Resident Comments—Lorimer Road Project, 25% Design Meeting

Email to Talal Shahbander, Senior Project Engineer from Lorimer Road resident David Simonton in response to a request for resident comments at the 25% Design Meeting for the project—

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February 21, 2017

Dear Mr. Shahbander,

I am writing to request an adjustment to the design of the Lorimer Road Project: specifically, the reduction in the width of the setback, now set at 6 feet. I and most of my neighbors want a smaller “footprint” on our street. As the petitioner herself reported to the Public Works Department in May 2015, “Most All [Residents] Want 5′ Sidewalk and 2′ Setback.”

I believe a 6’ setback and 5’ sidewalk on our little-traveled, out-of-the-way street is excessive and out-of-place. The speed limit on Lorimer Road is 25mph, pedestrian traffic is nearly nonexistent and the vehicular traffic count is well under 1,000 cars a day. By comparison Daisy Street has heavy foot traffic, considerable vehicular traffic and a speed limit of 35mph—yet Engineering recommended a 2.5′ setback there, which the City Council unanimously approved.

A reduced setback on Lorimer will:

1)  save the City and taxpayers money, both in construction and easement acquisition costs,

2)  help preserve and protect the character of our neighborhood,

3)  SAVE TREES, which are integral to the look and feel of our long-established street,

4)  provide a majority of residents the outcome they desire.

I believe this request to be a fair one. As it stands now the project is astonishing in its inequity: residents on the east side of the street stand to lose a fraction of the frontage they now enjoy compared to those living on the west side, where the bulk of the impact will be felt.

A smaller setback will:

5)  reduce the project’s undue inequity,

6)  ease the growing tension between east-side and west-side residents.

I ask, then, that you please go before the City Council and request a reduction in the width of the setback on Lorimer Road.

Council Member Gaylord already recommended a smaller setback, an alternative Jimmy Upchurch said that Public Works was okay with (9/1/15). And Council Member Crowder assured Lorimer residents at a Neighborhood Meeting that she would advocate for us “to assure engineering involved property owners” (10/20/15).

As you wrote to colleagues back in September about the project, “We should be prepared to discuss recommendations of design alternatives with City Council.” I hope—and trust—that a reduced setback will be front and center in that discussion.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

David Simonton

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An Open Letter to Kay Crowder

September 1, 2016

Dear Council Member Crowder,

Today marks one year since the City Council’s decision to approve the petition for improvements along Lorimer Road in West Raleigh. As you know, that petition called for a 27’ back-to-back road, a 6’ sidewalk and a 6’ setback. You requested at that meeting that Council reduce the width of the sidewalk to 5′, which it did. The setback, however, remains at 6’.

And that’s why I’m writing today, to appeal to you to follow through on the numerous assurances property owners received: that the setback will be reduced as well. I believe this is a fair and reasonable request, given that residents here were repeatedly told that the setback width could be adjusted — told that by the petitioner, by City staff and by you.

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“Questions About Validity of Petition” (Laurel Hills)

Excerpts from the meeting appear below –

 

CITY COUNCIL MEETING MINUTES – 

The City Council of the City of Raleigh met in regular session at 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday, October 7, 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 (absent & excused)
Councilor Mary-Ann Baldwin
Councilor Kay C. Crowder (absent & excused)
Councilor Bonner Gaylord
Councilor Wayne K. Maiorano
Councilor John Odom
Councilor Russ Stephenson
Councilor Eugene Weeks

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REQUEST AND PETITIONS OF CITIZENS

TRAFFIC CALMING PETITION – LAUREL HILLS ROAD – QUESTIONS ABOUT VALIDITY OF PETITION – REFERRED TO PUBLIC WORKS COMMITTEE

Steven Dean, 4003 Juniper Court, stated he was before the Council as he and other residents of the Laurel Hills community have concerns about the validity of the petition to support the installation of traffic calming along a part of Laurel Hills Road. He pointed out the City has split Laurel Hills Road into two sections and he is talking about the Rex Hospital portion. He indicated the petition states there are some 53 eligible houses and 41 representatives one of those signed the petition which resulted in a 77.4 percent. He stated however they dispute that and presented the following: Continue reading

Email to Nick Sadler – David Simonton (4/25/2016)

Good Morning, Nick [Sadler],
You are, of course, a City employee. But you are also a resident of this city, or of some other city or town.
Wherever it is you live…suppose one day you were asked by a neighbor to sign a petition to approve Project X in your neighborhood. Because Project X sounded reasonable to you—and because all the other neighbors were signing, or so you were told—you signed the petition, too.
Now, suppose the petition passed—but it wasn’t for Project X after all, it was actually for Project Y! Meaning: you and your neighbors were duped.
Emails gathered through Public Records Requests from the Petitioner, Donna Burford, and addressed to you, Council Member Crowder, Donetta Powell and others, reveal that the scenario presented above is how things played out on Lorimer Road (it’s called a “bait and switch”).
The Petitioner, and practically everyone else involved, knows that this is the case. And yet, it’s the very residents who were deceived and who continue to seek redress who are being criticized—we’ve even been labeled HOSTILE by the City—or we’re being ignored altogether.
The fact is, residents along Lorimer Road were intentionally misled by City staff through their liaison, the Petitioner, or directly. The emails and affidavits from residents detail that [deception].
Please put yourself in our shoes for a moment, Nick. How would you feel at this point? And what would YOU do?
All we want is what’s right and fair: to start over, to go back to the drawing board.
Short of that, I believe we’re at least due the consideration of a compromise: a 5’ sidewalk and a 3 ½’ setback. It’s what residents who signed the petition signed for (or thought they did). And it’s what Bonner Gaylord proposed at the September 1, 2015 City Council meeting—a proposal Jimmy Upchurch agreed to.
Thank you, Nick. And thanks for passing this along,
David

City Council Meeting Minutes (9/1/2015)

A video of the 9/1/2015 evening session is HERE. Complete Council Meeting Minutes are HERE.

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The City Council of the City of Raleigh met in a regular reconvened session at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, September 1, 2015 in the City Council Chamber, Room 201 of the Raleigh Municipal Building, Avery C. Upchurch Government Complex, 222 W. Hargett Street, Raleigh, North Carolina, with all Council members present:

Mayor Nancy McFarlane, Presiding
Mayor Pro Tem John Odom
Councilor Mary-Ann Baldwin
Councilor Kay C. Crowder
Councilor Bonner Gaylord
Councilor Wayne K. Maiorano
Councilor Russ Stephenson
Councilor Eugene Weeks

Mayor McFarlane called the meeting to order and the following items were discussed with action taken and shown.

STREET IMPROVEMENTS – LORIMER ROAD – HEARING – APPROVED AS AMENDED

This was a hearing to consider the construction of Lorimer Road to a 27-foot, back-to-backstreet section with six-foot-wide sidewalk with a six-foot setback on the west side and a 3.5-foot shoulder on the east side including curbs, gutters, and drains from Kaplan Drive to Garland Drive, with assessments to apply at the current rate of $32 per linear foot. The hearing is pursuant to a petition, which was signed by 68.29 percent of the abutting property owners which represents 70.96 percent of the abutting linear feet of frontage.

The Mayor opened the hearing.

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