TCC & City of Raleigh Coffee Chat Summary January 28, 2015

The Triangle Community Coalition had another successful Coffee Chat with the City of Raleigh Elected Officials and Staff on January 28, 2015.

Joining our members in an informal chat were Mayor McFarlane, Assistant City Manager Jim Greene, Planning Director Ken Bowers, Parks & Recreation & Cultural Resources Director Diane Sauer, Development Services Manager Christine Darges, Economic Development Director James Sauls, and Jamie Brown, Mayor Assistant.

We provided the City of Raleigh leadership with a better perspective of the Triangle Community Coalition's goal to be a proactive partner in growth and land use issues and to work with senior staff and elected officials to develop policies, regulations, and procedures to encourage economic development, produce predictable (yet flexible) outcomes for all stakeholders, and protect the community's interests.

The town appreciated the TCC’s ability to offer objective facts and information in efforts to improve public policy debates and create effective working relationships between the business community and local government.  We had some great interaction with the TCC membership in attendance and had opportunity to talk about the following:

  • Nancy McFarlane – Raleigh Mayor
    • Two big economic development opportunities
      • Google Fiber – more residential
      • New acquisition of Dix Park – 306 acres. Planning for the park will be a multi-year effort
      • She mentioned that this is more proof that Raleigh is the place to be
    • Legislation – mentioned the privilege license fee has been a $7 million loss to the City of Raleigh. No comprehensive plan yet to address the issue
       
  • Jim Greene – Assistant City Manager
    • Other cities are envying Raleigh because of its growth
    • They will be presenting a 3-5 year strategic plan to Council during their retreat. It ties closely with their comprehensive plan. It outlines and sets specific objectives and initiatives.
    • The City will have a new Development Services Department starting in July. They will also hire a Development Services Director that will report to Jim. The position will address issues and be accountable to those issues. He also mentioned that he understands the process needs to be clear and predictable.
       
  • Christine Darges – City of Raleigh; Development Services
    • Raleigh is experiencing a transition in development – more re-development and mixed use.
    • She met with Cary last week to discuss what they do in Development Services that works.
      She realized that Cary has been conducting electronic review for over 10 years.
    • She has seen an explosion with Express Review
       
  • James Sauls – Economic Development Director
    • The City lost Project Eagle with Mercedes, but strongly believes that it was great exposure for the City. The consultant hired by Mercedes said Raleigh will definitely see more projects come from their office.
       
  • Ken Bowers – Planning Director
    • Gave an update with the re-mapping efforts. 80 square miles.
    • UDO – believes the progress has gone well since inception.
      • User-friendly
      • Allows administrative review
      • Zoning is quicker and less expensive
    • Initiating text changes to UDO – can be done by Planning Director and his recommendation.
      Or a citizen petition
  • Dianne Sauer – Parks and Rec Director
    • Looking forward to the Dicks Park
    • Citizens are wanting more walkability in the city
    • City will also be re-investing in current parks with recent bond
    • Re-development of Moore’s Square Park will take place within the next 9 months
       
  • Tom Anhut asked Mayor McFarlane what legislative help she needs. She replied with tax credits. Mentioned that it was a great investment for the community. She also expressed concern about HB 150 concerning aesthetics control. She is against it and believes municipalities should be able to control what their city looks like.
  • Brian Purdy made a comment about the need for more positions in development services. Jim said the Planning Department submitted a budget request for more personnel and will be discussing that with the departments. He understands that there is currently a shortage with staff and that development is almost at the levels during pre-recession times. Currently, they have 8 staff less than before the recession.

If you are interested in participating in future meetings with the City of Raleigh or future Coffee Chats, watch for notices or contact the TCC offices at 919 812-7785 or Charlene Logan at charlenel@tricc.org to reserve your spot!

These programs are a great way for you, as an exclusive benefit as a TCC member, to become active and help the TCC strengthen our relationships with local jurisdictions throughout the Triangle.