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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Welcome to our Raleigh City Council live blog!

Posted by on Tue, Sep 1, 2015 at 1:01 PM

It's Tuesday, 1 o'clock and we're live at the City Council Chambers for the first City Council meeting of September. Welcome to the INDY's live blog and welcome to September! 

On the agenda today we have Dillon, Dunn Road, funding Washington Terrace redevelopment, affordable housing and some other stuff. And make sure you follow us tonight where disgruntled bar and food truck owners will school the City Council on, respectively,  how badly the outdoor patio ordinance is going and how the new citywide remapping will jack up their business model.

1:05: Meeting is called to order!

1:07: The mayor is recognizing the Neighborhood Exchange Citizens' Committee. The theme of the neighborhood exchange is "strong neighborhoods for a stronger Raleigh."  

1:10: Angela Grant is talking about the North Carolina Theater, it is great for Raleigh. The impact theater has transforms lives. You turn off your devices and be be inspired by actors. Be dazzled by sets and orchestras. Build bonds of empathy in a darkened room. "The arts beckon us to pay attention to better ourselves and pay attention to humanity." Dirty Dancing and Into the Woods are upcoming! I'm already inspired. 

1:12: We are on the consent agenda, Warehouse district parking. That was approved. 

1:14: EW has a question about speeding in school zones. WCPSS will be implementing new signs, but there is no deadline. It'll happen "as quickly as possible," the city manager says, the opposite of how you're supposed to be driving in a school zone.

1:15: Onto the Planning Commission report. There's some public hearing scheduling, some holding at the table. 

1:17 Special items: here's Dillon. To bring you faithful readers up to speed, John Kane, North Hills overlord, wants to build a 17-story mixed use tower and 9-story residential tower on 2.5 acres between West South and South Harrington Streets in the Warehouse District.

You may recall some push-back from residents and Council member Kay Crowder earlier this year. Well, Kane has bowed to Crowder's demands (she's a crucial swing vote because three Council members have had to recuse themselves) and submitted revised conditions that are shaping up to be satisfactory, at least to the Council members who can vote, and the Mayor.

These favorable conditions include 200,000-300,000 square feet of office space, 15,000-20,000 square feet of retail and 250 residential units, and the iconic "Dillon Supply Co. Steel and Pipe Products" sign has to be preserved. Kane also plans to bring an 850-space parking deck to the district, and the city could buy between 250-350 spaces for public use. A hearing for that is set. for Oct. 7.

MAB made a motion to approve, it's approved unanimously. That was easy.

1:18: And onto Dunn Road remapping...Here is some background on that:

1:19: You can't believe we're still talking about this, the one-time Publix site that was voted down for rezoning back in May by the Council, yet the same rezoning recommendation was put forward by city planners under the citywide remapping. Citizens filed Valid Statutory Protest Petitions on two parcels of land on Dunn Road, and these two parcels are now being considered separately by the Council.

Two weeks ago, city planners met with North Raleigh residents who will be affected by (and who vehemently oppose) this rezoning. One option discussed was to go back and create a small area plan for these parcels of land. Planning director Ken Bowers said he will bring that option before the Council today; word is, John Odom will be taking the lead on any Council decision.

1:20 Mayor Nancy wants to hold the item because of "a lot of discussion back and forth..." no kidding, Mayor N! It's holding at the table, until when is TBD. No reccos from city staff made. 

1:21: A Cross Link Road traffic calming project. It's intersection is with Dandridge Drive, which is near a school, so there's a proposal for a median and a four-way stop. Residents requested details on the traffic calming like 3 years ago, then there was another evaluation by some engineers. "There is issues and a reason to be addressing something here, mostly related to speed on Cross Link Road," says the staff member. Odom wants to get the police out there to measure some speed. 

1:26: Weeks said people are still concerned because of the school so let's hold. It''ll come back as a special item in 2 weeks, moving on.

1:27: Magnolia Grove apartments. That's approved by all. City manager report.

1:28: We have a new Development Services Director, named Tom Hosey. He's from Houston, but has an English accent, as WM points out. Lols all around.

1:30: Oh lord, we back on the Lower Longview Lake dredging project. It's all about investing public dollars on private property to dredge a lake & 7 property owners who would be assessed to help pay for the dredging are against the city's proposal. MN is concerned about them. Odom says dredging is great for lakes, great for neighborhoods. He supports the plan. BG has concerns about the reidents. MN wants more info on the objectors. It's going to public hearing.

1:34: Here's the Village at Washington Terrace redevelopment project. There is a funding recommendation. Larry Jarvis will present. Manager points out there is a public hearing on Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy Plan. But they can move forward with Washington terrace funding, bc there's tax credits deadline. Still, continue "general conversations" about strategy plan. 

1:35: "Everyone likes positive visual images," says Larry Jarvis. Indeed. So there's been some planning and such and there will be applications to housing financing agency for 4% tax credits and bond funds for redevelopment. Washington Terrace was built in 1950 as "inexpensive housing following World War II. It has far exceeded its useful life," says Jarvis. 

1:38: This would be 6 development blocks with a modern urban grid. DHIC is in conversations about a public or charter school on the site. Or old folks home. It would be wayyy nicer than what is there now. Townhomes facing out onto a roadway. Park or major open space! Multiple building types, townhouses, three-story buildings!

1:40: Raleigh Boulevard will also get way nicer, like with sidewalks and  stuff. The city loaned DHIC $2.1 million for the project so "they have an interest" in seeing it get developed. 162 units would create hella affordable housing. 

1:43: For every dollar the city invests, $2.81 is being invested by other partners. They are creating an affordable unit for under $42k. There are potential partnerships too, including Wake County, Wake Housing Authority, WCPSS and "NCHFA:" a pilot program serving persons with disabilities. 

1:45: MAB made a hasty motion to approve, they all do. MAB calls it "one of the most exciting affordable housing projects the city has embarked on," "more than the city has done for affordable housing in a year, "good stuff."

1:45: Draft City of Raleigh Affordable Housing Location Policy. That is a thing the Budget and Economic Development Committee told the Council it should adopt. MAB says it's a step in the right direction because it coordinates with the transit corridors. MN says it will help with schools and making sure affordable housing is close to aforementioned schools. Stephenson says it's good we're starting to start talking about adopting production goals and looking for funding. Odom is negative bc he liked the scattered site policy. 

1:50: Larry Jarvis shows a graphic that shows we're trying to get more subsidized housing everywhere, except where there's already a lot of subsidized housing.  "The policy is to avoid further concentrations of low income or minority persons," he says. 

1:54: So it's kinda like the scattered site policy? EW asks what the citizens comments said. Citizens didn't comment but non-profits said bump up 12-15% of housing subsidized should be concentration, not 8%. But we don't need that, Jarvis says, because affordable housing is going to other parts of the city.

1:55: So how do you deal with the affordable housing NIMBYs? Jarvis says there was a SCOTUS decision in Texas, a case where affordable housing was going into poor areas and no affirmative action taken to spread them out. That precedent says this plan is defensible. Odom is nervous, still. 

1:57: Even though we had scattered site policy we didn't necessarily follow it and you don't necessarily need transit for these things. "Next thing we know, ten years later, we haven't reached out (from where affordable housing already is.)" MN says point well taken, transit is key to affordability and they need to go hand in hand. Council unanimously adopts the plan. 

1:58: No report from the Comprehensive Plan, Law and Public Safety or Public Works, Tech and Communications committees.

1:59: EW thanks DOT for repaving road off Raleigh Boulevard, and Southeast High School road crossing safety. 

2:01: Kay Crowder says she is excited about Kane project going forward in the Warehouse district, thinks it will be an excellent project. Thinks it's time to do a small area plan in the Warehouse District so we can figure out how we want the district to work and look and the kind of amenities we want in the area. MAB says before of after remapping? Because we would have to approve remapping first.

2:02: MAB talking about the LoMo Market that was kicked out of Citrix for violating city ordinance. City attorney says they have worked on an ordinance that will allow that and similar uses. They'll take that up soon. 

2:04: And we're done. We'll be back here at 7 tonight!

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