City Council Presentation (David Simonton, 3/1/2016)

A video of the 3/1/2016 evening session is HERE.

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David Simonton, 1218 Lorimer Road presented the following prepared statement.

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Good evening.

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; 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.

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The comments were received with no action taken.

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