East CAC Meeting Minutes – February 2009

East CAC Meeting Minutes – February 2009
Submitted by Secretary Sue Sturgis

The East CAC met at Lions Park Community Center on Monday, Feb. 16 at 7 p.m. with about 35 residents in attendance.

Sgt. Matt McKee opened with his police report, revisiting concerns raised at the last meeting. Regarding vehicles parked inappropriately on Lion’s Way, an abandoned flatbed truck has been towed. Illegally parked vehicles were moved and citations given for humane violations at a problem property in the 700-block of Colleton Road. And an abandoned lot on Bennett is being treated as undeveloped land by Inspections, and Sgt. McKee suggested nearby residents keep on eye on it for vermin.

Crime appears to be down slightly in the area, he said. There was a carjacking and kidnapping in the Raleigh Boulevard vicinity, but police got fingerprints from the vehicle and are now looking for a suspect.

A resident of South King Charles said it seemed like crime was getting worse, a concern echoed by a resident near Poole Road and a parent of an Enloe student, who also pointed out that gang activity is up throughout the public schools. Sgt. McKee noted that crime seems to run in cycles and encouraged residents to call 911 if they see anything unusual in order to get officers into the area.

In response to members’ questions about door-to-door solicitors, Sgt. McKee said residents could ask for the business name and call the city to make sure they have the proper solicitor license. (Call the business license office at 996-3200.) Someone suggested posting “no soliciting” signs helps.

Residents also raised concerns about multiple calls to 911 about a problem Section 8 rental property being rolled into one complaint, which makes the problem appear less serious than it is. Someone suggested that having neighbors space calls over time would help in those calls being registered properly.

Given the concerns about crime, City Services Liaison Charlene Willard noted that this would be a good time to get community watches up and running. CAC Chairman Mark Turner said he would be announcing a meeting about that soon.

At the end of his report, Sgt. McKee got a round of applause for his helpfulness.

Mark Wilson of Lions Park gave the Parks and Recreation report, noting that volunteers are still needed for the Run for the Oaks. Someone noted that the Lions Park Community Center closes at 3 p.m. on Saturdays and wondered if it could stay open later; Mark said he would make that request to the proper authorities.

In miscellaneous announcements, Chairman Turner said there would be some changes made to the East CAC online discussion groups and members would get more details by e-mail. He also said there would be more discussion about organizing a neighborhood cleanup, which is tentatively scheduled for March. In addition, the city is offering a new, free downtown circulator bus service.

Colleton Road resident Ms. Smith reported that a problem with a resident who keeps seven rowdy dogs and who is verbally abusive toward an elderly neighbor. She is looking for volunteers to help build a fence to protect the elderly woman from the situation; interested people should call Ms. Smith at 821-2108. CAC Vice Chair Andrew LeLiever also suggested the fence project might be part of a community workday.

The CAC then moved on to a discussion of rezoning case Z-15-09, 512 and 604 Donald Ross Drive. Developer Tommy Oates said the November 2008 CAC minutes mischaracterized the rezoning request, which is for R-4 rezoning; in order to do this, the Grady family that owns the property wants the CAC’s approval to remove a conservation district overlay for the property that restricts dense developments on the neighborhood’s large lots. (The two lots total 1.99 acres.) They Gradys want to build up to six single-family homes, but the overlay prevents more than one house per lot. The family originally backed the

overlay because they didn’t want low-income, multiple-family housing in the area, but now they want to sell the property and maximize profit. They have agreed to some limiting conditions for the development, such as no vinyl siding.

Concerns were raised that approving the change could create a domino effect that would dramatically change the neighborhood’s character. Also, there are still no drawings available to consider. Mrs. Grady, who is 84 and lived on the property until she was ordered by her doctor to move a year ago, told the CAC she wanted something special for the property and the neighborhood. But when asked whether if she were still living there she’d allow three houses to be built on the lot next door, she said no.

Mr. Oates suggested canceling the vote to allow further discussion, but it was noted that the case is set to go before the Planning Commission A motion to approve the rezoning got 2 votes in favor and 21 against.

The CAC then heard a report on the city’s NeighborWoods program from Tree Planting Coordinator Sherry Graham. Under this program, which recently planted its 5,000th tree, city residents can request trees for the rights-of-way next to their property.

City staff identify planting sites and work with residents to choose appropriate species from a list of about a three dozen different ones, from small species like Kousa dogwood to large varieties like maple and oak. The resident is then responsible for planting the tree and watering and mulching until it’s established, while the city handles any needed pruning. For residents unable to plant trees themselves, NeighborWoods works with Haven House, a nonprofit social service agency, to provide assistance. The NeighborWoods program is paid for largely with donations collected via $10 pledges added by request to customers’ water bills; for more information about the program from the city’s website, visit http://tinyurl.com/bk4vwx.

In the last item of business, a member of the Belvidere Homeowners Association discussed the problems the group has faced in trying to erect a sign identifying their neighborhood. Hoping to put the sign on Dennis Avenue on land owned by a car wash, they have the business’s approval as well as a city neighborhood improvement grant to fund the construction. However, the city is requiring them to get insurance – but they’ve discovered they can’t insure something they don’t own. At the same time, the city has a rule saying the sign must be in the easement area, but another rule creates a setback requirement that would push the structure out the easement. The group wants to continue working with the city to sort out a solution and asked for an endorsement of the project from the CAC. The project was unanimously approved.

The meeting adjourned shortly after 9 p.m.

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