Midtown Raleigh News

News Briefs

Raleigh council OKs pedestrian plan

The Raleigh City Council on Wednesday approved its first-ever pedestrian plan – a blueprint for improving sidewalks, crosswalks, crossing signals and trails.

The plan creates a new priority system for building new sidewalks. The city plans to install nine miles of new sidewalks in the next four years using $4.75 million in bond money.

The plan allows property owners to petition for sidewalks and traffic-calming measures along their streets. But the city council was divided on how many signatures will be required for the city to consider the request.

The council voted 5-3 to require that 75 percent of property owners favor a project, but some said the figure should be lowered to 51 percent.

“It seems like we should not be raising the bar for having a discussion about sidewalks,” Councilman Russ Stephenson said.

Others said that sidewalk proposals can stir up controversy even when 75 percent of neighbors agree.

“We could change that in the future if we see that it’s not working,” said councilwoman Mary Ann Baldwin, who voted for the 75 percent threshold.

Staff writer Colin Campbell

Community garden ordinance approved

The Raleigh City Council approved a changeWednesday to the proposed new Unified Development Ordinance that makes it easier for residents to utilize vacant lots for gardening.

The amended ordinance would classify community gardens in vacant lots zoned Residential-10 as a limited use. A limited use space does not require public hearings or notices prior to issuance.

The change was recommended by the city council’s Law and Public Safety Committee during its Dec. 11 meeting, and the regulations will take effect once the council approves the ordinance.

Community gardens are defined as areas of land managed and maintained by a group of individuals to grow and harvest food crops and/or nonfood ornamental crops, such as flowers, for personal or group use, consumption or donation.

The council also approved the establishment of a city liaison to handle community garden-related issues.

For more information, visit www.raleighnc.gov and enter “community gardens” in the search window, or contact the City of Raleigh Department of Planning and Development at 919-996-2626 or the Parks and Recreation Department at 919-996-3285. From staff reports

Cemetery repairs nearly complete

Repairs are nearly complete at three city cemeteries damaged by the April 2011 tornadoes, city officials announced Wednesday.

David Brown, chairman of the Historic Cemeteries Advisory Board, told the city council that all monuments and headstones have been fixed at hardest-hit City Cemetery on South East Street. The fence there will still take a few more months to rebuild, he said.

“It was a tremendous undertaking,” Brown said.

After the tornado, archaeologists from a firm in Tennessee spent six months meticulously combing through the historic cemeteries to recover shards of broken monuments and headstones. Most cemeteries reopened early last year as repairs wrapped up.

Staff writer Colin Campbell

Group seeks action on military spending

The Raleigh City Council will vote Jan. 15 on a resolution urging the federal government to cut military spending.

The group Return Our War Dollars brought nearly 100 people to Wednesday’s council meeting in support of the resolution. Roger Manus, a spokesman for the group, said $1.75 billion in tax revenues should be spent on domestic projects rather than military efforts.

“What if that money had stayed home?” he told the council. “How would Raleigh be different if our schools had more teachers?

“We spend almost as much for military purposes as the rest of the world combined. Our military spending is at its highest level since World War II in inflation-adjusted dollars.”

Manus said similar resolutions were passed by city and county leaders in Durham. He said support from city councils will help his group attract Congress’ attention. “They need to hear from somebody with clout such as yourselves,” he said.

About 1,000 Wake County residents have signed a petition supporting Return Our War Dollars’ goal, Manus said. Councilman John Odom pushed for a vote on the resolution, though he stopped short of voicing support. “I may vote for it, I may vote against it,” he said.

Staff writer Colin Campbell