit building at 532 Bragg Street will be demolished. Nobody here to contest being a public nuisance. There's a hearing for 2016 Limited Obligation Bond debt financing also nobody is here for. The Council approves that.

3:03: Now we've got a zoning case, 3 acres from shopping center to commercial mixed use at Spring Forest Road and Atlantic Avenue. This would be limited to 14,900 square feet but are asking to be able to have 2 smaller buildings rather than one. Prohibits some uses, including a theater, and "high profile" ground signs. Development will be similar to what's already around there. 

3:33: Council closes the hearing, new conditions to be submitted. No committees have met. Reports of Mayor and Council members.

3:34: MAB is talking about the Guiding Lights Caregiver Support Center which runs a CNA training program. The executive director spoke at the last meeting. The Center didn't spend all their grant money, got re-certified under a new state law, weren't re-funded by the City of Raleigh because they hadn't spent down their grant money. The ED wanted to be funded in the next budget cycle, and it would cost $10,000 to bring back the CNA training program. MAB is requesting that funding for the Guiding Light Center. "It's worthwhile for the seniors who need it and because it provides job training, to me it is worthwhile," she says.

3:36: Mayor Nancy asks that they submit their certification and qualifications and comply with typical grant requirements. Council votes to get that moving.

3:37: Dickie Thompson is putting on his RDU Airport Authority hat. There will be a master plan study update and public workshop Thursday, Jan. 28 at the Junior League Office on Hillsborough Street. BG  re bike share: there is new data on that, asks to hear it at next Council meeting. Ruffin says staff should re-present that info to new Council members. That will happen.

3:38: Mayor Nancy says the retreat last week was "very successful." Kay Crowder too, "we got through a lot of issues and we gave ourselves good goals." Corey Branch too. Thanks Mayor Nancy for her video at the Triangle MLK prayer breakfast, which was yesterday. Mark Anthony Middleton, Durham pastor, spoke there.

3:40: Stephenson says retreat was great, valuable effort. David Cox wants more info about hotel on Capital Blvd. He says he enjoyed the retreat and his first ride on Amtrak, hopes it will be the way of the future.

3:41: That's a wrap.

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