The 25% Design Meeting

UPDATE (Late-September 2016) — “I am targeting the week after Thanksgiving to hold the meeting.” —Talal Shahbander

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UPDATE (Spring 2016)Talal Shahbander reported that the first/25% design meeting will be held possibly in December but more likely in early January, and that he will make a decision on that in September.

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[The highlighting is the City’s]

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[“CM Crowder’s staffer” = Council Member Crowder’s staff member, Nick Sadler]

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[Source: HERE]

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

Jane Fenn’s Email to Eric Haugaard (12/1/2015)

From: Jane Fenn
To: Eric Haugaard
Date: December 1, 2015
Subject: Lorimer Road #DC-2014-0012

Mr. Haugaard — I have two purposes in writing today.
1.  I received the mailing from Chris Johnson regarding the Lorimer project.  In its first paragraph it states that the “typical road section calls for a 6′ wide sidewalk with 6′ setback. . . .” This is not what the city council actually passed, and I wanted to be positive that the project dimensions are NOT the typical and that the council’s changes to that are what is actually planned.  Please reassure me that that is the case.
2.  In previous communications to Councilwoman Crowder as well as information she provided to me from people in city offices, I asked for specific reasons why the projected sidewalk position is on the west side of the street rather than the east side.  Although I received responses to this, there was nothing specific.  Cited were factors such as terrain (just a general statement — there is obviously “terrain” on both sides of the street), vegetation to be removed (again, that is the case on both sides of the street), utilities (poles for electricity and other utilities exist on both sides of the street).  No specific details that could demonstrate why one side was selected because of cost or construction advantages — and I would assume that construction advantages can be reduced to cost advantages.  I want to obtain the cost estimates used to determine which side of the street is the most cost-effective for this construction.  The general statements of terrain, vegetation and utilities do nothing to show me why the west side is more cost effective.  Can you supply me with the cost estimates that demonstrate significant savings of west side construction vs. east side construction?  If you cannot, from whom can I obtain those figures?  I can not see anything in the information that has already been provided to me that makes the reason for this choice clear.
I have returned the form sent to me acknowledging that I understand project personnel will access my property as part of the design phase.  I noted on that form this request to you for specific cost estimates demonstrating that the sidewalk location has been determined by actual cost projections.  I appreciate your attention to this request very much.  Since I assume these estimates have already been made, I hope to see some concrete information soon.
Regards — Jane P. Fenn

Facebook Posts – September 2, 2015

Here are some “Lorimer Rd Raleigh” Facebook posts from 9/2/2015, a day after the evening City Council Meeting where the Lorimer Road Project was approved—with a one-foot reduction in the width of the sidewalk:

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Ryan Barnum

September 2, 2015

I regret that I was unable to make it to the meeting last night. I live at 1300 Lorimer Rd. Up until this summer started, I walked Lorimer Rd multiple times a day, every day, with my dog. I never felt unsafe. I understand mothers with children may not feel as comfortable in the road, but again, I never had any issues. My road frontage is three times the size of any other property on the petition, and so is the bill. I half heartedly signed the petition after speaking many times with Donetta, the woman in the office handling this initially. She told me that this thing is pretty much happening either way and it’s best to just sign the petition now to put it through before the rates go up and it’s even worse. She made sure to tell me that the designers and engineers try to work closely with the homeowners to be as minimally invasive as possible. I also spoke with Donna at length, and several other neighbors including Beverly, whose yard floods every time there’s rain, which is the main motive for the curb and gutter. Everybody I spoke to about it assured me they would push for the two foot setback with a five foot sidewalk, AND a narrower road of 27 feet. Donetta told me that with the 27’ road and the smaller setback, essentially the ditch would be where the sidewalk is and the road would push slightly more towards the east side, which to me wouldn’t be the end of the world as long as they didn’t cut anything down. I am 100% opposed to a 32 foot road and sidewalk. My property was established over 50 years ago by the Sawyers that planted many trees and bushes around the property. Each one serves a specific purpose. Most importantly for me, the privacy they give to my house and yard is something that I am unwilling to give up. As it is, my living room isn’t very far from the road. If we have a 32 foot road, even with the smaller sidewalk footprint, people will be walking about 15 feet away from my large windows. I also value the aesthetic of my property far more than any curb and gutter. My house is at the lowest possible point on the road and aside from one time during the worst hurricane to ever hit NC, it flooded a little bit. Flooding does not concern me. If this is still trying to be pushed through with a 32’ road I am going to write to the city council and everybody else that has a say in this to respectfully remove my name from the petition. This isn’t what I signed up for and I have no interest in shelling out over $10,000 for a project that is going to take away my privacy, ruin the aesthetic of my home, and put me into debt.
One last thought, when they install a new road and a sidewalk, this is only going to increase the traffic coming through the neighborhood. Cars will go faster on the bigger road. It will make for an even more welcoming cut through for people walking that don’t live in the neighborhood. Like several others on the street, my house was robbed last summer. I do not want to encourage more people looking in to see what they can get when they’re walking so close to my house.

 

Comments

Sharon Moll Mixon– 27ft road 5ft sidewalks but I don’t know that they have specified exactly what the setback will be as of now.
Like · September 2, 2015 at 6:06pm
Donna Moll BurfordThe petition was passed last night by city council, with only a 27′ road and they reduced the sidewalk to 5′ to keep in line with the rest of the neighborhood. I spoke to public works after and they will be under advisement about reducing the setback as well. As to be expected everyone has their concerns. The next step is the design so communication is key.
Like · September 2, 2015 at 6:14pm · Edited
Ryan Barnum – Thanks for that information Donna. If that’s truly the case and they’re also reducing the setback to two feet, and Donetta’s assurance that the designers will work hard not to remove trees and rip up yards holds true, then it’s a step in the right direction. Of course having the sidewalk on the east side would be even better. If the worst that happens is the ditch gets filled in and becomes the sidewalk, then I could live with that, again as long as they don’t remove any of the trees and bushes on my property. Do you know when the next meeting is? Donetta said there would be several meetings during the design phase that we could voice our concerns and work on something that appeases everybody.
Like · 1 · September 2, 2015 at 6:37pm
Jennifer Clifton – Ryan I wholeheartedly agree with you in that I don’t want to pay 5,000 for the city to tear up our yard and take down any plants/trees only to replace them with a sidewalk we do not want. I understand having to make sacrifices for the good of the whole – but I am not convinced in this project being better for everyone involved. Too bad.
Like · September 2, 2015 at 7:56pm
Sharon Moll Mixon – All the work is being done within the city easement nothing is happening on anyone’s property. It is true that root may be affected from trees but we have not been lied to by Powell or Upchurch. I have begun to trust them when they say things they want to work WITH us on this project.
Like · September 2, 2015 at 8:07pm
Jennifer Clifton – It is an expensive project that I personally am not interested in.
Like · September 2, 2015 at 8:12pm
Erin Salmon – My impression last night after the meeting is that the original petition is what has been approved. I did not get the sense that the lower impact option was passed. I was thoroughly disappointed by Kay Crowder’s lack of empathy to all of her constituents’ concerns. I do not see the issues of pedestrian and cyclist safety, the storm water needs, and the desire for our small, wooded neighborhood to remain distinctive in its aesthetic and character to be mutually exclusive. There were alternatives voiced that I think many of us could get on board with that have a lower impact and a lower cost. However, the discussion around these options was not fleshed out. I am already looking into the appeal process, paperwork which needs to be submitted within 30 days. Our neighborhood is clearly divided at this point. I hope we can reach a creative solution. Currie Mixon, I am especially interested in your ideas as a low impact credentialed engineer.
Like · 4 · September 2, 2015 at 11:29pm
Currie Mixon – Hello, neighbors! Erin, I went home from the meeting and immediately began to do some sketching and “figuring” on the geometry. The fact that we are dealing with a 14% grade as the road drops down to the creek limits how storm water can be managed in a low profile. However, since the drainage area is relatively small, we don’t have a lot of runoff to manage.
Like · 1 · September 3, 2015 at 9:36am
Currie Mixon – There is the engineering/design side of an approach, but the expectation of the city is to follow the unified development ordinance. This is the standard that he planning department started with:
Like · 1 · September 3, 2015 at 9:39am
Like · 1 · September 3, 2015 at 9:41am
Currie Mixon – I believe the “setback” mentioned in the meeting refers to dimension “F”, the planting area. Am I correct that the Kay Crowder requested that this UDO standard be narrowed for the sidewalk to 5 ft and the planting area/setback to 5 feet?
Like · September 3, 2015 at 9:52am
Currie Mixon – The width of the project will be largely due to these two dimensions, regardless of how the storm water is managed. However, I happen to believe that the curbs are not desirable for a number of reasons, and the curb and gutter is 2.5 feet wide.
Like · 1 · September 3, 2015 at 10:03am
Ryan Barnum – I thought the setback was supposed to be 2′ with a 5′ sidewalk? That’s what was discussed before the petition was submitted anyway.
Like · September 3, 2015 at 10:23am · Edited
Sharon Moll Mixon – Ryan if you have time you should watch the video of the meeting so you do not need to go by hearsay. But as I understand it 27 foot road 3.5 ft setback 5ft sidewalk. (The project will end where ditches are now.) One of the councilman suggested this neighborhood could support a different style of road that does not use curb and gutter. Gives it a more natural look.
Like · 2 · September 11, 2015 at 8:36pm · Edited
Ryan Barnum – Ok thanks. I watched the video but I must have missed that. I’ll watch it again. I’d be interested in hearing all options.
Like · 2 · September 3, 2015 at 1:43pm
Erin Salmon – Thank you, Currie, for your input. This is the kind of conversation I was hoping was possible at the city meeting, which you did make efforts to initiate. We still as neighbors have a chance to come together to understand all of the needs of our small community.
Like · September 3, 2015 at 5:14pm
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Jane Fenn

September 2, 2015

Donna Burford and Kay Crowder, I cannot help but wonder why you do not have sidewalks on your streets. I don’t understand why a sidewalk on my street is essential to you when you don’t have them yourselves. I further do not understand why a letter I wrote to all city council members weeks ago has generated no response at all from any council rep, especially not the one one representing my own neighborhood. Two issues here — what has been a congenial and pleasant street in our neighborhood has had divisive forces introduced to it, and our neighborhood representative seems to be ignoring her constituents. While I am certainly prepared for civility and disagreement over any public issue, I question that others choose not to have happen to themselves what they want to see happen to me, and that I am not even accorded a written response to a legitimate constituent letter.

Comments

Sharon Moll Mixon – I don’t know if you realize that Donna is my sister. She started this petition so that her girls can walk to my house on a free sidewalk. My elderly father lives on garland which would be a perfect walk for him with his walker if he could step off of the road when a car or semi drive by.
Like · September 2, 2015 at 10:44am
Jane Fenn – Sharon, I do realize that your families are related, although if the reason was for your children and hers to have sidewalk access, then why was the sidewalk not proposed for your side of the street? Both sets of children will need to cross the street from the sidewalk on MY side to get to your house. This is to my mind a divisive factor between neighbors who exist cordially on both sides of the street. You want a goal for which have to pay inequitably. We both have to pay the same money costs, but the loss of property access, impact and use is very very different, and the west side neighbors bear it excessively. If taking offense and resentment are the result of this process, I can understand that. I feel it myself whenever I think about the impact of this project on me versus its impact on you. That is exactly what I mean by divisive. I regret intensely that this is the result of actions by a well-meaning person but there are always consequences to any action and the appearance of inequity as well as its reality are two of the consequences of this action. I suggested several project modifications in my letter to Ms. Crowder and the rest of the council, and I sent that letter to Donna as well. Apparently none of these project modifications which would have mitigated at least some of the inequities in it are taken seriously since I have had no response at all from the council members.
Like · September 2, 2015 at 11:32am
Sharon Moll Mixon – At the meeting last night I asked them to please put the sidewalk on the east. It makes more sense to me that the sidewalk would be on the east side.
Like · September 2, 2015 at 11:36am
Jane Fenn – Thank you for that. Is there any indication that the project will be modified in that way?
Like · September 2, 2015 at 11:38am

Donna Moll Burford – I know for a fact that your letter was read by at least one of the city council, the public works and was shared with the rest of the city council. I asked that they do a sidewalk with the least amount of impact to the neighbors and Sharon asked them to put it on her side. They brought up your letter at the meeting but the discussion of the exact specifications could not be addressed because the time was consumed with the request to not include the north part of Lorimer at all.

Like · September 2, 2015 at 12:39pm
Beverly Thomas FacebookJane,
You may not have been at the meeting in our neighborhood about street improvements for Lorimer Road when Kay Crowder told us she had tried to get her neighbors to sign a petition requesting that the city install a sidewalk on her street. She did not succeed, so her lack of sidewalk is not for lack of trying. Donna’s Street, Fairway Ridge, is not a thru street and does not pose the hazards for residents that exist on Lorimer.
Beverly

Like · September 2, 2015 at 10:51am
Sharon Moll Mixon – I have heard people say “the person that started the petition does not even live on the street” not sure why that matters. Anyone can start a petition for anything it is the majority of signatures as to whether or not it passes. Donna put hours and hours of blood sweat and tears into this for me and my family on my request. So I take serious offense to that comment. Not to mention she is forced to travel Lorimer road to get to her house.
Like · September 2, 2015 at 11:10am
Steve Grothmann – So the petition was initiated by someone who is not subject to the fee?
Like · September 2, 2015 at 11:18am
Shannon Bellezza – I think it matters that she does not live on the street in that she will not have to pay thousands of dollars or be subject to a property lien, lose significant property to encroachment, lose the aesthetic of her street, or put up with the construction process. Many of us live in this neighborhood because of its underdeveloped nature, in contrast to many other Raleigh neighborhoods. In essence, people see her as reaping convenience on a burden carried solely on others’ backs. So in that way, it does matter, and I sympathize.
Like · September 2, 2015 at 11:32am · Edited
Sharon Moll Mixon – Yes Steve she is my sister and I asked her to put in a petition for free sidewalks.
Like · September 2, 2015 at 11:32am
Shannon Bellezza – But it’s not free. It comes at a great expense to the property owners directly affected and to taxpayers of Raleigh.
Like · September 2, 2015 at 7:50pm · Edited
Sharon Moll Mixon – We wanted and petitioned for free sidewalks they will not do that on a nonconforming road that’s why it turned into curb and gutter.
Like · September 2, 2015 at 11:38am
Sharon Moll Mixon – This petition was passed by 71% of the homeowners.
Like · September 2, 2015 at 10:23pm · Edited
Shannon Bellezza – Were all made aware of the actual costs they would incur when they signed the petition?
Like · September 2, 2015 at 11:47am · Edited
Sharon Moll Mixon – Of course they were aware of the cost. That is the number one reason we want to fix the road at this time when it is only $32 per linear foot the road will need to be fixed eventually and in the future it will be a lot more expensive to us.
Like · September 2, 2015 at 11:53am
Sharon Moll Mixon – We are not lucky enough to have a gravel road that is maintained regularly by the city.
Like · September 2, 2015 at 11:57am
Shannon Bellezza – I can definitely see some benefits of having a sidewalk along Lorimer – it would be great for the kids on this end to be able to safely walk around, but surely you can understand that though 71% approve, 29% may be very upset. It is not a matter of luck to live on a gravel road, but a matter of choice. I’m just very sympathetic to the people who don’t want the sidewalk. Every now and then someone wants to petition to pave Onslow, so I know how it feels to be facing drastic unwanted changes at a significant expense (and fortunately for us, it is unwanted by the majority).
Like · September 2, 2015 at 12:05pm · Edited
Sharon Moll Mixon – Not signing does not mean disagreeing. There are signatures we did not get because people were out of town, did not answer their doors, for at least a couple of properties did not sign because they did not feel like they had enough fact that the petition was with written well enough. You don’t know how much I hate that I my neighbors are upset with me. I love this neighborhood and I plan to be here until the day I die. I want to send my kids running around the neighborhood playing with their neighborhood friends as they get older. I want my neighbors to like me.
Like · September 2, 2015 at 12:07pm
Jane Fenn – Let me repeat — I am NOT upset with either you or your sister. I AM upset that the actions taken have consequences which are falling inequitably on half of the neighbors affected by this petition. These actions have had serious consequences and I do not see the city council offering to mitigate the inequities, according to what has been posted right here about the meeting last night. This sounds very much like a done deal, that the inequities between the eastside neighbors and the westside neighbors along Lorimer are not going to change, and that the attempt to perform a good deed (which Kay Crowder’s own neighbors didn’t feel was good enough to persuade them) is going to result in problems that impact me and my westside neighbors that won’t impact you nor Donna. These actions that you and your sister undertook for good reasons in your minds have resulted in burdens to me that you won’t feel. Surely you understand that I might appreciate both of you as fine people but I do NOT appreciate the affects on me of your actions now that the consequences of them are out of your control. If you can see any way at all to make this situation better, I welcome and applaud your efforts. I have undertaken efforts myself but to all appearances, to no avail.
Like · September 2, 2015 at 1:10pm
Sharon Moll Mixon – I have heard you made many good points in your letter. I wish those were the talking points that were proposed in the meeting. Instead the time was taken up with the lawyer. And discussing whether or not there are flooding issues. I wanted to talk about whether or not the interest rates is set and if it could be lowered for us. I also wanted to propose 3 foot setback and 5 foot sidewalk. Instead the time was taken up with moot points. I know you were out of town and couldn’t be but sure wish you were there Jane you would have new insights on the many families who are really pushing for this and want it bad. This started with me and my sister wanting to walk safely to each others house and it has turned into bringing a community together and helping with flooding issues homeowners have been experiencing and asking the city for help for 4 years.
Like · September 2, 2015 at 2:03pm
Shannon Bellezza – I have no skin in this game as I do not live on Lorimer, and like I said, I can definitely see why people would want a sidewalk, but I did want to explain how your sister being, for all intents and purposes, the face of this petition could make her the target of some people’s ire.
Like · September 2, 2015 at 12:09pm
Donna Moll Burford – Fairway Ridge was developed after this area was considered part of the city of raleigh, so curbs and gutters were installed. Maybe being that ít is a dead end road, they weren’t required to put sidewalks running the whole length. But there is sidewalk running half way down Wood links Rd. that connects our homes to Lorimer Rd. We got approval to include the continuation of that sidewalk down to Lorimer as part of this project. Also, I have made my own sidewalk I front of my property as well. It is not only essential to me but also the other 17 homes on my street. Lorimer Rd. is the only access road to connect us to our homes. We have quite a few walkers that walk this road every day. Unfortunately we don’t have the luxury of avoiding the dangerous terrains by living at the end of the road.
Like · September 2, 2015 at 12:26pm · Edited
Donna Moll Burford – Just for the record…..just because I am the one that made the call to the city requesting this petition has no impact on how this has moved forward. 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.
Like · September 2, 2015 at 12:49pm · Edited
Karen Flowers Essic – This is a minor point I would like to add to this discussion. We keep throwing around numbers like the numbers are black and white. I will go on record as saying my family did not sign the petition. We could see good things about the petition and also some bad. We decided our feelings were too mixed to commit our neighbors to cover such expenses on our behalf when we were not totally sure ourselves. But I have also heard neighbors say they signed the petition to be “neighborly” and that they were maybe equally ambivalent as us. So I just think we could remember that while the numbers are good for making a point, they are not exactly the true representation of people’s interest level in the project. There are going to be people upset understandably. I am not one of them, b/c I don’t see what good comes from that personally, but I can empathize with those who are upset.
Like · 3 · September 2, 2015 at 2:03pm
Donna Moll Burford – Your right….it isnt about the numbers. Karen every single one of us can see the good and bad and we all have our concerns that is why there are meetings to discuss our issues and our time is best spent working together as a community.
Like · September 2, 2015 at 2:40pm
Sharon Moll Mixon – Communication is key! I sure wish the neighbors had talk to us to change the petition before it was submitted. If only we had talked more at the April 1st meeting.
Like · September 2, 2015 at 3:20pm

Jane Fenn – I specifically asked for changes in that petition before it was submitted and was told that in essence even Donna was not in favor of it exactly as it was, but that there would be time and opportunity for modifying it once the approval numbers were achieved. Communication clearly has not been a help in this process because it was tried. I also played my citizen’s part in writing directly to the council members, especially to the one representing my neighborhood, and have heard not one word. The communication has all been one way despite my efforts and those of others in the neighborhood. This petition process took on a life of its own and now we all must face the consequences, some of us with much more severe consequences than others. That remains the crux of the problem — something was put in motion that impacts half the street property owners unfairly while the other half do not experience the same level of impact on their property. There is no way to sugarcoat that. And it is a factual error to claim people did not communicate their reservations because they did. You and Donna started something for what seemed like good reasons to you at the time and now all of us must deal with the unforeseen results.

Like · September 2, 2015 at 3:59pm
Sharon Moll Mixon – I hope you understand that no one requested the sidewalk be put on the west side that is an engineering issue. As far as fair or unfair I don’t know what to tell you except maybe we can get sidewalks on the west side in the future also so that would seem more fair to you.
Like · September 2, 2015 at 4:36pm

Sharon Moll Mixon – Last night’s meeting was to work on those modifications and changes we would like to have made to it. Donna proposed making the setback and sidewalk as small as possible for the smallest possible footprint. (No 6ft and 6ft) It was also proposed by a lawyer to go ahead with some of the petition but drop part of it off. I would be upset also that your letter was not read out loud at this meeting. If I were you I would expect a response from what you submitted also.

Like · September 2, 2015 at 4:55pm
Steve Grothmann – My personal feeling is that we don’t NEED sidewalks on either side. Obviously some people feel safer with them, but really…? We have relatively little traffic–it’s 5:00 now and NO CARS are coming by. Lorimer is not like Kaplan. I’ve never felt unsafe- all you have to do is step over two feet onto some grass, for a few seconds.
I can’t help but suspect that this push for sidewalks is more than a safety concern, but a desire for the street to look more manicured and live up to a certain aesthetic ideal that is not universal. I’m repeating my previous post.
BUT- cost is a huge factor. For us, more than $5000. You can’t just ask people to swallow that kind of expense out of the blue. We need to show up at whatever meetings there are and publicly oppose this. Like there’s time to do all that.
Like · 1 · September 2, 2015 at 5:10pm
Donna Moll Burford – Steve….The city notified everyone on Lorimer of the meeting and was last night. The city council approved it and it is moving forward.
Like · September 2, 2015 at 5:13pm
Steve Grothmann – Missed it too busy. Great.
Like · September 2, 2015 at 5:15pm
Sharon Moll Mixon – Steve have you ever walked north on Lorimer? There are many areas that you could not possibly step off of the road. I understand people’s perspective on both ends of the petition are very different (uphill) because you enter and exit (and walk) the neighborhood in a different direction you do not see the water flow issues and the flooding problems people have at the bottom of the hill. There is a creek that needs to be addressed. The expense sucks for all of us involved but we are doing this for our neighbors. And to bring the community together. I dare you to go door to door and talk to each person downhill from you and ask them how they feel about curb and gutter.
Like · September 2, 2015 at 10:41pm · Edited
Steve Grothmann – Bottom line, I don’t have a loose $5K for this. Thanks
Like · September 2, 2015 at 5:26pm
Sharon Moll Mixon – Maybe we can create a GoFundMe account for you.
Like · September 2, 2015 at 5:26pm
Steve Grothmann – No.
Like · 2 · September 2, 2015 at 5:27pm
Erin Salmon – The lawyer last night did take up a significant amount of time. He was also speaking for 7 property owners. There was plenty of time also used by 5 other residents of Lorimer Road, 2 residents of adjacent streets, and 2 experts brought in by Kay Crowder. Jane’s letter was mentioned in one sentence. Kay did a lot of whispering in the ears of almost every other council person while her constituents were disagreeing, rather than talking with us to problem solve. When one of her experts was asked why 6 ft, he said because that is what the petitioner asked for. There was very little discussion to amend it. Currie even brought up the option of a multipurpose trail. He mentioned his low-impact certification as an engineer, and not one council person asked him a single question. The council did not have to make a decision last night, it could have been put into a committee to explore these concerns, but they unanimously passed the petition with a bit of pushing from Kay. Why?
Like · 1 · September 3, 2015 at 12:06am
Donna Moll Burford – This petition had been on the books since November of 2014. This isn’t a new thing for every one.
Like · September 3, 2015 at 8:10am
Erin Salmon – @Donna Moll Burford while that is true, that doesn’t mean that more conversations cannot happen. And I hope you will be a part of them. You are a member of this neighborhood whether you live on Lorimer Road or not. I have not spoken directly to you, only Sharon. I hope we will be able to talk in person soon, as my yard is significantly impacted by the current petition. I was unable to make both the April meeting and the neighborhood block party because of travel happening concurrently. I did however have multiple conversations with neighbors attending the meeting at the church to voice my opinion including Sharon, and I did attend the city council meeting. This whole process has divided the neighborhood which is good for no one. This petition is only one petition for street improvement. Let’s figure out how we can submit a proposal that will work for everyone, so that the city council can hear a united community voice. From the sound of it, many people believed the petition would not eliminate the chance to explore options, but it has done that at this point. This does not have to be the end of it. All of Lorimer Road’s needs are not mutually exclusive. There are alternatives to the city guidelines which are happening all over Raleigh. Yes, it may involve more work, but my impression is that many of the property owners voicing concerns are in it for the long road, and that our homes and street are worth it.
Like · 2 · September 3, 2015 at 8:59pm · Edited
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Kay Crowder, District D Representative

But who in District D does she truly represent?
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“As the administrator of this [Facebook] page I removed Kay Crowder from this secret group. If you would like to talk to her in person PM me and I will give you her assistant’s number. I was surprised how easy it was to get in touch with her.” —Sharon Moll Mixon, Facebook post, September 10, 2015
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“That has not been my experience at all. I have her assistant’s phone number and have spoken to him many times since mid-August. Not once have I ever been allowed to speak to her. I have emailed her — not one reply. I have written a letter — no reply. Every way there is of reaching her goes through the assistant — nothing goes to her directly. I was told recently by the assistant that she would call me. So far, nothing. He did say she might receive a hundred emails a day and did I expect she responded to all? My thought there is what working person does NOT receive many many emails a day, and we all have to respond as part of our jobs. Did she think when she took this office that she could choose to respond only when it was convenient for her or matched her own goals? I have not found her responsive nor helpful. She would know, I would think, that a council member is going to hear from constituents and I would further think she would know that part of her job responsibilities is responding. I do say emphatically that her assistant Nick Sadler is unfailingly courteous and helpful but his job is clearly to shield her and he does it well. If you have been successful at speaking with her, Sharon, I can’t help but wonder if the difference is that you are supporting something she wants and I am advocating changes in something she wants. My correspondence with her has been respectful and has offered positive suggestions, but it does not agree with what she clearly is pushing. I did speak very assertively to the assistant once about not ever being able to reach her directly in my frustration, and still he remained helpful and friendly, but no way was he going to get me through to her directly at all. His job responsibilities are clear and he fulfills them very well. He does his best to answer any question I ask but he is making sure I don’t get through directly to her. I don’t doubt that she has seen what I have sent — I am certain he does that effectively. I personally have not had any reason to think at this point that she is fulfilling her responsibility of being responsive to those she represents — a key art of the job she was elected to do. Please do call the council offices at 919-996-3050 and I sincerely hope each of you has better luck at getting through to her than I have had.” —Jane Fenn, Facebook post, September 10, 2015

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“I wrote [Kay Crowder] an email, very objectively conveying some of the concerns of the 1/3 opposed and pointing out the emotional debate on this page, and asking for her input about those concerns. She did respond, but it was very rote and didn’t really say anything more than, ‘the petition passed and the rules were followed.'” —Steve Grothmann, Facebook post, September 13, 2015

Jane Fenn & Kay Crowder – Phone Call Notes

—– Forwarded Message —–
From: “Crowder, Kay”
To: Jane Fenn ; “Crowder, Kay”
Sent: Friday, October 2, 2015 10:29 AM
Subject: RE: Phone Call Notes
Ms. Fenn,
Nick Sadler again. Council Member Crowder asked that I follow up with you on answers to your questions. Ms. Crowder does plan to call you back to discuss these. Please see answers [in italics] below.
______________________________
 
Nick Sadler, Policy Analyst
City of Raleigh | City Manager’s Office
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From: Jane Fenn
Sent: Tuesday, September 29, 2015 12:41 PM
To: Crowder, Kay
Subject: Phone Call Notes
Good morning — I wanted to tell you again that I appreciated your call and also to say that I look forward to the information you said you would find and pass on to me.  According to my notes, these are the areas where you were going to pursue input from city personnel:
1.  Specific reasons why the west side of Lorimer Road was selected for the sidewalk rather than the east side.  You suggested terrain (but the west side has more properties with a significant slope), utilities (the west side does have utility poles) and drainage (with both sides having new storm sewers and gutters, I don’t understand what difference there might be). City staff (no names were provided in that email from Nick Sadler) already told me specifically that cost differential was not a factor — that there is no particular cost difference.  In light of these things, I want to understand exactly what factors were behind the selection.  The implication for me is that the sidewalk be changed to the east side in accordance with the petition originator’s own statements at the Sept. 1 meeting.
Upon reflection after our conversation, I see a different way to reach more equity among property owners.  Why not put a sidewalk on both sides of Lorimer?  At least that would impact all property owners comparably. How about that?  Putting the sidewalk on both sides would be much more expensive. A large part of my dissatisfaction with this project is the feeling of gross inequity involved, a situation that will continue as long as I own the property and therefore continue to be responsible for a sidewalk and a setback and a serious slope. If all property owners share the same impact, that would resolve the inequity.
In this case staff, using set criteria, decided that the best location for the sidewalk to be placed in the public right of way on the west side. The criteria used are vegetation, right of way width, and utility location. The right of way width is symmetrical in this case. Utlities are located on the north side but are located far enough back that they do impact either side. The existing vegetation is more dense on the south side which caused the north side to be more attractive.  
2.  Interest rate for property owners who decide to use the city’s offer to finance their share of the assessment.  The figure given is 6%.  I want to know what interest rate the city pays for its bonds or any other source when obtaining funds for such a street and sidewalk project.  If it is less than 6%, the city is making money on a decision to finance.  How and why would that be allowed?
State statute provides the basic framework for levying interest on assessments that are paid over time.  As shown in the following statute language, 8% is the maximum interest rate that can be assessed.    Basically, the assessment payment plan is an installment loan with payments due annually with interest accruing daily.
 
§ 160A-229. Publication of notice of confirmation of assessment roll. After the expiration of 20 days from the confirmation of the assessment roll, the city tax collector shall publish once a notice that the assessment roll has been confirmed, and that assessments may be paid without interest at any time before the expiration of 30 days from the date that the notice is published, and that if they are not paid within this time, all installments thereof shall bear interest as provided in G.S. 160A-233.
 
§ 160A-233. Enforcement of assessments; interests; foreclosure; limitations. (a) Any portion of an assessment that is not paid within 30 days after publication of the notice that the assessment roll has been confirmed shall bear interest until paid at a rate to be fixed in the assessment resolution butnot more than eight percent (8%) per annum.
 
A number of years ago, the City approved a rate of 6% for City or Raleigh assessments which, of course, is under the 8% state maximum.    
 
Sec. 6-2025. – PAYMENT OF ASSESSMENTS.
Assessments shall be payable in cash, or, if any property owner should so elect and give notice of the fact in writing to the City, in accordance with the provisions of G.S. 160A-232, such property owner shall have the option and privilege of paying the assessment in ten (10) equal installments, such installments to bear interest at the rate of six (6) per cent per annum from the date of the confirmation of the assessment roll.
 
The interest rate is meant to cover the “cost of borrowed funds” and costs of administration.   Over a 10-year assessment payment period, market rates will vary (of course being currently low) and 6% was set as an overall rate that was deemed reasonable.  I believe that this is a very mainstream level of interest rate on assessments but we are going to do some further checking with peer cities to verify that again.   If we find anything that supports consideration of a change in the interest rate, we’ll pursue that through management and Council as appropriate.
3.  Use of water-permeable concrete. I know there are materials available that would foster less runoff along the proposed sidewalk and street.  Will such advanced materials be used?
No, the City has not used permeable concrete for sidewalks to date to my knowledge on publicly funded projects.  It is my understanding that street maintenance is also not setup for routine maintenance of permeable concrete, which can become clogged and require additional maintenance above and beyond standard sidewalk to ensure it functions as intended.  There is also the issue that most soils in North Carolina are clay, which are not conducive to infiltration like sandy soils in the eastern part of the state.  So by simply installing a permeable sidewalk over top of clay soil would likely not provide the type of infiltration that would be expected.  At a minimum, several inches of stone are also required below the sidewalk, which heavily increases the costs associated with the sidewalk installation.
Is seeding with straw the only option the city has for mitigating the project scars?  Straw is the standard mulch used when seeding following construction.  What specifically will be done about the cut and bare slopes between the sidewalk and property owners’ yards?  This will certainly vary from property to property depending on terrain, but typically the City’s practice is to tie back the slopes to the natural terrain at a 3:1 slope or flatter (depending on the terrain and size of each owner’s impacts).  The ground is then seeded and mulched as mentioned in the previous question.  At what point will the city decide a retaining wall must be provided?  Typically a wall is considered when a slope of 2:1 is unachievable.  Do they have formulas for such things, figured by measuring slope degrees or something?  Formulas are not necessary unless you have extreme slope situations (very high or very steep), which are not anticipated along this corridor.  However, the City will continue to monitor vegetation growth and provide additional measures (erosion control matting for example) should there be a problem getting vegetation re-established.  If no wall is provided, what recourse will the property owner have for erosion of the slope?  The City’s project will not be completed until vegetation is re-established by the Contractor and each property owner has approved.  Is there a specific appeal process for a property owner to demonstrate that the city’s actions left an untenable situation?  I’m not aware of a formalized appeal process, however, the City’s standard practice is to work with each property owner closely to ensure there is not a problem.  However, once the property owner signs off on the vegetation establishment, then it is their responsibility to resume maintenance of the grass.  So overseeding, fertilization, watering, etc. will be required to keep the grass in good shape following initial establishment.
Upon reflection on the end of the project, I also am wondering exactly what the city does in regard to mailboxes and driveways. Does the city remove mailboxes and replace them?  They are typically relocated so postal service may continue and relocated back following construction.  Unless there is damage to the mailbox by the contractor they are not replaced.  And what exactly happens with regard to driveways that are cut in the paving process.  Does the city restore the disturbed areas of driveways to their condition prior to the paving job?  Any driveway removed is replaced.  Do they pave if the driveway was paved, resurface with gravel if the driveway was graveled, etc?  When curb is installed, a concrete driveway apron is installed, then the driveway is replaced in-kind with the same materials as were existing prior to construction (asphalt, concrete, gravel, dirt as applicable)
An additional factor I wonder about after your mention of some sort of right of way permissions the city will obtain is the impact of this project on trees that remain in my own portion of my yard.  Construction heavy equipment may well compact and damage tree roots resulting in death to trees that won’t be apparent for some time.  The City is typically conservative on potential right of way impacts so trees that are on the “fringe” of construction limits are compensated and removed so the owner can replant following construction.  In most cases trees that are left at the edge of construction are due to the owners specific request.  What appeal process is there for the city to be responsible for any trees that die due to project impact on them?   Any owner can file a claim against the City for damages.   These are typically handled through the Risk Management office.  Would the city be responsible for removal, for re-planting, etc.?  Depends on the outcome of the claim filed.
Thank you for following through with our conversation.  I am certain many concerned property owners will want to know more facts than they have been informed of up to now.
Regards — Jane Fenn

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Erin Salmon and the City – Part One

On Mon, Sep 28, 2015 at 4:40 PM, Nick Sadler  wrote:

Ms. [Erin] Salmon

My name is Nick Sadler and I work as a Policy Analyst in the City Council Office.

We understand that you have been contacting various departments throughout the City in an effort to gather information about the Lorimer Drive Street and Sidewalk Improvements that was approved by council in September. To better serve this effort I have been asked to  be the point of contact for you moving forward. Any request for information should be sent to me. Once I receive the request I will ensure that it gets to the correct staff  and ensure that you get the information you request.

I appreciate your understanding of this. If you have any questions please let me know.

Nick

Nick Sadler, Policy Analyst

City of Raleigh | City Manager’s Office

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On Sep 29, 2015, at 12:09 AM, Erin Salmon wrote:

Hello Nick,

Thank you for your email.  I am curious who asked you to be the point person for directing my questions.  Prior to your email, I spoke at length with Chris Johnson, and he asked that I direct my questions to himself and to Jimmy Upchurch.  To oblige you all, I will copy the three of you on future emails.

In any case, I believe your assistance will be invaluable for my neighborhood’s future.  This project has created a huge divide within our quiet streets, and I have been working hard since September 1 to bridge this divide, to find common ground where neighbors can work together to address concerns and issues.  The petition process itself has generated much of the contention that residents feel.  I believe that this could have been avoided had the city been more involved during that time before the petition was submitted and before the resolution went before the Council.  I know that many residents did email and call the appropriate city staff to ask questions and voice concerns, myself included. However, not all calls and emails were answered, and the information that was given to various residents was contradictory to some of the information I have gathered from the city’s website as well as from direct conversations with the departments and divisions pertinent to this project.  There continue to be unanswered questions from residents, and as a neighborhood, we have been meeting frequently over the past four weeks to sort through the information that has been gathered since September 1.

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