Email to City Council Members – David Simonton (4/5/2016)

From: David Simonton
To: City Council Members
CC: Jimmy Upchurch, Blair Hinkle, Nick Sadler, Eric Haugaard
Date: Tue, Apr 5, 2016 at 9:29 AM
Subject: Tonight’s Agenda Item (Re: Lorimer Road)

Dear Council Members and Others,

In advance of my appearance this evening before the City Council, a more detailed accounting than my 3 minutes will permit. Thank you.

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Re: Street Improvement Petition #1351 – Lorimer Road

This petition, for the installation of a sidewalk with street improvements on Lorimer Road between Kaplan Road and Garland Drive, was presented to residents—specifically, those living south of Onslow Road—as a way to end their decades-old stormwater problems. The question is: will it?

“When I signed this petition…I was very reluctant to do so. The petition was presented to me mainly as a means to solve Beverly Thomas’s flooding problems in her yard, along with other flooding issues to her neighbors. In trying to be a good neighbor, to help people that were having flooding issues up the street from me….I signed it.” —Resident Ryan Barnum’s sworn affidavit, excerpt (the original signed and notarized affidavit is on file in the City Clerk’s office)

The petitioner’s goal, of course, was to secure as many signatures as possible. But this tactic—promising a solution to a long-standing problem and suggesting that signing the petition would solve it—is questionable, and troubling, since the official Stormwater Report (excerpts below) did not reach the same conclusion.

Property owners living south of Onslow Road were led to believe that their stormwater problems, and those of their neighbor’s, WOULD be solved—and so many signed, a number on that basis alone:

“I don’t care about the sidewalk. I just want my stormwater problems fixed.” —Lorimer Road resident, September 21, 2015 neighborhood meeting

And thus a street and sidewalk petition morphed into a stormwater-abatement petition…and passed primarily on that presumption.

“…Overwhelmingly, almost unanimously, from Kaplan to Onslow people were thrilled and excited…. It was fun hearing stories of…whitewater rapids through front yards, washed-out driveways, flooded houses….” (Sharon Moll Mixon, Facebook post, 9/3/15)

“There are 41 amazing families on this street 28 families recognized this improvement to be a benefit to either property and their community. They are the ones that signed this petition to make it happen. I don’t have a vote….But the ones that do, made it very clear they have been wanting this for more than 40 years.” (Donna Moll Buford, Facebook post, 9/2/15)

Stormwater issues were raised numerous times during the Open Hearing for the Street and Sidewalk Project:

From the September 1, 2015 City Council Meeting Minutes (Note that one of these speakers will have the sidewalk on their side of the street) —

Arlene Ash, 1413 Lorimer Road (north of Onslow Road), “talked about the storm drainage problems and her trying to contact the City for help to no avail.”

–  Barbara Moran, 1401 Lorimer Road (north of Onslow 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.”

Helen Adams, 1301 Onslow Road, said, “Mr. & Mrs. Crowder have worked hard on the various issues. Because of the terrain in the area [my] property ends up getting everyone’s water” (Ms Adams, it should be noted, lives at the bottom of a hill).

– “Another gentlemen [indicated] when it rains there is a 6 foot wide white water river in [my] front yard [which is north of Onslow Road].”

– “Other discussion related to stormwater and erosion issues, with Mr. [Jimmy] Upchurch pointing out he is not familiar with those complaints and he would have to research.”

I learned from my attorney, Ben Kuhn, who was present at the 9/1/2015 meeting—and who met with Representative Kay Crowder on my behalf in August in advance of that meeting—that stormwater issues are important to Mrs. Crowder (as they are to a number of long-time constituents who live on Lorimer Road), so much so that she invited a representative from the City’s Stormwater Division to attend the August meting as well.

The trouble is, the official Stormwater Report for Lorimer Road concluded: “No Major Issues Noted” —

Project Report.png

 

A map of the area’s drainage system shows no stormwater problems whatsoever for Lorimer Road north of Onslow Road. And the Field Survey found only four properties with serious issues:

 

Bushy Creek Drainage System.png

From the Lorimer Road Field Survey Notes (12/3/2015) —

– Serious drainage issues (i.e. wet yards, erosion) in parcel numbers 1401 [Barbara Moran], 1321 [Jessie & Beverly McDaniel], 1319 [Brian Platz], and 1315 [Stan Pruitt]
– “Parcel 1401 is property that has existing 18” storm pipe conveying water under Lorimer from north side…as per GIS, this water is collected in a channel that runs from existing school (at Kaplan Ave) to Woodlinks Drive and carries/catches water from behind houses including parcels 1424, 1420, 1412, 1408, 1404, 1402, and 1400
– Talked to owner of 1315 (Stan Pruitt) who made statement to the effect that ‘the City caused the drainage issues when Athlone Place and Delmont Drive were constructed and that this project better correct the problem.’”

Note: That’s four properties out of forty-one total properties that have “serious…issues.” And it’s highly questionable whether this project will do anything to solve them.

The petitioner told residents the project would alleviate stormwater problems, that such problems would “be a thing of the past.” But although stormwater issues were used to solicit votes—and considered by Mrs. Crowder to be important:

• No one from Stormwater was present at the April 1, 2015 meeting, the only neighborhood meeting about the proposed project that was held.

• No one from Stormwater spoke at the September 1, 2015 City Council meeting, although the topic of stormwater was raised by 4 residents whose properties are on the southern section of Lorimer Road, between Onslow Drive and Kaplan Drive.

• Residents were never told there had been a Stormwater Report/Study prepared.

• Residents never got a chance to talk to Stormwater personnel.

• The Stormwater Report also confirms that a substantial amount of additional water will be piped directly into Bushy Creek.

Will this project create a new and bigger problems for Onslow Road residents who live along Bushy Creek? How will the creek itself be impacted? Have any studies been done?

Chaney Road resident Barbara Scott wrote:

“Some homeowners in the 1400 block of Lorimer Road [south of Onslow Road] believe that the curb, gutter, and drains will end the stormwater problems in their yards. I don’t know where that idea comes from. [Four] of those residents spoke at the City Council meeting. No one representing the City questioned them about these problems or advised caution about what the improvements could accomplish without a final design. Are petitioners given any guidelines about what they can say about the proposed project while circulating a petition?”

“No one is thinking about the creek’s capacity to handle the additional stormwater generated by .7 miles of additional pavement to widen the road, curb and gutter, and sidewalk. Curb and gutter is going to direct fast water right into the creek. Can it handle that much during a big storm event? Has anyone checked the creek’s capacity and how much additional stormwater the paved areas will generate during a heavy rain? There are formulas for doing that and experts at NC State University and elsewhere who could assess that. I don’t see any evidence that such an assessment was completed. Nor do I see any evidence that our city council has considered that, except for Russ Stephenson who suggested a low impact development approach.”

“I believe Kay Crowder’s thinking on this doesn’t consider long-term environmental impacts. Those at the bottom of Chaney and Lorimer and on Onslow are living in a flood plain. And that’s a delicate environment to be affecting without additional study.”

Lorimer Road resident Jeff Essic wrote:

“…Once everything is curb and gutter, it is going to be piped straight to the creek with no chance of infiltrating into the soil, and will cause an increase of flooding for everyone downstream. For some reason this increase of impervious surface doesn’t seem to bother our City Council…”.

On September 1, 2015, “Mr. [Jimmy] Upchurch pointed out he is not familiar with [stormwater and erosion ] complaints and he would have to research.” Has this research been done?

On October 5, 2015, Nick Sadler assured Lorimer Road resident Erin Salmon, “[I will] be happy to route the stormwater issues for Onslow [Road] to our stormwater staff. They can decide from that point how to handle the issue…”. Has this issue been decided?

Stormwater was a big selling point for the Lorimer Road petitioner, Donna Buford. All things considered, it now appears to have been just one more ruse. Only this one carries with it serious environmental consequences.

It was most disturbing, then, to discover this staff email, implying that the Stormwater Study and Report was not taken seriously in deciding whether this project should go forward as planned or not:

From: Carmela Teichman
Sent: October 13, 2015
To: Kevin Boyer
Subject: FW: Request for Staff Comments – Lorimer Road from Kaplan Drive to Garland Drive

Interesting … why this wasn’t sent to Kelly and his techs is beyond me, must have been all the confusion with the change up in management, anyway if you go to the initial email from Donatta, her comments are just like they have always been, generic. I am convinced (from my own experience with doing this in my past life) that asking for our input is nothing more than a formality, or as you said “checking off a box ”. It is very unfortunate that the City operates this way, it just causes more problems later on, your response is really informative, too bad it just was filed away somewhere,  just my opinion.

Thanks for sharing.

Carmela Teichman
Stormwater Outreach/Education
City of Raleigh . Public Works

 

I trust that Council will in fact look more closely at this issue before proceeding with the Lorimer Road project.

Thank you again –

Respectfully,

David Simonton
1218 Lorimer Road

 

[Official Stormwater Report Included Here in Original Email]

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from April 5, 2016 City Council Agenda –

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from April 5, 2016 City Council Meeting Minutes –

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