Council questions road races

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Another road race came before council Tuesday, this time to change the route for the annual Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day. Council approved the change but said the city needed to be more organized and help residents and visitors find their way around when main thoroughfares are closed.

District D’s Thomas Crowder represents an area that includes Hillsborough Street—a favorite for road races. “This is not an issue of not having road races,” Crowder said. “But it’s like having two Christmas day parades a month.”

Crowder said he hears from residents complaining every time there’s a race in his district. He said he got a letter from one constituent who went to breakfast at 9 a.m. last weekend before a race down Hillsborough started and couldn’t get home until noon “because they couldn’t find their way around.”

Council sent the issue to the Law and Public Safety Committee. Crowder wished them luck, because this same issue spent a while in the Budget and Economic Development Committee two years ago and they never reached a resolution.

Fair housing billboard

The Fair Housing Hearing Board is getting $20,000 in billboard advertising from Fairway Outdoor Advertising. The board will get to put its message of housing rights on one unused billboard for four months at different spots around the city. The billboard will tell people to call Legal Aid for help with housing rights violations.

Thomas Crowder questioned the plan, saying the city has historically shunned billboards. “It would be hypocritical of us to use billboard,” he said.

Octavia Rainey, chair of the fair housing board, said she understands the city’s sign ordinance and opposition to billboards. “But this is a moral billboard,” Rainey said.

The billboard idea passed 7-1 with only Crowder voting in the negative.

Annexations

The revised city-initiated annexation plan will move forward with no residential properties on the table. Councilors decided not to initiate annexations on residential properties this year, which require owners to pay assessment fees and hook up to city sewer and water.

Up for annexation this year will be two power substations and two rights of way. Councilors will consider initiating more residential annexations next year after they do a full review of the costs and, hopefully, the economy sees some improvement.

Waste water treatment expansion

Councilors approved $4.46 million for the first phase of expanding the Neuse River waste water treatment plant. The expansion will increase the capacity at the plant from 60 million gallons per day to 75 MGD. An additional $2.4 million for equipment was not included with the winning bid from English Construction, but instead the city negotiated those costs directly with the supplier.

The current expansion project should be done next year, and an additional four phases in the expansion should be done by 2016.

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