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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UDO “Requirements?”

UDO1.png

.  .  .

Emphasis added (below) –

From: Darges, Christine
To: Powell, Donetta ;  Dunn, Kenneth ;  Lamb, Eric ;  Kallam, Paul ;  Senior, Mark ;  Duffy, Rebecca ;  Talley, Russ
CC: Johnson, Chris ;  Niffenegger, Jed ;  Baldwin, Jennifer ;  McGee, Chris ;  Alford, Brian ;  Upchurch, Jimmy
Sent time: 07 Jun, 2014 2:21:26 PM

I would clarify that this petition [Lorimer Road] is like any other.  It is not due to the UDO requirements.  The only difference is the new standard of a 6’ sidewalk instead of a 5’ sidewalk applies now as noted in our new street typology and sidewalk standards. There is no retrofit obligation or requirement for neighborhoods and streets to comply per the UDO.  Outside the petition process, all public street improvements are obtained through the development process as usual or a city initiated program.

I have no specific comments for this location.

Christine Darges, Manager, Development Services, Development Services Customer Service Center

—Christine Darges is the Development Services Manager in the Development Services Department. Development Services oversees and coordinates the processing and review of proposed development plans for the City of Raleigh, from project conception to permit issuance.

.  .  .

And yet, despite Christine Darges’ clarification, the language in Donetta Powell’s original email—that “most likely this will be a retrofit due to UDO requirements”—is now emphatic:

Screen shot 2016-06-12 at 9.43.17 AM.png

.  .  .

Christine Darges interview (2011) —

Is there any part of the city that will be affected [by the UDO] more than another?

CD: It’s hard to say. There are some pretty obvious areas where the context is already there. Like in the downtown, Hillsborough Street and Glenwood South, everybody kind of knows what those areas are like. The areas that the city wants to transform, so to speak, and change through redevelopment could be major corridors, near future transit stops. If we’re able to get funding for transit, where those stations are going to be located are going to be transformed drastically over time. But basically the neighborhoods aren’t really going to change at all. We want to preserve neighborhoods.

.  .  .  .  .  .

Justis Peters – Woodlinks Drive

“Justis Peters, 1315 Lorimer Road, spoke in support of the improvements. He questioned however if it could be amended to add sidewalks down the side of his property on Woodlinks. He stated he owns the majority of the frontage on Woodlinks and if the sidewalk could be extended to make it a complete sidewalk the people along Fairway Ridge would benefit.” —from City Council Meeting Minutes, 9/1/2015 [Note: Donna Burford, the Lorimer Road petitioner, lives on Fairway Ridge Drive; neither Peters nor Burford will be assessed for either project]

. . . . . .

From: Smith, Gail
To: Johnson, Chris ;  Upchurch, Jimmy ;  Eldredge, Leslie
CC: Powell, Donetta
Sent time: 02 Sep, 2015 2:55:15 PM

 

From: Upchurch, Jimmy
Sent: Wednesday, September 02, 2015 9:37 AM
To: Smith, Gail; Eldredge, Leslie
Cc: Johnson, Chris; Powell, Donetta
Subject: Lorimer Road Petition Motion To Approve

Gail,

Please clarify Ms. Crowder’s motion in regards to Mr. Justis Peters request last night for us to extend the proposed sidewalk installation on Lorimer around his side yard on Woodlinks to connect to the existing sidewalk that stops at his property line.

This addition, as requested by Mr. Peters, to the proposed improvements included in the petition would only affect Mr. Peters property and being sidewalk installation along his property only, it would be completely at City expense as sidewalk installation is not assessable with this proposed project.

Thanks.

Jimmy Upchurch
Assessment Supervisor
City of Raleigh Public Works Department
Design/Construction Division

 

t_file_at3.jpg
Mr. Peter’s request to add sidewalk along his side yard

. . . . . .

From: Smith, Gail
Sent: Wednesday, September 02, 2015 10:38 AM
To: Upchurch, Jimmy; Eldredge, Leslie
Cc: Johnson, Chris; Powell, Donetta
Subject: RE: Lorimer Road Petition Motion To Approve

Her motion was to approve the improvements with the change that sidewalk will be reduced to 5 ft. – Sidewalk from Kaplan to Garland.  In staff this am there was discussion about adding the Peters property.  Tom said that could not occur without going through the entire process again but suggested to Rich that if Mr. Peters was willing to pay for the project that maybe we could enter into a contract to add the improvements to his property to the contract.

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Full Response to “Request for Staff Comments”

From: Darges, Christine
To: Powell, Donetta ;  Dunn, Kenneth ;  Lamb, Eric ;  Kallam, Paul ;  Senior, Mark ;  Duffy, Rebecca ;  Talley, Russ
CC: Johnson, Chris ;  Niffenegger, Jed ;  Baldwin, Jennifer ;  McGee, Chris ;  Alford, Brian ;  Upchurch, Jimmy
Sent time: 07 Jun, 2014 2:21:26 PM

I would clarify that this petition [Lorimer Road] is like any other.  It is not due to the UDO requirements.  The only difference is the new standard of a 6’ sidewalk instead of a 5’ sidewalk applies now as noted in our new street typology and sidewalk standards. There is no retrofit obligation or requirement for neighborhoods and streets to comply per the UDO.  Outside the petition process, all public street improvements are obtained through the development process as usual or a city initiated program.

I have no specific comments for this location.

Christine

 

Christine Darges, Manager, Development Services
Development Services Customer Service Center

Christine Darges is the Development Services Manager in the Development Services Department. Development Services oversees and coordinates the processing and review of proposed development plans for the City of Raleigh, from project conception to permit issuance.

.  .  .  .  .  .

Above is Christine Darges’ response to the following request by Donetta Powell –

From: Powell, Donetta
Sent: Thursday, May 22, 2014 10:00 AM
To: Dunn, Kenneth; Lamb, Eric; Kallam, Paul; Senior, Mark; Duffy, Rebecca; Darges, Christine; Talley, Russ
Cc: Johnson, Chris; Niffenegger, Jed; Baldwin, Jennifer; McGee, Chris; Alford, Brian; Upchurch, Jimmy
Subject: Request for Staff Comments-Lorimer Road from Kaplan Drive to Garland Drive

We have received a request for installation of curb and gutter and sidewalk along Lorimer Road from Kaplan Drive to Garland Drive. The existing conditions consist of a 22’ strip pavement throughout per our Public Works Street Maintenance Log running approximately 2,890’ from Kaplan to Garland. Most likely this will be a retrofit due to UDO requirements. It is inside the City limits and is classified as a “local” neighborhood street.

Please provide your comments to us by Thursday, June 12, 2014.

If you have any questions or comments, please reply via e-mail or call Donetta Powell at 996-4054. Thanks!

 

Donetta Powell
Assessment Specialist
City of Raleigh Public Works Department
Design/Construction Division

.  .  .  .  .  .

—Powell? Jimmy Upchurch? abbreviated Christine Darges’ response (above) in a combined report as follows –

 

Planning Department.jpg

 

—and in a subsequent report (11/20/2014) like this –

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Response to “Request for Staff Comments”

Re: Request for Staff Comments – Lorimer Road from Kaplan Drive to Garland Drive

“. . . If you go to the initial email from [Donetta Powell], 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 [Kevin Boyer] 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.”

Carmela Teichman [Email excerpt, October 13, 2015]
Stormwater Outreach/Education . City of Raleigh . Public Works

 

[Complete email HERE]

About – Donetta Powell

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Donetta Powell – Assessment Specialist

Donetta has been with the City of Raleigh Public Works Department Design/Construction Division since 2002. Her career began with her working as a Staff Support Specialist. She later advanced to become an Administrative Assistant and has recently been promoted to her current position as an Assessment Specialist.

Throughout the years she has worked with our Capital Improvement Projects, our financial processing and budgeting of both our Capital Improvement Project and Operating budgets.  She has worked with street improvement projects from conception through construction handling and assisting Division staff with correspondence, meetings, project bidding, and project financial oversight.  She has also continued her training by completing Capital Leadership courses.

In her current role, Donetta assists citizens with petitions for street and sidewalk improvements. She works closely with City Council, Departments, and staff to initiate petition projects for design and construction. When projects are completed she is involved with processing assessments for those projects.  She is also currently assisting with updating our Division website information.

In her spare time Donetta enjoys being with family, especially her grandchildren. She loves doing yard work, cooking, cleaning, organizing and shopping. She also loves going to Lake Gaston and Atlantic Beach often and still water skis and snow skis when she gets the chance.

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[Complete Newsletter, HERE]

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Donetta Powell’s “Petition ‘Variance Requests'”

From: Powell, Donetta
Sent: Wednesday, October 15, 2014 3:27 PM
To: Dawson, Carl
Cc: Upchurch, Jimmy
Subject: Variance Requests for the Lorimer Road Street Improvement Petition

Carl,
We are preparing a street improvement petition for Lorimer Road from Kaplan Drive to Garland Drive and will need your approval of variances to the UDO and street design standards. Based on our Transportation Staff the street classification of neighborhood yield, staff is recommending we construct the UDO required 27’ back‐to‐back street section, including a 6’ wide sidewalk on a variable 6’ setback on the west side. We are asking for variance approvals to omit the required 5’ utility easement as we are not proposing to relocate the existing utilities and to omit the 2nd sidewalk on the east side but to include grading the berm to 3.5 feet. Please let me know if you have any questions or need any additional information prior to authorizing the requested variances. Thanks!

Donetta Powell
Assessment Specialist
City of Raleigh Public Works Department

“‘Adverse’ Neighborhood Meeting”

Lorimer Road resident Erin Salmon organized a gathering—a Neighborhood Meeting—for International Peace Day (9/21/15). She distributed this letter/inviation to neighbors –

Erin Salmon INVITE

_______________

Petitioner Donna Burford forwarded the invitation to Donetta Powell and Jimmy Upchurch of the City’s Public Works Department, characterizing the meeting as “adverse” – Continue reading

“I for one, am a fan!”

From: Donna Burford
To: Kay Crowder, Donetta Powell
Date: 9/18/2015 4:19:52 PM
Subject: Meeting Announcement

“As to be suspected [Erin Salmon] doesn’t want the facts and just wants to sling the mud. I have received confirmation that at least the mature residents on the street will not be participating in her rant sessions. 🙂 I actually laughed out loud to her comment implying “we” would plan another meeting. Or the statement that implies that she could organize or even make a political forum between Crowder and Smith happen. The “Lorimer Road Raleigh” Facebook page will be changed from closed group to a public group this evening so evidence of angst and motivations can be recorded. They may want to watch their tongues. I already have evidence of a threatening remark from Dave [Simonton] toward my sister and I that he thinks he deleted. If they are not able to contain their hatred then restraining orders may be needed. Once again…all of the sane neighbors on Lorimer Rd. thank you for all of your support and hard work! I for one, am a fan!”

—Donna Burford

 

[NOTE: Donna Burford, the Lorimer Road petitioner, now works for Kay Crowder. Donna’s sister, Sharon Mixon, the person who wanted a sidewalk in the first place, is grateful for Crowder’s help with this process as well. Both Donna and Sharon are Friends with Kay on Facebook. ]

Affidavit of Carolyn Parker

NOTE:  The original signed and notarized Affidavit is housed in the Office of the City Clerk, City of Raleigh. It is dated January 27, 2016.

.  .  .  .  .  .

State of North Carolina
County of Wake
BEFORE ME, the undersigned Notary, ______________________________________________ , on this ___________ day of January, 2016, personally appeared Carolyn Parker, known to me to be a credible person and of lawful age, who being by me first duly sworn, on her oath, deposes and says:

Regarding Street Improvement Petition #1351 – Lorimer Road

Because the changes will impact the usefulness of the frontage I now enjoy, and cost me a substantial amount of money, I believe I had the right to have information about this Petition provided me in a timely manner. I believe I had a right to have a Petition document state clearly the dimensions of sidewalk, setback, and easements etc. required for the project so that an average citizen could see clearly how the project might affect themselves and their neighbors.

I further believe I had a right to transparency in the process and a right to fair play. As one example: There is a small key on the Petition map page. If I read it correctly it states that a number of property owners face no assessment for this project. Yet, in the Petition process designed by the City, their vote counts the same as mine or other property owners who face assessment (one of my neighbors will have to pay more than $10,000). All of the property owners facing no assessment voted for the Petition.

I believe I had a right to be afforded a true forum with my neighbors – where you are provided correct information about the specifics of a project and the specifics of the Petition process before hand – so that you can come together to discuss diverse ideas and to develop expansive thinking.

As it turns out I was kept in the dark for 4 ½ months and given misinformation by the Petitioner.

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