Triangle Politics A weekly look at the local political scene

Developer, neighbors both opposed to Raleigh street requirement

January 25, 2013 

Books On the Road

This is a 1962 photo of Beat Generation writer Jack Kerouac. Nearly 40 years after his death, and 50 years after the release of his most famous novel, "On the Road," Kerouac remains an author who inspires both young and old.


It’s rare for apartment developers and neighboring residents to see eye to eye on a rezoning request. But in the Crabtree Heights neighborhood off Wake Forest and Six Forks roads in Raleigh, both sides have a common foe: a road connection mandated by city rules.

South Carolina-based developer Russ Davis wants to build the 243-unit Jones Grant Apartments on the current site of the historic Crabtree Jones House, which would be moved.

Most neighbors are comfortable with apartments next door. But they’re upset about a plan to connect Hines Drive – the central street through Crabtree Heights – to Wake Towne Drive at a cluster of hotels. The additional traffic from cars taking a shortcut to Six Forks Road would make the road unsafe for kids, bikers and pedestrians, they said.

Davis doesn’t want to build the road either, but it’s a requirement under a city development policy designed to create “connectivity.” Developers have to connect roads where possible to improve traffic flow in an increasingly congested city.

Some commission members said they’d like to approve the project without the road connection, but city staff members said that’s not an option for the board. Only the city council could grant a variance for developers to avoid the road requirement.

The commission ultimately voted to approve the project, with the caveat that the developer help fund traffic-calming measures on Hines Drive.

They’ve got The Beat(s)

Wake County Board of Commissioners meetings can go for years without invoking the Beat Generation, but a link to those pioneering hipsters was drawn at Monday’s meeting.

County manager David Cooke was honoring retirees when he introduced John Dorfner, who’s stepping down from his role as a maintenance mechanic doing plumbing and electrical work. Cooke mentioned that Dorfner, 60, is the author of two books about the towering Beat Generation writer Jack Kerouac.

Cooke had a little trouble pronouncing Kerouac’s name, even though the writer of “On the Road” and “Dharma Bums” has been a sort of patron saint to generations of hipsters.

Reached Thursday, Dorfner said he was heading over to Rocky Mount to see a new plaque dedicated to the writer, who often stayed with his sister in Eastern North Carolina from the late 1940s to the mid-1950s.

“He was there a lot,” Dorfner said, adding that Rocky Mount was the actual location of a scene in “On the Road” where Neal Cassady joins Kerouac to start traveling.

Appeal for leniency

Durham activist Victoria Peterson attended a bond hearing this week for Crystal Mangum, who is accused of stabbing her boyfriend to death in 2010. Mangum was asking to have her $200,000 bond lowered, her charges dismissed or to be let out of jail with electronic monitoring.

Peterson, a vocal supporter of Mangum dating back to the 2006 Duke Lacrosse case, said last week she is considering a run for City Council this year. During the hearing, Peterson stood up in the courtroom and asked to comment on Mangum’s behalf. Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson had a comment of his own before he let her speak.

“This may be the day that Ms. Peterson has chosen to kick off her election campaign,” Hudson said, “So I guess you’ll take this opportunity to make a public statement that you’re going to run. ... We await your decision. Why could you possibly be standing in my courtroom to offer some kind of statement in support of Ms. Mangum?”

Peterson has run for office multiple times, without success. In court, she ignored Hudson’s comment and appealed for leniency for Mangum, also without success. Hudson denied all Mangum’s requests. And Peterson still hasn’t announced a run for office.

Political Trails

• Wake County Democratic Party chairman Dan Blue III will speak to the Western Wake Democrats on Tuesday at the IHOP at 1301 Kildaire Farm Road in Cary. Social hour begins at 6 p.m., followed by the program at 7 p.m. RSVP to

• Nina Szlosberg-Landis and Gwen Wilkins, candidates for first vice chair of the N.C. Democratic Party, will speak to the Democratic Women of Wake County on Thursday at the N.C. State University Club, 4200 Hillsborough St. in Raleigh. The buffet lines open at 11:30 a.m. followed by the program at noon. The cost of the luncheon, which is payable at the door, is $18 for members, $20 for non-members and $5 for anyone wishing to attend the event and not eat. For reservations, send an email to or call 919-467-0151 by 10 a.m. Tuesday.

Compiled by Colin Campbell, Thomas Goldsmith and Jim Wise.

Got a tip, item or coming event? Fax Triangle Politics at 919-829-4529, or send email to Send items by noon Thursday.

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