The City Council approved a change to its gun laws Tuesday, which would make it legal to carry a concealed weapon throughout the city.
The city was forced to make the change in order to come into compliance with a state law that went into effect Dec. 1. Some city-owned parks will be exempt.
“If we had wanted firearms on our greenways and our parks, we would have voted for it here,” said newly elected District A Councilor Randy Stagner.
Councilor Thomas Crowder said the previous council voiced similar concerns to the General Assembly, but those seemed to have little impact.
City Attorney Thomas McCormick will ask the state for an exception during the General Assembly’s upcoming session.
“There certainly can't be any harm in taking another run at another legislative solution,” McCormick said, adding that maybe the state would be willing to grant an exemption to cities above a certain size.
Opposing a Gay Marriage Amendment
The newly sworn-in Raleigh City Council voted in favor of a public proclamation voicing its opposition against a state amendment that would make marriage between a man and a woman the only legal domestic union in North Carolina.
Councilors Bonner Gaylord and John Odom voted against the proclamation.
Gaylord said that while he believes that his marriage doesn't need defending, there are a myriad of state-level legal issues that the city could voice its opinion on and, “I feel like it's a slippery slope and this getting into issues that are beyond our purview.”
Odom also said that he should not be doing the job of state legislators, county commissioners or school boards. He added that he believed marriage should be between a man and a woman and that once definitions are changing it leads to trouble.
Councilor Russ Stephenson said he agrees the city should stick to its business, but that the amendment would put the city at a competitive disadvantage and it would be harder to attract valuable talent and jobs to the area. He said that they should frame the letter so that legislators know the amendment would keep the city from maintaining its position as the No. 1 city in the nation.
The amendment will appear on the May 2012 primary ballot.
New Technology Committee Created
With a new council comes a new committee. McFarlane announced the creation of a Technology and Communication Committee. Councilors Mary-Ann Baldwin, Russ Stephenson and Bonner Gaylord will serve on the committee.
The group will be tasked with issues facing not only Internet technology, but also how technology can be used in all departments. Members will also discuss how the city can better communicate with residents.
Gaylord, who will act as chair, said that some examples of issues the committee will undertake would be the e-mail contract with Google, the city's website and live streaming capabilities and how residents can get real-time updates about services such as leaf and garbage pickup.
“There are all kinds of ways we can leverage tech in all departments,” Gaylord said.
The committee will meet on the second and fourth Tuesday of the month at 5 p.m.
Other Committee Assignments
Budget and Economic Development Committee
Meets the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month at 11 a.m.
Nancy McFarlane – Chair
Thomas Crowder — Co-chair
Comprehensive Planning Committee
Meets the second and fourth Wednesday of the month at 5 p.m.
Russ Stephenson – Chair
Law and Public Safety Committee
Second and Fourth Tuesday at 3 p.m.
Mary-Ann Baldwin – Chair
Public Works Committee
Second and Fourth Tuesdays at 5 p.m.
Eugene Weeks – Chair
Task Force to Review Sign Ordinance
Following the recommendation of the Law and Public Safety Committee, a task force will be created to investigate the city's sign ordinance, which regulates how often a business can use costumed employees to draw attention to its location. By city law, costumed characters count as signs and require a special event permit, which can only be used for 30 days and received only twice within the lifetime of a business.
Hughie and Louie’s costume shop owner Louie Bowen appealed to the city after she received a violation for having costumed employees wave at cars during the Halloween season.
Law and Public Safety Committee Chair Mary-Ann Baldwin said staff will research possible recommendations on how to deal with such situations.
Councilor Thomas Crowder said he supports continuing a dialogue, but he “can't support weakening our sign ordinance.”
He said that people holding signs and dressing up, “is not something we need to introduce into the city.”
Historic Overlay Meeting Scheduled
At the urging of Councilor Eugene Weeks, a decision to assign a Historic Overlay District over a section of South Person and South Blount streets near Shaw University has been delayed in order for the Raleigh Historic Development Commission to provide one last informal public meeting Jan. 18.
The time and location have not determined.
The overlay was already approved by the Planning Commission, but needs final approval from the City Council.
The overlay would require that changes to the area go through a design review process by the commission. Homeowners wishing to do exterior work on their house must also receive a Certificate of Appropriateness by staff before work can be done.
Supporters of the overlay say it will help guide responsible development in the area and keep the neighborhood's historic character intact. Opponents say extra regulation is not needed during an economic recession.
Historic Landmarks Approved
The following properties were given Raleigh Historic Landmark designation:
Cameron-Maynard-Gatling House, 504 East Jones St.
Free Church of the Good Shepherd, 110 S. East. St.
Grand United Order of Odd Fellows Building, 115 E. Hargett St.
Raleigh Bonded Warehouse, 1515 Capitol Blvd.
City Councilors approved three rezoning applications and referred one to the Comprehensive Planning Committee. More details about the properties can be found here.
Rock Quarry Road (Z-17-11)
The 8.5-acre property is now zoned Residential-4, which allows four living units per acre. The property owners want to rezone about five acres of that of the property into Residential-10, or 10 living units per acre. They would like to rezone the other three acres as Neighborhood Business Conditional Use. Representatives of the property owners said they want to open small family-owned businesses on the property.
Falls of the Neuse Road (Z-19-11)
This 1-acre plot is currently in two zoning districts, Neighborhood Business and Residential-4. The owners want to rezone the area to Neighborhood Business Conditional Use.
Six Forks Road (Z-18-11)
The property was zoned as Residential-4, or four living units per acre, but the commission approved rezoning it to Office and Institution-1, which would allow an office building on the property.
The property owner intends to build three- to four-story buildings, including residential apartments.
Because the application was not unanimously approved, councilors referred it to the Comprehensive Planning Commission for additional discussion.