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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Welcome to the INDY's Raleigh City Council live blog

Posted by on Tue, Nov 17, 2015 at 1:07 PM


Well, the big news happened yesterday—that is, the Raleigh City Council voted to adopt the UDO citywide remapping, much to the chagrin of many North Raleigh residents who are already sending angry emails about the 'Publix' site being rezoned to allow 30,000 square feet of retail. 

Residents thought they were going to be allowed to speak at yesterday's meeting, they thought there would be some discussion of the eight options the Council had to choose from for the site, they thought the Council wouldn't possibly vote to rezone the land at Dunn and Falls of Neuse to allow for retail space ten times the size of what's already allowed, given the Council already voted against rezoning for something less massive just in May.  

Of course, you know the rest. By the way, this will be the last meeting for Council members John Odom, Eugene Weeks and Wayne Maiorano. 

So let's get started.

1:05: There's some pretty cool stuff on the consent agenda, including a partnership between the RDu Airport Authority and Delta Airlines that will provide a non-stop service to Paris. The city just has to agree to put some money into the Economic Development Fund.

1:07: And the meeting is called to order.  

1:11: Mayor Nancy is taking a minute to honor our 3 departing Councilmen. John Odom has served district B from 1993, then 2009-2015. He's mayor pro tem. "You truly have the heart of a public servant," Mayor Nancy says. "Among other things, you have brought a great sense of humor." This is true. The INDY will miss John Odom's sense of humor. (Related: how is Raleigh supposed to choose a new flag without his well of knowledge about deer).  Mayor Nancy says there will be a kissing booth set up for him outside.

1:13: Mayor Nancy is thanking Wayne Maiorano for bringing a great perspective. She says Council has never been about partisan politics for him, but about finding a solution to a problem and anticipating future issues. "Thanks for all you did to make Dix Park a reality, most people don't know how hard you worked and the citizens of Raleigh will be forever grateful."

1:14: Councilman Weeks. Mayor Nancy wants to know if there's ever been a time in his life when he was not involved with the city?  From teaching to serving, his roots run deep; he's been on many boards and commissions, and her understands how important they are to the city. Especially Parks and Rec. 

1:16: They're getting some NC pottery as parting gifts, red vases with their names engraved on the bottom.  Awww. It's getting emotional up in here. 

1:18: Lots of hugging going around. "Russ just said we're out of veterans," MN says.

1:19: Moving on to the agency grantee presentation, from Triangle Family Services. 

1:24: Consent agenda passes. 

1:28: Planning Commission report. JB Buxton is presenting four cases, a text change, time extension and rezoning in place of the "indomitable" Steve Schuster. Kay Crowder wants to know if a rezoning case can stay open forever; the answer is yes (a Hillsborough Street case has been open since 2013). They go to public hearings/are approved.

1:32: JB Buxton says thank you for privilege of allowing me to serve on the Planning Commission; with UDO and remapping, 4 years felt like 8 years."

1:32: Now we're back on the street connectivity UDO text change. This has been before Council at least 3 times.  Bonner says he has struggled with it. He is comfy with it, with one caveat: get staff to look at connections we want to make between streets across city, make a plan and use that plan to determine street connection cases in the future. 

1:34: RS like the holistic view, too. 

1:37: This finally passes, and city staff will work towards a street connectivity plan.So basically staff will make street connectivity plans for future rezoning cases. 

1:38: MAB says how much work would this be? Ken Bowers says it would be a large but important task. They could pick areas, but to do citywide would be a large, multi-year undertaking with some associated controversy. "But that's never stopped us in the past," he says. Yep! They will report back on it in a future meeting.

1:40: OK, votes on tweaks to the outdoor seating ordinance. They already decided on all this last time, and they vote to approve it. 

1:41: A rezoning case on Six Forks Road, for an office building; "this has been difficult for all of us," Mayor Nancy says. "and it will continue to be like this for the next few years."

1:42: John Odom says he sympathizes with the neighbors who are worried about traffic, as well as with the property owner. 

1:47: WM says this a reasonable use for the site and calls for a vote. It's approved 6-2.

1:48: Here's the Oberlin Road rezoning; this one wants to remove a Neighborhood Conservation Overlay District. MAB says she does not feel she can support this project, and wants ppl to know where she stands o nthis.

1:49: Oberlin residents are going to present info on new conditions to the project; WM points out the hearing is closed bc he is a lawyer. Sabrina Goode is speaking about the new conditions; she wants to know if the building will exceed 2 stories in height? That's not clear.

1:50: But Goode says she wants to keep the overlay in place, she agrees with the height structure but hasn't spoken yet to the group again. But she agrees with the new conditions, lowering the height. She's just speaking for herself though. 

1:51: Mayor Nancy says she is very hesitant to remove an overlay that has been worked out by the community. But was height the main issue for the group?

1:52: Goode says Friends of Oberlin have been receptive to architectural drawings, she is happy height has been addressed. "I know that leaves you dangling, but haste makes waste," she says. "Last time you voted no."

1:53: The attorney Michael Birch says height cap at 2 stories is more restrictive than the NCOD. And ensures that all buildings along Oberlin will be lower than the Turner house, so its prominence will be maintained. "The height has been the primary issue, and we have brought that down along Oberlin Road."

1:55: EW says he has been speaking with all parties involved and is ready to support the project. WM says he has had concerns with the case for a number of reasons. Didn't the city just move the NCOD line for its own properties in Oberlin? Yes it did. 

1:57: "We are all struggling with this," Mayor Nancy says. "Can't we just put the NCOD line where the property faces, and not in the back?" But they vote on it, and only MAB opposes. 

2:01: Brier Creek Parkway rezoning gets deferred. Lawyer Wayne has questions, he would like to be indulged. Planner Bynum Walter said conditions on the rezoning weren't received timely enough. "Are we asking folks to pass over hurdles that actually aren't a big deal? Am I running afoul by asking that we move forward on this?"

2:03: "They didn't do what they were supposed to do," Mayor Nancy says. "But the technicalities don't offer protections to our residents," Lawyer Wayne says. He doesn't want to hold it up any more. And "though we greatly respect the new Council members, this case has been thoroughly vetted by this Council. I would hate to see this carried over and open for conversation when we're talking about a hyper-technicality."

2:05: Mayor Nancy says she doesn't want everyone delayed bc they didn't follow the rules to get upset. "Can we vote on hearing this today, despite technicality?"  They vote. 5 Council members voted to hear the case today. 

2:07: "Thank you for this precedent, Mr. Maiorano, on your way out," says KC. But they don't hear the case.

2:08: Tarboro Road improvements! A street-scape study and economic development (retail market/commercial opportunities) for Tarboro Road. Next steps include looking design and cost estimates and evaluate an economic development market study.

2:17: MAB wants to establish an economic development fund plan for disadvantaged areas in the city that doesn't meet current street-scape criteria. Tarboro Road would be the first candidate, she suggests. 

2:18: John Odom says he views this as an economic development incentive, just like bringing in Red Hat, or any other economic development project. "It will allow the private sector to guide the direction of best use for the area."

2:19: Kay Crowder: "We need to do a little more thoughtful conversation and process about how it would work, and see how other people feel about it getting bumped to the top. Other areas in the city need to be bumped to the top, it needs to be thought out more carefully."

2:20: MAB says we have thought it out. Mayor Nancy says we're confusing the street-scape fund with economic development funding. MAB says this would be a completely separate fund. "IDK what Tarboro Road needs would be but surely there are other areas we can leverage economic development with community development. That's why this rose to the top. Already spending on affordable housing in this area, so to me it makes a lot of sense," she says. 

2:22: City manager says the timeframe for this was going to be spring; you could do the economic development criteria in time for the budget process, and project would compete for funding which still needs to be identified BTW. 

2:23: There A LOT are places all over the city that need economic development, Bonner says. MAB repeats motion to allocate $3 million to go toward Tarboro Road economic development. Russ says he would like to see economic development in all the other areas Bonner just mentioned; sure Tarboro Road would score high for economic development analysis but there need to be guidelines to evaluate all these areas. 

2:26: City staff will bring framework to examine economically disadvantaged places in time for next budget process. It will be criteria and proposed funding structure. 

2:28: Mayor Nancy says we need to weigh all the projects across the city fairly. John Odom says let's move on. 

2:29: Kay Crowder asks if the city has reserved the funds of moving Rex Senior Health Center to Advance Community Health Alliance? Yes, the city has. Why is there a holdup in getting the money that has been allocated to moving these seniors? Why has this taken so long, what is the problem?

2:30: Larry Jarvis says the funding has not been fully executed. "Rex will have to invoice us for the funds after the contract with the city has been executed," Jarvis says. (It's around $205,000). 

2:33: There's a lump sum payment to go to Rex- "we're just waiting for a check to be cut," Mayor Nancy says. MAB is asking for a grant request to match Wake County funding to Advance Community Health Alliance. This is outside of the grant cycle. 14,000 Raleigh residents are being served by this Alliance, she says. They were not a partner of ours until this year. She wants to help them get that matching grant money.  

2:37: EW supports the motion because there is a timeline on this. Mayor Nancy is struggling, again. "We have worked very hard in the past 2 years to have a defined process,' she says. This is fourth time people have asked for an exemption. They need to go through the granting process, and public health/human services is really Wake County's wheelhouse. "I wouldn't expect Wake County to fix my roads, even though their ambulances ride on them," she says. "It's tough to say no, but we need to be fair and ask everyone to follow the same rules."

2:39: EW says the city should step up to the plate and do what's right; this is a very important item. Mayor Nancy says there are private resources they could utilize. 

2:41: Crowder: Is the need for the money to show the Advanced group the city is interested in their group, to show community support? Why this much money and could they take less? What do they need money for right now?

2:42: EW says yes to all of the above; but this started with the sale of Stone's Warehouse, he says. We promised to help with relocation of Rex and put it towards affordable housing. This is not just a grant, but money we are getting back from the sale of that land?

2:43: Mayor Nancy says sale of Stone's would relocate Rex and the rest would be used for affordable housing. Lawyer Wayne says this is an important need, and he has shown willingness to deviate from procedures, this is in fact a material and substantive issue. It's not that the city doesn't support this but we shouldn't deviate from the process. Grant motion fails.

2:48: Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.  It's the CAFR. CFO Perry James is presenting. The financial position of the city is strong, James says. Generally it's been a very good financial year. (I seem to recall him saying the exact same thing this time last year).

2:55: We increased our assets more than 8 percent, which is good. We got $23.3 million more in the General Fund (property and sales tax= overall local economy remains strong). 

3:00: "Thanks for keeping us at the top pf our financial game," Mayor Nancy says. 

3:01: We're talking Raleigh Business Incubator. There was request for proposals for who should operate it. Neither of the two proposals received align with the mission of the incubator, so hold this to redefine scope, vision of incubator and get community input. They're going to reevaluate it and see if they can get better offers.

3:07: Here is an update on nutrient management strategy re. Falls Lake. 

3:08: So there have been projected impairments to Falls Lake since the '90s. By 1999, the lake continually had declining water quality. in 2005, NCGA directed it to be studied, then was put on the bad list for having impaired waters. 

3:09: There was some rulemaking for nutrient controls. Eventually, the rules were divided into stages. First is making sure the water body meets the city's needs for supply. Second, there needed to be more data to make a better rule for good water quality. 

3:11: A consultant was retained to review rules, data etc. That work was done by May 2013. The consultant said the Stage 2 rule need to put forth achievable water quality standard. Cost of complying in the watershed was really high. 

3:12: A city consultant looked at water quality at city's intake; it had improved slightly. Delays between 2011 and today at state level in giving critical info delayed partners from being able to comply.  in 2013, NCGA reviewed all environmental rules. It found Falls Lake rules and strategy were necessary and had substantial public interest, so a whole new rulemaking process started out. It's underway now. Rules inside rules, making rules to look at other rules.

3:15:  Generally stage 1 to protect our drinking water needs in lake have been successful. They're extending time period for stage 2, existing development, because state is taking a long time supplying data, and it's still behind.  Extension of stage 2 rules start date then follows. 

3:19: Basically the request is to allow Mayor Nancy to be a delegate to the Upper Neuse River Basin Association regarding official comments from city water experts. 

3:25: Request and petitions of citizens. Jessica Theiss is here for a stormwater device issue in her neighborhood. Subdivision of 9 houses in Bonner's district. When she moved in in 2006, she wasn't given any info about a stormwater device. In fall 2013, all the homeowners received a letter addressed to an HOA saying they were all delinquent in keeping up with maintenance of the device. A company from California took care of it. Now another inspection is due but they can't work out how to pay for it. City says they have to take care of it before December 28, or each household will have to pay $5k per day. No one brought the issue up before. 

3:28: City says there is an HOA for that neighborhood registered with Secretary of State; it needs to be re-established, elect officers etc. And once it's re-established, take care of the annual maintenance responsibility. They were told they weren't part of an HOA, but they actually are; they would have learned that on closing. 

3:32: Maiorano suggests attorney meet with the neighbors privately. They can have an extension on the inspection since they are working on compliance. 90 days. 

3:34: Jamie Schwedler is up. She wants clarification on a recent Creedmoor Road rezoning. It has been held up because of the street connectivity text change that was voted on earlier. 

3:40: John Pugh from House of Swank is here to talk about the food truck streetside program, wants longer hours for weekends, thanks them.

3:41: Susan Tower, food truck owner wants to comment. Excited about possibility of Raleigh to allow curbside parking for food truck vendors. It's gotten national attention. One truck per zone during lunch hours, and dinner hours on weekends. Also thanks. 

3:43: Matters scheduled for public hearing. Here come some building demos. James ONeal says he will pay his fine on his unfit building at 1104 South Person Street.  Now he's making some general comments on Dix and on the city's buses. Wayne Maiorano cuts him off. "I'm not sure how what we'rehearing relates to to this building demolition." "If you insist, I'll just address that," ONeal says. 

3:47: He's talking about flight back to the urban core from the suburbs, says he has had many offers to purchase his property. "Delay any concept of demolition before I am in a position to make changes of complete renewal of the house," he says.

3:48: Staff says this is boarded up vacant duplex. He says Oneal has been aware of this. Repairs exceed 50% of value of building; staff wants to demolish based on no efforts to make repairs. City sent first notices a year ago.

3:50: ONeal says he plans to demolish and build anew. Sooner rather than later, but he's waiting for money from the government. He hopes within a year.

3:51: Odom makes a motion to demolish in 90 days unless ONeal does some work on it before them. He says he looks forward to coming back. 

3:57: The Boylan Heights alley situation (from last time) is still apparently ongoing. 

4:00: John Odom asks if we have an alley in the city of Raleigh, does it have to be open? A: It doesn't have to be. The city has an easement right to the alley. But they don't actually have authority over the alley. The city cannot close the alley. But John Odom says staff needs to go look at  the alley and clean it up. That is that. 

4:04: Two rezoning cases around Six Forks and Oakland Drive, to higher residential density. This is held open. 

4:15: Business Investment grant program: KC says she is concerned about longevity of jobs that will be created under the grant; what's in place to assure if needed to recapture money for loss of jobs the city could? Jame Sauls says the program has to maintain job minimums or it loses grant money in the next year. KC asks to make it clear what's required to participate and continue to participate in the grant. They have to approve it every time it comes forward for funding. 

4:24: They vote in favor of Business Grant Investment program but the Comprehensive Plan may need to be updated. The map of targeted ares for economic development need to be updated. No fuzzy boundaries, Ken Bowers says. They want to improve the map. It's a Council program he says, so they can consider it and give input on update. Mayor Nancy says map revise needs to happen now. That will happen.

4:27: Ray Farm Watershed Protection Project; Council will partially fund, $133, 792. 

4:28: Law and Public Safety committee schedules public hearing for food truck street side vending pilot program. It will be for 6 months, Sunday thru Saturday, 10 am to 3am; First Fridays 10am to 8pm. The annual fee will be $150. Core area is the downtown district. Locations include New Bern Ave/Tarboro Road DMV office; Oakwood Ave/Polk Street between Blount and Wilmington Streets; the Warehouse District; Marbles Kids Museum and Bloodworth St. near House of Swank. Permits will be issued by monthly lottery. The public hearing is scheduled for Dec. 1. 

4:32: Mayor Nancy has concerns about noise, activity in the public right of way. She wants to know how all the other changes to downtown are working out before adding another change. "Love food trucks, but I want to make sure we are thinking about all the other effects."

4:34: Travis Crane says an ordinance can be ready in two weeks. Staff will have to develop well-defined parameters based on what is discussed in the public hearing. Disclosure and vetting of the policy that will be presented. 

4:38: Food trucks pilot program will go to public hearing. Dangerous dog ordinance is pending in Law and Public Safety Committee.

And that's all for today. New Council members will be sworn in Monday, November 30. 

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