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Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Welcome to the INDY's Raleigh City Council Live Blog

Posted by on Tue, Apr 5, 2016 at 1:09 PM

Happy Tuesday, everyone. It's April and it's cold and we have a rather light agenda for this afternoon—a report from the historic resources and museum advisory board, one from the waste reduction task force, and one from the economic development and innovation committee.

Nothing approaching the level of excitement we had at the last meeting, where downtown Raleigh got the gifts to millennials everywhere of food trucks and a bike share program. 

The real action will be this evening, however, with eight matters scheduled for public hearing, including five rezoning cases. Just like the old days.

1:11: Meeting is called to order. The Rabbi giving the invocation just asked that we not succumb to the discrimination of House Bill 2. That's rad, as we say at the INDY.

1:13: It's "Raleigh history month." The Raleigh Heritage Trail is an organization that promotes the cultural history of Raleigh.

1:17: It's also "National Service Recognition day." Mayor Nancy appreciates Americorps because her daughter was a volunteer for 2 years. 

1:19: It's also "child abuse prevention month," in case you haven't seen the blue pinwheels—for child abuse prevention— all over town. There will be 38 pinwheel gardens planted all over Raleigh, like in Nash Square, and other squares.

1:23: It's also "national donate life month." 123,000 people in the U.S. and 3,100 North Carolinians are waiting for organ transplants. Councilman David Cox has been involved in the cause of organ transplants and organ donation for 20 years, he hopes to "save a few people this year who might not otherwise be saved." Remember, you don't have to die to donate life; you can always give blood. 

1:25: Rick Miller-Haraway, president of Catholic charities in Raleigh, is thanking the city for its leadership n establishing the Oak City Outreach Center and the Support Circle Program for Homeless Families. 450 school-aged children in Wake live in hotels : ( Support Circle Program partners faith-based charities with homeless people for a year; they provide mentoring, moral support, tutoring, budget counselling. All supporting families looking for housing. 

1:28: City provides funding for the program which is matched by churches and charities. They housed 370+ people since starting; 90 percent of families remain housed after a year. Haraway is talking about a woman named Penny who matched with Lifepoint Church through the program; she got a degree in childcare education and then got a job at a childcare center. She now has hope for her family.

1:30: Oak City Outreach Center, which is awesome, has been open for nearly two years and has provided thousands of meals to homeless residents. Thanks to RPD and Parks and Rec. for partnering. 

1:31: Consent agenda is approved. On to report of the planning commission. There will be a public hearing on a rezoning for residential on Forestville Road on April 19. Rezoning hearings on Tryon and Oberlin will go to May 3.

1:32: No report from the city manager, but he recommends cancelling the next work session scheduled.

1:33: Report from Historic Resources and Museum Advisory Board. They have a 2016 work plan, have existed for four years now. There are walking tours each Saturday in April. There will be upcoming tours of the old Hebrew Cemetery in Oakwood Cemetery, Capital grounds monuments tour of Raleigh in the Civil War and a walking tour of Fayetteville Street. 

1:35: City of Raleigh museum will have a new permanent exhibit opening next month; it's an exhibit on the history of Raleigh's city government to encourage people to learn about it. 

1:37: Council approves the plan. Waste Reduction Taskforce presentation is up. It completed a report of waste reduction goals. Jennifer Martin, who is a member of the committee, is presenting. Members were to determine waste diversion goals and make plans to achieve them. 

1:40: The goal is to craft a consistent waste diversion message across all waste generators across the city: garbage, recycling and yard waste by 2020. A universal recycling ordinance by 2017; fee for disposal system ("pay as you throw" program) to encourage people to reduce waste; enviro-friendly product use by working with local agencies; construction and demolition debris recycling and organic recycling.

1:43: Consensus hasn't been reached on some of these items but the recycling ordinance and "pay as you throw" are identified as high priority. 

1:44: Mayor Nancy is asking about the split vote on the construction and demolition debris recycling. 3 voted high priority, 3 voted low priority on that item. That's something completely new, Martin says; different materials (metals, lumber) currently go into the same dumpster. The program would require a construction recycling program.

1:45: Corey Branch is asking about "pay as you throw:" what are financial implications? Other cities do this and have done comparisons of cost and savings. Now everyone pays the same amount, but this program would encourage people to recycle more, so throw away less, decreasing trash in landfills. Cities that do this have the same economic diversity as Raleigh. There would have to be an educational process implemented. Elderly folks are probably overpaying for their trash needs (i.e. not consuming/throwing way as much as a family of four, but paying the same waste fees). 

1:47: MAB wants staff to look at "pay as you throw" model and do that analysis. There are questions, she says, like financial implications, communicating to residents, is converting our current program to it possible? Analysis over next year could set it up for budget cycle two years from now. Bonner says it's not fair he pays the same in a family of five as the widow who lives across the street from him. Kay Crowder wants to look at how this would affect the very poor. Martin says rates ultimately go down, but also encourages people to use less materials and recycle. 

1:49: MAB says we would have to work with the county since they control the landfills etc. It may be reduced cost in landfill but if county raises fees there wouldn't be reduced cost. So county needs to be amenable to it too. 

1:50: Martin says apartments need recycling for all their residents; many don't offer recycling and it needs to be on builders and contractors to make sure they're accommodating recycling for residents.

1:51: Martin says the task force had 4 meetings with a 'pay as you throw" facilitator and looked at other cities. "Pay as you throw" model was one of the most in-depth discussed items. That with mandatory recycling would bring down waste costs for many people. 

1:53: The recommendation from the task force is to keep studying the issues but they recommend "pay as you throw" and mandatory recycling as top priorities. MAB motions to ask city staff to analyze "pay as you throw" and do a financial analysis of impact on poor/elderly people, how to work with the county, communication strategy and roll-out, managing equipment etc. 

1:54: Corey Branch wants to add mandatory recycling to the review as well. MAB wants to address it separately. Branch says handling recycled material will impact things we throw away too. Mayor Nancy says people with have heartburn about "mandatory" recycling. Dickie Thompson says it is two different issues. MAB says it is recycling in different ways than traditional recycling. So the motion is on an analysis of "pay as you throw;" staff will study it per unanimous vote. 

1:57: Dickie Thompson says there will be a cost of construction recycling, because construction debris goes to different landfills than regular garbage. There is a recycling program in place for public construction projects, he say, but not private. 

1:58: Mayor Nancy/Kay Crowder want info on best practices on recycling programs. Ruffin says staff will bring back additional info on the topic of recycling. So Raleigh is moving forward on studying "pay as you throw" program and some sort of study on a recycling ordinance.

2:00: Next up: Council is voting on proposals from the Economic Development and Innovation Committee, including Targeted Economic Development Zones and the city's facade grant for businesses. Corey Branch wants to know how city will facilitate helping businesses with the facade grant that have not benefited before. Staffer James Sauls say Urban Design Center will manage operation of the facade grant. They will expand application system and scoring process. It will be for any qualifying buildings that wanted to apply. 

2:02: CB asks if thy could review that so it is equitable across the city; "to encourage people who haven't done it before to use that money," DT says. City hasn't implemented a facade grant in a while, Sauls says. CB makes a motion that city not move forward with grants before the council can review the plan for using the grants. 

2:03: Sauls says idea is to align the grant with a larger geographical area and to include murals as part of it. CB says he wants to move forward with that, but we have a history of giving the same groups the same grant and he wants to see a plan to see how a grant is given before moving forward with giving a grant. 

2:05: CB is for the policy but wants to see the plan reach out to the community and engage it before giving out the money. MAB motions to approve policy but to bring back the process of awarding grants to the council before any grants are actually approved. That motion passes unanimously. 

2:06: That's it! Report from Council: David Cox says the grand opening of North Regional library will be held April 16. Russ Stephenson says April 27 there is a program on strategies for overcoming inequity with a keynote speaker on healthy communities. Corey Branch recognizes Julian Durant, a finance major at Shaw University who is shadowing him. 

2:08: No report from Kay Crowder. Mayor Nancy appoints some council liaisons. She is also supporting a grant application from Wake County Public Schools; council votes to support the school system too. Third, she asks council to consider naming the Lake Johnson Memorial Woodland Center after late council member Thomas Crowder, who lobbied for its building. She calls it an honor to Thomas' legacy in his district. Council votes unanimously in favor; Kay Crowder says that makes her and her family very happy.

2:10: Dickie Thompson took a recycling center tour last week. He says the process is fascinating and his tour guides were enthusiastic. And citizens were genuinely interested. He also attended Pinwheels for Child Abuse Prevention at Pullen Park on Saturday. MAB says an event honoring women in Raleigh's culinary scene at Hadley's last week was well-attended. Thanks to Police Captain Matthews and downtown police team on Glenwood South partnership meeting. It was a productive session on how to reduce noise etc.

2:13: Corey Branch thanks police and citizens for attending a great community conversation with citizens at the Barber Shop on New Bern Avenue last week.

2:14: Bob Geary, formerly of the INDY, received 5 votes for his nomination to the Appearance Commission. MAB nominated a different candidate, says she will re-nominate her candidate at a point sometime in the future. "I normally like to get my way but I'll go along with it," she says of Bob's nomination. 

2:16: Other nominees are filling other boards, being reappointed. MAB says we need more diversity on the Planning Commission; there are no women currently on the Planning Commission and she is going to look for a candidate that brings some diversity. Asks her colleagues to take that very seriously. "Having one woman on the board doesn't look like our community," she says. Hope she gets her way on that. 

2:18: See you back here at 7!
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