Email to City Council Members (Jeff Essic)

From: Jeff Essic
To: City Council Members
Date: Mon, Aug 31, 2015 at 9:54 AM
Subject: Please Vote No to “Street Improvement Petition #1351” at Your Next City Council Meeting

Dear Raleigh City Council Members,

I am Jefferson (Jeff) Essic, and my wife Karen and two children, age 8 and 5, live [on Lorimer Road]…. I am forwarding the contents of a letter regarding the petition for the city to make street improvements along Lorimer Road. My wife and I are in complete agreement with all statements made in this letter and stand in opposition to the plans laid forth in Street Improvement Petition #1351 for our section of Lorimer Road.

In addition to the reasons for opposition given in the letter below, I have some additional reasons that I would like to share. First of all, and perhaps most importantly, what the maps do not adequately show is that from the intersections of Lorimer Road and Garland Road, and from Lorimer Road and Kaplan Drive, there are continuous downhill grades to Bushy Creek which runs under Lorimer Road at the Onslow Road intersection. This grade, which is quite steep in a few places including in front of our house, naturally causes the tendency for drivers to speed as they coast down the hills. Presently, the only thing in my opinion that is causing drivers to apply their brakes and go down the hills more cautiously is the narrowness of the street, the irregular surface condition of the pavement, and the visible shoulder drop-offs for the side ditches. The street width is such that two cars meeting each other generally slow down as they pass, and even more so when meeting a truck or bus. The street also has a number of dips and humps so that travelling above the speed limit of 25mph will make the ride very uncomfortable and increase the risk of losing control. It is my opinion that by widening and smoothing the street, even with the addition of sidewalks, there will be no net gain in safety because traffic will travel much faster, and possibly there will be an increase in traffic volume. Should the street improvements be constructed, it is very likely that the next cause for which you will hear from our neighborhood will be a call for the installation of traffic-calming devices.

Continue reading

Email to City Council Members (Barbara Scott)

September 1, 2015
As a 26-year resident of Chaney Road within a block of part of the proposed street improvements under Petition 1351, I wish to voice my opposition to the proposed changes to our neighborhood.
I bought my house on Chaney Road in 1989 because of the neighborhood’s appeal. Despite it’s location within a half mile of what was then called “the Beltline,” now I-440, the Lorimer and Chaney Road blocks just off Western Boulevard had a rural appeal with narrow tree-lined streets unobstructed by sidewalks or curbs. I’ve enjoyed safely walking, biking, and jogging in the area for the past 26 years.
As the quality of life in Raleigh has changed with major population growth, our neighborhood has somehow managed to keep its appeal. Everyone who visits my home remarks on the arch of trees over our narrow streets and the sense that they have stepped into a quiet safe haven from the litter, speeding cars, and crowded streets that have begun to mark our city.
All of that will change for those who live on Lorimer Road, roughly half of what I call my neighborhood, if Petition 1351 is approved. The area covered by the petition leaves out an entire block of Lorimer–the first block that dead-ends on Western Boulevard. What’s the reasoning behind starting improvements at Garland Drive? This starting point seems to be arbitrary when the petitioner lives in a neighborhood two blocks farther down off Lorimer Road and southwest of the Onslow Road intersection.
That first block off Garland is the Lorimer Road beginning of what I call the “safe haven” feeling of our neighborhood. I hope you will consider the impact of a wider road, fewer trees, and narrower setbacks for homes when you consider this petition. Raleigh doesn’t feel like it used to feel. The expanded streetscapes might be necessary for safe passage through some busy areas. Some wide streets, however, feel littered, noisy, hot, and unsafe because of speeding cars, removed tree cover, and an urbanized feel, including the parking of so many cars on the street that navigating one’s vehicle is difficult.
Thank you for considering my opinion.
Barbara Scott
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“…The way the petition process was handled was referred to the Public Works Committee”

The situation on Laurel Hills Road, outlined below and here, mirrors the situation on Lorimer Road as it relates to the door-to-door petition process itself – even though the Laurel Hills project is for traffic calming and the Lorimer Road project is for street and sidewalk improvements.

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OCTOBER 24, 2014Public Works Committee Meeting (edited, complete minutes HERE; emphasis added)-

Item #13-16 – Traffic Calming – Laurel Hills Road. Mr. Weeks indicated during the October 7, 2014 City Council meeting this item was referred to the Public Works Committee for further discussion.

Senior Traffic Engineer Jed Niffenegger summarized the following report included in the agenda packet:

Background:

At the October 7, 2014 City Council evening session, Council instructed staff to temporarily halt work on the traffic calming process for Laurel Hills Road. This reprieve would allow Council to hear more details about concerns from a citizen regarding the petition process. The concerns and the way the petition process was handled was referred to the Public Works Committee.

Project History:

Laurel Hills Road is loop road classified as a Neighborhood Street that begins and ends at Edwards Mill Road. A request for a traffic calming evaluation for Laurel Hills Road was received on December 6, 2012. Following the Council adopted Neighborhood Traffic Management Program; staff had to divide Laurel Hills Road into two sections since its length is well over a mile. Woodbine Road was selected as the dividing street allowing the two sections of Laurel Hills Road qualify for treatment. The evaluations for both sections were completed in February 2013. The westernmost section of Laurel Hills Road ended atop the Traffic Calming project list, while the eastern section of the street was ranked fourth. Residents on both sections of the street asked for petitions to circulate during the introductory meet held for the highest ranked streets. Each section returned their petitions within the time period with sufficient signatures to move the process forward. Continue reading

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

 

t_file_at3.jpg
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.

.  .  .  .  .  . Continue reading

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.

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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

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—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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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

The 1200 Block of Lorimer Rd (North)

 

n-lorimer-II.jpg

On December 1, 2015, a second citizen’s petition was submitted to the Raleigh City Council requesting that the 1200 block of Lorimer Road (above) be removed from the original petition/project.

This petition read:

We, the undersigned property owners of the 1200 block of Lorimer Road, petition the City of Raleigh to remove our block from Resolution (2015) 141, as our block was included in a Property Owner Initiative Petition begun in May 2014 for road construction without our knowledge and without our consent by someone who is not a property owner. We request the opportunity to educate ourselves and learn more about improvement options included in the City of Raleigh Street and Sidewalk Improvement Policy [PDF] as well as the 2030 Comprehensive Plan, so that we may submit our own petition which more accurately reflects the true will of the property owners.

The petition was signed by 10 of the 14 property owners who live on this block. And yet, despite a request by 71% of residents, City Council members rejected the request although the petition document itself states that parts of streets (as opposed to whole streets, as the original petition called for) can be improved:

 

Screen Shot 2016-04-17 at 1.31.10 PM.png

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from Facebook:

Shannon BellezzaBut the vocal minority is the majority on your block. Why wasn’t the petition redrawn to exempt the 1200 block?

Like · 1 · September 9, 2015 at 3:30pm · Edited

 

Sharon Moll MixonWhy wasn’t the petition withdrawn to exempt the 1200 block of Lorimer Road? Because no one asked us to do that*. I never received one phone call, text message, or knock on my door. The only correspondence that Donna got was from Jan that CC’d her on a letter. I was taking her concerns to heart by asking the City Council to consider putting the sidewalk on the east side instead of the west side.

Like · September 10, 2015 at 2:44am

 

Sharon Moll MixonWe had the petition in hand until the deadline that it needed to be submitted**. Even after we submitted it there may have been a chance of talking to Kay Crowder with whatever compromise the 1200 block would come up with***. Standing in front of the City Council as a United neighborhood would have gone a lot further in my opinion.

Like · September 10, 2015 at 2:52am

When 1200-block residents did ask, formally, by submitting their own petition to the City Council, the request was rejected.
** In fact, the petition was turned in to the Public Works Department on May 4, 2015, two weeks before it was due.
*** When Kay Crowder was asked directly by a resident at an October 2015 Neighborhood Meeting, “Why didn’t the Council consider splitting out the north end of Lorimer from the petition?” Mrs. Crowder’s (non-)answer was: “The City wants to do whole streets, whole sections at once. Microgaps, where sidewalks stop in the middle of the block, are only trouble to fix later. The City is trying to fix existing ones, and not create any more.” —A microgap is “a missing section of sidewalk anywhere from 25 feet to 300 feet long and often involves a single property owner not wanting a sidewalk crossing in front of his or her property.”

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One Hand Washing the Other?

 

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(Source: http://www.crowderforcouncil.com/contact/)

 

Donna Burford, the petitioner, works/worked for Kay Crowder (see screenshot from “Crowder for Council” website, above).

—Should this relationship have been disclosed? Should Crowder have recused herself when Burford—who was working for Crowder at the time—submitted her petition to Council on September 1, 2015? Was the Mayor (who contributed $2,000 to the election committee) and other City Council members aware of this relationship when they made their decision?

[The Committee to Elect Kay Crowder was formed on September 23, 2014.]

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Screenshot:

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