Council Roundup: Front-Yard Parking Ban Approved, With Caveats

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A long-awaited city ordinance banning people from parking on the grass in front of their homes was finally approved by the city council Tuesday. The new law only applies to special overlay districts, the first of which will likely target areas around NC State University.

The front-yard parking ordinance, which councilors have had on the table for several years, prohibits people from using their front yard as additional parking space when there is no driveway or on-street parking available. Those who want to add additional parking would have to construct a paved surface no larger than 40 percent of the front yard.

Front-yard parking is commonly seen in areas near NC State, where college students tend to be seen as the biggest offenders. Students renting homes in areas that only have resident parking allow friends to park on the property, which exacerbates the problem.

Because of this, Southwest Raleigh will be targeted for the law’s enforcement. The law will be applied by rezoning the area to a Special Residential Parking Overlay District. The law wouldn’t be in effect city-wide.

City planning staff hasn’t finalized the boundary lines for the overlay, but it will be in the general vicinity of Hillsborough Street, Wade Avenue, Lake Wheeler Road, Tryon Road and Jones Franklin Road.

About 12,000 residents could be affected by the rezoning.

Because the overlay will require rezoning approval, a public hearing will take place during the evening session of the Sept. 4 city council meeting.

Quarry on Hold
Councilors put on hold a vote on a rezoning application that would allow Martin Marietta to expand its North Raleigh quarry.

Last week, the Planning Commission approved the rezoning application that would allow Martin Marietta to use the bulk of a 97-acre parcel as a storage area for soil, rock and other overburden resulting from blasting. Only eight acres would be used to expand mining operations.

Even if the rezoning is approved, Martin Marietta would still need the OK from various state agencies.

Included in the expansion plan would be relocating Westgate Road farther north to enable construction of a tunnel for quarry trucks to haul debris.

Neighbors from a nearby subdivision strongly oppose the expansion, citing concerns about pollution, safety, noise and home damage caused by the blasting. Councilors will likely vote on the issue at the next council meeting in two weeks.

City Expands Safety Contract
City councilors approved expanding a contract with the Downtown Raleigh Alliance to provide security for the Convention Center and Performing Arts Center parking decks.

The city already has an agreement with the DRA to provide security for other downtown decks, but the Convention Center and Performing Arts Center decks were previously left out of the arrangement.

City Manager Russell Allen said that it costs the city less to partner with the DLA than handling the security itself. The arrangement will cost the city about $426,000 for eight parking decks and four parking lots.

Longer Terms for Councilors?
Your favorite city councilor might have more time to get things done if term extensions are approved. But that also means it will take more time to vote them out of office if you’re unhappy.

Councilors are considering extending term limits from two years to four years, but the exact details of those terms haven’t been ironed out. Councilor Bonner Gaylord said he would prefer if the terms were staggered rather than all seats being up for election at the same time.

But Councilor Mary-Ann Baldwin said that a problem with staggering the elections is that the mayor’s race is the big driver to the polls. It’s possible that the off-year councilors won’t have a large voter turnout.

She asked that the city attorney report back to the council with pros and cons for each option.

The council will give the city attorney its recommendation at the next city council meeting in two weeks. From there a public hearing will be scheduled for residents to comment on the change.

Wrecker Rates Increased
If you find yourself on the side of the road and need assistance from a city-contracted wrecker, expect to dish out some additional cash.

If a driver gets into an accident or finds himself broken down on the side of the road, he has the option of calling his own tow truck or having the Raleigh Police Department call one of the city’s 11 contracted wreckers.

To put the city more inline with other municipalities and to address increasing fuel costs and city-mandated equipment requirements, the rates for service were increased.

Some services were only increased slightly, like the $10 increase for the use for a dolly, now listed at $55. Other charges were higher, like the $185 hike for the use of a heavy-duty wrecker.

The new rates are as follows:

Non-wrecked vehicle $125
Wrecked vehicle $195
Per quarter hour rate $48.75
Heavy-duty wrecker $400
Service call $75
Storage $35
Dolly $55
Heavy-duty storage $75

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