Draft minutes from June 2009 East CAC meeting

East CAC Meeting Minutes
June 2009
Submitted by Secretary Sue Sturgis

Chair Mark Turner called the June meeting of Raleigh’s East Citizens Advisory Council to order shortly after 7 p.m. on Monday, June 15. He wanted to try to keep things moving along to make ample time for the post-meeting summer social, with food and soft drinks provided by MoJoe’s Burger Joint at 620 Glenwood Ave. courtesy of the owner, CAC Vice Chair Van Alston.

ANNOUNCEMENTS: Mark reported that the CAC leadership met with Raleigh Police Chief Dolan and his staff earlier in the day to discuss the need for increased police visibility in the area of Raleigh Boulevard and Glascock Street, where there is a significant crime problem. He came away optimistic that we will see increased police activity there, including the possibility of a police substation in the Food Lion shopping center.

Van reported that he successfully took advantage of the city’s WaterSense Toilet Replacement Rebate Program, which provides rebates of up to $100 for the purchase of water-saving toilets that have been WaterSense-certified by the federal Environmental Protection Agency. For more information about the city’s rebate program, visit http://tinyurl.com/ltzwhy.

In other announcements, a CAC member noted that work has commenced on the burned-out property in the 2200-block of Millbank Street where a CAC resident was injured in and later died from an accident involving an improperly fueled kerosene heater. Also, the city’s noise ordinance has been amended to include civil penalties of $100 that the police have been authorized to issue. And a new resident of the CAC reported that her home on Brighton Road was broken into, and police are looking for a silver Pontiac seen parked in front of it prior to the incident.

Dropping by to say hello was Tennessee, a young woman who has opened Carola’s Jamaican Cuisine, a new restaurant on Poole Road across from the Maxway store. Van said it’s a terrific place that CAC residents should support.

Mark noted that Longview Gardens is among the neighborhoods that do not have active e–mail discussion lists. Anyone who would like such a list set up for their neighborhood should let him know.

Mark also said he would be speaking to the City Council about the Catch-22 facing Belvidere Park residents trying to get a neighborhood sign, with the city neighborhood improvement grant program stipulating such a sign must be the right of way, but city rules saying that any encroachment on the city’s right of way requires insurance in perpetuity.

POLICE REPORT: Officer Kryskowiak opened with updates on concerns that have been raised at previous meetings:

* He spoke with traffic enforcement authorities about speeding on Bennett Street near Lions Park. They will soon put up their data collection system and eventually will dispatch an officer to conduct enforcement.

* He opened case files on alleged drug houses on Myers Avenue and Brighton Road. He is assembling police call records for the past two years and will also involve Inspections. In addition, he has alerted the beat officers and sergeants about the properties.

* Access to parking at the Longview Lake dam has been blocked off, and beat officers have been contacted about the trespassing concerns.

* The management at Raleigh North Apartments has gotten eight problem tenants evicted for lease violations, and about a half-dozen more are on the “chopping block.” Their lease agreement stipulates a 10 p.m. curfew, which police will begin enforcing. Officer Kryskowiak is also talking with the management of the apartment complex on Larson Drive off Glascock Street next to Fire Station 7, where there’s also a problem with crime.

* In response to the recent spike in vehicle break-ins, Raleigh police will begin distributing warnings in the mailboxes of people whose vehicles are vulnerable to thieves.

Officer Kryskowiak then listened to the concerns of CAC members. Someone asked about the incident the day before at the circle at Milburnie and Culpepper, where around 7 p.m. people ran screaming to their cars that were parked in the area and left, with police arriving in force a few minutes later. He had no information but said he would look into it.

Noting the many reports of crime in the area, someone asked if there were any programs to address the root causes of crime, including economic distress. Officer Kryskowiak noted that there are city-sponsored job fairs and other opportunities. It was also noted that Chief Dolan takes a holistic view of crime that includes the social problems leading to it. Mark said the East CAC’s July meeting would feature retired police officers who will talk about the police department’s volunteer program, which provides another way for concerned citizens to get involved.

POOLE ROAD REZONING CASE Z-18-09: Raleigh developer and South Central CAC Chair Daniel Coleman came before the East CAC to discuss this case, which involves tearing down the old Longview Grocery at 2405 Poole Road to build a new shopping center on the 1.2-acre lot. Joining him was project architect Jack Rice, who grew up on Lord Ashley Drive in East Raleigh and is a former chair of the city’s Planning Commission.

Mr. Coleman initially discussed his plans for the property with the CAC back in March, explaining that when the city annexed the area back in 1948 it imposed Residential-6 zoning, creating a situation where the grocery store has been nonconforming for over 60 years. Longview Acres LLC purchased the property last October and wants to invest in a teardown and significant expansion, which is why they want the zoning changed to Shopping Center Conditional Use.

Mr. Coleman handed out a packet of informational materials, including a sketch of a row of five one-story shops close to the street, with exteriors of brick, horizontal siding, and stucco with stone accents.

The materials also included a May 26, 2009 letter from Doug Hill, the city planner assigned to the case. Hill notes that North Carolina law requires rezoning requests to be evaluated against the comprehensive plan, and Coleman’s request is in fact inconsistent with the plan, which designates the site for residential suburban use of six or fewer homes per acre.

Mr. Coleman wants to proceed with the project anyway but emphasized that he would like a collaborative process involving the CAC. In an effort to make the development an asset to the neighborhood, he wants it to embody the principles of “Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design” (CPTED), which considers how the use of lighting, fences and other design elements can help reduce crime, since that’s a concern for the local community.

Mr. Coleman invited Raleigh Police Officer Lisa Weber, a CPTED specialist, to say a few words about the concept. She said the best deterrent to crime is “natural surveillance” – making sure your property is set up and maintained in such a way that you can keep an eye on your neighbors and your neighbors an eye on you. That’s why she isn’t a proponent of tall privacy fences, since they make it hard to look out for each other. In addition, while Mr. Coleman has pointed to the retail property at Whitaker Mill and Carroll Drive in the Five Points neighborhood as a possible model for this development, Officer Weber pointed out that it has parking in the back, which hinders natural surveillance.

Community Police Officer Kryskowiak said his team spoke with the property’s nearby neighbors about the rezoning. He said they are OK with it remaining a commercial property but want no liquor and no carwash where people will hang out. Officer Weber also noted that there’s a daycare nearby that has concerns about the property.

Officer Kryskowiak said neighbors love the idea of an art gallery that could show work by students from Poe Elementary School across the street. Principal Sally Reynolds was in attendance and emphasized her concerns that whatever ends up there not involve liquor and that care be taken about signage, since there’s now a Newport cigarette sign within eyeshot of the playground.

In response to a question about when residents will know what businesses will be going in there, Mr. Coleman said that at this point he is soliciting suggestions for what people don’t want there so those items can be included among the conditions placed on the property as part of the rezoning. Besides the no liquor and no drive-through stipulations, conditions can also address factors such as percentage of retail, how the building is situated on the lot, etc.

Ms. Crockett, a CAC resident who lives a block away from the property, said she is opposed to the plan because she doesn’t want any more strip malls in the area, while her husband expressed concerns that the owners seem to want the community to decide what should be there. Mr. Coleman said they want to keep something similar to what’s there now but to make it look nicer and adhere to the principles of New Urbanism, a design movement that emphasizes walkable communities and a mix of housing and retail.

Someone asked whether the grocery’s old gas tanks are still in the ground, and Mr. Coleman said they were. That raises concerns about whether there could be environmental contamination to address.

Residents interested in sharing their thoughts about the property’s future are invited to send them via e-mail to members of the CAC’s Outreach, Planning and Economic Development Committee at cac-oped at eastraleigh dot org.

OUTREACH, PLANNING AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE REPORT: The newly elected chair of the committee is Bobby Poole, who worked for the state property office for 30 years handling property transactions. He reported that the group – which now stands at eight members – would be scheduling an organizing meeting. They are looking for representatives from throughout the CAC.

In July, Ken Bowers, the city’s deputy planning director, will make a presentation to the committee on what the comprehensive plan holds for the area.

At the committee’s last meeting, members discussed the special-use permit granted to the auto storage facility on Capital Boulevard across from Dennis Avenue by the Board of Adjustment. Bobby and another CAC member made a presentation to the board about the request. The permit calls for a 12-foot fence around the property, but Bobby and nearby residents would prefer a landscaping solution that offers a more appealing view.

Questions were raised about the rezoning case involving the Exum property on New Bern Avenue, which the CAC opposed. It involves a house that was converted into a law office in violation of the residential zoning. City Councilman James West was in attendance and said that while there was no time at the upcoming council meeting for citizens to discuss the case, he would put the matter into committee to allow people to share their views.

There are also concerns about the closure of the bridge on Albemarle Avenue. An inspector has been called in, and if problems are found this could mean an extended closure for repairs.

At 8:05 the meeting adjourned for the summer social, which lasted until shortly after 9 p.m. MoJoe’s chicken wings earned rave reviews. Thanks, Van!

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