Pine straw rules, rail task force get green light

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Raleigh city councilors approved a ban on pine straw near rental properties Tuesday. The new law prohibits pine straw from within 10 feet of buildings made from flammable materials.

The ban will go into effect Dec. 1. The law will not effect single-family homes, but fire department officials have said that they will take the issue up with the state Building Code Commission.

Pine straw, which catches fire easily and burns faster than most other ground cover, has been blamed for several fires in recent years. In 2007, a discarded cigarette, high winds and pine straw all came together to destroy more than 20 townhouses in a North Raleigh neighborhood.

BMW bikes for the RPD

An item that appeared routine on the city council agenda – a lease for Raleigh Police Department motorcycles – ended up getting special attention at Tuesday’s meeting.

The RPD asked council to approve the $185,000 deal to lease nine BMW motorcycles for three years.

In response to a question from Councilor Nancy McFarlane, City Manager Russell Allen said the city normally leases police motorcycles so the fleet doesn’t get too old.

Bonner Gaylord wanted to know if there was a local vendor the city could use to get motorcycles for the department.

The RPD normally uses Harley Davidson motorcycles, but Allen said the city got a better deal for the BMW bikes.

Councilors sent the item to the Law and Public Safety Committee for more discussion.

Passenger Rail Task Force

Council gave the green light to set up a new task force to make recommendations on rail service in Raleigh. The group is charged with reviewing the new proposal for Raleigh’s Union Station—a transit hub planned for the western side of downtown.

The multi-modal transit station would serve city and regional busses, Amtrak and commuter rail.

ART, not to be confused with art

Council approved an additional $1 million for the Accessible Raleigh Transit program, which provides transportation for people with disabilities in the city.

The program provides taxis or group transit to disabled people. The project has grown by 16 percent this year and ran out of money to make it to the end of the fiscal year.

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