City Councilors Tuesday approved a Historic Overlay District for an area around South Blount and South Person streets following almost five months of debate.
Even the final decision was contentious; councilors John Odom, Eugene Weeks and Mary-Ann Baldwin voted against the rezoning.
The overlay will cover about 23 acres of South Blount and South Person streets between East Davie and East South streets.
Property owners within the overlay must get approval from the city’s planning staff before any major renovations or development can take place. While the overlay does not prevent teardowns or new development, the overlay will require that any new design be consistent with the character of the neighborhood.
Supporters believe the overlay will provide predictable and responsible development, while opponents believe that it will stifle development in a key part of downtown.
Weeks said he believed there was a significant miscommunication among the Raleigh Historic Districts Commission, city staff and the neighborhood. He had previously requested more meetings with residents to ensure that neighborhood residents are fully informed.
He also asked that staff look into redrawing the boundaries or using historic preservation easements for individual owners. Neither of those was done. Weeks said he still had reservations about the overlay and would not support it.
Odom echoed Week’s stance, saying the overlay forces regulations on people that don’t want it. He said he would support a way for those who wanted to be included without including those who didn’t.
Baldwin’s main point of contention was the inclusion of an alley called Stonach’s Alley, which could require additional regulation if someone were to develop the surrounding property.
“It undermines our ability to redevelop that specific block,” Baldwin said.
Because the block is so close to Red Hat’s new headquarters, Baldwin said that she thinks that it would hinder major redevelopment in that area.
Councilor Thomas Crowder said while he understands the reluctance on the part of his fellow councilors, he believed that there are other areas downtown under study where the city should be expanding. He added that he didn’t feel it is appropriate to have tall buildings in that neighborhood and that the overlay would provide for a transition between communities.
Lead Mine Road Rezoning Approved
Despite concerns about growing traffic problems, a rezoning application for a mixed-use development has been approved for a 9-acre property on Lead Mine Road and Charles Drive by a 7-to-1 vote.
Mayor Nancy McFarlane voted against it.
The development is near Glenwood Avenue across the street from Crabtree Valley Mall, an area that is already plagued by congestion.
If built, the new development will add more than 500 residential units and 7,500 square feet of retail space.
Though consistent with the Comprehensive Plan and the Future Land Use Map, the application raised questions about the area’s rapid expansion and if the city has the infrastructure to support it.
McFarlane said that she believes high-intensity mixed-use is too much for the area to handle.
“This is going to compound a problem that we can’t solve,” she said. “People are going to be asking us why soon.”
Changes Coming to Electric Car Parking Spots
Starting next week, drivers who park their gas guzzlers in one of the 18 electric car charging stations could be hit with a $50 fine.
That doesn’t mean electric car drivers are parking for free. The car must be charging if it is parked in a station and the owner must feed the meter, just like he would if he were to park in a traditional space. If not, the owner could also face a $50 fine.
The new ordinance was proposed by Councilor Bonner Gaylord, who discovered the problem shortly after purchasing a Chevrolet Volt.
Council Approves Leesville Road Widening Amendments
The city council approved amendments to the Leesville Road widening plan that would minimize impacts to a family cemetery and other properties.
Family members of those buried in the cemetery on Leeseville Road and Renfield Drive expressed concerns about the city moving graves to accommodate the widening project. City planning staff have shifted the proposed sidewalk and added a retaining wall to ease those concerns.
Blount Street Parking Deck Lease Agreement Approved
Councilors approved a lease-to-own agreement with Edison Land, LLC for spaces within the Blount Street parking deck.
Edison Land will lease 396 spaces in the deck for 20 years at $27,000 each for a total of about $10.9 million, allowing the city to recoup the cost of building the deck.
Phase 2 of a possible three-part plan, Edison Land plans on building a 20- to 22-story mixed-use highrise on the Northeast corner of Martin and Blount Streets. The first phase of the plan is currently undergoing site plan review.
St. Augustine’s Wants Additional Events
The North Carolina Committee for the Special Olympics has reached out to St. Augustine’s College in hopes to use the college’s new track for some events. College leaders have hired a contractor to construct a new 2,500-seat stadium and track, the first stadium in the college’s history. They aim to complete work by the first home football game Sept. 1.
As part of the city’s conditions for the stadium’s approval, the college agreed that only NCAA sponsored events would be held at the facility. The agreement allows no more than 15 events, including six footballs games, six track and field events and three others.
To allow the Special Olympics events to be held at the site, the city will have to amend the special use permit. A public hearing to discuss the change will take place during the city council’s regular meeting May 1.
Quasi-Judicial Hearing Procedures to be Reviewed
The Law and Public Safety Committee will review procedures relating to quasi-judicial hearings after a group of residents said they were not given proper notification of a proposed telecommunications tower going up in their neighborhood.
The residents said they were only given 48 hours to review and prepare testimony opposing the tower before the hearing. They said pertinent information, such as an appraisal report and site plan, was not included in the packet they received from the city clerk’s office. And while the letters were sent from the clerk’s office, anyone looking to review the information was directed to to the Planning Department.
Ultimately, councilors approved the cell tower, which will be located off of Rosewell Road east of Falls of Neuse Road and south of Durant Road. But Councilor Thomas Crowder said that the process puts the citizens at a disadvantage. He said not all homeowners have the money to hire an attorney to assist in the hearing.
Mayor Nancy McFarlane said she would like to see the notification time extended, and Councilor Randy Stagner said he wants to extend the required distance dictating which residents are notified.
The committee will review the procedures at its meeting next Tuesday at 3 p.m. in the Municipal Building at 222 W. Hargett St.
Traffic Calming Measures Approved
The city council approved traffic calming measures for the following Raleigh streets.
- Shelley Road between North Hills Drive and Six Forks Road
- Baugh Street between Starmont Drive and Old Buffaloe Road
- Rose Lane between Maplewood Road and Poole Road
- Wimbleton Drive between the two sections of Shelley Road
- Northbrook Drive between North Hills Drive and Pamlico Drive
- Glascock Street between Wake Forest Road and Norris Street
- Merrie Road between Avent Ferry Road and Merwin Road
- East Rowan Street between Six Forks Road and Lakemont Drive