Council Roundup: New Downtown Vision Plan Funded

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A new vision plan for the growth and development of downtown Raleigh is in the works after the city received a donation from the Downtown Raleigh Alliance.

The Downtown Raleigh Alliance (DRA) made a $250,000 donation to the City of Raleigh for a new comprehensive downtown plan. The money was raised through donations from property owners, business owners and stakeholders in downtown Raleigh.

Downtown Raleigh

kakissell/Flickr Creative Commons

Downtown Raleigh

During Tuesday’s Council meeting, David Diaz, president and CEO of the DRA, discussed the importance of continuing to plan for ongoing growth in downtown Raleigh.

“We can’t rest on our laurels with downtown success,” he said. “We can’t take it for granted.”

The donated money will be used to evaluate and create a full vision plan for the downtown area for the next 10 years through a public-private partnership between the City of Raleigh and downtown-area property and business owners.

It will examine where to focus development: primarily on Fayetteville Street or in the emerging Warehouse District, for example. Opportunities for new commercial, housing, retail, entertainment, amenities, parks and infrastructure will also be examined.

Councilor John Odom expressed concern about dedicating that much money to the project.

“I agree we continue to try to keep downtown growing as it is,” he said. “Are we still in the planning stages of downtown Raleigh? I thought we were pretty much headed in the right direction.”

Mitchell Silver, Raleigh’s planning director, talked about the city’s expected population growth during the next several years.

“Planning is always in a state of evolution,” he said. “We believe this contribution will take us a long way.”

Councilors voted to appropriate the donated funds to support the Downtown Plan in a 6-1 vote, with Odom opposed.

Downtown Bus Facilities Master Plan Amended
Additional analysis is needed in order for the Downtown Bus Facilities Master Plan to move forward.

Councilors approved an amendment Tuesday to the contract with Parsons Brinckerhoff, the engineering and design firm working on the project. The amendment enables the firm to conduct further analysis.


Karen Tam / Raleigh Public Record

David Eatman, transit administrator for the City of Raleigh, said he originally thought the firm would be able to use data from a 2011 study that contained bus origin and destination information. However, the study does not contain information about bus-to-bus transfers however, which caused some concern for planners.

Eatman said the transfer information will help determine what services will go to each station and how many bays will be needed at each location.

“We thought that origin and destination information could possibly do that to start with, but we just didn’t feel comfortable so we are taking this extra step,” he said.

Police Department to Lease Eight New Motorcycles
The police department is getting some new motorcycles.

Councilors approved a request by the Police Department to enter into a lease agreement with Sparta Commercial Service, Inc. for eight BMW motorcycles.

The lease is for 36 months and will cost about $168,500.

One Block Now One-Way Due to High Crime Rate
High crime rates on North Carver Street have resulted in one block being converted to a one-way street.

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Councilors recommended a section of North Carver Street between New Bern Avenue and Boyer Street. The request was made by the Police Department based on increasing crime rates in the area. Traffic engineering staff said the switch is feasible.

The Police Department said area residents agree with the change.

Questions Raised About American Legion Property Use
Councilors also discussed a potential zoning code change that would allow the American Legion to rent out its facilities for private events.

The American Legion received a citation for a zoning code violation for allowing non-members to hold parties in its building on Lee Road. The property is currently zoned Residential-10, meaning that any events or gatherings on the property must be associated with one of its members and an exchange of money is not permitted.

Representatives with the American Legion said that since the organization is not making any profit, the rental fee is a donation and should not be required to follow the same rules.

The American Legion plans to appeal the citation to the Board of Adjustment.

In the meantime, Councilors plan to consider a possible zoning code change, allowing civic groups to rent their facilities for private events. This change would only take effect if the Board of Adjustment rules against the American Legion in its appeal. If the board rules in favor of the Legion, Councilors will not make the zoning code change.

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