Percentage Requirement Change – Petiton Policy (6/3/2014)

COUNCIL MINUTES

The City Council of the City of Raleigh met in regular session at 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday, June 3, 2014 in the City Council Chamber of the Raleigh Municipal Building, Avery C. Upchurch Government Complex, 222 W. Hargett Street, Raleigh, North Carolina, with the following present.

Mayor Nancy McFarlane, Presiding
Mayor Pro Tem John Odom (absent & excused)
Councilor Mary-Ann Baldwin
Councilor Thomas G. Crowder
Councilor Bonner Gaylord
Councilor Wayne K. Maiorano (absent & excused)
Councilor Russ Stephenson
Councilor Eugene Weeks

Mayor McFarlane called the meeting to order and invocation was rendered by Dr. Ralph Donnell Graves, The Gathering Place.  The Pledge of Allegiance was lead by Councilor Weeks.  Mayor McFarlane pointed out Mr. Maiorano and Mr. Odom are excused from today’s meeting.

The following items were discussed with action taken as shown.

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SIDEWALK PETITION PROCESS – PERCENTAGE MODIFIED

During the May 20, 2014 Council meeting, Mr. Crowder asked that an item be placed on this agenda under Special Items to receive a report and look at the current sidewalk policy that requires 75% of property owners’ signatures to move forward.

City Manager Hall pointed out Council members received a memorandum and the City Manager update and passed out the memorandum.

Mr. Crowder indicated he brought this item up and talked about recent conversations about school children, school crossing guards, the need for safety etc.  He stated presently our sidewalk petition policy has a 75% threshold and that is a huge number.  He pointed out Council and citizens want to make our communities more walkable and if property owners on a street want sidewalks for protection, workability, etc., it may be difficult to meet the 75% threshold.  He does not feel that is a democratic process.  Council members are elected by 50% plus 1 and he feels our sidewalk petition policy threshold should be changed to 50% plus 1.

Mr. Gaylord talked about staff’s recommendation which is if there is a change it should be 66%.  Mr. Gaylord stated he tends to agree with Mr. Crowder and he feels we should change it to 50% plus 1 and if we find that is too low, it can always be changed.

In response to questioning, Assessment Supervisor Jimmy Upchurch explained City staff recommended that it be increase to 75% when the Council took action to eliminate assessments for sidewalks.  He stated the thought behind the change is that the fewer people we have on board when we go into a project the more difficult it is to get easements, consensus, etc.  He stated when the Council decided to eliminate sidewalk assessments it was felt raising the bar would give a project more support going into the hearing process.  He pointed out staff did some analysis and of the 33 sidewalk petitions sent out or completed last year only 3 would have reached the 75% threshold.  If the threshold were changed to between 50% and 74% it would only add two additional petitions – only would have reached the threshold.  He stated a majority of the petitions were in the 25 to 50% category.  He stated the change in policy also eliminated a property owners having to go door to door to get signatures as now the petitions are mailed to each of the property owners.  Mr. Gaylord moved approval of Staff’s recommendation: 1) Threshold:  Reduce the required property owner signature percentage from 75% to a two-thirds majority (at least 66%).  2) Scoping:  Prior to sending petition letters to the adjacent property owners, have staff evaluate the street requested for sidewalk installation.  Providing a recommendation as to the most appropriate side of the street for the sidewalk placement will enable property owners to be more informed as to possible property impacts. 3) Schedule:  Staff will present successful sidewalk petitions to Council via the consent agenda to request a public hearing for council to consider approval to begin design/construction of the requested sidewalk based on available funding as they are received with the change that the threshold from 75% to 50% plus one.  His motion was seconded by Mr. Crowder.  Ms. Baldwin suggested that the motion be amended to include Council getting a report back in a year with Mr. Gaylord and Mr. Crowder accepting the amendment.  The motion as amended was put to a vote which resulted in all members voting in the affirmative except Mr. Odom and Mr. Maiorano who were absent and excused.  The Mayor ruled the motion adopted on an 8-0 vote.

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—Complete Minutes Are Here: CC-Minutes-2014-06-03