So I was going to live-blog this here rezoning apocalypse, except that there was no Wi-Fi in the Duke Energy Performing Arts Center, where the Council session was moved to accommodate the large, angry masses—probably 150 in Fletcher Hall, though I’m terrible at head counts. And then, just as I was getting going, my hotspot crapped out. Damn.
Update: Got it back at 6:30, for reasons that I don’t entirely understand. Here’s last week’s liveblog. And here’s tonight’s play by play thus far:
6:11: First speaker up, whose name I didn’t catch: He’s an out and out Jesus freak, not here for the UDO but to proselytize and read Bible verses at a million miles per hours and bitch about gay marriage and the Iran deal. Mayor Nancy rings the bell with zest. Tonight is off to a great start.
6:14: Man says to delay the UDO until everyone knows how it will affect them. A lot of people don’t understand this. (True.) Lots of applause. He gets testy after she rings the bell. “Nah, nah, nah! I sat here for an hour,” he says. “I worked on your campaign,” he tells Mayor Nancy.
6:16: I really have to ask people to be respectful of other people’s time—Mayor Nancy
6:17: Homeowners on Hillsborough want a residential transition in their neighborhood. That text change been approved twice by Planning Commission, hasn’t been put to public hearing yet. Needs to be done before the rezoning.
6:19: Tom Worth*, attorney: Speaking for the owner of 901 Oberlin. Since 1906 Community Grocery and Deli. He thinks the UDO will lead to its demise. Also, 2607 Vanderbilt. Concerned that proposed NX 4 on Hillsborough is too tall.
6:20: First vice chair of Raleigh CAC: We would like to make a comment about two UDO categories. Many but not all CACs concerned that two areas of UDO don’t provide protection for neighborhoods. Neighborhood mixed-use allows retail that allows very big box centers. Neighborhood mixed-use should be revised or a separate code created. Second concern is the proposed reduction or elimination of transitionary zonings. Grow Raleigh Great brought this to CACs, who supported. We respectfully ask that Council and the planning staff—DING! Mayor Nancy cuts her off mid-sentence.
6:22: Dave Weismer (sp). Has lived in Oakwood for 19 years. One purpose is to increase density. I have concerns about how this plan proposes to do this density. I don’t believe Oakwood needs more density.
6:24: Kent Tramann (sp) on Wattaga: Lots rezoned for RX 3 mixed-use. They’re surrounded by R10. Everything in that zone zoned to R10. Everything in this area is R10, everything surrounding the area is R10, not up for rezoning. Only thing that makes sense is to zone it for R10. There’s no transition here.
6:26: Woman: Our neighborhood is not like the Glenwood South neighborhood. Please reconsider an OX. You don’t bring alcohol back into a neighborhood that once had it.
6:28: Woman says nobody understands the jargon and people are calling her for explanations. The chicken ain’t done. Put it back in. It’s destroying the fabric of the families and neighborhoods. (Applause.)
6:31: Heather Richardson: I implore you to please preserve our community and the surrounding businesses.
6:34: Woman (didn’t catch her name): If you implement any tax changes where the taxes will be increased, my recommendation is that the city pay for those tax differentials. There is an election time coming up. AMEN! says audience.
6:35 Miriam Dunn: Here to express my personal feelings. Rezoning has put a number in my mailbox that makes me wonder how it would affect me. Downtown is getting a little too close to where I live. The tall buildings are very difficult for me to look up at to see what’s happening because my neck is tired.
6:37: Michelle Corbin (sp): I like many other people did not receive the postcard. The outcry is part lack of communication and part lack of trust. Says city is dismantling African American neighborhoods—please, please, please understand, I am in no way playing the race card.
6:40: Phillip Carbor (sp): Illegal water reclamation going on. Been over 40 years since you guys wanted to take our property. A project there is owned by council members, spewing sewage. (No idea if this is true.) It’s all about money and power. Says they’re trying to screw the poor. What jurisdiction do you have as a company to come to my land and take it? he asks.
6:42: Woman: “Y”all need to come to our place, where we’re trying to survive.” Worries about African American neighborhoods not being able to pay increased property taxes.
6:45: Too many loud bars downtown. Developers buying historic homes and knocking them down. We do not want a city based on making some people make out like bandits. Do any of these changes negatively affect the homes of members of the City Council? PS, 40 stories, really?
6:47: Woman says the UDO will force her out of her home of 20 years.
6:48: Marilyn Falk (sp): Opposed to rezoning on Willow Road and New Hope Road from O91 to OX3. Purchased home two years ago, thought it would be a place where I could grow old. Trouble imagining looking at a three-story office building. The properties in question are currently occupied by one story homes. Will eliminate the neighborhood charm.
6:50: Shirley Brett (sp): Lives off Buffaloe Road. Less than a mile from Neuse River. (Mic feedback: ugh.) By doing that, you take away the ability for all people to say whether they like it or they don’t. You’re gonna let some builder come in and built two-story buildings. Gonna change the water table of people who live in the area. What happens to the animals? They’re gonna have to relocate somewhere. I am not a slithering friend. I don’t want them in my yard. Argues that the city shouldn’t try to do so much at once, should do this piecemeal.
6:52: 71 years old and this is my first public speaking. Maryann Roland (sp). In 2005 when road was widened we did not get compensation. (Audience: Ugh. Woman: Say ugh again. They do.) I’m opposed to big buildings being built around me.
6:55: Man who name I didn’t catch says the community doesn’t trust the City Council. Insofar as the community means those people in Fletcher Hall, that’s certainly true. “I was born in North Carolina”—DING!—“but I have to leave.” Laughter.
6:58: Man concerned about more traffic and dirty air because of UDO. Believe he said he has a child with cystic fibrosis, this would hurt him. My son has to avoid his outdoor activities. Complains that he only gets two minutes to discuss what would be a lifetime change.
7:00: GOOD GOD IT’S ONLY BEEN AN HOUR SOMEONE GET ME A DRINK.
7:00: Man asks if they know Groucho Marx. This is foundationally wrong for the city of Raleigh. People are “frustrated and fearful.” Losers would have no place to turn. It’s a life plan planned by someone else. “May I continue, ma’am?” Mayor Nancy: “No.” People boo.
7:03: Woman says it wouldn’t be fair to allow the neighborhood to become unsafe. You should back off on rezoning.
7:04: Stephanie: Lives off Six Forks. Everyone does not know what you are saying. Everyone needs to be explained what rezoning is in their area.
7:05: There’s a lot of that. Confusion. Which is understandable, but in the city’s defense, also unavoidable. You can argue that the city shouldn’t do this all at once, and you’d have a point, but I’m not sure there’s a good way to break it down to laypersons. Those are the realities of governance.
7:06: Residents of Smoketree have several concerns about rezoning. No postcards. Had little time to research, can only guess. To our little neighborhood, growth has meant increased traffic and crime. No reason to build another bog box store, strip mall or auto dealership.
7:08: Guy speaking about property on 615 West Peace. We understand the city’s conundrum. In 2008, paid 60k in fees and permits to build 4-story building. Was delayed. With new phase, couldn’t build because the project could only be three stories.
7:10: Jonathan Matthews (sp): Speaking about property on Brookside Drive. Only affordable housing is in that neighborhood. Purchased that with intention to sell for later date. If limitations are applied, he wouldn’t be able to do that.
7:12: Zoned out for a minute. No idea what this dude’s talking about.
7:13: On behalf of Union Baptist, the land we had purchased a couple years ago at 602 S. Saunders. I pastor at Union Baptist. We’re dealing with a church property. You have told us before about rezoning and redevelopment. Some skyscraper down there about seven years ago, which didn’t go up because of the economy. Asking you not to bother the land at 602. We would like to remain at that particular address. If we was a megachurch, you wouldn’t have your hands on us.
7:15: By way of background, I’m still fairly new in town, so if there’s some context I’m missing or something you think I’m misunderstanding, please hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @jeffreybillman.
7:16: Woman says this is going to destroy neighborhoods.
7:20: Steve Clemmons (sp), owner of Clemmons RV World. Lives in Winston-Salem, drove two miles to speak two minutes and give my two cents. Twice. The concern on this property is, before the sidewalk was put in, 100 feet from foot to door. Wants to be PL, not PK. Says the PK would limit visibility, close his business.
7:22: Doing this citywide really makes it hard to keep up, as we keep jumping all over town without rhyme or reason. Maybe—just a thought—Council could have had five or six of these things, focused on specific districts, town hall style. That might have helped.
7:25: Kay Kincannon (sp): I don’t know why y’all want to push out the small land. My daddy purchased this property back in the 60s. You’re pushing out the little man. In North Carolina, you don’t have no rights anymore. I didn’t know when we were going into city limits. We don’t even have 911 out there half the time, they don’t know where we’re at because y’all changed it from Durham to Raleigh. I made my daddy a promise, my brothers will have a place to live. We just don’t have the money! Y’all pushing us out. We can’t even have what we want on that property.
7:27: Lawyer representing companies on Capital, car dealerships. “This frontage requirement is going to inhibit [expansion] and we have serious concerns about that.” Because if there’s anything Capital needs, it’s bigger car dealerships.
7:30: Outside the skies have opened. Will be a fun walk to the parking garage.
7:31: Lawyer guy who speaks in monotone mumbles: Zonings on Brier Creek Parkway. Wants more pedestrian traffic. Future land-use designates as urban mixed use.
7:32: *Email: The guy I ID’d as Tom Wurth is actually Tom Worth. Will fix. Sorry.
7:33: Lawyer, I think: Council can’t talk about our frontage concerns because Council won’t listen to less-restrictive petitions. Which is, yes, a bullshit rule.
7:34: Guy here on behalf of four property owners. Wants to speak for 8 minutes. Mayor Nancy looks like she might fall asleep right there on the dais. Don’t blame her. Long story short, property owners want more intense zoning.
7:36: GAVEL! man screams from the back, apparently jealous that the developer guy gets to speak longer than everyone else. Ah, but these were the rules at the outset. They can speak for two minutes for each property.
7:37: Your City Council is listening attentively.
7:39: Guy is still talking, says it’s illegal to only consider more restrictive zonings. He is done, after six minutes.
7:40: Tom Worth is back, repping more clients. One property purchased to build a hotel. Current zoning will limit to three stories on four hours. It would be almost an abomination and it will not happen. Another owners owns four properties on Capital. Default height limit a real potential problem going forward. These frontages are the hidden hammers in this rezoning effort. Next property: National Business Partners on Mitchell Mill. Looking at these three properties, it is our distinct impression that the parking limited frontage is going to present significant problems for the redevelopment of these properties. Finally, Anderson Toyota complex: default height limit of three stories definitely a loss of entitlements.
7:45: Isabel Worthy Mattox**: On behalf of five clients, 12 different properties. Wonderful. People are starting to file out. No one cares what the developers have to say. They also don’t like the more-restrictive-only thing. Shocking. It really goes way beyond that in many, many cases—frontages, height limits, makes current uses nonconforming. Really unfair.
7:48: Why didn’t I bring a flask?
7:50: My ass has officially gone numb.
7:51: Maddox is still talking, now about a Shell station. We do not think the frontage will work, etc. Yawn.
7:52: It’s been and remains pretty abundantly clear that the city botched the process something awful, which will only drag things out.
7:55: Guy opposes rezoning on Dunn to NX—this is the Publix property. At July 7, landowner and attorney said property has always been planned for retail development. Always been planned for small retail. The landowner and his attorney both said their current proposal was completely different than [Publix] request denied on May 12.
7:57: If you’ve stuck with me thus far, you are a saint.
7:58: Brad Mullins (sp): Speak on behalf of Dunn Road Associates. This is not the same amount of property that was contemplated. Less than a third. Gone from 14 acres to four acres. We have met with a number of neighbors, HOA board last night. I’m not quite sure if conditions can be added as part of this process. We have submitted conditions—limited square footage to 30k. We’ll hopefully continue to negotiate.
7:59: Crowd is down by about half from the outset.
8:00: Mayor Nancy is not allowing people to speak who spoke two weeks ago, even if they’re speaking about separate properties. Only groups allowed to speak twice is attorneys, she says, which will do nothing to ameliorate people’s perception that the deck is stacked against them.
8:01: **Isabel Mattox’s name corrected. Thanks, emailer!
8:02: They’ve cut this guy’s mic. He’s still going.
8:03: Woman wants to express pattern in older parts of Raleigh. I’m trying to determine if this is the new Raleigh—a developer can come in, raze a property. A quadplex in her neighborhood. I fear that now we’re going to have a lot of McMansions and not enough diversity.
8:05: Guy says enlightening for developer attorneys to say they’ve been working with staff for months. UDO you’re proposing is a taking of our rights at a number of levels. Taking our right to petition our government. When I moved into the neighborhood I knew what the zoning was. You’ve taken a fundamental right. When I bought a property at R4 and you zone it to R3, you’re destroying my quality of life. I get the impression that very little said here will have any impact. (Yep.)
8:08: Tricia (?) on Bloodworth: I don’t want to live in the suburbs, want to live in downtown. Building a small urban oasis for my retirement, next door to House of Swank. I want to be able to have input. There will be no neighborhood input. A three-story building can go up beside my house. I would like to have some input into what’s going to be shading my garden. I had a plan for my retirement; this rezoning has made me look at other parts of town.
8:09: Woman speaking to the remapping of Brooklyn. Asking to defer the change to R10 so we can remain R30.
8:10: You wouldn’t expect these sorts of hearings to attract a bunch of people who wait for two hours to praise city staff rather than vent, but it’s more and more difficult to walk away from this thing thinking this is going to end well.
8:12: Man says no zoning if people don’t have input—a repeated theme throughout the evening.
8:14: Dick Hilliard (sp): Here to speak for 34k property owners who will not be given opportunity to speak. If we were endangered species, we’d get more respect. I heard in Communist Russia the shoe manufacturers didn’t make enough shoes, they made all size 9 brown men’s. That’s how I feel about this UDO. This has allegiance to foreign things (????). It takes away constitutional rights. And you know it.
8:16: Wynne Coleman: Common theme at July 7 was they were bewildered by the rezonings and the rush to implement them. In 2010-11 represented the Wake County Taxpayers Association, got county commission to reject sustainability because something something UN something something socialist. Oh, Jesus, lady, give it a rest.
8:18: The paranoid apoplexy is strong with the Taxpayers Association crowd.
8:19: Chair of Wade CAC speaking. The NX zoning district doesn’t do enough to protect neighborhoods. Needs mixed-use buffer district. The UDO’s NX zoning districts promotes overscale development. We need a zoning district that’s limited to low impact.
8:20: Man doesn’t like the city allowing NX to have bars.
8:22: Final item (could it be?): Tim Niles wants to speak to another parcel. Located at base of Falls Lake Dam and the Neuse River. Planning staff and commission recommended this be remapped to NX, despite being asked by Comp Plan Committee to reconsider. Allows for gas stations. Doesn’t want gas stations. The UDO just doesn’t have enough voting districts. You can’t force everything into NX. (NX only makes up like 500 of the city’s 92,000 acres, but no one seems happy with it.) Once you have remapped properties across the entire city using NX as a catch-all it’s game over.
8:24: Mayor Nancy cuts him off. Thank you, everybody, for coming out. (She means it!) We really need to take some time to discuss how we’re going to take this apart and address it. What I don’t want is everybody to feel they need to show up to the first workshop again. Asks Council the best way to take this section by section.
8:26: Planning director Ken Bowers wants to use first workshop to organize.
8:27: Mayor Nancy says everyone feels like they’ve been hurt. Wants to remap the city in a way that everyone’s comfortable. (Good luck with that.) Odom says he wants Council to send staff concerns rather than letting staff dictate the terms of the conversation (paraphrase). There’s a spattering of applause.
8:28: Mayor Nancy says they will break it all down at the first workshop, let people know when their projects will come up. First workshop, Monday the 27th, 4 p.m. We will not be voting on anything! Gonna spend that time to come up with a structure. Make sure that’s communicated to the public.
8:30: Odom moves to close. Baldwin seconds with enthusiasm. WE. ARE. ADJOURNED.
Later, everyone. I’m going to go find a bottle.