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Residents raise concerns to council

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BY LINDELL JOHN KAY
Staff Writer

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Rocky Mount residents sounded off on the city's proposed 2019 fiscal year budget, a rezoning request near Crossing at 64, gangs in the city and a rental agreement with a downtown sandwich shop Monday during public hearings held by the City Council.

Bronson Williams questioned why the budget doesn't have a link on the city's main webpage. He also recommended a pedestrian bridge be built over the railroad tracks that dissect downtown.

The council's annual spending plan, which has no property tax or utility rate increases, is set at $220 million with a general fund of $71 million. The real and personal property tax rate will remain at 68.5 cents per $100 of value. The council is required to approve its annual budget by July 1.

The council held a public hearing for a rezoning request for possible development near Crossing at 64. The request by Brian Michot on behalf of Kimley-Horne and Associates sought to rezone 25 of 55 acres of land located on East Raleigh Boulevard near U.S. 64 from residential to office mixed use allowing for a combination of business, offices and residential housing.

Leroy Williams said the property shouldn't be rezoned because folks living in the neighborhood will not be able to afford the housing that will be constructed. Williams said the neighbors won't have access to the amenities in the housing units built there.

Councilman Reuben Blackwell said the council is on guard against gentrification but vibrant communities require development.

The rezoning is an opportunity to increase density with so many jobs on the way to the Twin Counties. To receive support from the council, developers need to have a place for all income levels including affordable housing, Blackwell said.

During public comments, resident Robert Kerr said he is concerned about the number of department heads who have left in recent months.

Sam Battle said he's met with gang leaders over the weekend. They want to know what is in it for them if they call a truce. Battle said they want jobs.

"Gangs are here in Rocky Mount," Battle said. "If you don't come up with a solution, they will tear it up."

Battle said he will keep coming to the City Council with proposals and solutions to the city's gang problem.

Blackwell said no one is cutting a deal and a pathway to success requires education and training.

Lige Daughtridge questioned why NABS Deli and Coffee Shop was occupied prior to a rent agreement being approved.

The council on Monday night approved a lease agreement for NABS, which has been open since May 20. The city and tenant agreed on a one-year lease requiring $1,740 per month with payments beginning in the fourth month.

The council also authorized a property exchange with Log Cabin Homes for land located on the east side of Middle Street and North Pearl Street for city-owned land located at 2305 N. Wesleyan Boulevard through June 30, 2026, in connection with the Monk to Mill Trail project.

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