Email to City Council – Jane Fenn (2/29/2016)

From: Jane Fenn
To: City Council Members
Date: February 29, 2016, 9:48 am
Subject: Are You a True Neighborhood Advocate? The UDO’s Application to Established Neighborhoods

Dear City Council Members,

Here’s your chance to demonstrate the truth of your place as a neighborhood advocate. Based on information gained from emails and other documents in recent public information requests, I am writing to ask that you please reconsider Resolution No. (2015) 141 – Lorimer Road, which currently calls for a 5’ sidewalk and a 6’ setback on the west side of the street. Trees, shrubs, ornamental plants, flowers, shade, and the relation of houses to street are all imperiled by this — elements that give our street its unique atmosphere.

In consideration of the unique character and aesthetic qualities of our neighborhood, I ask you to revisit Council Member  Bonner Gaylord’s proposal (September 1, 2015) for a 3½’ setback—a proposal Public Works Department Assessment Specialist Jimmy Upchurch agreed to. Conditions here warrant such an adjustment due to existing house placements and property lines. Additionally, many residents who discussed this petition with its originator including myself were told that the petition was a starting place.  I do believe many signers agreed on that basis. We naively believed the Unified Development Ordinance was not meant to be a blunt force tool to change the character of existing neighborhoods.   We believed and would like to continue believing that established areas of the city are just as important to the city council as any developer’s brand new neighborhood.

If you believe that yourselves about the UDO, that it was never meant to homogenize Raleigh but rather to guide new development, then you would surely agree that applying the standards meant for a new neighborhood should not be retroactively applied to damage the character and quality of long-established Raleigh neighborhoods. If this blind adherence to a standard that is inappropriate in some Raleigh situations is the path you choose to follow, then you give the lie to any cries of being neighborhood advocates.  If you wish to prove that you honor and maintain Raleigh’s many long-established areas, that you do not indeed favor developers and standardization at the expense of existing character, then revisiting this resolution provides you the chance to to demonstrate this.

Thank you.
Jane P. Fenn