Where Previous Petitions Have Failed

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From the September 1, 2015 City Council Meeting minutes:

“Assessment Supervisor Jimmy Upchurch presented an area map [above] showing the existing sidewalks in the area, locations which have been the subject of previous petitions [highlighted in blue], the fact that Onslow petitioned 3 times unsuccessfully…”.

 

Sam Bellezza – Facebook Post (9/4/2015)

This group [Lorimer Rd Raleigh] is a VERY valuable forum for discussion and information. I feel so much more in the loop of goings on. I appreciate the initiative, effort, and time spent creating it. In the last few days, there has been great discussion on development in our neighborhood. I have also seen quite a few posts about everyone remaining united as neighbors even if they disagree. I think our neighborhood is in for many changes as economic forces, large lots and it’s prime location invite a future of tear downs and rebuilds. We will certainly be divided in our opinions on these future projects as well, so lets stay united as neighbors in and out of this forum, and continue to use it as our sounding board for these situations and welcome the change to see things through other neighbors perspectives. I also think we should invite Kay Crowder to join? I get the feeling both sides of the sidewalk issue feel that they do/did not have enough information and this seems to be a root of contention? Either way I think this is a taste of the future growing pains in our neighborhood and whoever is our city council rep. after the next election should be part of the discussions here. Looking forward to seeing all of my neighbors! —Sam Bellezza, Facebook post, September 4, 2015

Kay Crowder, District D Representative

But who in District D does she truly represent?
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“As the administrator of this [Facebook] page I removed Kay Crowder from this secret group. If you would like to talk to her in person PM me and I will give you her assistant’s number. I was surprised how easy it was to get in touch with her.” —Sharon Moll Mixon, Facebook post, September 10, 2015
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“That has not been my experience at all. I have her assistant’s phone number and have spoken to him many times since mid-August. Not once have I ever been allowed to speak to her. I have emailed her — not one reply. I have written a letter — no reply. Every way there is of reaching her goes through the assistant — nothing goes to her directly. I was told recently by the assistant that she would call me. So far, nothing. He did say she might receive a hundred emails a day and did I expect she responded to all? My thought there is what working person does NOT receive many many emails a day, and we all have to respond as part of our jobs. Did she think when she took this office that she could choose to respond only when it was convenient for her or matched her own goals? I have not found her responsive nor helpful. She would know, I would think, that a council member is going to hear from constituents and I would further think she would know that part of her job responsibilities is responding. I do say emphatically that her assistant Nick Sadler is unfailingly courteous and helpful but his job is clearly to shield her and he does it well. If you have been successful at speaking with her, Sharon, I can’t help but wonder if the difference is that you are supporting something she wants and I am advocating changes in something she wants. My correspondence with her has been respectful and has offered positive suggestions, but it does not agree with what she clearly is pushing. I did speak very assertively to the assistant once about not ever being able to reach her directly in my frustration, and still he remained helpful and friendly, but no way was he going to get me through to her directly at all. His job responsibilities are clear and he fulfills them very well. He does his best to answer any question I ask but he is making sure I don’t get through directly to her. I don’t doubt that she has seen what I have sent — I am certain he does that effectively. I personally have not had any reason to think at this point that she is fulfilling her responsibility of being responsive to those she represents — a key art of the job she was elected to do. Please do call the council offices at 919-996-3050 and I sincerely hope each of you has better luck at getting through to her than I have had.” —Jane Fenn, Facebook post, September 10, 2015

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“I wrote [Kay Crowder] an email, very objectively conveying some of the concerns of the 1/3 opposed and pointing out the emotional debate on this page, and asking for her input about those concerns. She did respond, but it was very rote and didn’t really say anything more than, ‘the petition passed and the rules were followed.'” —Steve Grothmann, Facebook post, September 13, 2015

Email to Press (David Simonton)

Trying to preserve the character of Raleigh’s older neighborhoods despite City leaders who desire conformity:

I live in an older neighborhood in West Raleigh; several of the houses on this block of Lorimer Road were built in the 1950’s, and we have never had curbs, gutters or sidewalks. Neither do the surrounding streets of Chaney, Onslow and Garland. Nor do we necessarily need them: it’s a quite, little-traveled relatively self-contained neighborhood I live in.

So it was a shock to me—a rude awakening—when, despite the majority of property owners (64%) living on this block of Lorimer Road opposing street-widening and sidewalk installation, the City Council, at their September 1 meeting, forced it on the residents. Council Member Kay Crowder (who represents our district) whispered to other Council members, mentioned talking to a developer who might want a sidewalk on the connecting road (which currently has no sidewalk either), thus shutting down even those reasonable requests made to table the discussion, or to examine alternatives like low impact, or to examine the inequities in the design, etc. And not a single Council member suggested examining the questionable tactics employed by the Petitioner*—tactics that had been pointed out in advance in a letter sent to every single City Council member, and also mentioned during the Public Hearing, and thus on record, at the Council meeting Sept.1 (a copy of that letter is attached).

*[The Petitioner continued to distribute information that, when challenged, she admitted was her “mistake.” And she misrepresented the process to her neighbors. As one neighbor said, “I was told not to worry and to sign the document as it was and that we would all be able to sit down once it passed and determine how we would like it to look.”]

This raises many troubling questions, not the least of which is: How and why is it that “majority rules” was respected when residents on Kay Crowder’s road, Ashburton, rejected a sidewalk petition, and not in our case? Does the City’s “Unified Development Ordinance” effectively put the nail in the coffin when it comes to property owner’s rights?

Our neighborhood has repeatedly rejected sidewalk petitions, a fact that was thrown in our faces by Council member Crowder. (And neighbors are trying to jump ship from this petition now that they know the facts.)

I hope our case is not emblematic, a sign of things to come, when uniformity rules the day in this “progressive” city.

“The City of Raleigh’s number one criteria, ahead of all others, in its “Ordinance to Codify the Street and Sidewalk Improvement Policy” once read: “THE CITY COUNCIL IS COMMITTED TO THE PRESERVATION OF EXISTING NEIGHBORHOODS BY MAINTAINING THEIR CHARACTER AND AESTHETIC QUALITIES.”

That was then. This is now.