Raleigh City Council Live Blog: Evening Edition | News
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Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Raleigh City Council Live Blog: Evening Edition

Posted by on Tue, Mar 1, 2016 at 6:59 PM

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Welcome back everyone. We have the shortest agenda I've ever seen tonight, with only five—no four!—citizens lined up for requests and petitions. And that's the end of the agenda!

7:05: Mayor Nancy has called the meeting to order. Corey Branch is introducing some young men he's been mentoring through his fraternity. Boy Scouts here too! They are hoped to take all they learn here to night to share at school tomorrow.  

7:07: Susan Flanagan is here on behalf of the Raleigh Tennis Association. They are here to ask for more tennis courts with some info on where they stand on court issues in Raleigh, how they hope to partner with City of Raleigh. "Population is growing and courts are not," she says. 

7:08: Coby Crandall is here to talk about a re-entry model to coordinate services for people in the county coming home from incarceration. It's a collaborative process of resources in the county that will come together to provide services for formerly incarcerated. They need an advocate, Coby says. They have services but no advocate to coordinate those services for their re-entry to be successful. Once they are engaged and received the services, they can go on to mentor others themselves. 

7:12: Scott Benrube is here with concerns about the Leesville Road Widening Project. He is seeking immediate resolution for damages and inconveniences to his property, which began in 2012 and isn't yet finished. Yikes.
So the city has guaranteed to restore the property via an engineer and install stormwater drainage pipes. He has before and after pics: asphalt was not installed properly and there are cracks in it. It was installed by a contractor. 

7:15: His yard is really pretty. But the road widening made a ditch in it which now floods his yard and under his house whenever it rains! His driveway and sidewalk were torn up to be paved; it wasn't. Drainage was never installed and their car had to be towed out of their driveway by AAA. His yard got flooded really bad last September too and the city wouldn't send anyone to fix it. he got a contractor and got reimbursed. It flooded again later, and he had to get a pump up in there to suck the water out. 

7:19: The curbing looks bad too. Again, no drainage, torn up sidewalk. The curb apparently needs to be torn up and reinstalled. The asphalt cannot be even be fixed. A drain will have to run under his property, but then it would flood into his neighbors. Which is illegal, so the city will have to re-engineer it.  

7:21: Oh man, his cable service got pulled up too. He's a virtual teacher. He contracted the city's insurance agent to follow up but never got a response. This happened two more times. The three minute limit is not being applied. Though the pics are worth a thousand words, let me tell you. The construction company apparently has a history of messing up projects.

7:25: He wants drainage problem to be immediately addressed and corrected. He says he's willing to pay and be reimbursed. "Consider what I've gone through," he says. "Please resolve this situation this evening. I just want this taken care of."

7:26: Ruffin Hall says it is result of problems with Devere Construction on the road widening project and they have turned over the issue to someone to find another contractor. Devere has had some high profile problems. "We would like to continue to work with property company and get another contractor to come in and address problems of the previous contractor," he says. 

7:28: Mr. Devere has been told by city staff their hands are tied, and insurance companies have no idea. MAB wants to know what timeline is.

7:29: Public works has been in contact with a bonding company to fix it and get a new contractor. City managers says we can't get a timeline today but can bring back a report to move forward. KC wants to know if they can expedite this. "It took 3 months to pave 90 square feet," Mr. Benrube says. "If they could not put something down to take care of [their drowning car in the driveway]..."he just wants a date." Rich Kelly, public works director is here to speak to that. They will be in touch. MAB wants a report in 2 weeks on the status of this.

7:34: "I just don't want somebody to put just a seal over it to cover the asphalt," he says. His neighbor had asphalt but has concrete now. He could live with asphalt. Ruffin Hall sums it up: the construction company had financial difficulty, the city acknowledges the work was not done property and it will fix it ASAP. 

7:36: A lot has transpired about Devere, Rich Kelly says. Mr. Denrube will hear soon. MAB thanks him for his restraint. 

7:37: David Simonton from Lorimer Road is here. He wants a smallerer setback on Lorimer Road. Here are his comments verbatim:

Good evening, I'm David Simonton, 1218 Lorimer Road.

I’ve been a resident on Lorimer Road for 23 years; it’s in a quiet, West Raleigh neighborhood. The house I live in with my wife Carolyn was built in 1950, and the street out front is 19-feet wide.

As you know, a petition was circulated last year calling for the retrofitting of Lorimer—for imposing current-day standards for new development on this old, established neighborhood.

Our Representative Kay Crowder announced the plan in April. When residents questioned the appropriateness and need for a 27’ road, a 6’ sidewalk and 6’ setback, Mrs. Crowder assured us, "I’ll bet we can argue that back"—implying there'd be flexibility in our case.

The City staff person responsible for answering questions about the project assured a resident that, once the petition passed, "We can talk it down to something with a much smaller footprint."

Donetta Powell and Jimmy Upchurch, with the City's Public Works Department, told the Petitioner herself that "a 5’ sidewalk with a 4’ setback would be a feasible alternative, because of the unique situation we have here." So that’s how the Petitioner characterized the project as she urged residents to sign: the dimensions are flexible, she said, and the impact will be minimal. She emailed Mrs. Crowder afterwards, "I believe we received…approval based on this assumption."

It's now clear property owners were misled into signing Petition 1351. According to the Petitioner Donna Burford’s own words, the residents she approached "all agreed a narrower setback and sidewalk would be less invasive and more cost effective." In other words, those who signed believed what they were told—repeatedly: that what they were signing FOR was a project whose footprint would be kept to a minimum. City staff member Powell assured a resident that a 25’ road with a 4’ sidewalk and 2’ setback would be possible. So that resident, too, signed the petition, based on this assumption.

What we ended up with, however, was a mere one-foot reduction. So, yes, there was an outcry; and residents remain upset—because citizens object to being misled and manipulated.

I’m here tonight to ask that you reconsider Council Member Gaylord’s September 1st proposal for a 3 1/2’ setback on Lorimer Road—a proposal Jimmy Upchurch has already agreed to.

That two-and-a-half feet will go a long way towards easing tensions in our neighborhood. And, as importantly, it will be a show of goodwill on your part.

Thank you.

7:40: His comments were perfectly time to 3 minutes. Annd, the meeting is adjourned.  Meanwhile, check out what's going on in southeast Raleigh. 

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