Law & Public Safety Committee Meeting (6/25/2013)

Excerpts from the meeting appear below –

The Law and Public Safety Committee of the City of Raleigh met on Tuesday, June 25, 2013 p.m. in the Room 303, Raleigh Municipal Building, 222 West Hargett Street, Avery C. Upchurch Government Complex, Raleigh, North Carolina, with the following present: 

            Committee                                                                Staff

Mary Ann Baldwin, Presiding                  Assistant City Manager Howe

Mr. Randy Stagner                                     City Attorney McCormick

Mr. John Odom                                           Captain Jones (RPD)

                                                                       Transportation Planning Manager Lamb

                                                                       Gordon Dash, Transportation

                                                                       Sherry Bellville, Transportation

Chairperson Baldwin called the meeting to order at 3:00 p.m. and the following item(s) were discussed with action taken as shown.

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11-26 – Traffic Calming Major Projects Process – Chairperson Baldwin stated this item is a continued discussion regarding the traffic calming project development and improved public participation process. She pointed out this was discussed extensively before.

Transportation Planning Manager Lamb stated Staff has had discussion on process and structure and basically the feedback Staff received at the previous meeting. He gave a brief summary of the discussion that was held at the March 26, 2013 Law and Public Safety Committee meeting. He stated they talked about how to educate the public on what the opportunities are or are not making sure as they enter into an official process how they could make sure people understand what they are petitioning for….

At your March 26, 2013 meeting, the Committee requested that Staff look at revisions to the project development process for the Neighborhood Traffic Management Program. Staffs from Planning & Development and from Public Works met to review the current process and are offering the following suggested changes to the program:

1) Adding a step early in the process for both minor and major projects consisting of sending a brochure and an invitation to an informational meeting prior to the petition process. At the informational meeting, staff will describe the type of treatments available and what to expect going forward. This step should eliminate confusion later in the process when the petition is circulated.

2) At the conclusion of the informational meeting, major projects would be assigned to a project manager in Transportation Planning, while minor projects would remain the responsibility of NTMP program manager Tom Fiorello in Public Works-Transportation Operations. Each project manager would become the main point of contact for their projects. This would ensure continuity for residents from the start of the petition process all the way to the public hearing. If you have additional questions about this item, please advise.

Ms Baldwin stated in essence they are moving that public conversation to the beginning instead of the middle. She pointed out people know what they are planning when they sign the petition.

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Cheryl Ann Dooley, 720 Briarforest Place questioned why some people received a letter on this item but not all neighbors received one.  She thought this was one of the recommendations.

Ms. Baldwin pointed out usually the petitioner will receive notification.

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Ms. Baldwin stated everyone had their say at the public hearing and Council very patiently sat through and listened very carefully to their concerns. She stated they need to focus on the process. The question for the committee to consider is whether there is something that says the project stops. She feels the reason is because sometimes there are neighborhoods that are divided as pro and con and they have to decide how they will work or compromise. This is her guess as to why there is no killswitch in place.

Mr. Lamb pointed out that City Council approves the policy and directs Staff to enforce them. He elaborated on the Anderson Drive Project. He explained how much Staff time is spent developing a project.

Mr. Odom understands Mr. Dew’s frustration and feels there is a killswitch anytime five (5) Councilors want to make that type of decision. They have that authority. He feels they want to hear out a lot of things before a decision is made. Sometimes the Council does not know the true story of how everyone feels. They do want to hear everything before they take that step.

Ms Baldwin stated they did talk about this being citizen driven. The group briefly discussed the issue. Staff decided last time to experiment while still making this a citizen-driven process.

Mr. Lamb stated they are experimenting with sidewalk petitions and as that develops they can always apply what they learn to the traffic calming petition.

The Committee recommends upholding Staff’s suggestions for a revised process as follows:

1)         Adding a step early in the process for both minor and major projects consisting of sending a brochure and an invitation to an informational meeting prior to the petition process. At the informational meeting, staff will describe the type of treatments available and what to expect going forward. This step should eliminate confusion later in the process when the petition is circulated.

2)         At the conclusion of the informational meeting, major projects would be assigned to a project manager in Transportation Planning, while minor projects would remain the responsibility of NTMP program manager Tom Fiorello in Public Works-Transportation Operations. Each project manager would become the main point of contact for their projects. This would ensure continuity for residents from the start of the petition process all the way to the public hearing.

Mr. Stagner moved approval to uphold Staffs recommendations; it was seconded by Mr. Odom and put to a vote that passed unanimously.

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