Thursday, May 28, 2009

Raleigh Solar Projects

Yesterday Councillors Stephenson and McFarlane joined the American Institute of Architects for a tour of the SAS megawatt solar field off Trenton Rd. We were impressed by the size of this solar farm and the fact that it took only 3 months to install! We were also delighted to see that SAS has chosen to use sheep as their groundskeepers.

We also received an excellent presentation about not only the technical aspects of solar technology, but the business models of investing in renewable technologies. These are long-term investments which take about 5 years before any substantial returns are generated. Motivation for choosing to invest in these technologies are not just financial, but ethical. Renewable technologies are a socially and environmentally responsible way to reduce our impact on the Earth and our dependence on foreign oil. FAQ about Solar.

Last year SAS installed the 1-megawatt solar photovoltaic farm, comprised of 5,040 ground-mounted panels on five acres, which is one of the largest solar electric systems in the Southeast. Southern-Energy Management is the primary contractor for SunPower on the project, providing engineering and project management support, as well as installation of the photovoltaic and AC/DC electrical phases of the project. They are also responsible for the maintenence of the solar farm. The electricity it generates will pump clean energy into the local utility grid, eliminating more than 1,600 tons of carbon dioxide per year.

The City Council recently adopted a policy of using renewable energy in municipal buildings to enhance energy efficiency. One of the first projects was installed in District A, at Fire Station No. 15 off Spring Forest Rd in front of Millbrook Exchange Park. A solar thermal hot water heating system has been installed by Petra Engineering. It supplements a natural gas unit that had been the fire station’s only source of hot water. Read full story here.

Southern-Energy Management, which currently employs about 50 energy efficiency and solar professionals in the Triangle and Charlotte, has been providing sustainable energy solutions for businesses, home builders, and home owners since the company was founded in 2002. They provide both residential and commercial solutions for solar thermal hot water systems and photovoltaic energy producing systems. Check out some of the other awesome NC solar projects completed by SEM.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Prescription Drug Drop-Off Event

This Saturday May 30 the Substance Abuse Advisory Commission is hosting a Prescription Pill Drop-Off Event at 6 Food Lion locations across Raleigh. The closest North Raleigh locations are 1121 Falls River Ave, 4510 Capital Blvd and 4827 Grove Barton Rd. Please bring your expired or unneeded prescriptions to be disposed of properly, no questions asked. There will also be pharmacists and police officers available to answer any questions.

Prescription drug abuse is growing in Raleigh and across the country, mostly amongst teens. Most teens and adults who abuse prescriptions obtain them from the homes of unsuspecting family and friends. If you are unable to attend this weekends event, the proper way to dispose of pills is not to flush them. You should crush up the pills and mix with something undesirable such as kitty litter or coffee grounds.

As an advisory board to the Raleigh City Council, the mission of the Substance Abuse Advisory Commission is to advocate for a healthy community by promoting best practices for the prevention, intervention, and treatment for the abusing of alcohol, drugs and tobacco. The group meets on the 2nd Wednesday of every month in the Municipal Building at 222 West Hargett Street in Room 305 from 12-1. Councillor McFarlane is the Council liason to this committee.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Memorial Day Parade

The neighborhood association of Summerfield North organized a wonderful parade to honor Memorial Day on Monday May 25. They were very kind to ask me to participate and I had a great time along with the City Police, Fire Department, Ms. Wolf, Wooly Bull, Sanderson High School Marching Band and especially all the kids! It is great to see such a well-organized community celebrating this important holiday together. It felt like the entire neighborhood joined in and everyone had a good time marching down Mourning Dove Drive together. Thanks again for inviting me to participate! Link to more pictures

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Nature Preserve Parks

Wednesday May 20 - In a celebration to officially honor the Annie Louise Wilkerson, MD Nature Preserve Park a lunch and gathering was held on-site. In this beautiful place where members of her extended family have often gathered the City humbly gave thanks for this wonderful gift. Opening remarks and a warm welcome were given by Senior Parks Planner Steven Bentley, followed by an appreciation on behalf of the City of Raleigh from Mayor Meeker. Councillor McFarlane was also there to offer appreciation for this wonderful addition to District A. Dr. Annie's sister offered a moving tribute to her memory and to the specialness of her property. It is a special piece of land which in 100 years will look just as it does today!

Thursday May 21 - The Wake Nature Preserve Partnership organized a Capacity Building Workshop on Nature Preserve Management with a day trip to Charlotte to learn how their system is run. Councillor McFarlane and Councillor Stephenson attended the workshop along with several other members of the Parks Department. They toured Reedy Creek Park & Nature Preserve, Ribbon Walk Nature Preserve, Flat Branch Park and Clarke's Creek Nature Preserve. Some sites are focused on preservation with only passive recreation, while others maintain a mix of active and passive recreation facilities. Charlotte and Mecklenburg County do a good job of working together, and have chosen their greenspace wisely by identifying targetted areas with unique wildlife and flora. When Wake County designates an area under preserve they are only agreeing to 20 years of protection, which is not the model Charlotte-Mecklenburg uses of protecting land indefinitely. Thanks to Jennifer Roberts, Chair of the Mecklenburg County Comissioners, for taking the time to meet with our group.

Annie Louise Wilkerson, MD Nature Preserve Park

In 2006 the City of Raleigh received an amazing gift of 157 acres of land from the extraordinary Dr. Annie Louise Wilkerson (1914-2005; Raleigh Hall of Fame Inductee). During her 55 year career in Wake County, "Dr. Annie" delivered over 8,000 babies and transcended gender barriers as the first woman to serve as chief-of-staff at Rex Hospital (1948) and WakeMed (1961). She was equally known for her pioneering achievements, such as being only the third woman to practice medicine in Wake County, as her philanthropic contributions to the community. Her legacy will live in perpetuity through this Nature Preserve she so kindly deeded to the City of Raleigh Parks & Recreation Department. Dr. Annie had great foresight to specifically lay out the guidelines for utilizing her wonderful property and all park planning will be carried out as she intended.

The property is only be used as a Nature Preserve Park for the primary purpose of nature and wildlife education, as well as the study and research into methods of conservation. The 157 acres contains a number of open fields, large stands of mature trees (never to be cut unless diseased), tributaries to Honeycutt Creek and exposed granite outcroppings. This land is never to be used for general recreation but will be open 7 days a week for public enjoyment of the natural environment.

North Raleigh is fortunate to have several other Park & Recreation sites in our proximity! Many of these sites are related in scope and will provide complimentary services, connectivity, additional education and outdoor opportunities to the Annie Louise Wilkerson, MD Nature Preserve Park which is located off Raven Ridge Rd, adjacent to Falls Lake. Examples of other services, park and recreation opportunities and connectivity within reasonable proximity include:
- Durant Nature Park
- Neuse River Greenway and Canoe Launch
- Forest Ridge Park
- Horseshoe Farm Park
- Greenways: Honeycutt Creek, Durant Trails, Falls River, Wakefield
- Blue Jay Point County Park
- Falls Lake Project Area
- The Falls Lake South Shore Trail

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Outcomes of 5/19/09 Meeting

  • LeadMine Road vicinity will be closed on Sunday August 30, 2009 from 7:30am - 11am for a road race organized by AE Finley YMCA
  • The City of Raleigh has been granted 14 AmeriCorps VISTA members who will serve in the City Managers Office, Community Services, Public Utilities, Administrative Services and Information Technology. The national VISTA program fights poverty by providing indirect service to increase the organizational capacity of programs working with impoverished communities. Locally, "Raleigh Invests in People and Communities" will utilize VISTA members to enhance the City's efforts to build the personal capacities of individuals living in poverty and the organizational capacity of impoverished communities to control their destinies and rise out of poverty. The VISTA initiative is of no cost to the City, with an expected value of $249, 270
  • City Police Officers will now be able to issue civil penalties for nuisance party and noise violations. While officers still have the right to issue misdemeanor criminal charges, a civil penalty reduces burdens on the court and does not result in a permanent criminal record against the offender. Text of the ordinance.
  • Approval for Downtown WiFi passed 6-1 and will be installed by local company WindChannel Communications. This infrastructure investment continues to assure Raleigh as a 21st century city attracting business and enterprise to boost our economy. Councillors raised questions about extending this service to other parts of the City particularly North Hills, Crabtree and low-income communities. City Manager Allen suggested the VISTA volunteers particularly explore the later.
  • Public Hearing scheduled for July 21 to consider an ordinance to regulate Front Yard Parking for Single Family Detached Dwellings based on Councillor Crowder's proposal suggested in Budget & Economic Development Committee.
  • City Manager Russell Allen presented the FY2009-2010 Budget which will be reviewed by Council and City Staff during work sessions every Monday afternoon in June at 4pm.
  • The Mayor's Unity Day on 1/17/09 organized by the Raleigh Human Relations Commission was a huge success and attended by almost 200 people. Topics of discussion included discussion on diversity, employment, gang prevention, immigration and faith.
  • The newly formed "Raleigh Wake Partnership to End & Prevent Homelessness" presented an update on their efforts and various programs working to achieve the "Raleigh/Wake 10 year Plan to End & Prevent Homelessness" as adopted by the City Council and Wake County Commissioners.
Zoning Cases - North Raleigh relevant
  • Z-22-09 Six Forks Rd, east side, northeast of I440 - moved to Comprehensive Planning Committee for further review.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Raleigh's Sister City - Compiegne, France

It's the year of Compiegne in Raleigh!

The City of Raleigh celebrates a 20-year-long relationship with its sister city Compiegne, France!

A delegation of nine citizens led by Councilwoman Nancy McFarlane leaves May 13 for a three-day visit. Todd Culpepper, executive director of the Raleigh-based nonprofit International Affairs Council, will be blogging along the trip.

PLEASE NOTE - Councillor McFarlane did not use any public or City money to fund this trip. She personally covered of all her expenses.

View blog updates from Compeigne here.

View video of Councillor McFarlane's speech... in French! 

This past Veterans Day 2008, Raleigh welcomed 17 students from Compiegne as part of an annual exchange with students and faculty from Ravenscroft School in North Raleigh. Among the speakers were the vice-mayor of Compiegne, Michele LeChatelier, and Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker, who spoke of attending Armistice ceremonies in Compiegne two years ago. He proclaimed the next 12 months (Nov 2008 - Nov 2009) the "Year of Compiegne" in Raleigh.

Have you ever noticed Parc Compiegne? It is a small green oasis of open space between Chamberlain Street and Logan Court, directly across from the North Carolina State University Bell Tower. The park was dedicated on Oct. 29, 1999 in honor of the tenth anniversary of Compiegne and Raleigh becoming Sister Cities.

Sister Cities is an international nonprofit citizen diplomacy network working to increase global cooperation at the municipal level, to promote cultural understanding and to stimulate economic development. Sister Cities International leads the movement for local community development and volunteer action by motivating and empowering private citizens, municipal officials and business leaders to conduct long-term programs of mutual benefit. In addition to Compiegne, Raleigh is a Sister City to Rostock, Germany and Kingston-upon-Hull, England. When the round-abouts are completed on Hillsborough Street I would like to see each of them named after one of our Sister Cities!

Monday, May 11, 2009

A Great Week in Raleigh!

There are all kinds of wonderful events going on throughout our city this week and especially over the weekend!

Triangle Restaurant Week May 11-17

Bike to Work Week May 11-15

30th Anniversary of Artsplosure May 16-17

North Raleigh Farmers Market - Saturdays May 16 8am-12pm

Henside the Beltline Tour d'Coop Benefiting Urban Ministries, May 16

Raleigh Fashion Week May 14-17

Art on the Move Unveiling May 16 at City Market 11am

Kids 2 Kamp Benefit Ride, Proceeds going to Victory Junction Gang Camp, May 16

Downtown Raleigh Home Tour, May 16, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m

Opening of The Bain Project, Revitalized Depression Era public works project, May 16-17

Thursday, May 7, 2009

National Drinking Water Week

To give some perspective on the cost of drinking water, let’s consider what other people in North Carolina are paying as well as take a look a the cost of some comparable beverages.

Cost per 1,000 gallons

Previous Raleigh water rate $ 2.63
Current Raleigh water rate $ 2.83 (as of 5/2009)

Fayetteville water rate $ 2.20
Greenville water rate $ 2.95
Cary water rate $ 3.28
Apex water rate $ 3.52
Asheville water rate $ 4.61

Water in gallon containers $ 1,050.00 ($1.05/gal)
Water in bulk cases of 24, 20 oz bottles $ 1,061.33 (6,400 bottles/ 1000 gallons)
Springtime water in 33.8 oz singles $4,885.21 ($1.29/33.8 oz, $4.89/gal)

*Sierra Club Publication - Learn the Facts About Bottled Water
*If you're buying bottled water for concern over tap water quality, try something like this.

Pepsi products $ 3389.35 ($3.39/gal, $1.79/2L)
Coca-cola products $ 3389.35 ($3.39/gal, $1.79/2L)
Lemonade $ 1,690.00 ($1.69/gal)
Tea $ 1,990.00 ($1.99/gal)
Milk $ 3,990.00 ($3.99/gal)
Orange Juice $ 3,990.00 ($3.99/gal)
Apple Juice $ 4,490.00 ($4.49/gal)
Wine ($10.99/gal) $ 10,990.00
Bud-light when purchased in 12 oz/ 6 pack $14,178.00 ($7.99/pack)

These calculations are based on prices obtained from Food Lion in the Greystone shopping center on Tuesday April 28, 2009.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

All things Water!

In honor of National Drinking Water Week, The City of Raleigh Public Utilities Department hosted the 14th annual Waterfest this week at the E.M. Johnson Water Treatment Plant on Falls of Neuse Road. According to Public Utilities Environmental Coordinator Marti Gibson, the three-day event is expected to draw more than 2,500 local school kids. “It’s a wonderful educational opportunity to teach kids about all aspects of water,” she said. “We talk about watershed protection, water conservation, water treatment and all types of activities surrounding the protection of our water resources.”

Councillor Stephenson and I headed out to the Water Treatment Plant for a morning of education about all things water. We enjoyed our tour of the plant and extensive overview of the daily operations. Did you know our treatment plant processes 50 million gallons a day? Over four dozen booths were available for attendees to visit. This included demonstration of low-flow showerheads, stormwater collection, water treatment and filtration method demonstrations. Thanks to the Raleigh Public Utilities Department for organizing this wonderful event to help make our city services and water conservation education available for Wake County students.

Monday, May 4, 2009

City Council Agenda 5/5/2009

Full text of the Council Agenda here

12:30 pm
1. Rezoning Z-24-09 - Trinity Road, North Side, West of Blue Ridge Road, Being Wake County

Approximately 18.40 acres is requested by Medlin Heirs and Wardlaw Heirs to be rezoned from Office and Institution 1 with SHOD-1 to Office and Institution 2 Conditional Use. Conditions include prohibited uses, limiting building heights, limits to access, stormwater retention, right-of-way reimbursement and site plan approval by City Council.

2. Rezoning Z-28-09 - Poole Road, South Side, Southeast of its Intersection with I-440 Being Wake County

Approximately 23.026 acres is requested by the City of Raleigh to be rezoned from O&I 2 and R-6 to Industrial 1 General Use.


1. Invocation - Doctor Jerry Williams, Agape Word Fellowship

2. Pledge of Allegiance



All items on the consent agenda are considered to be routine and may be enacted by one motion. If a Councilor requests discussion on an item, the item will be removed from the consent agenda and considered separately. The vote on the consent agenda will be a roll call vote.

11. Road Race - Lead Mine Road Vicinity - Donnie Jackson, representing the A.E. Finley YMCA, requests a street closure on Sunday, August 30, 2009, from 7:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. for a road race.



1. North Wake Landfill - Redevelopment as School/Park Site


1. 2008-09 Annual Report and 2009-10 Work Program

Andrew Leager, Chair of the Appearance Commission, will present the commission’s 2008-09 Annual Report and 2009-10 Work Program for consideration of City Council.


Brian Starkey, Chair of Raleigh Arts Commission, will present the Proposed Matrix for Arts Commission Member Appointments and accompanying information form.


1. Historic Cemeteries Advisory Board Name Change and Bylaws


Commissioner Lorrin Freeman will present the Human Services Agency Grant recommendations for this year.


1. Quarterly Report January – March 2009

This item is the submittal of quarterly reports outlining the City’s marketing and economic development program efforts January - March 2009.


The Stormwater Management Advisory Commission has developed additional recommendations

concerning the sedimentation control program.



1. Tree Conservation Ordinance - Proposed Text Change

The Committee recommends the City Council direct Administration to prepare a text change to incorporate into the tree conservation ordinance the following recommendation of the Tree Conservation Task Force and staff.



1. Isabella Cannon Park Master Plan

The Committee recommends upholding staff’s recommendation to adopt the Draft Isabella Cannon Park Master Plan with the following adjustments: 1) that a new RFQ be issued for the design of Phase 1 due to the recent dissolution of current vendor, WSP Sells; 2) that extra parking at Raleigh Little Theater be utilized to satisfy the requirement for four parking stalls at the park; and 3) include the sidewalk as part of the master plan, but phase the sidewalk with development and design in the form of a trail being sensitive to existing trees and topography.




1. A hearing to consider the petitioned annexations of the following locations. If following the hearings, the Council wishes to proceed with the annexations, it would be appropriate to adopt ordinances annexing the properties effective June 30, 2009, and a resolution placing the properties in the appropriate electoral district.

- Wynbrooke Subdivision (District E)

- North Raleigh Christian Academy (District B)

2. A hearing to consider improvements to Rock Quarry Road from approximately 1,000 feet west of Sunnybrook Road to New Hope Road with the improvements consisting of widening the existing two-lane roadway to five lanes with a center two-way left-turn lane and wider outside lanes to accommodate bicycles, installation of curbs, gutters, drains and paving with a five-foot sidewalk on both sides.

3. A hearing to consider the following sidewalk repairs.

7. A hearing to consider the permanent closing of all of the right-of-way known as Annette Avenue which is located south of Glenwood Avenue and west off Toyota Drive.

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Northern Wake Democrats

Last night I enjoyed the Northern Wake Democrats meeting at Milton's Pizza and Pasta. City Council At-Large Representative Russ Stephenson participated to help answer questions people had about what is happening throughout Raleigh. There was a great turnout and it was nice to talk about some of the local issues that are important to North Raleigh residents.

Some of the topics we discussed were:

- North Raleigh parks
- how stimulus money is going to be used in Wake County
- the installation of parking meters downtown
- City of Raleigh water plans; where we are today with the water supply and plans for potential new water sources; how conservation and storm water control can mitigate the impact on demand for water
- how schools are impacted by rezoning
- the need for better and increased storm water control during construction

These meetings covering various topics take place the last Thursday of every month. The next meeting will be Thursday May 28 from 6 p.m. to 8p.m. in Raleigh at Milton's Pizza & Pasta.