East CAC minutes for March 2009

The following are draft minutes from the East CAC March 2009 meeting:

East CAC Meeting Minutes
March 2009
Submitted by Secretary Sue Sturgis

The East CAC met at Lions Park Community Center on Monday, March 16 at 7 p.m. with about 30 people in attendance. Chairman Mark Turner opened with announcements.

* He delivered the CAC’s contributions to Brenda Pulley, a former Millbank Street resident whose husband died following a kerosene heater explosion in their home. For updates on Ms. Pulley’s needs, please check the East Raleigh website at www.eastraleigh.org.

* There will be cleanup of Belvidere Park and surrounding neighborhoods on April 4, with more details forthcoming.

* An informal vote on the proposal to change the CAC meeting to 6:30 p.m. showed a slight edge for the earlier time. Mark still needs to tally up the comments he received via e-mail before making a decision.

* Nominations are now being accepted for East CAC Vice Chair, to replace outgoing Vice Chair Andrew LeLiever. A vote will be taken at the April meeting.

* Attendees approved the minutes from the February meeting.

Raleigh Police Sgt. Matt McKee delivered the monthly report on crime, which appears to be down overall in the area. While residential burglaries were a big problem at this time last year, there were only seven in the past month—five of which were domestic-related and one involved someone trying to leave a gang. That means only one was of the type seen previously. The situation involving robberies around Enloe High School also appears to have improved. Sgt. McKee thinks the drop in crime may be related to people calling in suspicious activity and asks residents to keep it up.

Sgt. McKee introduced Officer Kryskowiak (kris-KO-vee-ack)—a.k.a. “Officer Krysko” —the new community police officer for the area extending from Yonkers Road south to Milburnie Road and east of Brookside/Capital Boulevard, part of a test program placing five community police officers throughout Southeast Raleigh. He’s hoping to work out of an apartment at the Raleigh North complex on Raleigh Boulevard. He emphasized that this is a community-led policing program that depends on citizen involvement. He will share his phone number on the CAC listserv, where he will also monitor concerns.

Residents raised a number of policing matters. Regarding a problem with dogs barking at night, Sgt. McKee noted there’s a city ordinance mandating quiet hours from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. Another issue is speeding on Bertie Drive and in the area around Enloe; Sgt. McKee said he would pass the concerns on to the traffic enforcement unit.

Christie Jones delivered the Parks and Rec report. On Saturday, April 4 there will be city-sponsored Easter egg hunts throughout Raleigh, including one at Lions Park. A program to make garden steppingstones with dog paw prints is set for April 11. There will also be a park cleanup on March 28 sponsored by the Lions Club.

A resident noted that there seems to be an increase in garbage in the park since the trashcans were removed. Ms. Jones explained that they were removed because people had been using the cans as their personal disposal bins, using them to clean out their cars, etc. In response to a question about whether the park gates could be closed and locked at night, she said there was a city ordinance against it to ensure emergency responders can get inside.

The next item was a discussion of rezoning case Z-18-09—the Longview Grocery at 2405 Poole Road (Poole and Norwood). Developer Daniel Coleman explained that when the city annexed the area in 1948 it imposed Residential-6 zoning, creating a situation where the store was nonconforming. Planning to modernize the structure, the new owner is seeking a rezoning to Shopping Center Conditional Use, with the conditions including restricted uses (including retail food or convenience store and automotive service and repair facility) and no drive-through for eating establishments. Mr. Coleman presented as a possible model for what the redevelopment would look like the retail establishment that replaced the old drugstore at Whitaker Mill Road and Sunrise Avenue in the Five Points neighborhood.

With the King Charles Small Area Plan providing no guidance for the Poole Road site, Mr. Coleman asked what sort of conditions the CAC would like on the site. A number of people called for the exclusion of any liquor store.

Some of the city’s ideas for conditions include appropriate lighting that minimizes spillage onto adjacent lots, a limit on the building height, setbacks consistent with the nearby overlay district (which does not include the property), limiting the hours of garbage pickup and a six-foot close fence along the adjacent residential properties. One resident questioned the city’s desired conditions, suggesting it would be good to have a lot of light and raising concerns that a tall fence could make it difficult for neighbors to keep an eye on things. Someone else suggested talking to parents at nearby Poe Elementary School to get a sense of what sort of amenities they’d be interested in at the site. Mr. Coleman said he would bring more details about the proposal to the next meeting.

The CAC once again discussed rezoning case Z-15-09—the Grady property on Donald Ross Drive. Ms. Grady brought pictures of the sort of houses they’re planning – two-story homes under 2,000 square feet. A nearby resident said he’d be more interested in seeing actual plans for the property, but Ms. Grady said they need to know the zoning first to avoid spending tens of thousands of dollars on unusable architectural drawings. She wasn’t asking the CAC to make a decision at the meeting but was simply sharing the family’s latest thinking about the project, which in the latest iteration includes shared driveways.

It was noted once again that the neighbors worked hard to get the conservation overlay for that area, and that it should be honored with just one residence built on each of the two lots rather than the total of six homes now being proposed. There was also a discussion of the fact that the Grady family was counting on an upscale development succeeding in the neighborhood, which some questioned. However, Mr. Hank Grady said he believes that if they put nice “cottage-type” houses there, buyers would come. A neighbor who lives across the street from the proposed development said he thought the proposed houses looked wonderful, but he’d prefer them to be only one story like the other homes in the area – and not a total of six.

The CAC then revisited a rezoning proposal Z-16-09 regarding a property behind the auto lube near the corner of New Bern Avenue and Bertie Drive. Attorney Annette Exum is seeking a reclassification from residential to O&I Conditional Use in order to be able to practice law out of the building, a former crack house that she renovated and now lives next door to. She currently has her law office there and is out of compliance with the zoning. During a discussion of the case in January, CAC members raised the concern that if the rezoning goes through and Ms. Exum sells the property, the new zoning would remain in force and create the possibility of uses not in keeping with the neighborhood’s residential character. Ms. Exum pointed out that while the area’s overlay district discourages business uses, it doesn’t forbid them. She also said she has sought conditions on the rezoning that would limit it to being a professional office in the future. The CAC will vote on the case next month.

The final agenda item of the evening was a presentation on sidewalks by Eric Lamb, the manager of the city’s Transportation Services department. He reported that there are three ways the city takes on sidewalks: when there is a street-widening project, in new developments and by neighborhood petition, which requires the consent of a majority of frontage property owners on a given street. The city staff does the work of figuring out who needs to be consulted as part of the petition process, and then the neighbors go out and collect signatures. The process usually takes about 12 months, and property owners on both sides of the street pay an assessment of $6 per linear foot of frontage, which they can pay over 10 years at a 4 percent interest rate. That is much less than the $40 per linear foot it actually costs the city to install sidewalks. Once the sidewalk is installed, its maintenance becomes the responsibility of the property owner—except in cases of tree root damage, which the city deals with.

Mr. Lamb said that the three biggest objects sidewalk proposals face are the assessments, landscaping being disturbed, and the incorrect perception that sidewalks are linked to crime. In fact, by encouraging neighbors to be outside, they may actually reduce crime. He also noted that the planting strip left between the street and the sidewalk is now typically about three feet, but the city is considering enlarging that to six feet to make more room for tree plantings.

The meeting adjourned at about 9:10 p.m.

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