RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Dozens of neighbors and business owners in Raleigh spoke out against a planned rezoning of nearly one third of the city at a public hearing on Tuesday night.
Public comment on the proposal to increase density in many neighborhoods has been going on since last September. Now, City Council is finalizing that process before taking a vote. There is no vote currently scheduled.
The hearing was moved from City Council chambers to the Fletcher Theater at the Duke Center for the Performing Arts to accommodate an expected large crowd. It was an extension of a July 7 public hearing, where many of the people who signed up did not get a chance to speak.
Speakers expressed concerns about the speed with which the plans were moving. Many speakers said they never received a mailed notice of the public hearing, which was promised by city officials.
“The outcry from the community I think is part, lack of communication and part lack of trust,” Mischelle Corbin said.
Corbin expressed frustration about what she believed was “the way in which the city appears to be dismantling, or allowing to be dismantled, historically established African-American neighborhoods, dispersing or displacing these families.”
Marilyn Falk said she was concerned about increased density in her neighborhood.
“I purchased my home a little over two years ago,” Falk said, “I thought it could be a place where I could grow old. Now I’m not so sure. I’m having trouble imagining sitting on my back deck looking at a three story office building.”
Shirley Brett said she understood the reasons for rezoning, but said the plans were too ambitious.
“It’s a good thing for the city that they want to improve each area, but do it little at a time,” Brett said.
Sylvia Wiggins, who runs the Helping Hand Mission in southeast Raleigh said she was concerned rezoning some poorer neighborhoods would allow more bars and increase crime. She also said the process was confusing.
“You’re not giving to them in laymen terms where everybody can understand,” Wiggins said. “You need to back off and lets go back to the table because it’s not ready. The chicken ain’t done.”
Raleigh residents will have a chance to tell city leaders what they think about a proposal to rezone 30 percent of the city at a public hearing Tuesday night.
A public hearing is scheduled for Tuesday at 6 p.m. in Fletcher Opera Theater at the Duke Energy Center for Performing Arts and
Tuesday’s hearing is a continuation of the hearing Raleigh City Council help on the remapping on July 7. By Tuesday afternoon, 85 people had signed up to speak, with each getting two minutes.
Leaders say the rezoning proposal is needed to help accommodate growth, but some residents worry the plan would lead to nightclubs and bars. It would be the first update to the city code in 60 years.
“We’re essentially translating from a code that dated from the 1950s to a modern development code for the next wave of growth in our city,” said Ken Bowers, planning director for the City of Raleigh.
The new codes would update how traffic is handled regarding future commercial projects. It would impose tougher standards for bars and leave most residential zoning intact.
“It is mostly for commercial areas, as well as areas of denser residential areas such as apartment buildings,” Bowers said.
Food trucks would be impacted, in that they no longer would be allowed in places where there are homes and businesses on the same block.
“If you wanted to have a neighborhood party, like a food truck rodeo for your neighborhood or your housing association, that wouldn’t be allowed any more,” said food truck owner Susan Towers.
Towers said food truck operators work on small profit margins.
“We are all entrepreneurs,” she said. “We are business owners. We have families to support. So that little bit does affect us.”
Bowers said the City Council can change that if they want to change the text of the ordinance.
Also impacted would be the Historic Oakwood neighborhood.
For people attending the public hearing, parking will be available at no cost in the deck at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts. The parking deck is located at the corner of South Street and Salisbury Street.