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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

INDY Week Live blog: Evening edition

Posted by on Wed, Oct 7, 2015 at 7:02 PM

Welcome back!

We've got a full agenda this evening and a full house in Council chambers. 

7:02: Mayor Nancy has called the meeting to order and we're starting off with a Historic Landmark Designation. It's the Crabtree Jones House and it will now be called the Nathaniel Crabtree Jones house. It was moved form its original location to its current one, in Crabtree Heights. It's really old (1809) and as we reported it has a new owner.

7:05: Council approves. Hope everything goes this fast.

7:06: Requests and petitions. 3 minutes people, Mayor Nancy has a timer now. Lillian Thompson is up. She's chair of Northeast CAC. They recently had a community celebration to share ways to eat better—thanks Michelle Obama!  (N.C. is 25th highest in the nation for obese adults...not good) We'll watch "a very, very one minute video."

7:09: The CAC made the video; there are giant puppets and little kids in facepaint. It was very, very one minute. "There's more fun than just rezoning cases," says Lillian. She is correct.

7:10: Next up, Anthony Rogers. He wants more time to work on his property. Council gives it to him.

7:11: Musab Hummammi and Lee Churchill are here to talk about taxis, I imagine. Yep, it's taxis. They have all these regulations from the city. Uber should too? They are requesting Raleigh waive all rules and regs re taxi business or enforce it on everyone. 

7:14: Lee Churchill now speaking. She's asking city to waive eyesight and drug test exams, and taxi filing fees and penalties. Mayor Nancy cut her off. Tells her she didn't sign up to speak, she used some of Musab's time, she can sign up for next time. And there is no motion for taxi deregulation. Alright, Mayor!

7:16: Beth Dalton is speaking about flooding from a building project from David Weekly homes. David Weekly has been fined, and they were supposed to make a plan. Nothing has been done by the city, or by the builder. She wants reparations and drainage beefed up- the recent rain was horrendous. She and her neighbors can't use their backyards. They have major flooding issues and they want reparation!!!

7:18: Ruffin calls it a private property issue—not much the city can do. Staff member says the builder was "willing to engage with the homeowners, but certainly they've been slow on the trigger." The project is still under construction—Mayor Nancy asks if it conforms to the city's stormwater standards. Answer: kinda. But it's in compliance with UDO.

7:20: KC: Ummm, we have a project under way that meets our code and its flood neighboring areas? I find that hard to understand. The neighbors never had that problem for 20 years, they're shouting from the audience. And it's been a long time, Crowder says. That's unacceptable. 

7:21: Something's not right, says Mayor Nancy! They don't have all their CO's...Ruffin suggests Council requesting staff to work with builder and property owner, because that's been working so well before... 

7:22: Russ is asking for photos...neighbors say they have video! Mayor Nancy says make the developer fix the problem before the project is completed and they're gone. Moving on. Gregg Flynn is up.

7:23: I haven't been here in a while bc you guys are doing a pretty good job, he says. But he's been bothered by the drinking ordinance situation. I think he is saying the ABC laws are too strict? Oh, but there are a bunch of urban redevelopment areas downtown that limit alcohol sales. So, the ABC laws are being selectively enforced downtown. He says we can't have one law for the malt liquor corner store and another for the attractive people drinking on patios. He says the city needs to re-evaluate the laws. John Odom asks the attorney to report.

7:26: Weeks asks audits be done. They are all asking for a report. Moving on.

7:27: Kim Gazella. Mordecai CAC. She wants to consider allowing their CAC to serve as a pilot for backyard cottages. They were discussed, but not included in the UDO. There are potential benefits.Like being affordable and sustainable. Austin allows them. So does San Antonio, Seattle, Asheville and Charlotte, which recently updated its laws to allow them. It would be an overlay district for reasonable cottages.

7:30: Mayor Nancy asks if they have been working with planning staff? Only the Urban Design Center. Ruffin says Planning is aware of this. Crowder syas cottages are great and Mordecai has the perfect situation for them. But in D, they would look like student slums. So maybe it's right for Mordecai but not citywide.

7:31: Kim understands and that is why they suggest Mordecai only. Russ is making a comparison to front yard parking— circumstances vary citywide. It would be Mordecai CAC boundaries. 

7:32: Travis Cranse says staff will do whatever Council wants. They could study it and then move forward with a text change.

7:33: Attorney says you can't just do a pilot program for Mordecai CAC. It would have to be a standard developed for any neighborhood that wanted to add this. That is slightly more complicated and those parameters would need to be studied. "I'm not sure you can do backyard cottages as part of a neighborhood overlay district."

7:34: Then why don't we just let staff come back with reccs, says MAB. And that is what will happen. A bunch of NC cities, like Wilmington, Winston Salem, Durham and Chapel Hill all allow backyard cottages and make them easier to be built. The study of issue by Planning passes the Council. Let's get with it Raleigh.

7:36: Next up is Karen Throckmorton from the Friends of Oberlin village. They have come to petition for measures that will protect historic Oberliin, preserve architecture etc. It was developed by freed slaves after the Civil War and became a thriving community. It has contributed to Raleigh's history and they want to preserve its cultural and architectural resources. One goal is to ID residential or commercial buildings that may qualify for landmark consideration. Even modest homes should be considered historically significant. Also, they want the neighborhood to retain ownership of Plummer T Hall house as a museum. It would be a tourist attraction and place to give out maps for tours of Oberlin. And maybe a greenway could link up all of Oberlin some day.  And they want to preseve access to historic cemetery.

7:40: KC: wants to know if they can do something about an easement that used to be in place? He says it is something we can facilitate. Crowder asks for staff reports on the FOV's requests. 

7:42: Ruffin says we need to put out a report about what we know and what it would take to address this petition, and then talk about grants. 

7:43: Mack Paul is up. He wants a UDO text change on townhome building types. He says the code discriminates against town homes in mixed use districts. Stephenson asks if max height will be part of the discussion? Staff doesn't have an opinion on that, but mixed use ties height to stories. "We understand Mr. Paul's request and would be willing to work with him," he said. He doesn't imagine someone coming forward with a 4 or 5 story townhouse, thankfully. 

7:47: That passes unanimously. Onto matters scheduled for public hearing. First is Warehouse district public/private partnership with John Kane. Ruffin asks they hold open that hearing. And it goes back to staff.

7:48: Oh great, Lower Longview Lake dredging. Only 22 of 29 property owners signed a petition to support paying for dredging the lake.  Council would only assess properties that abut the lake- that's only 27 people. They would only pay for 30 percent of the cost, or no more than $90,000. So they looked at the people who didn't sign up support. 2 were undecided, 1 wanted to see plans and they couldn't find the other two owners (?) In sum, they;re asking to assess the owners $90k, divided evenly on per lot basis over ten years with 6% interest rate. That doesn't sound too horrible. 

7:53: We have a speaker. John Jones, son of one of the property owners. "We don't know the details of this, that's why we backed away from signing," he says. One side is a wetland, so won't be touched? Other side will be dredged and we don't know where that will end and begin. They are near the wetland, and if it's not going to be touched, there is no reason for them to be involved. But they'd like to see the lake improved as a whole, but his mom has health issues so they don't want to be involved too much.

7:55: Staff has met with some property owners and Army Corps of Engineers.  And, duh, dredging wetlands not an option,. Mayor Nancy says to get is straight what's going to be dredged and what not. Another neighbor Mike says to get ppl in touch with him because he knows what's going on. He is in favor of dredging because it will remove sediment. "We think it's fair what we're asking for," he says. But he's not happy about paying interest. Mayor Nancy says we had a great deal of conversation about them paying for the whole thing!

7:59: They have the option of paying it all off at once, without being assessed over ten years. Bottom line, how much is the highest owner paying? $533 a year. And 6% is statutory interest rate for assessment. 

8:02: Bonner says this is against regulations, not fair to spend public dollars on a private lake. He's voting against. He's the only one, it passes. Hoping that is the end of the Lower Longview Lake dredging project!

8:03: Next up: rezoning. Six Forks Road. Owners want to rezone from residential to office use, at Northwood Drive. It's inconsistent with the Future Land Use Map which is low density residential. And it conflicts with neighborhood traffic management program. Oh my. CAC wants denial, Planning Commission recommended favorably, 5-2 because of course they did. 

8:09: Michael Birch is speaking for the applicant. He points out that you can walk to North Hills in 13 minutes, if you want get plowed by some housewife's Land Rover. North Hills: still not "walkable." He says the project's reasonable and in the public interest, because there are a lot of other offices around. Can't argue with that. 

8:17: Kevin Gilbert owns a house on the lot. They've been approached several times by developers. One of them asked him not to talk to neighbors, go to Council meetings, etc. He has been bullied by developers, apparently. They live in Northwood neighborhood. The new developer has encouraged them to be engaging with neighbors. "the only time a developer has come around and tried to meet the problems of the neighborhood."

8:18: Susan Donn opposes the project. She says the proposal is consistent with FLUM, UDO and Six Forks corridor study, which designates the lot as residential. She says it's too large for the 26-ft wide residential street. Not enough entry points. People will drive thru the neighborhood for 1.1 miles. And the impermeable surface will flood the neighborhood. She brought backup. 

8:20: John Cady. He's not against zoning change but wants restrictions. Why is there no connectivity and cross-access? Only Stephenson stood up for neighbors around Grubbs Glenwood project- he compliments him for that (????????) Commercial trucks will inundate the street, so prohibit 6 ton plus vehicles. Establish connectivity to Capital towers. 

8:21: Mary Harden. She's lived there her whole life. We don't want this to be rezoned commercial. No one can turn left onto Six Forks as is. Traffic will cut thru. "I don't want to be forced into getting traffic calming measures." Safety vehicles need to get through. She doesn't want to drive down speeds humps in ice bc no one ever clears the street anyway. Geez, City of Raleigh. 

8:24; Neighbor 4: We're not opposed to development. The traffic folks in Planning didn't approve this, he says. The gist: there will be a lot of issues and I would love to see a traffic study. OK? In closing, his Councilman said at a town hall meeting "we try to do things right, but sometimes we just don't." LOL. (Bonner?) He says look at all possibilities. Do studies. We just would really like you to think about this before you vote.

8:25: Neighbor 5. He acquired a condo nearby at Capitol Towers. Corroborates horrible traffic. Doesn't want to get slapped with big access assessment. Otherwise, in favor of project. Bonner met with DOT re. a full signalized intersection. 

8:26: Northwood neighbor. No access onto Northwood for traffic, let there be a buffer she says, so houses don't have to worry about headlights etc. Council closes hearing to add conditions, they'll take it up later. Cross access will not happen in a timely fashion, however. 

8:32: Signalization is also out of everyone's but NC DOT's control. NC DOT will have to look at whether converting a pedestrian-only signal to a full signal. City requesting to keep as pedestrian signal. 

8:38: Next is East Davie Street rezoning. It's a city-initiated request to rezone 2.02 acres from residential to mixed use. It's part of a long arc of the effort to dispose of this property, staff says. It's at the corner of Davie and Chavis near Stone's warehouse. 

8:43: Michael Birch is back on behalf of Transfer LLC. Planning Commission gave an 8-0 recommendation. It will provide retail space to serve this area of SE Raleigh. Neighbors don't want alcohol sales, but Birch says the context is different in this case.

8:45: Danny Coleman is speaking in support (?) of the project. He refers to the Seventh Day Gethsemane Church, where alcohol sales were voted to be allowed. He asks for no sidewalk eating. Limit hours of any alcohol selling place. Limit loud music, lighting. Adopt strict parking requirements. 

8:47: Hearing closes. This case refers to what Greg Flynn was talking about earlier, Weeks says. He is amenable to the conditions. Birch says the buildings will buffer adjacent properties, and that the Gethsemane Church case is different. There will be "food driven experiences" at this site, of which alcohol is an integral part. But there's food, so there are "protections in place." What about noise etc., says Weeks? Lighting etc?

8:50: Birch says nothing unique about this project. There is a transition to residential. There will be conversations with residents.

8:54: Russ just said "anything concerning alcohol after 11 is a concern to me."

8:55: Steve Schuster says bars are prohibited from opening here anyway. What we're considering here tonight is consistent with everything the city said it wanted for this property. Food- centric, and alcohol served with food. Don't put a closing time on a restaurant that doesn't have a lease, he says. Odom moves approval of the rezoning, it passes 5-2. We shall have our food-centric experiences, now nobody get drunk and throw up.

8:56: Litchford Road rezoning to residential mixed use at Sylvia Dean Drive. Not controversial. Michael Birch is back again. No one's here to speak, this passes.

9:02: Wade Park Boulevard rezoning to office mixed use at Edwards Mill Road intersection. It's capped at 8 stories, according to Isabel Mattox and Andy Andrews, the developer. Wade Park is an office park planned for 5 buildings. It's approved.

9:10: TW Aelxander Drive rezoning to 7-story office mixed use at SW intersection of Brier Creek Parkway (I always forget Brier Creek is in Raleigh). It's a growth center! People like it, Planning Commission, CAC. Council approves.

9:13: Buffaloe Road/Durwood Lane, rezone  residential for more density. A citizens protest petition was filed on it...but the CAC voted in favor...

9:15: Michael Birch again. It's consistent with everything, like Comprehensive Plan and FLUM. Density went back down to 6 units per acre, 30% open space. 

9:19: Ken Harris owns a property nearby. He's fine with development, the community needs it. "We don't have enough stuff out there, so go for it," he says. He invites "Eugene and John to come out to the new Wal-Mart when it gets built out there."

9:21: A neighbor speaking in opposition. It's already R4 all around she says. The community already identifies as a single family home area, she says. Putting townhomes in the area makes the community nervous, she says. "The community is concerned for those reasons."

9:22: Michael Birch says the single family homes will be buffered. Denise, the neighbor, looked forward to more single family homes, to having long term residents and building relationships with the community members. Council approves unanimously.

9:23: Darton Way, 2,2 acre rezoning at Louisburg Road to allow more residential, retail and slightly more office intensity. Michael Birch, who represents everyone in Raleigh looking for a rezoning, is up. The proposal is for a vet clinic which is why it's conditional use. Council approves unanimously.

9:27: Rezone 2 acres on Six Forks Road south of Millbrook to office mixed use, it has a protest petition. Planning Commission approved with a split vote, CAC denied 13-5. The applicant says the Planning Commission vote is 9-0. 

9:29: Kathy Hoggard: Daughter of owners of three properties on Six Forks. They just want to rezone and sell the lot as a packaged commercial deal. She says selling the property will pay for medical bills for her husband and elderly grandmother in law. 

9:31: Other staff corroborated the unanimous Planning Commission approval, according to Planning Dept member Bynum Walter. 

9:34: The applicant doesn't know what he want to do on the property so he wants to keep the hearing open so they can talk it out with the CAC. A friend of the family (who is also a lawyer, former neighbors and Boy Scouts with the onetime property owners). He says there's already a bunch of commercial around this site, including an animal hospital and a Dunkin Donuts and a Honeybaked Ham place. "Everything around it has changed, it's appropriate in view of all the other changes, make it something much more compatible with what's been going on the last 45 years," he says. 

9:39: Opposition time. A neighbor is here on behalf of adjacent neighbors. They filed a protest petition. He asks them to recall the lady whose backyard kept being flooded by a developer. He says, actually, the Planning Commission split 5-4. He's got flooding issues which he blames on Dunkin Donuts and Honey Baked Ham. The city hasn't done anything about this. He shows some pics of flooding problems.

9:42: We don't know what's coming, he says. "Add more road noise to the coffee and cream order." 

9:46: Another neighbor is worried about light, noise and no more trees to buffer. The applicant says this has been resolved. The hearing is being held open so the applicant can bring conditions back to the CAC. 

9:49: Rezoning of 2.14 acres on Oberlin Road south of Glover Lane intersection from residential to residential mixed use. The hearing has been held open since July, with no new conditions. Michael Birch (who else?) says they've been waiting to hear about a text change, on the Council agenda next. 

9:54: Historic Turner and Hall houses are on this site. The project will be set back to preserve the character of this section of Oberlin. They've been working with Friends of Oberlin. No one else wants to speak in support.

9:55: Neighbor speaking in opposition. She congratulates those who kept their seats and thanks to those who served well and are leaving. You are here because you do the right thing for Raleigh citizen and their livelihoods, she says. She is longtime Oberlin resident. I can accept change but why change our neighborhood overlay, she says. We are already overpowered by infill development that doesn't blend in, and traffic. Worst is why are we pushing so far for mixed use when we cant even handle residential. No traffic study has been done. We're putting the cart before the horse; Oberlin Road can't handle traffic it has now, why generate more? I'm begging you to respect my request to keep our overlay in place and accept the content of what is left of my beloved Oberlin's character.

9:59: Cheryl Williams speaking. Her grandfather built Turner House. She says Friends of Oberlin does not support this. The existing overlay is perfectly fine. Develop it under those rules and conditions. The developers don't own the land yet, they will just buy if the overlay is lifted. So no real consideration for owners of historic properties there. We're not against progress but ask that development is done under confines under existing overlay. She asks supporters of keeping overlay to stand- about 15 people do. Residents who liver there would like to see it stay the same. If they need to make more money, do it under conditions of overlay that exists.

10:02: Associate pastor at Oberlin Baptist is speaking in opposition. "If you go through Oberlin Village today, you see homes being built in accordance with existing zoning, so there is no need to do anything different. otherwise it will send a message to community that there is no hope and no opportunity if this is allowed to pass. Other will see they can exploit this community because this has been done before." 

10:03: Neighbor Ruth Little. It's premature to allow development in Oberlin Village until the small area plan is finished, she says. Traffic is the biggest problem for the future. 

10:05: Birch: this is pure residential, no mix of uses...on traffic, we did have a traffic engineer do an analysis. Conditions are in direct response to maintaining the character of this area, he says.

10:07:  Stephenson says developer needs to convince neighborhood that something better will be there if they want to take away NCOD. "I'm optimistic," he says. KC suggests continue to work with the group on their concerns about the overlay. RS: Bring them some architectural visualizations, perhaps? 

10:10: We have provided those, Birch says. They hold open the hearing. 

10:11: Two more items. First is a text change. Odom moves approval; Russ wants to get Michael Birch's opinion since he's worked on it. It's about street connectivity and access. Mayor Nancy is still iffy on text change.  From what I gather it connects up streets. Or gives the Council discretion to decide that. IDK. You can read it here. "Inter-connectivity is a good thing," says Eric Lamb from Planning. 

10:19: John Odom agrees with him. Everyone pays for the streets, he says. Stephenson says it's about walkability vs. moving cars through grids in some places. He calls the UDO "a generic tool" and that's why there is Council. Staff was not elected to be responsive to citizens, we were. Staff was hired to be responsive to UDO. 

10:25: Mayor Nancy hates to say the word "hold" again...a rezoning applicant's attorney says a rezoning case has been held open since April waiting for Council to act on the text change. 

10:27: Another speaker: role of Council is to address situations where there has been inappropriate application of the UDO. 

10:35: Ok, they're going to vote on the text change. Bonner says it weakens the regulations and will vote against. 

10:46: Nope, they're not. They close the public hearing an will vote next time.

10:47: And they vote unanimously for food trucks for limited use in NS and OP districts. Fin. 
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