Category: Aldermen

July 23rd, 2019 by newbernpostadmin

Residents in the Ghent neighborhood are begging for help from City Hall to do something about cars using residential streets as cut-throughs, raising the question, why wouldn’t City Hall help?

Could it be that City Hall doesn’t want to be seen as responsive when residents ask for help? That’s actually been an argument (“We don’t want to help you because then we’d have to help everyone”).

Could it be that City Hall thinks that throttling back on Ghent cut-through traffic will only push the problem elsewhere? (That actually happened recently when through-traffic was blocked and cars — temporarily — used nearby streets as a detour until they found that First Street is faster).

The real reason is something else, a mile away and an apparently unrelated issue — Farmers Market.

Farmers Market sits on a piece of prime real estate valued at $471,880, according to the county tax office. But that tax value figure belies its true value.

Located on railroad frontage and fixed between the N.C. History Center and Downtown Proper, this 1.2 acre parcel has been occupied by New Bern Farmers Market since 1984 (note: typo corrected from 1994).

The property was acquired by the Redevelopment Commission and then sold to the city for $10 in 1978. The enclosure on the property was purpose-built for the Farmers Market.

Farmers Market was originally seen by City Hall as an asset that attracted people downtown during a time when Downtown New Bern was getting back on its feet following years of decline.

The waterfront along the Trent River, once teeming with industry, had become derelict, nothing like what it is now today, and Farmers Market was one of the first improvements that helped downtown revitalization.

The city charged Farmers Market $1 a year to use the property, but when Dana Outlaw became mayor, something changed.

Outlaw, the son of a former New Bern city manager, started ridding City Hall of what he perceived as surplus properties.

He also ended city contributions to non-profits that had been helping the city in numerous ways, such as Swiss Bear Downtown Development Corporation, which was primarily responsible for downtown’s turnaround, and New Bern Firemen’s Museum, which was in a city-owned building and also charged $1 rent.

The city sold the Dunn Building kitty-corner from City Hall and moved offices around to other city-owned buildings, including a former elementary school on First Street between Spencer Avenue and Trent Boulevard.

City Hall owns other properties — numerous houses that it foreclosed on when cash-strapped owners were unable to afford repairs and then the demolition costs when the city bulldozed the houses, and a large parcel of wetlands between the Pembroke Community, U.S Highway 70, Carolina Avenue, and Trent Road that it is selling part of to the New Bern Housing Authority to build low-income apartments.

City success in the real estate business is hit and miss. The houses in its inventory earn nickels on the dollar when sold compared to the cost the city incurs in legal fees, demolition, and marketing.

It has been having trouble selling the old Firemen’s Museum on Hancock Street, and when a group of artists offered to rent it from the city, the city stole the idea but then failed at starting its own artist studio.

That wasn’t the first time City Hall tried to muscle in on the success of local non-profits.

Which brings us to the old Power Plant between First Street, Rhem Street, and Park Avenue.

After years of industrial use, the 3.8 acre parcel is an environmental nightmare beneath a thin layer of asphalt. No one in their right mind would ever buy such a property, given the high clean-up costs, although the county tax office values it at $339,720.

Stuck with surplus property that it could never sell, leaders at City Hall came up with an idea that they thought would kill two birds with one stone.

They would move, voluntarily or otherwise, Farmers Market from its attractive property downtown to the Power Plant property, once the city completed various improvements to accommodate Farmers Market needs.

The First Street property is a turd, but they would make it a shiny turd.

Unsurprisingly, members of the New Bern Farmers Market and downtown businesses and visitors resisted the idea. The timing was  all in the Farmers Market’s favor.

Even if City Hall evicted the Farmers Market at the end of its lease, the Farmers Market had a one-year extension option that, if it exercised the option, would have them being evicted the month before municipal elections in 2017.

The city backed down and granted another 5-year lease, but this time increased the rent to $500 a year (ed. note: corrected from per month).

Meanwhile, City Hall hunkered down. It claimed that instead of there being a farmers market-style City Market, it would partner with Craven Community College to hold courses at the newly branded VOLT Center.

But secretly, some city leaders held on to the idea of a farmers market, seeking grants and other funding using a technique called fraud. At least one grant application withheld key information, not the least of which was the implication that New Bern didn’t have a farmers market and City Market would fill that void.

Chemical contaminants and misleading grant applications aside, City Hall faced other obstacles in creating a new farmers market to put the existing one out of business.

The old electric generation plant, located between Country Club Road/First Street, Park Avenue, and Rhem Street, has access issues.

First, Country Club Road/First Street was butt ugly.

In fixing that problem (you may have guessed already, the city got someone else to foot the cost, namely N.C. Department of Transportation, aka state taxpayers), street engineers employed a concept called “Road Diet,” which is the latest thing at street engineer cocktail parties.

They took the street, a four-lane monstrosity with occasional sidewalks and plenty of eyesores, and spiffed it up, turning it into a two-lane street (with center turn lane), bike lanes, and sidewalks on both sides.

That led to another problem. N.C. DOT said it would do the work, but resisted the idea of there being an entrance to City Market off First Street. It would be too close to freeway onramps and offramps, they said.

That forced City Hall to figure out a different way for hundreds of visitors to get to their future farmers market, which left one choice: Rhem Street.

Rhem Street is one block long and located within a commercially zoned district, although there are just as many houses on Rhem Street as there are businesses.

The two main ways to get to Rhem Street are from Country Club Road, and from (drum roll) Second Street.

See what they did there?

To put New Bern Farmers Market out of business, City Hall has to keep Second Street open to commercial traffic, even though Second Street, just two and one-half blocks long, is located entirely in a residential district.

Connecting the dots, it leads directly back to the property on which New Bern Farmers Market is now located.

For some reason, forces inside City Hall want New Bern Farmers Market off the property on South Front Street really, really badly, either by moving it to another location, or by putting it out of business.

The question is, who wants that downtown Farmers Market property so badly that they have City Hall in their back pocket, fighting fiercely to get it done?

The answer is reached the old fashioned way: Follow the money.

Stay tuned for Part II.

Posted in Aldermen, Board of Aldermen, Business, Commentary, Community, Community issues, Craven Community College, Farmers Market, Mayor

July 23rd, 2019 by newbernpostadmin

Ever since Jeffrey Odham, then a candidate for Ward 6 alderman, ran on a campaign of running city hall like a business, I was apprehensive.

Once he took office, I started to see exactly what he meant.

He wasn’t talking about a business that puts customer satisfaction first. He was talking about the American concept of business efficiency — low cost, high profit, declining customer service, cut-throat competitiveness, and poor responsiveness to customer needs and wants.

There are numerous examples that bear this out.

There’s the example of City Hall pushing the Firemen’s Museum out of its old location on Middle Street into the old fire station on Broad Street. This was part of a push by the Board of Aldermen to get rid of surplus properties, even if the property is being used for the betterment of the community.

Once the Firemen’s Museum finished moving, the old building sat vacant. Despite some initial interest from buyers, the city was simply unable to sell the building.

Then a group of artists who had been forced out of their previous studio approached the city about renting the old museum property.

That brings us to another example, one of cut-throat competitiveness.

The artists wanted to rent the building for the non-profit rate (usually $1 a month or a year) or if not that, as low as possible, and in turn would provide numerous services and amenities to the community.

City Hall refused the offer, and instead tried to go into the art studio business itself. But it couldn’t find any takers and the old museum property continues to gather dust.

Something similar is happening with New Bern Farmers Market. The city tried to force it from its city-owned location on South Front Street to the old electric generation plant off First Street. City strong-arm tactics to get its way failed but only due to the proximity of municipal elections, which would occur at precisely the same time City Hall would be evicting the Farmers Market. Rather than face the wrath of angry voters, city leaders extended the Farmers Market lease for five years but increased the rent from $1 a month to $500 (the only example of the city charging a non-profit anything other than token rent).

City Hall plays the long game, however. If it can’t get New Bern Farmers Market to move, it plans to start its own, fraudulently going after government grants to help pave the way, with the ultimate goal of putting New Bern Farmers Market out of business so it can sell the property on which it operates.

Let’s not forget the city’s habit of tearing down houses of poor people and then foreclosing on the properties when the owners couldn’t pay the demolition costs.

Let’s also not forget the draconian utility deposits the city imposes on people having a hard enough time as it is keeping up with high utility costs.

Let’s not forget the place where you pay your electric bill. Until complaints came to light, they locked their doors 15 minutes before closing time and even closed their public restrooms.

The pettiness just keeps on coming.

These are not the only examples of City Hall being “run like a business,” they are just some examples.

Except where the law requires public participation, City Hall treats city residents (those without wealth, at least) as annoyances. City officials treat citizens disdainfully and ignore their requests whenever the law allows it.

Paradoxically, city workers continue to provide high levels of customer service despite what their management forces on them. Utility workers, police patrolmen, firefighters, desk clerks, street workers and more, they all get the job done.

My belief is that a city should not be run like a business, but should be run like a cooperative.

Citizens are stakeholders, not customers. The money they pay for their rents and mortgages, along with taxes they pay for goods and services, fund an organization that provides for the safety and well-being of these stakeholders.

They are represented by a board of directors, which in this case is the Board of Aldermen. It is each board member’s responsibility to interpret and represent the needs and wants of their constituency to the city executives that carry out those tasks.

But that’s not how it has been working.

Instead, ambitious city officials have been launching a series of vanity projects that will look good on their resumes and that they can point to with pride when it comes time for asking for raises.

Meanwhile, New Bern becomes less and less affordable, with some of the worst housing affordability rates in the state. That should worry everyone.

If entry-level workers can’t afford to live here, New Bern won’t have the entry-level workforce that is the foundation of New Bern’s commerce and tourism.

It takes a community to be a community, but go ahead, Alderman Odham and the rest who stand behind him, keep running the city like a business, searching for profits, and discouraging “undesirables” from living here.

City Hall may play the long game, but it doesn’t play the sustainable game.

Posted in Aldermen, Board of Aldermen, Commentary, Community, Community issues, Economy and Employment, Mayor, New Bern

April 22nd, 2019 by newbernpostadmin

New Bern aldermen will start discussion on Tuesday over whether to change the method used to elect aldermen and the mayor from the nonpartisan election and runoff method it has been using, to the nonpartisan plurality method.

Under the present system, a candidate avoids a runoff if he/she wins 50 percent of the vote plus one extra vote.

The proposed system proclaims whomever wins the most votes as the winner.

If the city used this proposed method in the 2009 municipal election, then-Mayor Tom Bayliss would have won reelection, since he was the top vote getter in a three-way election.

Lee Bettis came in second, and the two faced each other in a run-off that Bettis won.

Under the proposed method, the chances of a fringe candidate winning an election go from unlikely, to much more likely, particularly if there are several candidates running.

On the other hand, a nonpartisan plurality method could increase the chances of African American candidate being elected mayor of New Bern, in cases where there is one African American candidate running against two or more white candidates.

The stated reason for the change is to save money. New Bern municipal elections are expensive enough already, being held in election years between any other elections.

Compounding that expense are runoff elections, which happen in New Bern more often than not.

Together, they cost New Bern taxpayers thousands of dollars.

Still, a run-off gives voters the chance to have a say in who represents them on the Board of Aldermen from among the top two candidates should there be a run-off.

Is that worth the added expense? Some may say yes. But judging from actual voter turnouts for municipal run-off elections, practically speaking, the answer may be no.

Here’s the city attorney’s memo to the board with details:

MEMORANDUM

TO: Mayor and Members of the Board City Manager

FROM: Michael Scott Davis, City Attorney

RE: Amendments to City Charter to Change Election Method

DATE:  April 17, 2019

The Board recently directed me to draft a resolution to change the municipal election method from the nonpartisan election and runoff method to the nonpartisan plurality method. Since North Carolina has a state statute that authorizes municipalities to amend their charters to change the election method from one of the four basic options (all on odd years), the Board has the ability to proceed with the charter amendment by following the statute, or by seeking a local bill from the General Assembly. The Board also has the option to call for a special election for the purpose of submitting the ordinance to a vote. Presuming that the Board wants to proceed to amend the charter consistent with the statutory authority, here are the required steps:

  • Adopt a resolution of intent to consider an ordinance amending the charter which also includes a call for a public hearing on the proposed charter
  • A notice of the public hearing shall be published at least once not less than 10 days prior to the date fixed for the public hearing, and shall contain a summary of the proposed amendments.
  • Following the public hearing, but not earlier than the next regular meeting and not more than 60 days from the public hearing, the Board may adopt an ordinance amending the charter to implement the amendments proposed in the resolution of
  • Within 10 days after an ordinance is adopted, the Board shall publish a notice stating that an ordinance amending the charter has been adopted and the notice must summarize the contents and effect of the
  • City clerk shall file a certified true copy of the charter amendment with the Secretary of State and the Legislative

In order for the ordinance to be effective at the next election, the amendment must be finally adopted and approved at least 90 days prior to election day.

RESOLUTION OF INTENT TO CONSIDER AN ORDINANCE AMENDING THE CHARTER OF THE CITY OF NEW BERN TO CHANGE THE METHOD OF ELECTION FROM THE NONPARTISAN ELECTION AND RUNOFF METHOD TO THE NONPARTISAN PLURALITY METHOD AND SETTING THE DATE FOR A PUBLIC HEARING THEREON

THAT WHEREAS, pursuant to G.S. §160A-101 and §160A-102, the Board of Aldermen of the City of New Bern may adopt an ordinance to amend the Charter of the City of New Bern to implement any of the optional forms set out in G.S. §160A-101; and

WHEREAS, G.S. §160A-102 requires that proposed Charter amendments first be submitted to a public hearing and that due notice thereof be published not less than ten (10) days prior to the date fixed for the public hearing.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE BOARD OF ALDERMEN OF THE CITY OF NEW BERN THAT:

Section 1. The Board of Aldermen of the City of New Bern hereby intends to consider an ordinance amending the Charter of the City of New Bern, as set forth in Session Law 2016-41 of the General Assembly of North Carolina, to change the method of election from the nonpartisan election and runoff method to the nonpartisan plurality method as authorized by G.S.

  • 160A-101(7)b. It is proposed that at the regular municipal election to be held in 2021, the mayor and members of the Board of Aldermen shall be elected according to the nonpartisan plurality method.

Section 2. A public hearing on the proposed ordinance is hereby called in the City Hall courtroom at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, May 14, 2019.

Section 3. Following the public hearing called hereby, the Board of Aldermen shall consider passage of the ordinance at its regular meeting on Tuesday, May 28, 2019 at 6:00 p.m. in the City Hall courtroom.

Section 4. The City Clerk is hereby directed to cause to be published in the Sun Journal a proper notice of the public hearing called, which notice shall contain a summary of the proposed Charter amendments.

ADOPTED THIS 23rd DAY OF APRIL, 2019.

 

DANA E. OUTLAW, MAYOR

BRENDA E. BLANCO, CITY CLERK

 

Posted in Aldermen, Board of Aldermen, Elections

March 14th, 2019 by newbernpostadmin

N.C. DOT work on U.S. Highway 70 and the Pembroke Road offramp on Monday caused the worst traffic jam in Downtown New Bern in decades on Monday.

The roadwork included closing down the Pembroke offramp. The repaving and repair work being done on U.S. 70 has caused backed up traffic, but the offramp closure compounded the problem by an order of magnitude.

Some motorists had a great idea. Instead of slogging through backed up traffic on 70, they opted to take surface streets and go through the downtown. “Some” being defined as thousands.

The ensuing traffic all converged on the two-lane Cunningham Bridge, creating a funnel effect that magnified the problem.

Traffic was backed up for several miles on Broad Street, Neuse Boulevard, and Trent Boulevard. Many motorists took side streets through neighborhoods to avoid the jam.

Alderman Bobby Aster, during Tuesday’s Board of Aldermen meeting, described the event as “unspeakable.”

He said it took one driver one hour and 12 minutes to get from Pollock Street to Cunningham Bridge three blocks away.

City officials said they were caught off guard by the situation and were not contacted by DOT in advance of the closure (cough-cough-there were electric signs all over the place days before-cough).

Aside from that, Aster wondered why the Police Department didn’t do more … or rather, didn’t do anything … to deal with the traffic jam.

“I’m just wondering the reason why our police department didn’t get out and start directing traffic and moving this traffic outside of our city.

He said one citizen stuck at an intersection for 18 minutes saw a police car drive up, turn around and leave.

“…If you think that it’s bad now, wait ’til the construction starts in James City. I hope our Police Department’s got a plan.”

N.C. DOT is getting ready to upgrade U.S. 70 through James City from a surface street with intersections, to a controlled access expressway (jargon for “freeway”) with frontage roads on either side. See video

Aster, a retired fire chief, wondered what would have happened if there was a major accident blocking access. He said the Police Department needs to develop an action plan.

“It’s going to happen again,” he said.

Oldtimers remember when U.S. 70 came through downtown. Traffic was so bad during summer months that downtown workers either left work early or waited until the evening to get home.

Posted in Aldermen, Board of Aldermen, Community issues, Traffic

February 23rd, 2019 by newbernpostadmin

CITY OF NEW BERN
BOARD OF ALDERMEN MEETING
FEBRUARY 26, 2019 – 6:00P.M.
CITY HALL COURTROOM
300 POLLOCK STREET

 

1. Meeting opened by Mayor Dana E. Outlaw. Prayer Coordinated by Mayor Outlaw. Pledge of Allegiance.

2. Roll Call

 

Consent Agenda

3. Consider adopting a Resolution Calling for a Public Hearing to Rezone 4526 US Highway 17 South.

John Thomas of Thomas Engineering has requested 2.40+/- acres located at 4526 US Highway 17 South be rezoned from R-20 Residential District to C-3 Commercial District. The property is further identified as Tax Parcel 8-206-079, which is located in the City’s extraterritorial jurisdiction. It is requested a public hearing be held on March 12, 2019 at 6 p.m. to consider this request. A memo from Morgan Potts, City Planner, is attached.

4. Approve Minutes.

Minutes from the February 12, 2019 work session and February 12, 2019 regular meeting are provided for review and approval.

____________

5. Presentation of the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.

Copies of the Comprehensive Annual Finance Report (“CAFR”) and Auditor’s Discussion and Analysis were previously distributed to the Board. A representative from Mauldin & Jenkins, the firm that performed the City’s audit, will be present to discuss the findings of the CAFR and audit. This report will also be made available on the City’s website on February 27, 2019.

6. Update on Resiliency Plan.

The City Manager will provide an update on the City’s efforts with respect to a resiliency plan and the hiring of a consultant.

7. Consider Adopting a Resolution to Initiate the Upset Bid Process for 1620 National Avenue.

(Ward 1) In July of 2016, after being vacated by Parks and Recreation’s administrative staff, the Board declared the City’s property at 1620 National Avenue as surplus property. A minimum reserve bid of $85,000 was established. The property has since received substantial damage as a result of Hurricane Florence. An insurance payout is anticipated in the amount of $65,833. Freddie Mercer has submitted an offer of $15,000 to purchase the property in its current condition. If this resolution is approved, the offer will be duly advertised as required by state statute. If no upset bids are received and the property is sold for $15,000, the City will receive approximately $80,833 from the proceeds of the sale and the insurance funds.

8. Consider Adopting a Resolution Approving a Contract with James L. Cayton Utilities, Inc. of New Bern, NC for Infrastructure Improvements.

(Ward 1) Aging water and sewer infrastructure is being replaced on Johnson Street between Craven and East Front Streets and King Street between Craven Street and Edgerton Drive. Once the infrastructure has been replaced, the streets will be resurfaced. The improvements will eliminate deteriorated mains and service lines, increase the reliability of the domestic water supply, reduce the potential for sewer backups, and improve drainage in the project area. Bids for this project were sought and obtained. After reviewing the bids, James L. Cayton Utilities, Inc. of New Bern, NC had the lowest bid at $635,320. It is requested the contract be awarded to this bidder.

9. Consider Adopting an Ordinance Amendment to Division 2 (Police Civil Service Board) of Article IV of Chapter 2 of the Code of Ordinances.

The City’s charter was amended in 2016, at which time changes were made in part to the section regarding the Police Civil Service Board. It has since been discovered the ordinance addressing the Police Civil Service Board was not amended to reflect the charter changes. By adopting this ordinance, the charter and Code of Ordinances will be consistent.

10. Appointment(s).

    1. Raymond Layton’s second term on the Planning and Zoning Board has expired, and he is ineligible for reappointment. Alderman Kinsey is requested to make a new appointment to fill this vacancy. The new appointee shall serve a three­ year term.
    2. Carol Williams’ second term on the Planning and Zoning Board has expired, and she is ineligible for reappointment. Alderwoman Harris is requested to make a new appointment to fill this vacancy. The new appointee shall serve a three­ year term.
    3. Rose Williams’ appointment on the New Bern Appearance Commission expired February 8, 2019. She is eligible for reappointment, or a new appointment can be made to allow others an opportunity to serve. Mayor Outlaw is asked to make an appointment to serve a three-year term. The ordinance provides appointees shall be residents of the City’s planning and zoning jurisdiction and shall, when possible, have had special training or experience in a design field such as architecture, landscape design, horticulture, city planning, or a closely­ related field.
    4. Mattie Tatum’s appointment on the New Bern Appearance Commission will expire February 22, 2019. She is eligible for reappointment, or a new appointment can be made to allow others an opportunity to serve. Alderman Bengel is asked to make an appointment to serve a three-year term. The ordinance provides appointees shall be residents of the City’s planning and zoning jurisdiction and shall, when possible, have had special training or experience in a design field such as architecture, landscape design, horticulture, city planning, or a closely-related field.

11. Attorney’s Report.

12. City Manager’s Report.

13. New Business.

14. Closed Session.

15. Adjourn.

 

Posted in Aldermen, Board of Aldermen, Mayor

February 12th, 2019 by newbernpostadmin

Request will be made at Tuesday’s Board of Aldermen meeting

New Bern community members and non-local activists will urge the New Bern Board of Aldermen to “Ban the Box” for hiring city employees at its meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 12.

“Ban the Box” is a hiring practice that encourages employers to identify potential hires with the best skills and experience and delay asking applicants about their criminal records until after a conditional offer is made.

Durham and Carrboro are among cities in North Carolina that have already adopted this “fair chance” hiring practice.

Ban the Box is a movement started in the early 2000s by All of Us or None, a national organization created and led by individuals directly impacted by incarceration and the criminal legal system.

People who have been involved in the criminal justice system often face collateral consequences, difficulties people face in finding housing, education, and employment because of a criminal record.  

Trouble finding employment is one of the most common collateral consequences that people face upon release. Those who have a record and disclose it on their initial job application are 50 percent less likely to receive a callback than their peers without a record.

Ban the Box programs do not prevent employers from asking about an applicant’s criminal record, but rather calls for employers to remove the initial question about criminal records from job applications (“the box”) and delay any related questions until after a conditional offer is made. This process ensures the best person is being hired for the job and also allows the employer to continue to make decisions about the relevancy of the record to the job.

What: Public comments on ‘Ban the Box’ at New Bern Board of Alderman meeting

When: Tuesday, Feb. 12 at 6 p.m.

Where: City Hall Courtroom, 300 Pollock St., New Bern

Who: New Bern community members and representatives from All of Us or None – NC and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice Clean Slate Project

Posted in Aldermen, Board of Aldermen, Community, Community issues, Crime, Economy, Economy and Employment, Housing, Mayor, New Bern

February 9th, 2019 by newbernpostadmin

The Board of Aldermen meets Tuesday for two separate sessions, a regular meeting starting at 6 p.m. and a work session covering utility rates starting at 3 p.m.

During Tuesday’s regular meeting, here are some of the more interesting agenda items:

10. Presentation on NC Global TransPark Authority.

Allen Thomas, Director of the North Carolina Global TransPark (“GTP”), was scheduled to make a presentation before the Board last July, but cancelled due to illness. He has rescheduled that presentation for this meeting.

11. Presentation by Craven County Board of Elections.

Melani Wray, Director of the Craven County Board of Elections, will make a presentation that covers a cost analysis of the City’s election process. She will also discuss the advantages of changing from a nonpartisan election/runoff method to a nonpartisan plurality election.

12. Presentation on Downtown Parking Update.

(Ward 1) Billy Faulkenberry and Lynn Harakal, Executive Director of Swiss Bear, will update the Board on the downtown parking enforcement.

15. Presentation on Ban-the-Box.

Whitley Carpenter, Staff Attorney with The Southern Coalition for Social Justice, will be joined by Corey Purdie and Angaza Laughinghouse to make a presentation on the Ban-the-Box movement.

Ban the Box is the name of an international campaign by civil rights groups and advocates for ex-offenders, aimed at persuading employers to remove from their hiring applications the check box that asks if applicants have a criminal record.

18. Consider Adopting a Resolution Approving a License/Use Agreement with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

(Ward 5) The Federal Emergency Management Agency (“FEMA”) has requested to lease office space at the old Water Resources building located at 2825 Neuse Boulevard. The proposed agreement provides for their use of the building through June 30, 2019 at no cost. FEMA will be using the office space to serve the citizens of New Bern and surrounding areas following the devastation from Hurricane Florence. 

Here is the full agenda:

CITY OF NEW BERN, 300 Pollock Street, P.O. Box 1129 New Bern, NC 28563-1129 . (252) 636-4000

Dana E. Outlaw Mayor

Mark A. Stephens City Manager

Memo to: Mayor and Board of Aldermen From: Mark A. Stephens, City Manager Date: February 8, 2019

Re: February 12, 2019 Agenda Explanations

1. Meeting  opened  by Mayor  Dana E. Outlaw. Prayer Coordinated by Mayor Outlaw. Pledge of Allegiance.

2. Roll Call.

3. Request and Petition of Citizens.

This section of the Agenda is titled Requests and Petitions of Citizens. This is an opportunity for public comment, and we thank you for coming to the Board of Aldermen meeting tonight to share your views. We value all citizen input.

Speaker comments are limited to a maximum of 4 minutes during the public comment period. At the conclusion of 4 minutes, each speaker shall leave the podium. Comments will be directed to the full board, not to an individual board member or staff member. Although the board is interested in hearing your comments, speakers should not expect any comments, action or deliberation from the board on any issue raised during the public comment period.

In the board’s discretion, it may refer issues to the appropriate city officials or staff for further investigation. If an organized group is present to speak on a common issue, please designate one person to present the group’s comment, which shall be limited to a maximum of 4 minutes.

Consent Agenda

4. Consider Adopting a Resolution to Close Specific Streets for the Neuse River Bridge Run.

(Ward 1) The Neuse River Bridge Run is slated for March 23, 2019. Accordingly, John Serumgard, Race Director, the event, has requested the 200 block of East Front Street be closed from 4 a.m. to 1 p.m. and the 200 block of South Front Street be closed from 5 a.m. until 1 p.m. The organizers also plan to hold a “Super Kids Run” on March 22, 2019 from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Union Point Park, and the Director of Parks and Recreation has authorized the closure of the park streets during this time. A memo from Foster Hughes, Director of Parks and Recreation, is attached.

5. Consider Adopting a Resolution to Close Specific Streets for the Great Glow Run.

(Ward 1) Kathy Lewis, Officer Manager for Easter Seals UCP, has requested specific streets be closed on April 13, 2019 from 6:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. for the annual Great Glow Run. The streets to be closed are the 200-700 blocks of East Front Street, a portion of the 800 block of North Craven Street, 700-800 blocks of Howard Street, 100-600 blocks of Queen Street, and 600-800 blocks of George Street. This Easter Seals fundraiser also promotes awareness. A memo from Mr. Hughes is attached.

6. Consider Adopting a Revised Resolution to Close Specific Streets for the Black History Month Parade.

(Ward 1) After receiving a request from Victor Taylor with Vision Forward, the Board adopted a resolution on January 22, 2019 to close specific streets on February 16, 2019 for the annual Black history Month Parade. That resolution failed to include approval of the requested rain date of February 23, 2019. The resolution has been revised to include this date, and all other information remains the same with respect to the affected streets. A memo from Mr. Hughes is attached along with copies of the application, a map of the parade route, and the resolution approved in January.

7. Consider Adopting a Resolution to Portions of Spencer Avenue for the Ghent Neighborhood Mardi Gras Parade.

(Ward 1) Michael Genest, President of the Ghent Neighborhood Association, has requested the 1400-2000 blocks of Spencer Avenue be closed to vehicular traffic on March 2, 2019 from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. for the association’s annual Mardi Gras Parade and block party. A memo from Mr. Hughes, a copy of the application and a parade map are included in the backup documentation.

8. Approve Minutes.

Minutes from the January 15, 2019 special meeting, January 22, 2019 regular

meeting, January 26, 2019 special meeting, and January 26, 2019 annual retreat are provided for review and approval.

______

9. Presentation of Longevity Certificates.

Employment service is recognized at five-year increments. A roster is enclosed of all employees who are eligible to receive a service certificate for the period of July­ December 2018. Some of these employees will be present at the meeting, and certificates will be on hand for the Mayor to present. Sharon Koprowski, Assistant Director of Human Resources, will be available to assist with the presentation. The Board is asked to extend a handshake of appreciation to the employees.

10. Presentation on NC Global TransPark Authority.

Allen Thomas, Director of the North Carolina Global TransPark (“GTP”), was scheduled to make a presentation before the Board last July, but cancelled due to illness. He has rescheduled that presentation for this meeting.

11. Presentation by Craven County Board of Elections.

Melani Wray, Director of the Craven County Board of Elections, will make a presentation that covers a cost analysis of the City’s election process. She will also discuss the advantages of changing from a nonpartisan election/runoff method to a nonpartisan plurality election.

12. Presentation on Downtown Parking Update.

(Ward 1) Billy Faulkenberry and Lynn Harakal, Executive Director of Swiss Bear, will update the Board on the downtown parking enforcement.

13. Presentation on African American Heritage & Cultural Center of New Bern Project.

(Ward 1) Carol Becton, a representative with the African American Heritage & Cultural Center, will make a presentation on the center’s vision, as well as its plans to celebrate Juneteenth in 2019.

14. Presentation on Reliable Public Power.

Charles Bauschard, Director of Public Utilities, will make a presentation regarding the City’s application for the American Public Power Association’s designation as a Reliable Public Power Provider (“RP3”).

15. Presentation on Ban-the-Box.

Whitley Carpenter, Staff Attorney with The Southern Coalition for Social Justice, will be joined by Corey Purdie and Angaza Laughinghouse to make a presentation on the Ban-the-Box movement.

16. Consider Adopting a Resolution Approving a Human Resources Policy.

As a follow-up to the previous presentation, a Resolution approving a Human Resources Policy is proposed.

17. Receive Public Comment and Consider Adopting a Resolution Naming a Currently Unnamed Street as Sheryl Drive.

(Ward 4) In the area of Glenburnie Road, an unnamed street connects Elizabeth Avenue and Amhurst Boulevard. In 2013 and 2015, a proposed development named Quail Forest was reviewed and the right-of-way for this roadway dedicated, but not officially named. The proposed name, Sheryl Drive, was reviewed and approved by E911. Staff has met with adjacent property owners regarding the name proposal. It is requested the Board receive public comments on this naming and then consider adopting a resolution to establish the name.

18. Consider Adopting a Resolution Approving a License/Use Agreement with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

(Ward 5) The Federal Emergency Management Agency (“FEMA”) has requested to lease office space at the old Water Resources building located at 2825 Neuse Boulevard. The proposed agreement provides for their use of the building through June 30, 2019 at no cost. FEMA will be using the office space to serve the citizens of New Bern and surrounding areas following the devastation from Hurricane Florence.

19. Consider Adopting a Resolution to Accept a Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure of Tax Lien.

(Ward 1) Craven County pursued foreclosure on 209 Lawson Street for delinquent ad valorem taxes owed to the County. At the time of the foreclosure, there were also delinquent taxes owed to the City. A commissioner’s deed was recorded on August 18, 2018 conveying the property to the County, which resulted in the City’s tax liens remaining intact. In order to avoid foreclosure by the City to collect those taxes, the County proposes a deed to convey the property to the City and County jointly, with the deed specifying the amount of both the County and City’s taxes, interest, liens, fees and costs as of August 18, 2018. The resolution authorizes the recording of the proposed deed and accepts the same in lieu of foreclosure of the City’s tax lien.

20. Consider Adopting a Resolution Authorizing the Installation of Additional Street Lights.

(Ward 5) Time McKean of 2800 Millinder Lane has requested additional street lighting at the intersection of South Glenburnie Road and Millinder Lane. The Department of Public Utilities evaluated the area and determined the current lighting does not meet the City’s light standard. The installation of one street light will cost approximately $574.96, and the monthly utility charge for service will be $8.44. A memo from Charles Bauschard, Director of Public Utilities, is attached along with other supporting documentation.

21. Appointment(s).

  1. Raymond Layton’s second term on the Planning and Zoning Board has expired, and he is ineligible for reappointment. Alderman Kinsey is requested to make a new appointment to fill this vacancy. The new appointee shall serve a three­ year term.
  2. Sonny Aluzzo’s first term on the Planning and Zoning Board has expired, and he is eligible for reappointment. Alderman Aster is asked to consider reappointing Mr. Aluzzo or make a new appointment for a three-year term.
  3. Jerry Walker’s first term on the Planning and Zoning Board has expired, and he is eligible for reappointment. Alderman Bengel is asked to consider reappointing Mr. Walker or make a new appointment for a three-year term.
  4. Carol Williams’ second term on the Planning and Zoning Board has expired, and she is ineligible for reappointment. Alderwoman Harris is requested to make a new appointment to fill this vacancy. The new appointee shall serve a three­ year term.
  5. Joseph Anderson has resigned from the Historic Preservation Commission. Alderman Bengel is asked to make an appointment to fill the remainder of Mr. Anderson’s term, which expires on June 13, 2019.
  6. Rose Williams’ appointment on the New Bern Appearance Commission expired February 8, 2019. She is eligible for reappointment, or a new appointment can be made to allow others an opportunity to serve. The appointee will serve a three-year term. The ordinance provides appointees shall be residents of the City’s planning and zoning jurisdiction and shall, when possible, have had special training or experience in a design field such as architecture, landscape design, horticulture, city planning, or a closely-related field.
  7. Mattie Tatum’s appointment on the New Bern Appearance Commission will expire February 22, 2019. She is eligible for reappointment, or a new appointment can be made to allow others an opportunity to serve. The appointee will serve a three-year term. The ordinance provides appointees shall be residents of the City’s planning and zoning jurisdiction and shall, when possible, have had special training or experience in a design field such as architecture, landscape design, horticulture, city planning, or a closely-related field.

22. Attorney’s Report.

23. City Manager’s Report. 

24. New Business.

25. Closed Session.

26. Adjourn.

Posted in Aldermen, Board of Aldermen, Downtown New Bern, Economy, Economy and Employment, Elections, FEMA, Infrastructure, Mayor, New Bern, New Bern business and commerce, Planning and Zoning

December 8th, 2018 by newbernpostadmin

Did you go by the new Harris Teeter since it opened on Wednesday? Odds are pretty good that you did.

In a small town like New Bern, folks here can be relied on to try something new. Remember when Cook Out opened?

On opening day, I saw city officials including Jeff Odham, in whose ward the new Harris Teeter is located, and City Manager Mark Stephens proudly roaming the vast floor space of the gleaming new store.

Coke Mann, a partner with Columbia Development Group, developer of the shopping center, was quoted in the Sun Journal crediting Odham and Mayor Dana Outlaw for their bringing the super-expanded HT to New Bern.

I saw lots of regular people combing through the almost 100,000-foot feet of shopping space, which is more than just a simple supermarket. (Some say the store actually has 105,000 square feet of floor space.)

We are not wedded to a particular grocery store. We shop at Publix most often, but not exclusively, and mainly due to its modern and wide selection coupled with its less crowded aisles.

With the opening of the new Harris Teeter, that may change.

The store replaces a 55,000-square-foot store on South Glenburnie Road, which closed the day before the new store opened.

It is claimed to be the largest Harris Teeter out of the chain’s 246 stores. Some media outlets have called it the largest in the world, but since its world is pretty much contained within Southern states, that’s a somewhat pretentious claim.

Still, it’s plenty big, and within it are sections that by themselves are impressively large.

There is a Starbucks inside the Harris Teeter, just as there was at the old location, but this one has a dining area that has to make this particular Starbucks one of the largest in the world, and that’s saying something.

Then there is the food court, contained within an area that could be a nice-size grocery store all by itself.

There is a bakery, fresh produce and meats, a deli, a sushi bar, a buffet, a burger bar, a specialty bar with changing themes, and a bar-bar. Yes, a bar … where you can get beer and wine by the glass.

As for the grocery aisles, they are so long they are subdivided, with a third row intersecting at the middle. Looking from one end toward the other, the aisles extend almost as far as the eye can see.

Filling all those aisles with merchandise must be a challenge by itself. I have not looked deeply into it, but the few places I did look showed a much-expanded variety of brands and varieties.

Staffing this store must be equally challenging. I counted six people working at the Starbucks counter, four at the burger bar, three at the beer and wine bar, and so on.

I am not sure if they staffed up for opening week or if they plan to maintain that staffing level.

Sarah, Mark and I went there on opening day and had dinner. We bought a couple of items from the grocery aisles before going home.

We returned on Saturday to find the same buzz one encounters when surrounded by hundreds of happy people. The store is large enough to accommodate a thousand customers without feeling overly crowded.

Sarah got several selections from the sushi train and described the quality as good as any restaurant in New Bern. I went for simple–a burger and fries. The way I figure it, if you can’t do a burger and fries right, then what can you do right?

And boy, did they do it right. It paired nicely with the glass of Mother Earth pale ale that I got at the bar.

While waiting for my order, I ran into four people I knew, and that’s the great thing about a venue like this. It’s a magnet that draws people together, and for more than one purpose.

Before, you would go to Harris Teeter for groceries. Maybe you might grab something from the salad bar or deli or the Starbucks counter, but there was really nothing that set it apart from any other modern grocery store.

This Harris Teeter is not just a retailer, it is a community amenity. You can literally spend the day there, enjoying a fresh breakfast, lunch and dinner, with a couple of glasses of beer or wine later in the day before actually doing any grocery shopping.

Note: the beer and wine bar opens at 10 a.m. daily except Sundays, when it opens at 11 a.m. But who’s judging?

The parking lot is large and full but sufficient and well laid out. Other stores in the shopping center, which is called New Bern Marketplace, round out the remaining two-thirds of retail floor space at the 34-acre, 325,000-square-food retail venue.

One thing it has over Downtown New Bern: parking is not limited to two hours.

So what can you expect at the Teeter?

Greeting you as you arrive at one of the entrances is the floral counter managed by Mary Gierie-Merrell, who Mayor Outlaw has described as New Bern’s unofficial mayor.

At that same entrance, off to the right, is the Starbucks counter with its spacious and open dining area. It is equipped with tables and booths and two big-screen TVs. The window-wall is lined with a long counter with tall chairs for computer users and enough USB ports and electric sockets for every two chairs.

Beyond is the amazing food court, and to its left, the expansive grocery aisles.

One glitch was WiFi. Though it is provided, I was unable to connect to the internet using it. Another quibble is that if you want to sit at a table and plug in your device or computer to a power source, there are just two tables within range of just one wall socket, and they are right underneath a big-screen TV. That may be by design. It is understandable why a store would not want its tables taken up by people using computers all day.

The impacts of the new Harris Teeter on New Bern will be interesting to see.

It will undoubtedly cut into business of other existing grocery stores. But being so large, it will draw shoppers from outside New Bern and maybe from outside Craven County.

When the N.C. 43 connector is extended from U.S. 70 to U.S. 17 in the next few years, it will make access to New Bern Marketplace easier to reach from Pitt and Lenoir residents. It’s already the easiest retail center to reach in New Bern from Jones and Onslow counties.

As I said, this Harris Teeter is not just a store, it is a community amenity.

Fun facts

  • Harris Teeter’s previous largest stores, measuring at 80,000 square feet of store space, are located in Pinehurst and Charlotte.
  • The New Bern store is only the second location to have a juice bar.
  • It is the first to have a build-your-own burger bar.
  • It is the first to have a sushi train.

Posted in Achievements, Activities, Aldermen, Beer, Board of Aldermen, Business, Commentary, Community, Craven County, Downtown New Bern, Economy, Economy and Employment, Entertainment, Events, Food, Mayor, New Bern, New Bern business and commerce, Opinion

October 10th, 2018 by newbernpostadmin

3202 Neuse Blvd., the Howling Dog Saloon. Google Street View photo

The Board of Aldermen gave City Attorney Scott Davis direction to file a lawsuit if necessary that would permanently close down a New Bern bar that has been the location of shootings and fights.

The bar, the Howling Dog Saloon at 3202 Neuse Blvd., was the location of two shooting incidents, one in June that wounded two, and one in May 2017 that left one dead and two injured. A fight in August 2016 left a woman with a severe facial laceration.

ABC recently revoked the bar’s licenses. Davis sought permission to file a lawsuit that would not only permanently close Howling Dog Saloon, but would prevent 3202 Neuse Blvd. from being used as a bar in the future and prevent the operator of the Howling Dog Saloon from operating a bar elsewhere in the city.

Davis said the city has attempted to work with the owner to keep the peace at the location, without success.

The Howling Dog Saloon is also known as Flyers 69. The owner had also owned Flyers 70 at 4310 Highway 70 East (just outside city limits) and Flyers 55 on Highway 55 East in Pamlico County. Both of those bars are no longer in business.

The 3202 Neuse Blvd. location has been a neighborhood bar since it was built in 1965, according to county tax records. Davis said the owner of the building rents it to the bar operator, who he did not identify.

Posted in Aldermen, Beer, Board of Aldermen, Business, Crime, Mayor

October 9th, 2018 by newbernpostadmin

Despite earlier obstacles, a storm-stricken New Bern Housing Authority appears headed toward buying acreage off of Carolina Avenue to build apartments that would replace flood-prone tenements at Trent Court.

City Manager Mark Stephens and his staff are preparing paperwork to sell 8 acres between the Pembroke community and Trent Road, and U.S. 70 and Carolina Avenue. A decision is expected at the next Board of Aldermen meeting later this month.

Kathy Adolph

During the public comments portion of the meeting, New Bern resident Kathy Adolph, a retired teacher and school principal, urged the city to give the Housing Authority the parcel, saying that Trent Court is substandard and prone to frequent flooding.

The Housing Authority, which is independent of the city, wants to build an 80-unit apartment complex off Carolina Avenue that would house some Trent Court residents. That would empty out 80 units in Trent Court that would be razed and replaced.

The Housing Authority had offered $200,000 for the 8-acre parcel. Aldermen voted 6-1 in July to have the parcel appraised.

The Carolina Avenue property sought for purchase by the New Bern Housing Authority is shown boxed in yellow. The Pembroke Community is above and to the right of the lake shown in this aerial view.

The motion was made by Ward 6 Alderman Jeffrey Odham and seconded by Ward 3 Alderman Bobby Aster. What’s interesting was that it was a break from tradition. Motions are usually made by the alderman in whose ward a project is located.

But Ward 2 Alderwoman Jameesha Harris, whose ward includes the Pembroke community, has opposed the plan.

A lot has happened while the appraisal wound its way through city bureaucracy, namely Hurricane Florence.

Housing Authority Executive Director Martin Blaney gave a bleak report about Trent Court during Tuesday’s Board of Aldermen meeting.

Blaney said Trent Court lost 108 out of 218 apartments due to the storm. He said five or six of the most severely damaged buildings should not be reopened. The storm also destroyed the New Bern Housing Authority administration building on South Front Street.

Housing Authority Board of Commissioners Chairman Joseph Anderson, left, and Executive Director Martin Blaney update the New Bern Board of Aldermen about Trent Court flooding. Photo by Randy Foster / New Bern Post

New Bern Towers, located near Trent Court and also owned by the Housing Authority, weathered the hurricane fairly well and will not be replaced.

In order to qualify for competitive funding to help pay for the apartment complex, the Housing Authority has to beat a January deadline to have a fully fleshed-out plan in place.

The ultimate plan is to remove most or all of the old Trent Court tenements and replace them with a combination of green space and mixed-income housing that is less susceptible to flood damage. That housing would be managed by a third party, much like Craven Terrace has been operating for a couple of years.

Most residents of the flood-damaged Trent Court apartment buildings have found temporary housing or have moved to Housing Authority facilities in nearby counties, Blaney said. A couple of Trent Court families are staying at the emergency shelter at West New Bern Recreation Center, while a handful have moved back into Trent Court, despite warnings that doing so puts their health at risk.

Meanwhile, in an effort to address housing shortages in flood-stricken communities like New Bern, FEMA has announced plans to roll out temporary housing for those most in need.

 

 

Posted in Aldermen, Board of Aldermen, FEMA, Housing, Mayor, New Bern Housing Authority

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