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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Welcome to the INDY's Raleigh City Council Live Blog 2: More Bloggin'

Posted by on Tue, May 3, 2016 at 7:02 PM

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Hope you're having a good one and staying dry. I'm filling in for Jane tonight. 

Leading up to tonight's city council meeting, a coalition of groups created a "living timeline of police violence, mass incarceration, and the War on Drugs." Representatives from NC Fair Share, the Police Accountability Community Taskforce, and Muslims for Social Justice will speak about policing tonight at the meeting. Here's a picture:

click to enlarge Protesters create a "living timeline" of police violence before the Raleigh City Council meeting on 5/3/2016. - PAUL BLEST / INDY
  • Paul Blest / INDY
  • Protesters create a "living timeline" of police violence before the Raleigh City Council meeting on 5/3/2016.
Tonight's agenda is below. 

Raleigh CC Evening Agenda 5/3 by Paul Blest


7:10 - The meeting is called. First up to speak is Virginia Talley, who is asking for support for $250,000 in funding for Advance Community Health in Southeast Raleigh. "Advance serves everyone, including pediatrics, teens, adults and seniors, and eliminates barriers to service by providing a sliding-fee scale," she says. She's cut off by McFarlane, who says they'll refer it to the budget.

7:11 - Billy Trott from the "Raleigh tennis community" is asking for more tennis courts; specifically, a new 30-court staffed tennis court in the next parks bond. He's rattling off statistics about tennis being beneficial, and just referred to a 96-year old man with the group who is still playing tennis.

7:14 - All five speakers on policing speaking in a row. A man who lives in Southeast Raleigh is speaking about unfair policing in his neighborhood. 

7:17 - "The policy recommendations that PACT have made..deserves a chance in front of this body, and our community. They would have made a difference if they had been in place when I had my own encounters with Raleigh police." One day, he says, he was pulled over three times in the same day.

7:18 - Akiba Byrd from NC Fair Share defers to Barbara Smalley-McMahan.

7:19 - "The other week my neighbor had her mother visiting, who went into cardiac arrest. Three police cars, three fire trucks, and three ambulances showed up and remained there for two hours. The police officers were in the home of my neighbor, expressing concern...I believe we have good-natured police officers who are working in a system that promotes systemic racism. We've got to do something about that," says Smalley-McMahan. 

7:22 - Manzoor Cheema from Muslims for Social Justice also speaking about policing. "Just to give you an idea, black and brown people make up 30 percent of the population, but 60 percent of the prison population in the United States," he says. "This is the nature of institutional and structural racism." He says. "Raleigh also has the same sort of institutional racism...there are two Raleighs, one for the rich people, economically and racially, and another for the poor people, economically and racially."

7:25 - Terrene Perry from Justice Served/PACT says he sent policy recommendations and a letter to Raleigh City Council members. "What we desperately need is something outside the system to provide an objective outlook on checks and balances," he says. He references Raleigh's resolution against HB 2 and suggest Raleigh should do the same here. "We're calling on you to pass a resolution confirming your support for an oversight board, investigatory and subpoena power." 

7:29 - David Salazar, who is also with PACT, is demanding body cameras to be implemented. 

7:30 - Akiba Byrd from NC Fair Share starts speaking. Byrd calls out Corey Branch, Kay Crowder, and Bonner Gaylord for supporting an independent police review board during their campaigns and is now asking them to stand by them. "We ask that you recognize that there is a systemic bias in policing in Raleigh," he says. He says Branch, Gaylord and David Cox have met with them, and he's calling on all of the council members to meet with PACT.

7:33 - City staff says they're working on a response within getting the next ten days, and Mayor McFarlane says that they're working on getting a response from the staff. 

7:37 - Council is considering a demolition at 507 Montague Lane; the daughter of the woman whose name was on the deed of the house is speaking in favor of saving the house. Council extends the sell-by deadline to May 15.

7:42 - Council supports a lien against a property on Glendower Rd. 

7:47 - Octavia Rainey speaks out against the city decision to sell fourteen lots, calling it a civil rights violation, and saying the city went around the CAC's back to make this decision. Larry Jarvis from Housing & Neighborhoods says that they sent the information to the CAC. "No you didn't," Rainey replies. 

7:52 - Council holds off a proposal to "close a right-of-way known as Belvin Drive." The owner is out of town.

7:53 - Council votes to close off two alleys on North Harrington St. Alley and Sylvia Dean St. 

7:55 - Council votes to consider bicycle and pedestrian improvements on Trailwood Dr.

7:56 - Council approves Pavement Roll 943.

7:57 - Someone from Meredith College speaking on the 2016 Wade Ave. project. "We at Meredith recognize ourselves as a significant part of Raleigh...we see ourselves as a team player in the growth and transformative activities" in Raleigh, he says. He's asking for "anything to help" Meredith reduce the rate of the assessment, or future assessments. Dickie Thompson says "he married a Meredith Angel," so he supports a two week extension. 

8:01 - Council closes hearing and approves several UDO remapping parcels.

8:03 - Onto a zoning request from Macnair Starnes Property LLC regarding Tryon Road; they're looking for a rezoning of approximately 18.39 acres. Kay Crowder asks if this is part of the New Urban watershed; planning director Ken Bowers comes out and does a guest spot (not unlike DJ Khaled at tonight's Beyonce show, ha ha ha) and says yes. 

8:07 - Russ Stephenson asks if it's consistent with watershed protection regulations. It is. Hearing closed; they approve. 

8:08 - Another rezoning case, this time for three-tenths of an acre on Oberlin Road. Wade CAC backs it; open hearing has two advocates from Friends of Oberlin Village against it. Sabrina Goode says they have concerns about this property being turned into the office, and asks for further vetting on the project. She says that she thinks it might create a bottleneck in the area. Goode says the notification for the hearing in the Wade CAC was tacked onto the cemetery. She said that Friends of Oberlin Village voted against this twice; the last meeting had 45 people. 

8:15 - A student at NC State brings up that there's no way to cross the street in that area. "If it's rezoned, it has to be pedestrian friendly," he says. 

8:18 - A man named Marshall Rich who represents the owner supports the rezoning. "For the traffic on Oberlin, it's a bigger than just this lot, it's a transit issue," he says. Also said it was in major disrepair when they bought it. 

8:20 - Kay Crowder proposes that they refer it to the Natural Resources Committee; that's adopted.

8:22 - First evidentiary hearing of the year, to consider a request for an outdoor amplified entertainment permit at the Merrimon-Wynne House at 500 North Blount Street. A lot of opposition to this one. 

8:23 - Jodi Strenkowski's husband (she just had a baby) is speaking in favor of it. It's a twenty-four month permit for amplified entertinment between 4 and 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 1 through 11 p.m. Friday through Sunday. He notes that they've had no noise complaints. It's to open a door on the other side of the structure when they can't fit everyone. 

8:30 - Chris Schlenker, who lives behind the Merrimon-Wynne House, says that they thought the structure settled the case. He says there are 15 residential units behind Merrimon-Wynne. He says that it gets "quite loud sometimes." He says that they violated the ordinance once last month and went to 11:15.

8:31 - He says that there's no way they'd be able to keep the noise below the state decibel limit if the permit was approved.

8:33 - Sam Stone says he's a resident of that neighborhood, and says that "we don't trust the developer of this property."

8:34 - Representatives from the Burning Coal Theatre say that sometimes the noise from the Merrimon-Wynne House interferes with shows at Burning Coal. Once, they say, half of the audience left at intermission because no one could hear the actors

8:36 - Kim Pibbler, who also lives directly behind Merrimon-Wynne, says she assumed the music would be kept inside when they moved into the neighborhood, and questions why the city would allow music outside.

8:39 - There are a lot of people against this idea. Ted Cruz just dropped out of the presidential race and is on his way to the City Council right now to speak out against it.

8:40 - Resident Elizabeth Mason has more questions. She says one wedding had a rain delay and when it started again, you could hear every single word of the wedding in her house. She also asks if the amplified music would be held on the lawn or within the building.  

8:42 - Strenkowski trying to rebut these concerns. He clarifies it will be the same setup, just an additional door to allow indoor music to come outside. He also says there are some pieces that need to be added to the structure; eight weddings since they opened the structure, one complaint, and the police said that they were within the ordinance.

8:43 - Says they had private security walk the perimeter at fifty feet to check the noise; two in opposition are looking at each other and shaking their heads.

8:44 - He argues that they always end when the noise ordinance says to.

8:46 - Hearing closed. Council could give some extra time to the Strenkowskis to meet with the neighbors, make a decision, or make a shorter permit request. 

8:48 - Corey Branch says that he likes the option for the neighbors and Merrimon-Wynne to work it out. Several council members agree; Peterson says that the addendum doesn't mention noise. He says he's been to several weddings there and says it's a nice, "but it could be like Groundhog's Day for some of you in your homes." 

8:50 - McFarlane asks how many people they can fit in the venue; Strenkowski says 200 comfortably.

8:52 - Cox asks how many weddings they would need to use this permit for; he says about 30 out of every one hundred weddings.

8:53 - Stephenson says they went to extensive measures to stop the opening of an outdoor entertainment venue, and that he's "very surprised" this conversation is still happening.

8:54 - Council votes to give them a one-month extension for Merrimon-Wynne and the neighbors to work it out; they'll come back in June to report whether or not they figured it out. 

8:55 - Meeting adjourns. See you in two weeks!

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