City Council Agenda Preview

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City Council sessions on June 7 — 1 p.m. regular session, 7 p.m. evening session

The City Council Agenda Preview is intended as an in-depth look at what’s coming up for discussion in the next Council session.

While the framework of this series is, naturally, the City Council Agenda, available here, additional information and background is often included as a way of providing better context on the issues while leaving out some of the more technical details found in the agenda.

The format follows the agenda items in the order in which they will be presented to Council, although we group the items from the Consent Agenda section in a slightly different way.

City Council Meetings are held at 222 W. Hargett Street City Council Meetings are held at 222 W. Hargett Street
Consent Agenda

The consent agenda is a set of routine items that can be approved by a roll-call vote at the beginning of a meeting.

Consent Agenda: Contracts & Finance

  1. Passage Home Funding Recommendation: A $250,000 grant that would go toward the acquisition of four additional units in the Brown Birch apartment community. This would bring the total number of units Passage Home owns in Brown Birch to 15; 72 percent of all the complex’s units. Since 2000, the City has provided Passage Home with $785,000 in funding for Brown Birch properties. Here’s how Larry Jarvis, the City’s Housing Director, described the Brown Birch: “The aesthetics of the buildings suggest a barnlike look that, from the beginning, did not have high positive curbside appeal.” For now, Passage Home will honor existing leases and rental agreements, but the long-term plan is to acquire 100 percent of the units, tear it all down, and redevelop the property. Here’s what Jarvis had to say about its future: “Its proximity to downtown, its location along the Garner Road gateway corridor and the City’s Greenway gives rise to a vision for redevelopment that will create high impact and be a catalyst for positive change along this corridor.”  The history of this property is pretty interesting; we’d recommending checking out the entire staff report.
  2. Lakeland Estates Subdivision Stormwater Maintenance Agreement Termination: In 2003, the developer of the Lakeland Estates Subdivision was able to save some money by utilizing an existing lake for stormwater management. The Homeowners Association was then stuck with the cost of maintaining the lake, of which it only owned 35 percent (and none of the infrastructure). The HOA also had to contribute to the City’s stormwater replacement account. The HOA argued that the lake was not necessary for stormwater management; staff agrees, and is recommending severing the agreement and refunding the HOA $39,839 from the stormwater replacement account.
  3. Community Waste Reduction Grant: The City’s Parks department received a grant of $149,850 to add 54 new recycling containers to City parks. As part of the grant requirement, the City is required to provide matching funds to the tune of 20 percent: $29,970, in this case.
  4. Assistance to Firefighters Grant: The City has received a $1.5 million grant that will go toward “the design and installation of fire sprinkler systems for Fire Stations 2 and 15.” The City is required to pony up 10 percent: $151,555.
  5. Parking Deck Safety Patrols: The Downtown Raleigh Alliance is renewing its contract to monitor the City’s downtown parking decks and surface lots. The $473,800 FY2017 contact represents a 1 percent increase from the FY2016 contract; there are now two less surface lots, for a total of eight decks and three surface lots. Here’s a breakdown on the hours of coverage/manpower the City is spending almost a half-million dollars a year on:
    Screen Shot 2016-06-06 at 2.35.20 AM
  6. Neuse River Resource Recovery Facility Solar Energy Installation: In November 2015, the City of Raleigh issued a Request For Proposals for solar developers interested in leasing a 53-acre site at the Neuse River Resource Recovery Facility. The RFP  was initially requested by 45 firms, 18 of which decided to attend the mandatory pre-proposal conference and two of which decided to submit proposals. Staff selected SunEnergy1 to be the recipient of 20-year lease for which the City will receive $53,000 in annual rent payments, escalating to $58,300 in years 16-20. According to staff notes, “The addition of this system will more than triple the size of the City’s solar portfolio, from 2.2 MW to 9.2 MW.” Rumor has it when that number hits 1.21 GW, we’re gonna see some serious s—.
  7. PeopleSoft Software Contract Amendment: In 2015, the City entered into an agreement with ERP Analysts, Inc. for ongoing support of the PeopleSoft system. The original contract was for $100,000; the new one is for $200,000.
  8. Technology Equipment Lease: The City currently leases a variety of tech equipment, ranging from desktop computers to projectors and routers. Staff is requesting to renew the lease with the ePlus Group in the form of a $235,232, four-year contract.
  9. Blue Ridge Road Pedestrian and Bike Design: In December, the City put out an RFP for engineering and design services for bicycle improvements along the Blue Ridge Road corridor. According to staff, “the objective for Phase I is to develop designs to fill bicycle facility and sidewalk gaps along Blue Ridge Road from north of Reedy Creek Road to Trinity Road.” Just as an FYI: bike lanes are considered a type of “bicycle facility,” if that term seems odd, which it is. Staff recommends awarding the $230,940 design contract to A. Morton Thomas and Associates, Inc.
  10. Holly Springs Emergency Dispatch Backup Agreement: The City currently has an agreement with the Town of Holly Springs to serve as a backup 911 emergency dispatcher, but an official agreement needs to be drawn up in order to receive funding from the State, which requires written evidence of said agreement.
  11. Water Main Replacement: A water main replacement in the Wendell area will cost the City about $158,920, and Council needs to approve a budget transfer to pay for it. Good news for Wendell residents though: “The transfer will be made from existing capital budget appropriations, and is being timed to coordinate with Wake County approval of a federally-funded Community Development Block Grant initiative in the Town of Wendell. “

Consent Agenda: Streets & Traffic

  1. Sewer Extension: The City has received a request to extend a sewer main to properties located between 7705 Ray Road and 8016 Laurel Mountain Road. The area is outside City limits, but within Raleigh’s E.T. jurisdiction, which unfortunately stands for extraterritorial and not extraterrestrial. The property owners will pay for the extension themselves.
  2. Petition Annexation: The owner of the property located at 2409 Gresham Lake Road/North Ridge is requesting to be annexed by the City; Council will need to schedule a Public Hearing for this.
  3. Encroachment Request: Level 3 Communications has requested to install 2,659 feet of underground conduit and five hand holes at 2609 Discovery Road and 2101 Westinghouse Boulevard.
  4. Encroachment Request: Celito Clec, LLC has requested to install 2,417 feet of underground conduit and 21 underground vaults in the right of way on West Hargett Street, East Hargett Street and South Salisbury Street.
  5. Wescott Drive Speed Limit Reduction: At least 75 percent of the neighbors on Wescott Drive, which is considered a “neighborhood local” street, have requested that the speed limit be reduced from 35 to 25 m.p.h.
  6. Salisbury Street Two-Hour Metered Parking: A current no-parking zone on the 400 block of Salisbury Street fronting the Alfred Williams Building could soon be converted to metered spaces. Excellent!
  7. North Salisbury Street Two-Hour Metered Parking: The good news just keeps on coming: another no-parking zone, this one on the 100 block of North Salisbury, could also be converted to metered spaces.
  8. Tucker Street Bus Zone: A bus zone on the north side of the 500 block of Tucker Street could be relocated mid-block and the old space filled by a Commercial Loading Zone.
  9. Edison Apartments: Bus & Commercial Loading: Staff is recommending that a bus zone be established “on the west side of the 300 block of South Blount Street and a Commercial Loading Zone be established on the North side of the 100 block of East Davie Street.” This recommendation follows a request from the Edison’s developers, the NRP Group.
  10. South West Street: No Parking Zone: In order to accommodate the 22-month Dillon project, staff is recommending that the west side of West Street between Hargett and Martin be turned into a no-parking zone from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day.

Planning Commission Report

  1. Z-1-16: This rezoning case would allow for a new 64-unit townhome development in Northwest Raleigh between Strickland Road and I-540. The original site plans called for 72 units. The Planning Commission is recommending denial of this request, as it is inconsistent with the Future Land Use Map, incompatible with the surrounding area, and deemed not to be in the public interest. It’s worth noting that surrounding neighbors had filed a valid statutory protest petition against the project as well, although a recent ruling from the General Assembly rendered VSPPs moot. Council can either schedule a Public Hearing or send this to committee. Prediction of the day: this won’t get approved. However, the involvement of renowned Raleigh land-use attorney Isabel Worthy Mattox does introduce the possibility that the case gets the courtesy of further consideration via the Growth & Natural Resources Committee before a Public Hearing is scheduled. We shall see!
  2. Zoning District Frontages and Build-to Requirements: A proposed text change amendment, this would “modify the standards related to the detached frontage to better align with the original intent of the frontage; modify the standards associated with parking structures; and would disallow administrative alternates when frontage equivalent zoning conditions are offered.” Council will need to schedule a Public Hearing in order for this to move forward.
  3. CP-1-16: This comprehensive, omnibus text change amendment to the Comprehensive Plan would reflect completed action items. Council will need to schedule a Public Hearing in order for this to move forward.
  4. CP-2-16: This text change amendment to the Comprehensive Plan relates to the City’s areas economic development and the need to update every two years which zones are designated. Council will need to schedule a Public Hearing in order for this to move forward.
  5. TC-8-16: This text change relates to the warranty period for construction projects in Raleigh. As with the other text changes, Council needs to schedule a Public Hearing.

City Manager’s Report

  1. Bicycle & Pedestrian Improvements: Lumley Road, Westgate Road, and Ebenezer Church Road: In January 2014, the City signed a $56,000 contract with Stewart Engineering for a feasibility study for bicycle & pedestrian improvements on the aforementioned roads. With the feasibility study now complete, staff is recommending a $438,229 contract with Stewart for the engineering design phase of the project.
  2. East College Park Development Alternatives: During the May 17 Council Work Session, a number of design alternatives were presented for the redevelopment of a large grouping of City-owned parcels in Southeast Raleigh. The land will eventually be sold off and redeveloped into a mix of single-family, town home and possibly apartment units as a way of providing a mix of affordable and long-term housing for the area. While these future homes will be built by an outside developer who purchases the land from the City, that developer will be bound to the layout prescribed by Council. Following feedback from Council, staff is presenting the preferred development alternative for the site, which they are asking Council to approve.

Historic Cemeteries Advisory Board Report

  1. The board, which was allocated $500,000 in 2015 as part of the parks bond to preserve and maintain three historic Raleigh cemeteries (City Cemetery,O’Rorke-Catholic Cemetery, Mount Hope Cemetery) will present its 2016-2017 work plan. If you want to take a look at it, click here. 

Parks, Recreation & Greenway Advisory Board Report

  1. The board will be presenting the conceptual plan for the Pullen Arts Center Improvements project. The $6 million project is expected to begin construction in October 2017. Here’s a link to a summary of the plan, which includes an overview map of the proposed changes.

Economic Development & Innovation Committee Report

  1. Building Upfit Grant: The Committee recommends approving a program that will grant businesses 1:1 matching grants of up to $100,000 for improvements made to their building. Properties outside the targeted economic development zones can receive a maximum of $50,000; a minimum request of $5,000 is required.
  2. Outdoor Dining at City Plaza: By split vote, the Committee is recommending some changes to the City’s outdoor dining regulations. These include prohibiting private dining areas in Market, Exchange & City Plazas. City Plaza already has a number of public chairs and tables provided by the Downtown Raleigh Alliance; a similar approach may be taken with the other two. It should be noted that small areas around four pavilions on City Plaza, along with an outdoor seating area for Bolt, are exempt from these regulations. Businesses wishing to obtain an outdoor seating permit for one of the plazas would have to go through Council, rather than staff, for approval.
  3. Outdoor Seating Design: The Committee recommends adopting an ordinance specifying the appearance of outdoor seating. To give you an idea of how specific this gets, here are the recommendations:
    1. Permit the usage of medallions. Staff has identified a means to create the medallions with a third party vendor. The medallions would be required for each outdoor seating area.
    2. Stanchions shall be used for special events and may be used by the operator at other times, but must meet the following standards:
      1. Made for commercial use
      2. Movable, durable and weather resistant
      3. Between 18 inches and 42 inches above the sidewalk
      4. Visually cohesive with surrounding architecture and other seating elements
      5. Compliant with ADA guidelines o Well-maintained, cleaned regularly and kept in good repair
    3. Set a maximum size for the outdoor furniture of 42″x42″x42″
    4. Require outdoor furniture to be made for outdoor use; be movable, durable and weather resistant; be well maintained, cleaned regularly and kept in good repair
    5. Prohibit the stacking of tables and chairs during off-hours
    6. Prohibit picnic tables on Fayetteville Street
    7. Require the “maximum occupancy” signage to be posted in a window, or in a weather resistant frame on the building facade
    8. Require the “exit” signage to be posted on the menu, table or incorporated into the “maximum occupancy” signage. Table signs shall not exceed one square foot.

Growth & Natural Resources Committee Report

  1. The Committee is recommending a crucial change of conjunctions in the Unified Development Ordinance that would limit the maximum height of buildings in Overlay Districts to “25 feet and two stories.” The previously written “25 feet or two stories” was considered too ambiguous, and resulted in a number of very tall “two-story” homes designed as if they were three stories.

Requests & Petitions of Citizens

  1. Alphonzo Hedgepeth, II would like to come to an agreement related to 712 Bloodworth Street, which was acquired by eminent domain by the City. The property was formerly owned by his grandmother, and will be rehabbed and sold off by the City as affordable housing. Hedgepeth is interested in acquiring and rehabbing the property himself, but the City is “bound by methods of property disposition prescribed by state enabling legislation.” According to staff: “If Mr. Hedgepeth is income eligible and qualifies for a conventional mortgage, he will have the opportunity to submit an offer when the property is offered for sale. However, once the terms of the sale are determined, it will be an open and competitive sales process with no special consideration offered.”
  2. Thomas S. Erwin, representing Saintsing Properties, LLC and Edna S. Dillard, would like the City to request NCDOT to transfer Old Leesville Road to the jurisdiction of the City of Raleigh and designate it a “Sensitive-Area Residential Street.” Staff does not believe that this request is consistent with City policies on street classification and would not recommend considering this request.

Public Hearings

  1. Statutory Hearing on the Proposed City Budget for Fiscal Year 2016-17: . The City put together a great page for the budget on its website, so if you want more details, that’s the place to be. We had originally believed that the FY16-17 designation was an error on the agenda, but we were mistaken.
  2. STC-03-16 — Manchester Drive: This is a hearing that would close right of way at the intersection of Manchester Drive and Rampart Street pursuant to Resolution 2016-293.
  3. Sidewalk Assessment Roll 420/Paving Assessment Roll 942 — Wade Avenue: Continued discussion of a tax assessment for improvements along Wade Avenue. This issue has been delayed twice to allow for more discussion with the affected property owners.
  4. Sidewalk Assessment Roll 422/Paving Assessment Roll 945 — Freedom Drive/Ryan Court: This hearing is to discuss assessments relating to improvements on Freedom Drive/Ryan Court from US-64.
  5. Sidewalk Assessment Roll 421/Paving Assessment Roll 944 — Sanderford Road: More tax discussions, this time to pay for improvements on Sanderford Road.
  6. Petition Annexation: The following two properties are requesting annexation into the City: 1200 Leesville Road/Leesville Grove & 6701 Fox Road/ Foxwood Apartments.
  7. Z-5-16: A rezoning case for an 11.65 acre site on Rock Quarry Road that is partially encumbered by a power line easement. There are a variety of apparent development possibilities, including office, residential and retail. Planning Commission recommended it for approval.
  8. Z-6-15: This rezoning case is for a 7.72 acre parcel of land in North Raleigh located approximately at 9501 Leesville Road. The developer, Halpern Enterprises, is seeking to rezone the parcel from Residential-4 & 6 to Neighborhood Mixed Use. This would allow Halpern to build a 63,000 square foot shopping center anchored by a 50,000 square-foot grocery store.
  9. Z-8-16: This simple rezoning case would allow for a small parking lot expansion at 4106 Wake Forest Road, home to Lane & Associates Dentistry. It will also close off an existing driveway and create a new one.
  10. TC-7-15 — Short-term Residential Lodging Facility: This text change would legalize short-term rental services such as Airbnb within the City of Raleigh. Although there are hundreds of Airbnb “hosts” operating in Raleigh right now, they are all, as of this writing, lawbreakers. Compared to the overwhelming public support this change has received, there has not been significant pushback on this outside of one small group of neighbors, although more may speak out on Tuesday against this. The argument among Councilors, we imagine, won’t so much be whether to legalize it, but whether to also allow for whole-house rentals. Whole house rentals were not included in the version of the text change presented to Council from the Planning Commission.

Evidentiary Hearing

  1. Amplified Entertainment: The Merrimon Wynne House: This will likely be the conclusion of an evidentiary hearing that began at the May 3, 2016 Council Meeting. The hearing is to determine whether to renew an outdoor amplified noise permit for wedding and event venue The Merrimon Wynne House. The replacement of an outdoor tented area with an actual building was supposed to alleviate the need for such a permit, but the owners say the permit would allow them to open the doors and let some guests to sit outside and still enjoy the music. A number of surrounding neighbors — Merrimon Wynne is located in a historic downtown residential district — spoke out against allowing the permit to be renewed.