Council Roundup: Push for Four-Year Terms Fizzles
After nine months of discussion, the City Council has decided to kill the four-year term option for council seats, citing lack of public feedback.
“My perspective is that we need to have a more clear indication of changing our job description from our bosses, which are the citizens,” said Councilor Bonner Gaylord.
Councilors and the mayor each hold their seat for two years, and all of those seats are up for election at the same time.
Gaylord said if there was a bigger outcry from residents, the council should move forward with changing the length of its terms.
“Absent that voice from the citizens, I think we’re making a biased decision on our job descriptions,” he said.
A public hearing last month on changing the length of the terms from two to four years garnered only four comments, three in favor and one against.
Councilor Thomas Crowder said if the council wasn’t doing its job, there would be a larger outcry from the public. Crowder has been in favor of maintaining the terms. He said having an election every two years is a review on their jobs.
Councilor Randy Stagner said residents didn’t have an opportunity to give the councilors an opinion. He said there needed to a focused point where residents could give feedback rather than councilors using anecdotal evidence from conversations and emails.
“That was the Comprehensive Planning Committee meeting,” said Mayor Nancy McFarlane. After the public hearing, the issue was put into committee for more discussion and to give more people from the public an opportunity to comment.
McFarlane said the people she spoke to, either in person or through email, said that the council was efficient just the way it is.
Councilor John Odom brought up the suggestion earlier this year. He said he had a lot of constituents that were in favor of four-year terms, but the majority of them didn’t come to the public hearing.
“I brought this one up and I didn’t mean to get everybody all upset,” Odom said. “The votes are not here, so I suggest we move on.”
Council Begins UDO Review
The Raleigh Planning Commission officially passed the Unified Development Ordinance torch to the Raleigh City Council.
After 30 meetings and about 200 changes, the Commission finished its review of the UDO, a completely updated zoning code that will work in concert with the 2030 Comprehensive Plan. The Commission began its review in March and voted last month to recommend approval.
“The document that is being returned to you is a far better code that you saw at the public meeting,” said Deputy Planning Director Ken Bowers.
The council will begin its review with a work session Sept. 17. McFarlane said she wants to meet on a bi-weekly Monday schedule to review the code by chapter, a review method similar to the Commission.
At the meetings, planning staff will present case studies for selected planned mixed-use, residential and residential infill development projects as well as backyard cottages in order for the council to see how the code will be applied in existing neighborhoods.
Red Hat Claims Naming Rights for Amphitheater
Open-source company Red Hat recently made Downtown Raleigh its permanent home, and for the next five years the company name will appear on the downtown amphitheater.
City officials Tuesday announced the deal in which Red Hat will pay a total of $1.175 million for the naming rights for the 6,000-seat open-air theater.
The amphitheater opened in June 2010 and has been a stage for musicians and comedians. It was supposed to pay for itself through ticket sales and naming rights, but an earlier deal to name the space after Bud Light fell through when the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission objected.
The red, white and black logo will become a familiar sight downtown now that the company has moved its headquarters from N.C. State University’s Centennial Campus. The first wave of Red Hat employees moved into the Progress Energy building at 100 E. Davie St. in late July.
Red Hat received almost $17 million in city, county and state incentives to stay in North Carolina and move its headquarters downtown. The company must create the promised 560 jobs and invest $109 million in Wake County in order to reap the benefits of those incentives.
Two Downtown Businesses Receive City Loans
Two downtown business will be receiving a $50,000 loan from the city through the Downtown Loan Program.
Zpizza on Fayetteville Street will use the loan to develop its outdoor eating space and purchase any related equipment such as tables, chairs and umbrellas.
Zpizza also plans to expand its catering services by purchasing two electric bikes and one electric pedicab. The restaurant expects to add eight employees.
Claremont Real Estate was also awarded a $50,000 loan, but not without some discussion among council members.
Unlike many other loan recipients, which are generally established businesses looking to expand, Claremont Real Estate doesn’t have a tenant for its space at 614 Glenwood Ave.
Claremont would use the money to retrofit the space for a future renter.
Councilor Randy Stagner was concerned about giving a loan to a company without an established business at the location, but he acknowledged that without the renovations, the owner might have trouble getting business in the space.
The loan program guidelines dictate the money must be spent on renovations or equipment, so most councilors voiced their approval.
The council approved both loans 6 to 1. Odom voted against the loans. Councilor Mary-Ann Baldwin was absent and excused from the meeting.
After the approval of both loans, City Manager Russell Allen said the city has $50,000 left in the program.
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