City council on Tuesday met to discuss two issues of citywide import — the Unified Development Ordinance remapping process and financing the Dix Park deal.
Councilors set a public hearing for July 7 to allow the public an opportunity to weigh in on the UDO remapping effort. The remapping effort is an attempt to rezone the entire city to allow for increased density to accommodate the rapidly growing Raleigh population.During the discussion, Councilor Maiorano brought up an area on Dupont Circle, where a property was zoned for five stories but was sandwiched between two properties that were zoned for seven stories. He made a motion to make the zoning consistent between the three parcels and it was approved by a 5-1 vote.
Councilor Stephenson talked about the Glenwood Brooklyn neighborhood. It had buffer commercial zoning conditions and he wanted the properties in question to be rezoning to office mixed-use with a three story height cap. That would allow for a maximum retail space of 3,000 square feet and no vehicular fuel sales. It was approved.
Dix Park to be Financed through Bank Loans
Councilors approved by a 6-2 vote the use of bank loans to finance the Dorothea Dix Park development process. This option was one of three set before council by the city’s chief financial officer (CFO) and it allows for the quickest time frame for the park to be financed and built.
The bank loans, Raleigh CFO Perry James stated, were attractive because they had a short amortization period of 10 years. The loans also had a low interest rate of two percent and were used by other governments for similar scale projects. The other two options — general obligation bonds and limited obligation bonds — would delay park’s development much longer than the bank loans would.Councilor Maiorano said while he thought the bank loans option was an attractive method of funding the project, he wanted a voter referendum to let the citizens decide. He voted ‘no’ after a motion was made to approve the bank loans option.
Councilor Odom said saving money that much money made for a good deal, but he was sure that this would somehow lead to a tax increase for the citizens. For that, he voted ‘no’ when the motion was made.
Commercial Use Prohibited on Park Space without Permit
Councilors adopted the private use of park space regulation by a 6-1 vote. The document detailing these regulations, drafted by the parks, recreation, and greenway advisory board, restricts commercial use on park or greenway space unless the business meets qualifications and approval.
Mike Surasky, from the board, told councilors of numerous incidents where commercial activity had been found on the parks and greenways. Such activity included car washing and detailing, off leash dog training, and sports instruction. Because businesses had been without insurance protecting the city of Raleigh, the activities posed a legal threat.Scott Payne, from the parks, recreation, and cultural resources department, said the document required businesses to have insurance protecting the city of Raleigh from liability. The businesses were also required to have approval from the department head of PRCR to get a permit. All other commercial activity was prohibited.