City Council Meeting Minutes (9/1/2015)

A video of the 9/1/2015 evening session is HERE. Complete Council Meeting Minutes are HERE.

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The City Council of the City of Raleigh met in a regular reconvened session at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, September 1, 2015 in the City Council Chamber, Room 201 of the Raleigh Municipal Building, Avery C. Upchurch Government Complex, 222 W. Hargett Street, Raleigh, North Carolina, with all Council members present:

Mayor Nancy McFarlane, Presiding
Mayor Pro Tem John Odom
Councilor Mary-Ann Baldwin
Councilor Kay C. Crowder
Councilor Bonner Gaylord
Councilor Wayne K. Maiorano
Councilor Russ Stephenson
Councilor Eugene Weeks

Mayor McFarlane called the meeting to order and the following items were discussed with action taken and shown.

STREET IMPROVEMENTS – LORIMER ROAD – HEARING – APPROVED AS AMENDED

This was a hearing to consider the construction of Lorimer Road to a 27-foot, back-to-backstreet section with six-foot-wide sidewalk with a six-foot setback on the west side and a 3.5-foot shoulder on the east side including curbs, gutters, and drains from Kaplan Drive to Garland Drive, with assessments to apply at the current rate of $32 per linear foot. The hearing is pursuant to a petition, which was signed by 68.29 percent of the abutting property owners which represents 70.96 percent of the abutting linear feet of frontage.

The Mayor opened the hearing.

Donna Burford indicated she circulated the petition for this improvement. The sidewalks are needed for safety of the children and families in the area. She stated she doesn’t live on Lorimer Road however her sister does. This is the only access road to get to the homes on Fairway Ridge*. She stated the Public Works staff recommended the street petition because of the nonconformity of the street. The street is in very bad shape, both sides of the road are missing shoulders, have deep ditches, there has been years of neglect. She talked about the problems people have navigating the terrain, it is not safe to try to step off the roadway and let people pass, stories of many wrecks, etc., and pointed out 71% of the people signed the petition. Approximately 10 people stood in support. She stated however they would support the smallest foot print possible for the sidewalk so that it would have as little impact as possible on the property along the street.

Justis Peters, 1315 Lorimer Road, spoke in support of the improvements. He questioned however if it could be amended to add sidewalks down the side of his property on Woodlinks. He stated he owns the majority of the frontage on Woodlinks and if the sidewalk could be extended to make it a complete sidewalk the people along Fairway Ridge would benefit.

Currie Mixon, 1217 Lorimer Road, spoke in support of the petition pointing out it would provide connectivity in the area and would be good for the neighborhood. He stated now it is very dangerous walk particular in the center part of the road and asked the Council to move forward with the proposal. Janice Swab talked about the increase traffic and danger over the past few years. She pointed out she is getting older and would love to see the street improvements before she dies or gets hit by a car.

Attorney Ben Kuhn, 2840 Plaza Place, indicated he is representing those persons who are opposed to the street and sidewalk improvements. He explained the location, presented information on the persons who did not sign the petition and pointed out basically the people he represents are the people on Lorimer Road north of Onslow Road. He went over the footage, talked about the amount of frontage the people north of Onslow represents, presented photos showing the road, examples of setbacks, the terrain, ditches, talked about the lack of sidewalk connection and the impact on the various structures particular those at 1208 and 1210 Lorimer Road. He presented information about the drainage patterns in the area pointing out the sidewalks would not have a significant positive impact on the drainage. He stated his clients are requesting that the section of improvements on Lorimer Road north of Onslow Road to be removed from the petition. He stated they do not oppose the southern portion of the proposed improvements going forth. He talked about the percentage of the property owners north of Onslow Road who did not sign the petition, read from Code Section 6-2003(c) about the placement of sidewalks, talked about the cost to the City and the taxpayers and again asked that the portion of improvements along Lorimer Road north of Onslow be withdrawn.

Sharon Mixon, 1217 Lorimer Road, pointed out she walks with her three children to AB Combs School. She stated there are no connecting streets and sidewalks she has three children, talked about the problems, the danger, location of bus stops, etc.

Erin Salmon, 1210 Lorimer Road, pointed out the proposal if approved would have a significant negative impact on their property. She stated she would lose a lot of her front yard, talked about how they enjoy walking on the unpaved roads, and does not feel that her children are unsafe as traffic in that area is minimal. She stated people know the area and slow down. She stated she supports the people south of Onslow Road who want the improvements and while she wants to increase safety in the neighborhood she does not feel that the improvements as outlined are the way to go.

Helen Adams, 1301 Onslow Road, pointed out her property fronts on Lorimer Road. She has lived in the area over 42 years and has tried desperately to get curbs and gutters. [Thomas and Kay] Crowder have worked hard on the various issues. Because of the terrain in the area her property ends up getting everyone’s water. She talked about the snakes in the area, walking in the area, and spoke in support of the curbs and gutters.

Carolyn Parker, 1218 Lorimer Road, pointed out as she understands the petition process the majority rules. She stated she feels that should go both ways. If a majority of the people on the southern end of Lorimer Road want the improvements, fine, and if the people on the northern end of Lorimer do not want the improvements then that should rule. She talked about the various setbacks of the homes pointing out some will be impacted more than others. She stated she understands many people signed the petition or voted in favor of the improvements as they understood they could shrink this back down and make it the sidewalk smaller. She talked about the amount of property that the various parcels would lose.

City Clerk Gail Smith submitted an email from Jane Fenn, 1214 Lorimer Road which expressed concern about the improvements and made suggestions if they were to move forward.

Discussion followed with Ms. Mixon questioning if the sidewalks could be put on the east side instead of the west side. Assessment Supervisor Jimmy Upchurch presented an area map showing the existing sidewalks in the area, locations which have been the subject of previous petitions, the fact that Onslow petitioned 3 times unsuccessfully, why the UDO requirements were used in this area, the cost of the side walks on the east side, topo utility relocations, etc.

[Bonner] Gaylord questioned if the sidewalk could be extended along Woodlinks with Mr. Upchurch pointing out there is a sidewalk for part of that street. That side of the street is only two properties deep. He stated staff does not object to that connection.

Other discussion related to stormwater and erosion issues with Mr. Upchurch pointing out he is not familiar with those complaints and he would have to research. In response to questions from Ms. Crowder, Mr. Upchurch stated staff would be receptive to the sidewalk being only five feet wide. Changing the grade and the setback was also talked about. [Russ] Stephenson asked about low impact development standards and whether they have been considered for this area with Engineer Chris Johnson indicating staff had not investigated alternatives. Mr. Johnson pointed out the residents had asked for curb and gutter.

Arlene Ash, 1413 Lorimer Road, talked about the storm drainage problems and her trying to contact the City for help to no avail.

Barbara Moran, 1401 Lorimer Road, talked about city culverts that dump water into her front yard. She stated they had been to the Council years ago but Council did not feel there was any problem. She stated however she can stand in the ditch in front of her house.

A gentlemen who indicated he is engineer certified in LID talked about considering that type improvements on the north side with another gentlemen indicating when it rains there is a 6 foot wide white water river in his front yard. Attorney Kuhn talked about the drainage basin, direction of the water flows and the fact that curb and gutter would not help a whole lot. Mr. Johnson pointed out the sidewalk would be where the ditch is located therefore the impact on the lots would not change that much.

No one else asked to be heard thus the hearing was closed.

[Kay] Crowder** pointed out she is very familiar with this area and the street and pointed out water is one aspect; however, the street has deep swales with no room to walk along either side. There are many children who walk to school and it would be much easier and safer to do so on a side walk. We have to make sure that the kids can get to school safely and the neighborhood is connected therefore she would move approval of the project as outlined except reduce the width of the sidewalk to 5 feet pointing out her motion includes the entire improvements from Kaplan to Garland. Her motion was seconded by [Mary-Ann] Baldwin and a roll call vote resulted in all members voting in the affirmative. The Mayor ruled the motion adopted on an 8-0 vote. See Resolution 187.

** A verbatim transcript of Council Member Crowder’s statement is HERE.

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