The Raleigh City Council delayed a final vote again today on the proposed $205-million public safety center. Council did give final approval for the site plan and noise permit for the downtown amphitheater.
Councilors approved funding for the amphitheater late last year, but neighbors to the south and west of downtown had concerns about late-night noise at the site.
The site plan approved today for the downtown amphitheater, between Dawson and McDowell streets across from the convention center.
Smedes York, a member of the city-sponsored board working on the amphitheater, presented council with a compromise on the noise permit that would end concerts at 10:30 on weeknights and 11 on weekends. The compromise also gives the city three “wild card” nights during the summer when concerts can go to 11 on weeknights.
The Clarence E. Lightner Public Safety Center, a 16-story building planned for the corner of McDowell and Hargett streets, is still on the table. Critics have called the pricing construction project a Rolls Royce. Mayor Charles Meeker today tried to change the tone of the debate. Using the car analogy, Meeker suggested councilors look at the proposed building more as a fire truck compared to a pickup truck. Meeker said the high cost of the building has to do with its special use.
Bonner Gaylord (District E) has opposed the new public safety center since joining council in December. Bonner asked if the public would get any actual public safety benefit from the building, and made the analogy of having a fire truck show up to a fire compared to a pickup truck with a hose on the back.
City Manager Russell Allen presented an alternative to increasing taxes by one penny next year. He said the city could make up the difference with facility fees and other fees.
Councilors will take up the Lightner Center again in two weeks. The mayor asked for a report on how the arts budget for the building can be decreased. Allen urged council to approve the building soon. He said the city could save $20 million by locking in lower interest rates and construction costs.
Councilors also gave final approval to two special use noise permits that have been on the table for several meetings. Café Helios and the Hibernian Irish Restaurant and Pub, both on Glenwood South, now have standing permits to play amplified music outside.
Council passed a new set of rules for the city recycling program. The new recycling program will use larger bins, similar to the ones the city uses for trash collection, and move to biweekly collection. The new bins will allow the Solid Waste Services Department to use automated pickup trucks.
Allen said the program will take four years to roll out in order to offset the initial cost of new trucks and bins. He said it will also take jobs away from the department. Allen said the city will eliminate jobs as employees retire or resign. He also said that employees affected by the program would be offered other jobs in the city.
The changes to the recycling program will save $2 million per year, Allen said.
City council also gave approval for $61,000 for fences along bridges on the beltline. The fencing proposal comes after a man died late last year while trying to help a motorist stopped along I-440. Another man died on the road from similar circumstances in 2005.
The North Carolina Department of Transportation will match the city’s funding and will maintain the fences.
Council passed a new set of water conservation measures today. Here are the details from a city press release:
- Expand the number of drought stages from two to three. Many of the minor outdoor water usages such as power washing and filling of swimming pools will no longer be covered in Stages One and Two;
- Under the new Stage One regulations, irrigation water must be applied slowly to maximize effectiveness and prevent water run-off. Direct watering of impervious surfaces such as streets, parking lots, driveways and sidewalks will not be allowed. Watering by spray irrigation systems will be allowed between midnight and 10 a.m. Properties with odd-numbered addresses may water lawns and landscapes only on Tuesdays. Properties with even-numbered addresses may water only on Wednesdays. Watering by hose-end sprinklers will be permitted between 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. Properties with odd-numbered addresses will be allowed to water lawns and landscapes only on Tuesdays. Properties with even-numbered addresses may water only on Wednesdays. Also, hand-held hose watering devices and low-volume drop irrigation will be allowed at any time. New landscape establishment permits will not be issued. Leaking water services or plumbing must be repaired within 48 hours of written notification by the Public Utilities director. Exceptions will be made for properties using non-potable or reuse water, commercial irrigation of plants, visually supervised watering systems for short periods of time and the irrigation of athletic fields;
- For indoor water rules under the Stage One regulations, restaurants will not be able to serve drinking water unless it is requested by customers. Hotels will ask guests staying more than one night to continue using towels and linens more than once between laundering. Commercial and industrial customers will be asked to review their water uses and implement best management water conservation practices;
- Violations of Stage One regulations will result in a fine of $100 for the first instance, $500 for the second, and the cancellation of water service after the third;
- Under Stage Two regulations, leaking water services or plumbing must be repaired within 48 hours of written notification; watering by automatic spray, non-automatic irrigation or hose-end sprinklers will be prohibited; watering by low-volume drip irrigation will be allowed at all times; and watering by hand-held hose devices will be allowed. Indoor water uses and exemptions will remain the same;
- Penalties for Stage Two violations will increase to $500 for the first violation. The second violation will result in cancellation of service;
- Under Stage Three regulations, restrictions increase to include the prohibition of irrigation of athletic fields, watering by handheld devices, and the watering of commercial plants. Filling new swimming pools or wading pools will also be prohibited. Existing pools will be allowed to add water to maintain sanitary operations. Also, car washing will be prohibited at any location not specifically approved or certified by the City of Raleigh. Stage Three regulations will also result in the prohibition of the washing of impervious surfaces. The use of potable water for filling, flushing, pressure-testing and bacteriological-testing of new water main extensions will also be prohibited. Indoor water use restrictions will be expanded to include all non-essential use of water for commercial or public use. Also, buildings with water-cooled air conditioners or heating equipment that does not recycle City-supplied water will be required to adjust thermostats to the lowest-use settings available except when occupant health and safety are adversely affected; and,
- Violations of Stage Three restrictions will result in a $1,000 fine for the first violation. A second violation will result in the cancellation of water use.