Email to City Council Members from David Simonton & Carolyn Parker (8/26/2015)

August 26, 2015

Dear City Council Members,

Re: Opposition to Street Improvement Petition #1351 – Lorimer Road

We are Carolyn Parker and David Simonton. We are 22-year residents of 1218 Lorimer Road, located in West Raleigh in the long-established Kentwood neighborhood.  Our contact information is at the bottom of this letter and we invite you to call one or both of us directly with any questions, or if you need any additional information in your consideration of the above referenced Street Improvement Petition.

In advance of City Council’s consideration of this petition, we are writing to ask that our block of Lorimer Road, from Onslow Road to Garland Drive, be removed from the petition altogether. We and the majority of our neighbors on this block oppose Street Improvement Petition #1351 in its current form. We neither want nor need the proposed road and sidewalk changes—and we certainly don’t want to be made to pay for them, either as property owners or as taxpayers.

Below, we outline four main reasons we oppose that portion of Petition #1351 which proposes road and sidewalk improvements along the northern end of Lorimer Road between Onslow Road and Garland Drive.

1)  A Majority of Owners On Our Block Oppose the Petition As To Our Block

The length of Lorimer Road included in the petition—from Kaplan Road to Garland Drive—is bisected by a creek and by Onslow Road, a gravel road (no curbs, no sidewalks). The total length of Lorimer included in the Petition is a little less than 3,000 feet.

Onslow Road marks an intersection, a clear delineation between two segments of this stretch of Lorimer. Together with the unpaved Onslow Road, there is a creek at this location that marks a significant geographic boundary between the two sections of this Petition. This block and section of Lorimer Road is approximately 950 feet in length.  The other section (from Onslow Road to Kaplan Drive) is approximately 2,000 feet in length.   A Map (“Map # 1”) showing these two sections is attached for your reference.

We live on the block north of Onslow, between Onslow and Garland (no curbs, no sidewalks). There are fourteen properties on this block including ours: Lots 14-27. As stated, the majority of residents here—nine of the fourteen property owners (or 64%)—are opposed to the petition.

Our end of Lorimer Road is clearly opposed to these changes, while the other end is in favor. We ask that you consider these two sections of Lorimer Road separately, so that “majority rules” will be equally applied.  Further, we must note that the Petitioner in this case does not live on Lorimer Road, but at 1424 Fairway Ridge Road (no sidewalks). A Map (“Map # 2”) showing the location of the Petitioner’s property is attached.

2)  Negative Impacts to the Character of the Area, Streetscape, and Environmental Amenities Along Lorimer

Further, the unique and distinctive character of our block will be destroyed if the proposed changes were implemented.

This block, where many of the houses were built in the 1950s, rolls through a quiet, wooded residential neighborhood. The speed limit is 25mph, as it is on most of the surrounding roads: Chaney Road to the east (no curbs, no sidewalks) and Onslow (gravel) to the west. It is primarily traveled by its residents. Most through traffic bypasses our interior neighborhood roads via Kent Road and Kaplan Drive, both of which already have sidewalks (with Kaplan currently undergoing a substantial and costly sidewalk improvement funded largely by Raleigh taxpayers).

The proposed alterations—suggesting that Lorimer Road be widened to 27-feet, curbs and gutters installed, and a 6-foot setback and 6-foot sidewalk installed on the west side—are both excessive and unnecessary, and would be utterly out of character here.

3)  The Proposed Road and Sidewalk Improvements Will Have a Disproportionate and Inequitable Impact Along Our Block of Lorimer Road

After the road-widening and installation of curbs and gutters, residents on the west side of the street would lose 14 feet of the front yard they now enjoy, while residents on the east side would lose only 3 1/2 feet (distances within the City’s easement, granted). At least two properties on our block of Lorimer (on the west side closest to the intersection with Garland) will be severely impacted, due to the very close proximity of the homes to the right-of-way. See attached Map (“Map # 3”) showing the location of structures at 1208 and 1210 Lorimer that will be severely impacted (about 21 and 24 feet from the right-of-way, respectively).

The impacts to this portion of Lorimer are not worth the minimal benefits offered. There are no connecting sidewalks at Garland, and thus any improved sidewalks will “lead to nowhere” once they terminate at the intersection of Lorimer and Garland. There is no present or future plan or petition seeking to extend another sidewalk another quarter of a mile along Garland to Kent Road (where the closest sidewalk is currently located). A block to the west along Garland dead-ends into I-440, and one block to the north along Lorimer dead ends into Western Boulevard, without any feasible pedestrian access points to locations that would benefit from any added “connectivity” in this area. No one will be seeking pedestrian access to or across either I-440 or Western Boulevard in this vicinity.

The physical barrier of Onslow Road (unpaved and gravel) along with the creek that bisects the neighborhood at this location make this geographic area a natural stopping point for any road or sidewalk improvements. Moreover, the drainage basin along our block on the north end of Lorimer to the creek adjacent to Onslow Road west is exceedingly small, meaning there is no measurable benefit from the proposed curb and gutter for storm water control. The existing drainage swales already function well to direct and control storm water along our block. Such may be different for the other portion of Lorimer Road to the south and west of Onslow Road, where there is a much larger drainage basin that directs and sheds water toward the creek. We do not oppose the Petition to the extent of the road and sidewalk improvements to the south and west of Onslow Road. But our northern end of Lorimer Road will benefit little-to-none from the utility improvements, and the detrimental impact to the surrounding environment on our end of Lorimer is not worth the cost, expense, and headache that will be inflicted upon those of us living along this portion of Lorimer Road.

4)  The Cost to Make the Road and Sidewalk Improvements Is Substantial and the Benefit to the Surrounding Community Is Minimal

According to the attached document showing the per lot assessment amounts and total estimated cost of construction (titled “Cost and Assessment Amounts”), those living along Lorimer will contribute approximately $175,000, while the total estimated cost of the project is $1,700,000.00. Accordingly, City of Raleigh taxpayers will be paying over $1,500,000.00 million to install road and sidewalk improvements along less than half a mile of Lorimer, including the northern portion of Lorimer where 64% of the owners north of Onslow Road oppose the Petition. Bear in mind that the person who filed the Petition in this case does not even live on Lorimer Road, and that the street she lives on, Fairway Ridge Drive, has no sidewalks. Obviously, the Petitioner is not facing the same assessment that those living on Lorimer will be required to pay.

Finally, this process has been a difficult and confusing one. It didn’t have to be this way; we are comfortable agreeing to disagree, and are not opposed to change. During the petition process, the petitioner circulated misinformation by representing that “Eventually the City of Raleigh will require the road to be brought up to standard as a conforming road and the property owners will pay the increased fees at that time if it is not handled now.” When the untruth of this assertion was brought to the petitioner’s attention, she admitted her “mistake,” yet she continued to distribute this same misinformation in the neighborhood, suggesting that these changes are a foregone conclusion*. This is a petition-driven process, and there is no schedule for when or if Lorimer Road, much less any other road in the City, will or will not be improved with curb and gutter and/or sidewalks.  Without action by petition, there is nothing suggesting that the City would ever force or require Lorimer Road to be improved with curb/gutter/sidewalk.

The tactics used by this Petitioner throughout have made the entire process unnecessarily divisive and troublesome.

Thank you for your time, for considering our request to have our block removed from the petition, and for your service to the City and its citizens.

Sincerely,

Carolyn Parker
David Simonton
1218 Lorimer Road (Lot 17)
Raleigh, NC  27606

* I, Carolyn Parker, attended the April 1 neighborhood information meeting where this statement was called into question.  Council Member Kay Crowder, who presided, and two city representatives also in attendance, assured us that the City would never force such changes on its citizens.

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ATTACHMENTS (4) –

Map # 1

Map # 2

Map # 3

Cost and Assessment Amounts

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From: Sadler, Nick
To: Carolyn Parker, City Council Members
Date: Wed, Aug 26, 2015 at 9:53 AM
Subject: RE: Please Vote No to “Street Improvement Petition #1351” at Your Next City Council Meeting

Ms. Parker

I wanted to write to let you know that Council has received your comments regarding Lorimer Road.

Nick

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