Council Roundup: Councilors Mixed on Term Change

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The debate on council term extensions continues. After a quick public hearing, during which only four people spoke, the question whether to extend terms for members of the Raleigh City Council from two to four years will be reviewed by the Comprehensive Planning Committee.

The council is made up of eight members, including the mayor, who essentially acts as council chair. Councilors have their seat for two years and all terms expire at the same time, rather than being staggered like some other councils and commissions.

Councilor John Odom floated the idea earlier this year, saying that by the time the council gets down to business, it’s time to campaign again.

Resident and Planning Commission member Steven Schuster said he was in favor of four-year terms. In his experience working with different municipalities, he said he has found four-year terms are the most efficient way to go.

He added that sometimes, “projects last longer than a couple of years,” and a change in guard could bring about change to a project midstream. Schuster added that he would recommend staggered terms.

Resident Helen Tart said she’s very pleased with the current council, but wants the opportunity to support members every two years. She added that it was a good way to keep the citizens involved and the council involved with the citizens.

The council debated whether to create a citizen committee to review the change or look at the issue in a council committee. The council has 60 days to approve a change to the law; otherwise, the process must start again.

Councilor Mary-Ann Baldwin said she wanted to create a committee of 12 people from different parts of the community, which would report back to council in 45 days.

“I don’t want to rush this,” she said echoing Councilor Randy Stagner’s comments that the process should be done right and he’s fine with starting the process over.

Though four councilors — Baldwin, Stagner, Odom and Bonner Gaylord — voted in favor of Baldwin’s suggestion, the motion needed five votes to pass.

Mayor Nancy McFarlane, who had at previous meetings expressed being in favor of two-year terms, said she didn’t want to tie staff up with another committee. She said the conversation could be continued in the council’s Comprehensive Planning Committee.

City Filing Legal Challenge
The City of Raleigh is taking on a state-issued general permit that allows wastewater from failed septic systems to be released into the Falls Lake basin. The wastewater would be exempt from any nutrient reductions.

Falls Lake is Raleigh’s primary source of drinking water.

According to a statement released by the city, the five-year National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit expired on July 31, but the Division of Water Quality approved a one-year renewal on July 30.

The permit allows failed septic systems to discharge nitrogen and phosphorus into the basin.

City officials believe the permit is unlawful because the systems covered by the permit do not meet the same requirements as other individually permitted systems. The city also believes the renewal violates the federal regulations and water quality standards adopted by the state.

Council Approves Capital Boulevard Corridor Study
After three years in the making, Councilors Tuesday approved the Capital Boulevard Corridor Study.

The study focuses on a new, sustainable design to one of Raleigh’s busiest thoroughfares. The focus area of the study only includes the stretch of road from Downtown Raleigh to Interstate 440.

The study includes plans for greenway trails, improved multi-modal infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians and an enhanced mass transit system, which city planning staff hopes will bring redevelopment to the area.

The plan also piggybacks on some state Department of Transportation improvements to two of the area bridges, including the Peace Street bridge.

The entire project will cost about $60 million and take about 15 years to complete.

View the entire study.

Capital Boulevard

Capital Boulevard. Photo by City of Raleigh.

Council Approves Mordecai Historic Park Interpretive Center Design
City councilors approved a schematic design for the Mordecai Historic Park Interpretive Center, which will utilize the existing house.

Minor renovations will be made to the house, with the exception of the addition of a multipurpose room. The room will be used mostly for education.

Councilors Ask for $35,000 for Ironman
Councilors Bonner Gaylord and Thomas Crowder have asked for $35,000 out of the council contingency fund to put towards the Ironman Triathlon coming to the city next summer.

This is the first year the race will come to Raleigh.

Gaylord has asked for $15,000 to put towards the race. Crowder has asked for an additional $20,000 for some kind of formal event held prior to the race. Since Hillsborough Street will be closed for the entire race, Crowder said that an additional event in the area would help business that might be affected by the street closure.

The request will be studied and brought back at a later meeting.

Committee to Explore Pet Goats
Caroline Frye, 11, wants a couple of pygmy goats. The Law and Public Safety Committee will explore allowing more than one pet goat on a small piece of property.

Just Chaos/via Flickr Creative Commons

A pigmy goat. Photo by Just chaos.

Citing city code, Caroline said that because her parents’ property is only .36 acres, she is only allowed to have one goat. Because goats are herd animals, Caroline said that she would like to have two.

After Googling images of the small, dog-sized goats, many council members were in favor of a change.

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