7:05: Our meeting has begun. David Simonton, Lorimer Road resident, is starting us off. He says by focusing on the big picture plan for the city, the council is losing sight of its effect on residents and neighborhoods. He says he has evidence of misconduct regarding the door-to-door petition process that brought unwanted street improvements to Lorimer, including emails, Facebook posts and three affidavits. He criticizes the door-to-door process and asks that council re-evaluate it as it did with the Laurel Hills traffic calming project (also a citizen petition). See more here
for background. He's asking that the city suspend the street improvement plan until the alleged improprieties and misrepresentations from the petitioner and a city staff member be investigated.
And here is a response the city sent INDY Week
regarding the Lorimer petition last week:
"As with all residential street and sidewalk petitions, these are citizen initiated requests and City of Raleigh staff takes on a neutral perspective during the routing of the petition for signatures. The petitioner is provided with the petition packet and charged as the liaison with residents and City staff as they go door to door to obtain signatures in favor of the requested improvements. Staff addresses questions from residents according to City policies and does not try to persuade anyone as to whether they should sign or not sign.
The petition for the Lorimer Road street and sidewalk improvement project was initiated by a citizen and not the City of Raleigh. After determining the petition met all requirements, City staff agreed to move forward with it. All information about the improvements was openly shared with impacted property owners. Property owners are being assessed only for the street improvements, not the sidewalk improvements. The sidewalk improvements are being funded by bonds."
7:08: Council approves the Toxey Road 2-hour parking measure.
7:09: Harold Dover says taxi companies in Raleigh are going out of business because of Uber-type businesses that don't require drivers to get permits, inspections, background checks and drug tests that all cost drivers money. "As a result of this competition, it has decimated a lot of the local businessmen who own companies in the city," he says. He asks for parity, by doing away with some annual expenses or extending the fees to those kinds of companies.
7:11: There is supposed to be a report on the status of the taxi business in Raleigh coming soon.
7:14: Peggy Seymore is asking for a "do not block intersection" sign on the inbound southwest corner at Rosemary and Hillsborough. And that a stop sign be installed on Concord at Stanhope to get cars coming out of Stanhope parking lot, to reduce peoples' speed before entering the roundabout. And that Council get trash dumpsters and recycling bins off of the street, because they are on Concord and the Friendly Road extension, by amending the UDO.
7:20: Sidewalk petition for Orleans place is approved without discussion.
7:21: Here's a petition to close the unimproved, unused portion of an alley way off Woodland Avenue. The closure won't compromise the city's street network, impair services, adversely impact neighbors and it's in the public interest. People who live along the alley will have access but not the public. The area is in the Bloomsbury national historic district.
7:23: This case has been before the council in 4 different version before, starting in 2002. The owners always failed to close the alley. Last time it was denied it was because the RHDC says the city shouldn't' close alleys in historic districts, according to national register guidelines.
7:26: Here's betting the council will vote not to close the alley.
7:28: Well there are quite a few people here to speak about the petition. The petitioner filed in response to a landlord who wants the alley open. What is the public interest here, the petitioner asks. He says there are 16 people who are affected by the ally being open.
7:30: The only person who disagrees with closing the alley is the landlord, whose renters park 4-5 cars in the alley, the petitioner says. His time is up, but he's taking up extra time. He says it could be unsafe for children. There's no vested interest for tenants to park in the alleyway. "This argument has been ongoing for many years and it needs to end tonight." he says.
7:33: Opposition to the petition. The owners' attorney is here to speak on their behalf. He says they are strongly opposed to the proposed street closing petition. He says they are very committed to the area. Fun fact: they are the Kings, and they own the Village Deli in Cameron Village. They lived in the home "as recently as 2013." Apparently Mr. King wants to improve a small part of the alley way.
7:35: "It's a fairness and equity issue; why are we closing it to some people to use it and not to others?" He says it's not the best resolution for the public as a whole.
7:39: KC: so if we vote to close an unused part of the property, we would be disallowing that owner to enter their property form the back but allowing others to enter from the back. Dickie Thompson says the alley way is integral to the historic character of the district and moves to vote against it.
7:40: RS says he agrees. They vote against closing the alley.
7:42: Wakefield Crossing Drive Resurfacing is up. No maintenance in like 15 years. People started complaining, so Public Works proposed improvements to be assessed to property owners. This hearing is for completion of the improvements, and full assessments on owners. No one is hear to speak.
7:44: David Cox says it's close to where he lives, he has spoken to residents in the area. "It seems to me when people purchased the homes, they already paid to have the roads paved, that was part of the agreement with the developer." He doesn't think it would be fair to the homeowners to assess them the full value. He will vote against.
7:46: The developer went bankrupt and these lots were sold out of foreclosure. Never mind, David Cox says. He was referring to a different section of Wakefield Crossing Drive. The adjacent property owners, majority commercial businesses, will be assessed. And a couple townhome owners. Council votes to affirm the assessment.
7:48: Lol. Mayor Nancy thought it was over and tried to adjourn. 2 more items though. No one here to speak on two annexations. Council approves. Annnnnd a UDO text change on story height measurements. This would redefine from "top of the finished floor to the ceiling above" to "top of the finished floor to the bottom of the floor above" in measuring story height. Because of dropped ceilings. It would actually make stories taller then?
7:51: The purpose was to encourage a higher floor to ceiling space, planner Eric Hodge says. Because it's hard to retrofit residential to commercial, so they want the original story higher. Public hearing is open.
7:53: Joe Whitehouse brought this forward for consideration and worked with staff on the text change. RS and DT say this could be open to interpretation that could be confusing. Wording needs to be fine-tuned? Call it "top of the finished floor to top of the finished floor"?
7:57: Staff is fine with that wording. They vote in favor, meeting adjourned.
Welcome back everyone! Looks like we have a pretty light agenda for the evening, but then again you never know. I've seen five items turn into five hours before...