Archive for May, 2008

CAC’s Getting a Facelift?

Monday, May 26th, 2008

What’s a CAC? It’s a Citizen’s Advisory Council. For those of you in the Lineberry area, you are a member of the SouthWest CAC (SWCAC). SWCAC Chair, Mary Belle Pate, has meetings on the second Monday of each month, at 7:00 PM at the Carolina Pines Park. The monthly meetings include a variety of topics for each meeting, for example, updates from Raleigh Police Department and presentations of rezoning cases. Attendance could be higher, the group averages about 10-20 members a month, mostly the same people. For an area that stretches from South Saunders street then west to Trailwood Drive & Avent Ferry Road, participation in lackluster at best.

The CAC groups around the city have asked for more funding, primarily for awareness issues and campaigns that would inform citizens of the purposes of the CAC groups. The City Council has listened (we think) and has outlined an approach to move forward with improving the CAC’s structure, which will hopefully lead to more citizen interest and participation moving forward.

From the City of Raleigh E-Newsgram:

CITY COUNCIL APPROVES CITIZEN ADVISORY COUNCIL STRUCTURE

The Raleigh City Council has approved a revised structure of the Citizen Advisory Councils (CAC).

The purpose of the 18 CACs is to receive information and make recommendations to the City Council on issues of neighborhood quality, existing or new public facilities, planning and zoning decisions, citizen involvement through neighborhoods, and other matters related to City services or projects.

The structure as established by the City Council includes:

  • Each resident of the Capital City is automatically a member of a council. Neighborhood associations, homeowner and tenant groups will be asked to send at least one resident to each meeting. Each CAC will elect its own officers, including a president and may decide to call the group a citizen advisory council or neighborhood council;
  • The CAC boundaries will be reviewed by City staff and the Raleigh Citizen Advisory Council (RCAC) which is comprised of the officers of the 18 CACs. The boundaries will be based on neighborhoods and communities of interest. Boundaries are subject to City Council approval;
  • Meetings will be held monthly unless otherwise agreed with agendas to be set by the Council president. The meetings should be designed to be informative, interesting and focus on issues of interest to each Council;
  • The City of Raleigh shall provide staff support to each CAC in the form of assistance with public notice of meetings by mail and e-mail, to neighborhood and homeowner groups, assisting with website content, inviting speakers and gathering requested information, providing guidance on how to access City services and to provide input on projects, and assistance within the resources budgeted;
  • The presidents will meet once a month, unless otherwise agreed, to discuss the reports and recommendations of each Council. The presidents may make recommendations to the City Council from time to time by majority vote. Individual Neighborhood Councils may also report to the City Council;and,
  • The City Council will include appropriate funding for the CACs as part of each annual operating budget. The presidents will recommend a budget by mid-May each year. Low-wealth areas should be addressed by customizing resources and programs based on need. Neighborhood council leaders will be encouraged to participate in City leadership programs. The Neighborhood Councils, through a committee, shall make recommendations to the City Council for neighborhood grants each May.

PROP Public Hearing Set For June 3, 2008

Sunday, May 25th, 2008

During last weeks DDNA meeting, many attendee’s were glad to hear that the Budget & Economic Development (BED) committee moved forward with adding criminal elements to the PROP. Now, you have a chance to voice your approval, concerns, and comments on June 3, 2008 at City Council.

From the City of Raleigh E-Newsgram:

PUBLIC HEARING JUNE 3 ON PROPOSED AMENDMENTS TO PROP ORDINANCE

The Raleigh City Council will hold a public hearing on June 3 at 7 p.m. on proposed amendments to the City’s Probationary Rental Occupancy Permit (PROP) ordinance. Citizens will be able to comment on the proposed changes at the public hearing, which will be held in the council chamber on the second floor of the Avery C. Upchurch Government Complex, 222 W. Hargett St.

One of the amendments would add the following crimes to the PROP ordinance:

  • Prostitution;
  • Possession of stolen goods;
  • Violations of certain state alcohol and liquor regulations;
  • Unlawful weapons;
  • Unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon;
  • Gaming violations; and,
  • Disorderly conduct.

Another amendment would add civil penalties for noise and nuisance party violations. Also, council members are considering a proposal to require all landlords in Raleigh to register their property with the City.

Under the ordinance, a landlord must obtain a PROP if he or she has violated unsafe building, minimum housing, zoning or noise or party nuisance ordinances at a rental site and has failed to bring the property into compliance by a City-established deadline. Landlords who have a pattern of repeat citations at a rental property also must get the permit. The permit prohibits the landlord from renting the property until it is brought in compliance with City code. The goal of the PROP ordinance, which the City Council enacted in 2005, is to assure better quality rental housing for tenants and the surrounding neighborhood.

Raleigh Moves on Water Re-Use

Saturday, May 24th, 2008

At last weeks DDNA meeting, we talked about the some of the items around water re-use to help with water conservation efforts. Below are some of the items that Raleigh City Council took for water re-use efforts.

From the City of Raleigh E-Newsgram:

APPROVAL GIVEN TO CONSTRUCTION CONTRACT FOR ELEVATED REUSE WATER STORAGE TANK

The Raleigh City Council voted unanimously today to award a $2.35 million contract to CB&I to construct a 750,000-gallon elevated reuse water storage tank on Sunnybrook Road just inside the I-440 beltline.

The City’s reuse water system master plan, adopted by the City Council in March 2007, identifies the proposed route of reuse water transmission mains and major infrastructure facilities such as elevated reuse water storage tanks. Reuse water is a result of advanced treatment of wastewater at the City’s wastewater treatment plants. The high quality of water produced from this higher level of treatment can be reused for non-potable purposes under state law, such as lawn irrigation and cooling. The City of Raleigh’s goal is to provide a regional reuse water system that satisfies non-potable water demands with high quality reclaimed water. The City currently offers high quality reuse water to citizens for irrigation and other non-drinking purposes. Users must attend training to use the product.

Council members also agreed to discuss the following proposals in upcoming budget discussions:

Assessing capacity fees for new developments wanting to connect to the City’s water and sewer system and reuse water systems; and,

Setting tiered water rates to include funding for financial incentives for the installation of water conservation devices.

CITY COUNCIL SELECTS FINANCIAL CONSULTANT FOR TIERED WATER CONSERVATION RATE STRUCTURE

The Raleigh City Council voted unanimously today to select Raftelis Financial Consultants to be the financial consultant for developing a tiered water conservation rate structure for City water users.

Raftelis was one of four financial consulting firms interviewed following the City issuance of a request for proposals from companies. A committee of City staff members evaluated each of the proposals and ranked the firms. Raftelis was rated the top firm based on its submitted proposal. The City administration will negotiate a contract with Raftelis. The City Council must approve the contract.

In March, the City Council authorized City staff to proceed with developing a tiered water conservation rate structure.

Proportional Impact Fee’s Coming June 1, 2008

Saturday, May 24th, 2008

At last weeks DDNA meeting, Counselor Stephenson provided an update on the upcoming changes for impact fee’s. Below is a more detailed update.

From the City of Raleigh E-Newsgram:

CITY COUNCIL INCREASES IMPACT FEES

The Raleigh City Council voted 7-1 on Tuesday to increase impact fees in order to offset the cost of new development. The council rejected a recommendation from the City’s Planning Commission to phase in the higher fees over three years. The new fees take effect on June 1.

Funds generated by the City’s impact fees, also called thoroughfare and open-space facility fees, are used to help pay for new road construction and park development. The amount of each fee in the proposal approved by the council is proportional to the impacts created by the new development.

Under the plan approved by council members, the thoroughfare facility fees will be modified to consolidate several existing land-use categories. The changes also include a tiered fee for new single-family houses. The plan sets the new thoroughfare facility fees at 60 percent of the new maximum rate, increasing the fees by an average of 161 percent. For single-family houses, the new thoroughfare facility fees will be:

  • $1,051 for a single-family residence less than 1,000 square feet in size;
  • $1,249 for a single-family residence between 1,000 and 1,999 square feet in size;
  • $1,386 for a single-family residence between 2,000 and 2,999 square feet;
  • $1,491 for a single-family residence between 3,000 and 3,999 square feet;
  • $1,573 for a single-family residence between 4,000 and 4,9999 square feet; and,
  • $1,684 for a single-family residence 5,000 square feet or larger.

In addition to new single-family homes, thoroughfare facility fees also will be imposed on other types of new housing and on new commercial, industrial and recreational properties.

The new open-space facility fees will be an increase of 75 percent over existing fees. A tiered system will not be used for these fees. However, the City Council has requested that additional study be done on the feasibility of having tiered open-space facility fees for single-family houses. Unlike thoroughfare facility fees, the City’s open-space facility fees are assessed exclusively on new residential development. The amount of the fee depends on the location of the new development within Raleigh. The new open-space facility fees for new single-family homes will be between $924 and $1,129. The fees for new multi-family developments will be between $672 and $819 per unit.

In 2006, the City Council voted to raise impact fees by 72 percent. The current council decided last December to revisit the issue.

DDNA Meeting Notes from May 2008

Friday, May 23rd, 2008

District D Neighborhood Alliance (DDNA) Meeting from May 17, 2008

Attendee’s

  • Jason Hibbets, Lineberry / SWCAC
  • Joe Boisvert, University Park / UPHA
  • Les Seitz, Cameron Village / Hillsborough CAC
  • R. Bethea, Historic Method / West CAC
  • Mary Belle Pate, Fairway Acres / SWCAC (Chair)
  • John Reaves, Jr., Caraliegh, SWCAC
  • Philip Poe, Glenwood-Brooklyn / 5-Points CAC
  • Russ Stephenson, At-Large City Councilor
  • Thomas Crowder District D City Councilor

Meeting Notes

Budget & Economic Development Committee passed adding criminal elements into the PROP and passed a registry program for rental units. This will be coming up in a future city council meeting

We got an update on the following items:

  • Impact fee’s: the fee’s will be raised and there will be a graduated impact fee based on house size
  • Water Re-Use: 40M gallons of treated water go back into the Neuse River every day, so the city is looking at options to use that water. The recommendations coming from this meeting include asking council to look at utility rates, adjusting to a tiered water rate system, and using elevated tank re-use. The committee was unable to agree on reviewing contracts for large water users.
  • At a recent council retreat, there was discussion on economic development with the potential to create an alternate energy village using options created in Senate Bill 3.
  • Portions of Hillborough Street maintenance have been handed over from NCDOT to Raleigh.
  • There is now a new category for storm water fee’s fr homes over 4,000 sq. ft.

The group then went around the horn and discussed items in each neighborhood.

Abandoned Shopping Carts No More?

Thursday, May 22nd, 2008

From the City of Raleigh E-Newsgram:

CITY EFFORT FOCUSING ON ABANDONED SHOPPING CARTS GOING SMOOTHLY

In the fall of 2007, the Raleigh City Council approved a program to keep Raleigh’s streets clean by removing abandoned grocery carts and returning them to the owner. The City of Raleigh and the North Carolina Retail Merchants Association agreed to a memorandum of understanding in December of 2007 that required retailers to place a placard on the cart with the name, address and phone number of the store.

Six months into the implementation of the effort, the program is in full operation and appears to be working well. To date, the City of Raleigh Solid Waste Services Department has collected approximately 175 shopping carts. In most cases, the carts were found near the stores and the carts were easily returned. The City has designated a space at the City of Raleigh Yard Waste Center for unclaimed shopping carts. Only a few carts have been placed there and most of those were badly damaged or missing a placard. The City has reached an agreement with a local company to recycle the unclaimed carts.

Is Raleigh ready for Complete Streets?

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

Last Thursday, May 8, 2008, I attended a special roundtable discussion on the topic of Complete Streets. This was an effort between the City of Raleigh Public Works and City Planning to showcase some of the best practices coming from our friends at the Charlotte Department of Transportation. My first take, I was a little shocked that Raleigh even has a concept of complete streets on their radar. But I’ve worked with Eric Lamb on many things and knew that he had a passion for this type of thing, I didn’t expect something like this to come to the forefront so soon.

Let’s start with a definition from the Complete Streets Coalition, “Complete streets are designed and operated to enable safe access for all users. Pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and bus riders of all ages and abilities area ble to safely move along and across a complete street.

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SWCAC Recap – May 2008

Monday, May 12th, 2008

The South West Citizens Advisory Council (SWCAC) met at Carolina Pines on May 12, 2008 at 7:00 PM. Tonights agenda included RPD police report, Parks& Rec, Inspection updates, Historic Preservation, and Triangle Family Services.  Mary Belle Pate is the chair and welcomed everyone to the meeting.

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Over 100 Phone Books Recycled

Thursday, May 8th, 2008

Back at the beginning of April we wrote about recycling phone books in the post: Neighbors Team Up On Phone Books

Thanks to Brena & Gene from Pleasant Ridge & Ramsgate, Paul from Trailwood Springs, and Lisa from Trailwood Valley, our neighborhoods collected over 100 phones and brought them to the one of our local recycling centers. We did this primarily because the city does not collect phone books as part of their curb side recycling program and to save individuals from making trips to the recycle center.

We hope that next year we can have a collection spot in each neighborhood and triple the number of phone books recycled. Check out the stack of phone books that Paul collected:

Phon eBooks

Housing Appeals Board May 2008 Meeting

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

I attended my first Housing Appeals Board meeting today. It was apparently the first meeting in quite some time. The board currently consists of five members and we met today to hear an appeal for a Housing Inspections case. We first elected a chairperson and vice chair, then went over some procedural item.

The chair called the meeting to order, we listened to the statement of the case by Robert Spruill, Housing/Environmental Inspections Administrator and Housing Appeals Board Secretary. The appellant’s attorney then spoke and made their case, but did not introduce any additional evidence, nor did they deny any of the housing inspections findings. Their case was centered around the argument that the inspector did not have enough probable cause to conduct an minimum housing violation inspection of the home.

The Inspection Department evidence was very strong and well-documented. Window’s covered in plastic, a sinking roof, and other exterior issues were very convincing. There were lots of questions from the board members. Ultimately, the board unanimously decided to uphold the original inspection issuance: make the necessary repairs in 90 days or demolish the home. I should also note that it was determined that the current repairs exceed 50% of the tax value of the home, which is the reasoning for the repair and demolish ruling.