OWD to ask City Council to hold off on WF alley closing?
City Council gets fairly good crime update, wrestles with development

City Council ends vacation, gets crime report and development reviews

Speaking of matters for elected leaders, consider it a reminder that Durham's City Council is back on the Monday night beat tonight, after its traditional summer vacation.

A break much needed after the contentious events of this year's budget hearings, which strained relations on the Council and demonstrated the factional divisions that are very real on the board.

It's also a City Manager farewell for Patrick Baker, who'll be on Bill Bell's right side for the last time on a Monday night public meeting. Tom Bonfield, Durham's new lead administrative officer, will take that seat come the 18th, with Baker shifting two seats left as the new city attorney.

So what's on the docket tonight? Besides a hearing on the commercial neighborhood zoning change we discussed here recently, and the alley closing on the Perry/Iredell/Broad block, the biggest news of the night is likely to be Durham's quarterly crime report -- a subject that brings the news cameras out for their usual photo op.

At his first chance at bat this spring, new D.P.D. chief Jose Lopez created a bit of a stir -- and caused some grumbling among Councilfolk -- by using the high-visibility platform to agitate for higher police officer salaries, a wish that came true in this year's budget, given the threat of poaching from our 'neighburb' to the east.

We'll look to see if Lopez is more comfortable in his second time delivering the report, and to see as well what the data look like for this most recent cycle. Homicides have been notably, and thankfully, quieter this quarter, but given the national economic slowdown, don't be surprised to see an uptick in property and violent crimes overall.

What else is up? Well, greenway trail lovers will note that the long-delayed, decade-plus-in-waiting Third Fork Creek Trail will finally go out to construction if the City Council approves a fund-shifting on the consent agenda in order to provide a missing $325,000 in gap funding.

Park/trail lovers: before you get too excited, note the plan raids the piggy bank on other trail and park projects that are themselves described as being too underfunded to merit keeping those funds around. That includes $17,000 from the North/South Greenway Upgrades project, which will now only focus on fixing the trail through Northgate Park, since there won't be enough funds to tackle the Lavender-to-Murray segment, which now best resembles loose gravel in places. Rock Quarry Park's field renovations will also be delayed indefinitely, saving well into the six figures.

Also up: another $100,000 for the Eno Greenway project, to help bolster site contingency costs and overruns incurred by -- I am not making this up -- the "exceptionally wet conditions" since construction began in December 2007. Curses, that drought, or not.

The Council will also be asked to pass reimbursement resolutions related to a planned $19 million issuance of certificates of participation (COPs) for capital projects and $52 million in water/sewer revenue bonds for capital improvements in that system.

On the development side of the house, a number of projects are up for review, including:

  • Rezoning for Fairfield at Hillandale, the apartment complex proposal for north of I-85 between Guess and Hillandale, a project that's drawnsignificant controversy.
  • A proposal by the City to downzone land along Eno Drive to the east of Roxboro (not the parcel at question in the West Point Park debate.)
  • A number of folks on a local Internet message board have asked about the large house under construction on NC 54 right near the I-40 overpass. Who the heck would want to live in a house that big on a busy road like NC 54? Well, er, no one, perhaps, given the rezoning request coming before Council to change the property to an office zoning. A proposal supported by Council, but which was recommended for denial by a unanimous Planning Commission vote. (Now that's an interesting one.)
  • A rezoning request to allow 120 single-family homes on the east side of Angier Ave. near Ruritan and Glover Rd. in eastern Durham Co., on land currently zoned for suburban multifamily and commercial. The plan apparently would add market-delivered affordable housing on the site, though citizens for another case during the rezoning noted that organizations like PAC 1/NECD Leadership Council weren't there to give input, so fireworks might be on the way for tonight's hearing.
  • Rezoning of the parcel on the southwest side of Patterson Place to allow hotel and retail expansion in that zone. Miraculously, the project is not expected to generate more than 149 peak hour trips -- avoiding a traffic impact analysis, don't you know?
  • Post-annexation initial zoning settings for the EPCON parcel, the proposed Brightleaf at the Park shopping center, the new elementary school neighboring the Brightleaf subdivision, and the North Durham Bivins Creek property.

We'll hit the highlights here on Monday, assuming the USA/Canada game doesn't run too long this evening...

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