Competency Deficits

 

On Monday I attended the City of Raleigh’s Board of Adjustment which has jurisdiction on appeals for variances, special exceptions and interpretations in the zoning regulations The occasion was the appeal against planning processes and permissions with regard to 5211 Coronado Drive. (See http://www.raleighnc.gov/government/content/BoardsCommissions/Articles/BoardofAdjustmentCases.html for full details).
But before the case could be explained, the developer’s attorney moved a motion to dismiss the appeal on the grounds that the Board did not have the jurisdiction to decide upon the issue at hand and that the appeal to the Board should be dismissed.
oak-treeThere were other grounds for the dismissal, but before they could be properly articulated and discussed, the case was dismissed on the grounds that the Board did not have the competence to rule on the case.
Where to next? We were directed to the Wake County Superior Court. Whether we go there depends on Tom Parker, the advice he receives and the funding he needs.
But overall it is bad news that the City has allowed an inappropriate development which was against its own rules and declines to make matters good for the community which it serves.

Ignorant, Naïve or just Plain Wilful

coronado-dr-5211-20170212-bMy neighbour Tom Parker is tackling the City Board of Adjustment tomorrow (Monday) at 1 p.m. regarding the  construction of two houses on what was 5211 Coronado Drive.
The sub division ordnance has not been followed and the purpose of the meeting is to protest and deny the City of Raleigh the opportunity to legitimise their actions in permitting this development.
This is not just a Coronado Drive matter.
It affects us all in North Hills as developers destroy our environment in the pursuit of unwarranted profits.
The hearing takes place at 1 p.m. at 222 West Hargett Street, Raleigh in Room 201.
The Raleigh Board of Adjustment is a quasi-judicial body which acts on appeals for variances, special exceptions and interpretations in the zoning regulations. The meeting with the Board is important because City Planners are paid by us (tax payers), are governed by our elected officials and they are meant to serve us.
The designation of Raleigh being the seventh most attractive city to live in the U.S. will not be sustainable if we become a developer’s paradise where rules are flouted and not enforced.
Our City Representative (who does not sit on the Board of Adjustment) is Dickie Thompson. His email is: dickie.thompson@raleighnc.gov
See you there tomorrow.
http://www.raleighnc.gov/government/content/BoardsCommissions/Articles/BoardofAdjustment.html

Communities Thrive on Trees

oak-treeYou would think that this is a statement of the blindingly obvious. But when you see the lot clearing that takes place when developers prepare land for building – then you do wonder where their brains are.
Trees reduce stress by filtering unwanted noise and replacing it with bird song and rustling leaves. Domestic abuse, including child abuse, is lower in homes near trees.
So why clear the land of trees?
We can all see that it is easier to lay out plot lines and install drainage if the land is clear. Yet one of the key things that makes our urban environment attractive is trees. Whether they be oaks, ash, London planes or even the sycamore they soften the impact of urban living.
Trees remove harmful gases, such as nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and  ozone. In Mecklenburg County, North Carolina trees remove 17.5 million pounds  of air pollutants each year.
Trees capture sediment  and toxins that lower water quality, which reduces the  need for costly storm water control measures,
Urban trees reduce the “heat island effect,” cooling  our cities by as much as 9ºF. One tree can cool as much as five air conditioners running  20 hours a day.
There are some conscientious developers in North Hills, Raleigh. They can be identified by their instinctive retention of the arboreal character of their lots. Others exemplify the slash and burn mindset of the 18th and 19th centuries when North American pioneers such as Daniel Boone cleared land in the Appalachian Mountains.
In the industrialized regions of
Europe and North America, the practice was abandoned with the introduction of market agriculture and land ownership. Land tenure systems  help focus on long-term improvement and discouraged practices associated with slash-and-burn agriculture.
Community responsibility does not begin and end with voting every couple of years. If the price of liberty requires continual vigilance, so does ensuring our environment does not deteriorate beyond recall.

Puppy Mills

puppy-millsOn January 16th the cartoon strip Non Sequitur published a strip showing a puppy mill operator being shown into a cage by the Devil with the comment “This is your forever home” https://www.arcamax.com/thefunnies/nonsequitur/s-1913669.
I have yet to meet anyone who objected to the cartoon.
But for all of us it is a message that if you engage in an enterprise without a soul, then you do not deserve to thrive!

Rome is calling

No, not in the sense that my New Year Resolution is to be elected Pope by acclamation like St. Fabian. It’s just that the New Year’s Eve Spectator contained the gem that best food market in Rome is the Mercato Testaccio and the thing to eat there is a smordi-e-vai-aandwich from Mordi e Vai called el panino all’allesso which is a bread roll dunked in dripping then layered with tender slices of beef. Just the thing to stock up the waistline prior to Lenten contemplation. Meanwhile the Spectator’s weekly competition focussed on meaningless, pseudo-profound statements. The prize winners (£5 each) included the following:
The camel of forgetfulness knows more than the python of curiosity.
It is sometimes wiser to circle the square than to square the circle.
No snail by wishing can become an elephant.
But my favourite is: A ceiling keeps thing in, a roof keeps things out. – just the sort of thing a budding realtor should  know about.

Budget Opportunity & Flytippers

seagullHappy New Year to all my readers.
The new year starts with me being like Private Frazer insofar as it seems that “we are all doomed”. I saw the news yesterday (Daily Mirror and Daily Mail) that councils will be using powers to issue fixed penalty notices of up to £400 and seize and destroy vehicles used by offenders as part of a “zero-tolerance” nationwide initiative on fly-tipping.
How long before a simple case of littering or perhaps a poorly closed dustbin will attract these new powers?
The cost of clearing up fly-tipping in England has reached almost £50m, with councils having to deal with almost 900,000 incidents a year Authorities indicate that, to date, only 40% have made use of powers given by the Government in May to issue on-the-spot fines.
So expect more fines and perhaps more draconian attitudes because fines can fill the holes in the budget. In 2007 Ipswich Borough Council fined a fourteen year old £50 for throwing a chip to a seagull. Despite the gull eating the evidence, the Council insisted upon its powers and even (I recall) pursued the child into his school in order to obtain his identity.

Peterborough Evictions

Foto: SMK Foto Statens Museum for Kunst Sølvgade 48-50 1307 København K  DANMARK e-mail: foto@smk.dk www.smk.dkOnce again local government proves that you do not need to be an imaginative writer to make up true but unbelievable stories.
Last month it was reported that Stef & Philips (a leading provider of social housing solutions in London and the Home Counties) had recently won a contract to provide  Peterborough Council with accommodation for people in need.
In order to create the space needed Stef & Philips are evicting 74 families so it can accommodate the homeless.
Six months down the road I can see a situation whereby a Council spokesperson will tell us that the strategy was successful but in the meantime the homeless numbers have increased and Stef & Philips’ contract will be renewed and extended because they have done such a good job!

Not only could you not make it up – but you don’t have to!