The state chapter of the American Planning Association plans to present Raleigh with two awards on Oct. 22, and the Wake County Republican Party says it is baffled as to why.
Raleigh announced this week that it will receive one award for outstanding planning implementation for its Unified Development Ordinance, a legal document that lays out all the laws about land use and development in Raleigh that the city updated in 2013.
The city will receive another award for an online tool it developed to help the public identify how individual properties would be affected by Raleigh’s remapping effort, which aims to apply new development zones to about a third of the city so they better compliment the new UDO.
The awards come as Raleigh continues to address pushback from some residents over the remapping effort. The city council will eventually vote on a new map for the affected areas after it addresses residents’ concerns.
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On Thursday, leaders of the Wake County Republican Party criticized Raleigh for celebrating the award when residents are upset about how the city has handled the remapping process.
Some affected residents said they didn’t receive notices, and some couldn’t gain entry to the council chambers during the first public hearing because City Hall was so crowded.
Party spokesman Charles Hellwig called the announcement “an unrivaled dose of delusional nonsense and Orwellian brainwashing.”
“Even if you like the remapping and rezoning currently under way by the City as part of the UDO, no one can seriously argue the implementation to date has been anything but a disaster,” Hellwig said in a statement.
The city wasn’t as prepared as it should have been for the first public hearing, conceded Ken Bowers, Raleigh’s planning director. The award is for the text of the UDO, he pointed out.
“That one meeting doesn’t invalidate what has been done to modernize our development framework,” Bowers said. “We sent 50,000 letters, and the vast majority of property owners didn’t feel the need to come out.”
The planning staff has diligently followed up with everyone who signed up to speak about their concerns, he added.
F.V. goes to D.C.
Fuquay-Varina leaders spent two days in Washington this week lobbying federal transportation officials, including Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, senators and representatives for more money for the town’s road projects.
Mayor John Byrne, mayor pro tem Charlie Adcock, commissioner Blake Massengill and Town Manager Adam Mitchell went on the trip. In addition to meeting Foxx, they also met with Sens. Richard Burr and Thom Tillis and Federal Highway Administration Administrator Greg Nadeau.
“Our town is approaching 25,000 or 30,000 people,” Byrne said. “And we have to approach things much differently than we did five or 10 years ago. We have to be looking at big-picture items that aren’t going to just help us next week, but 10 years from now.”
The focus of the lobbying was a federal TIGER grant, which the town is pursuing to cover 50 to 60 percent of the costs of completing the Judd Parkway loop around the heart of town.
Fuquay-Varina officials brought with them letters of support from state officials, the Wake County Commissioners, the Wake County Public School System and nearby towns such as Holly Springs and Angier.
Residents will vote on a $26 million bond this November that, if passed, will give the town authority to pursue various transportation and infrastructure projects, including Judd Parkway. If the federal grant is approved, a subsequent property tax increase for residents would be lower.
▪ The Western Wake Republican Club will hold a watch party for the second Republican presidential debate on Wednesday, Sept. 16. The party begins at 8 p.m. at the Rally Point Sport Grill, 1837 N. Harrison Ave. in Cary.
▪ The Cary Chamber of Commerce will host a forum Thursday, Sept. 17, at Prestonwood Country Club, 300 Prestonwood Parkway with Cary Town Council candidates for mayor, at-large and Districts B and D. Breakfast begins at 7:30 a.m. with the program starting at 8 a.m. Cost is $10 for members, $15 for non-members. Reserve tickets at carychamber.com.
▪ Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt will speak to the LGBT Democrats of Wake County on Tuesday, Sept. 22, at 6:30 p.m. at the N.C. Democratic Party headquarters, 220 Hillsborough St. in Raleigh. Candidates for Raleigh mayor and city council and Wake County municipal candidates have been invited for a meet and greet.
Compiled by Paul A. Specht and Will Doran.