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.

.  .  .  .  .  .

“Understanding the UDO”

Understanding the UDO, By | March 29, 2011 | Raleigh Public Record –

[Emphasis added]

Raleigh City Planning Manager Christine Darges has quite a task.  During the past year, she has been responsible for overseeing the team that has been updating, revising and publicizing the new Unified Development Ordinance (UDO). The first draft of the UDO will be released April 6. Her team has been conducting UDO simulations throughout the city at the Citizens Advisory Committee meetings and the Record chatted with Darges to break down the confusing UDO and find out how will it affect Raleigh denizens.

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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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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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Questions Remain

—SAFETY: What are the statistics regarding pedestrian-related accidents on this section of Lorimer Road (between Kaplan Drive and Garland Drive)?

—STORMWATER: The official City stormwater report conducted in conjunction with this petition/project reports “no major issues.” How, then, did this become a deciding factor for so many residents who signed the petition?

—COST: “The cost is going up soon!” residents were cautioned. Pay now or pay a lot more later, was the implication. But ARE assessment costs going up any time soon?

—NECESSITY: A Traffic Study was conducted on Lorimer Road. But was a Pedestrian Study ever done? And if not, why not? (the citizen’s request was for a sidewalk).

—Does the City leave in place a process it knows and has acknowledged is flawed (door-to-door petitioning) because, in fact, it frequently gains the desired result? whereas the mailed ballot-type petition frequently does not? (Jimmy Upchurch: 75% in favor or 50%+1 in favor doesn’t make much difference…).

—Why did the City feel it was important/necessary to pursue Ryan Barnum’s signature after the petition had been submitted by the petitioner and deemed to be sufficient?

—Were residents on the south end of Lorimer Road notified of the petition/project before those on the north end of Lorimer. And if so, why was that?

—Why, if the circumstances are “ideal” for UDO adherence, did the City decide to put a sidewalk on one side of Lorimer Road and not both, as the UDO calls for? And how did the City determine that the west side of the street would be the best side to put the sidewalk on?

—What, if any, was Donna Burford’s relationship with/connection to Donetta Powell and/or Kay Crowder before the petition process began? During the petition process? [Note: Donna now works for Kay Crowder.]

—When was the Woodlinks Drive Sidewalk Project decided on?

 

 

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

Jimmy Upchurch – City Council Presentation (9/1/2015)

JIMMY UPCHURCH, Addressing the Raleigh City Council, September 1, 2015, PM Session (Excerpt) –

If I could draw your attention to this area map…. Let me point out a couple of things:

The gentleman [Attorney Ben Kuhn] spoke to the northern end of Lorimer, and this potential “sidewalk going to nowhere.” This map is designed to show you the existing sidewalk network in the neighborhood. The purple boxes that you see along that northern section of the road are…indicative of previous petitions we’ve had for improvements on those streets. So the dirt street, Onslow Road, has been petitioned three times to have street improvements put in there.

So, even though it does remain dirt today—those petitions, unfortunately, were unsuccessful…. But just to give you an idea that there is a want by some of the residents on the northern end, it would not connect to any sidewalk today, but we have had a previous sidewalk petition for Garland Street. It, too, was not a successful petition…but there is interest in future improvements in that area. And if we completed Lorimer, that would just set up more of the network to get a continuous sidewalk throughout the neighborhood.

To address the setback issue of the proposed sidewalk: staff recommended the full UDO (Unified Development Ordinance) standard for this street…with a couple of tweaks:

With the UDO standard this is classified as a Neighborhood Yield Street, which requires a 27” back-to-back street with 6’ sidewalk and 6’ setback on both sides of the street, to be installed within a 55’ right-of-way (ROW).

So when we looked at this neighborhood to see what feasible [sic] we could propose here… the ROW is dedicated at 60’ in width, which exceeds the required ROW for the UDO section.

The houses—the majority of the houses—along the corridor sit pretty far back from the edge of the ROW. So when we looked at the neighborhood, there are … that are a little closer, but the majority of them are more back. So we looked at it in terms of the existing ROW.

Now, the right of way would support the sidewalk on the east side, but that was omitted, mainly for cost….

So picking the side of the street we recommended for the sidewalk was based on a lot of things. We looked at topography, power poles that may have to be moved, utility relocations. We looked at all of that. And the determination by the engineers was that—if we were putting it on one side, the west side would be the most supportive of putting that sidewalk there.

The gentleman [Woodlinks resident Justis Peters] who requested we carry it on to his property…

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.