Council Roundup: North Raleigh Quarry Expansion Approved

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After a two-week delay for additional consideration, city councilors Tuesday approved a rezoning application that will allow a North Raleigh quarry to expand its operations.

The final vote stood at 5 to 2,with councilors Russ Stephenson and Thomas Crowder voting against the application. Councilor Bonner Gaylord recused himself from the vote.

Crowder said he is not in support of the application because it is not consistent with the 2030 Comprehensive Plan.

The rezoning application is the first of many steps that will allow Martin Marietta to use the majority of its undeveloped property as a dumping ground for excavated dirt and debris. About 100 acres will be used as storage, while only eight will be used for mining purposes.

Martin Marietta will also be relocating Westgate Road farther to the north in order to build a tunnel that would be used to transport the debris to the storage area.

Martin Marietta and residents in the adjacent neighborhood have been at odds over the rezoning since the application was filed. Neighbors in the Wyngate Subdivision said they are concerned about pollution, property damage caused by blasting, safety and home values.

Stephenson asked that the council defer action for another two weeks to make possible additional discussions between the neighbors and Martin Marietta. But Martin Marietta’s lawyer, Lacy Reeves, said after many meetings with residents, it didn’t seem like any more progress would be made.

A motion to hold the decision was struck down in a 3 to 4 vote.

The quarry expansion won’t happen immediately; Martin Marietta must first acquire numerous approvals from the state.

Subdivision Security Gates Rejected
In a 4-to-4 vote, councilors rejected a request to allow a gate at the entrance of the Rosemont subdivision in the Wakefield Plantation community.

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Residents volunteered to cover all costs of the gate, proposed for Victoria Park Lane. The city’s code does not allow for public streets to be gated, even if it’s for a small community with no connections.

Residents of the subdivision say crime has been increasing in their neighborhood and they want to install the gate as a visual deterrent. The gate would not be locked and would open automatically when a car pulls up. A security camera would take a picture of the driver as he or she entered the subdivision, and another image of the license plate as the car was leaving.

Councilors Eugene Weeks, John Odom, Gaylord and Baldwin all voted in favor of the request, but the motion failed without a fifth vote.

McFarlane said it could set a precedent for other neighborhoods eager to fence off the surrounding community.

“I can’t remember when we’ve ever gated a public street,” McFarlane said. “I see this as a problem.”

The issue was earlier approved by the Law and Public Safety Committee meeting. At that time, Stagner said he didn’t think a non-locking gate would provide its residents any additional security.

More Research for Food Trucks
As recommended by the Law and Public Safety Committee last week, city staff will complete a report examining the impacts of allowing food trucks to operate in Downtown Raleigh. A law permitting the trucks has been in place for about six months, but only allows food trucks in specific retail zoning districts.

Staff will also study the possible impact of allowing multiple food trucks on a half-acre lot, now restricted to one.

The issue will stay in committee and staff will report back with enough time for a text change to be heard at a public hearing in October.

Councilors also approved a series of requests that would allow Lyons Farm to continue doing business through the summer without being cited for any zoning violations. A text change to allow produce stands to be located in all zoning districts will also be heard at the October public hearing.

Council is Against Citizens United
In a 6-2 vote, councilors approved a resolution in support of an amendment to the United States Constitution that would regulate political speech by corporations and labor unions.

The amendment is a reaction to the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling that gives corporations the same rights as people regarding political contributions. The resolution states that, “unregulated and excessive expenditures by any organization could allow corruption of the electoral process and encourage public officials to vote against the interest of their constituents in order to receive financial support.”

The resolution also asks that citizens support the amendment.

Gaylord said while the resolution had a lot of valid points, he would vote against it because he doesn’t think it is a direct correlation to, “what we do as a city council.”

Stagner agreed, saying though he is strongly against the Citizens United ruling, “we don’t need to do a resolution every time something comes up.”

Unlike Gaylord, Stagner voted in favor of the resolution. Odom also voted against it.

Planning Commission Gets Time Extension for UDO
The Planning Commission was granted its second 45-day time extension to review the latest draft of the Unified Development Ordinance.

While the commission is briskly moving through the 12 chapter document, members have asked for more time as the July 17 deadline approaches. The commission will give its recommendation to council in September.

The city council has no time restrictions before adopting the UDO.

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