It's not merely hens taking up time on tonight's City Council agenda -- in fact, the chicken dinner is last on the menu for this evening.
The night opens with Bill Bell's annual State of the City presentation. Of the items in last year's speech, the City's made the most progress on the drought, meeting his called for an accelerated introduction of tiered rates and for ongoing work on improved interconnects with Cary's water system and continuing work at Teer Quarry. The City has also continued investment in disadvantaged neighborhoods like North-East Central Durham; in fact, tonight's consent agenda contains a number of housing and community non-profit initiatives, including $450,000 for the construction of ten affordable owner-occupied housing units at Franklin Village, the HOPE VI project site where Few Gardens once stood.
On the flip side, while hizonner saw bail bonds reviewed last year -- another initiative he stressed in last year's State of the City speech -- most of the other crime goals fell short.
Two zoning modification cases will also appear before the Council. Duke's zoning actions for its Lemur Center site in the Duke Forest continue; an initial case has already moved the property to university/college zoning, with the Council set tonight to hear a development plan portion of the project that would prohibit any land disturbance in a 150' transitional use area as a buffer between neighbors and future development Duke is currently planning for the center on the site.
A proposal to modify a December 2005 zoning approval for a site off Moreene Rd. near Neal Rd. to allow apartments as well as townhomes for the now-rechristened Finley Glen development also hits Council. The change has stirred up some concerns in the local bike/ped community as the Raleigh-based developer hasn't agreed to add bike lanes to Moreene -- a request made by both the City's transportation department and some Planning Commission members, and an item included on Durham's 2006 bike plan.
Also on tonight's consent agenda: the City's proposed legislative agenda. Among the items:
- A resolution in favor of modifying the newly-promulgated Jordan Lake Rules that could run Durham taxpayers into the hundreds of millions of dollars for runoff mitigation.
- A City Charter change allowing the City Council to directly set the level of authority the city manager has for purchasing items and entering into contracts for construction and repair work. Though the City Council has fought over whether to make such a change in the past, a change to the state-controlled charter allows Durham's council itself to make the change if and when it's ready.
- An increase in the City vehicle registration fee, by making permanent the $5.00 transit levy on top of the existing registration fee (that levy expires on July 1) and adding an additional $5.00 fee, also to support DATA.
- Increased penalties for the theft of copper and other valuable metals and for the damage caused to property.
- A change to the City Charter allowing special assessments for improvements to be advertised directly for a single Council meeting rather than having to go through the work session cycle first.
The Rev. Mel Whitley's "Bullet Ownership Bill" -- which would require a permit to buy ammunition -- is not listed on the formal legislative agenda but is noted as an item the Council may wish to support.