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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Why a Sidewalk on One Side of Lorimer and Not Both? How Was the West Side Chosen?

On September 1, 2015 Jimmy Upchurch said, “If ever there was a neighborhood that would support the UDO section in a retrofit-type situation, this is one that could support that. So we recommended the UDO 6′ & 6′ on that street, with the variance request to omit the sidewalk from the east side…. Now, the right of way would support the sidewalk on the east side, but that was omitted, mainly for cost….”

One side only, according to Upchurch, “mainly for cost.” So, what are some of the other reasons?

The City’s Stormwater Report found that the project will create additional stormwater problems, but that the increased runoff caused by introducing more concrete and pavement on Lorimer Road could be minimized “by putting sidewalk on one side only.”

—Did stormwater concerns influence the decision to put the sidewalk on only one side of the street? If so, how is that fair to the 90% of residents who, according to the City’s official Stormwater Report, don’t have any stormwater problems?

—Was the west side of the street chosen because that’s the side that will best minimize the impact of additional stormwater runoff caused by the project?

—Was it chosen because the west side is the side of the street Woodlinks Drive is on, a road also getting a sidewalk as part of the Lorimer Road project? Jimmy Upchurch made reference to “the gentleman [Woodlinks resident Justis Peters] who requested we carry [the sidewalk] onto his property” during his presentation to Council.

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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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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]

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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

 

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

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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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About – Jimmy Upchurch

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Jimmy Upchurch
Assessment Supervisor

Jimmy started with the city in 1986, as a meter reader with the Utility Billing Department. In 1989, he transferred to the Finance Department/Revenue Division where he worked as an Assessment Clerk. In that position, he was mainly responsible for what they called, the “backend” of assessments, the billing, and collection of assessment accounts for the City. From there Jimmy transferred to the Finance Department/Parking Violations Division in 1997 as a Collections Specialist, responsible for vehicle booting for delinquent parking tickets. In 1998, he transferred to the Inspections Department/Permit Office as a Permit Specialist.  Then in 1999 Jimmy transferred again, this time to Central Engineering as an Assessment Specialist working on what they called the “Front end” of assessments. He now works with calculating property owner assessments associated with street and sidewalk construction and water and sewer construction projects, and issuing street and sidewalk improvement petitions to citizens under the City’s Petition Programs.  It was in 2010 that Jimmy was promoted his current position as the Assessment Supervisor, overseeing both the Assessment and Petition programs.

Jimmy is a Raleigh native, graduating from Needham Broughton High School in the late seventies. He married his high school sweetheart on Valentine’s Day in 1981 and has been happily married ever since. They have three children, and they just welcomed their first grandchild into the world this September  and he “absolutely loves being a grandpa.”

Family time is of the utmost importance to Jimmy and spends he weekends surrounded by his family. As seen in the above picture Jimmy is an ardent Carolina Panther fan and is raising the grand-baby to be the same.

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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

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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

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.

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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.

Continue reading