Protecting the Environment – Increase the Fees for Greenfield Development

Raleigh has many, previously developed properties. Some, like the corner of North New Hope Church and Atlantic Ave, have no structures but the land is contaminated from previous industrial activity. Others such as the Tower Shopping Center sit empty and rundown.

Whether the land is contaminated or not, it is generally more costly to develop such sites than greenfield sites. In many cases older buildings have to be demolished and disposed of. In the case of contamination, significant testing and remediation must be performed. These costs are not associated with greenfield sites – by definition, greenfield sites have been undisturbed and now contain fields of grasses, mature trees, or other vegetation. It is simply cheaper to clear cut greenfield sites.

Because of this disparity in costs, our greenfield sites are quickly disappearing. The loss of greenfield sites degrades our environment. Focusing on developing greenfield sites also means that older, previously developed sites such as the Tower Shopping Center or the corner of Atlantic and New Hope Church sit empty and fester.

We talk about increasing density as a way to save and protect our environment. But we actually harm our environment by making it so easy to level our greenfield sites and do nothing to encourage redevelopment of existing sites.

To level the playing field, perhaps we should levy higher fees for developing greenfield sites and use those fees to offset the costs of redevelopment of brownfield and other properties that have been previously developed. If doing so is not permitted by state law, then we should discuss with our local delegation about getting a local ordinance. It makes sense today to encourage redevelopment rather than clear cutting more greenfield sites for our unprecedented growth. We have the opportunity to make a difference.

The News & Observer and the 2019 City Council Election

Setting the record straight…

During the campaign for City Council I wrote to Ned Barnett, Opinion Editor for the News & Observer, asking if the newspaper will interview candidates as done during past elections.

Mr. Barnett wrote back indicating that they would not conduct interviews. As far as I know, no non-mayoral candidates were interviewed. A few weeks later Mr. Barnett called for the removal of half of City Council including myself.

Here is my email exchange with Mr. Barnett regarding my inquiry about conducting interviews. To my knowledge, Mr. Barnett attended one forum. I don’t recall him asking questions.

Aside – during my first campaign in 2015 Mr. Barnett endorsed my opponent. In 2019, he called for my removal from Council. I won my first election in 2015 and this year won every precinct in my District.



My plan is to attend the candidate forums and maybe ask questions afterward.

Ned Barnett


On Tue, Sep 10, 2019 at 7:20 AM David Cox <> wrote:

Hi Ned,

Will the N&O be conducting candidate interviews this year as in the past? I haven’t heard anything and want to be sure I didn’t miss an opportunity.


David Cox, PhD
Raleigh City Council

RDU Quarry at Umstead State Park – Call for Action

The following is a post to take action on RDU Airport Authority’s plans for a quarry and now a chain linked fence with barbed wire on top. This was originally posted on Facebook by John Hite of Durham. Thank you John for compiling this background information and call for action.

Please share the link to this page. If you don’t live in Raleigh, please share and ask people to take notice of what is happening in Raleigh and how local officials are allowing (largely through inaction) an environmental disaster adjacent to one of North Carolina’s most important state parks.

ARE YOU WRITING YOUR LETTERS? Don’t expect others to fight your fight and have it be enough. We all need to be vocal not just in this forum but other social media and through direct contact with local media and government officials.

Here is the one that I just sent:

RDUAA Perpetuating Lies

I guess they think if they say it out loud it will be perceived as true? NO! THEY ARE LYING and OMITTING FACTS. RDUAA is now engaged in what is clearly a smear campaign against local residents who just want what’s best for the area (RDU included).

In yesterday’s meeting, they said:

1 – The fence is going to be 6′ tall. WRONG. They have put out for bid an 8′ fence with 3 rows of barbed wire ON TOP OF the 8′.

2 – They are declaring a few hiking/biking trails an environmental disaster BUT destroying the Odd Fellows Tract with a 400′ deep quarry isn’t?

3 – The 286 trails are a liability? Then why is part of the agreement for trails to be built at that location?

4 – RDUAA refers to the land as “airport property.” It is not. It is deeded to Raleigh, Durham, Wake County and Durham County.

5 – RDUAA keeps going on about how they need money but they are spending $2.4 million (last quote I heard) on the fence AND they now say they are going to have patrols on 4 wheelers providing security — how much is that going to cost?

6 – “Sandifer said state officials have told the airport that the trails violate environmental rules designed to protect streams in the Neuse River basin.” That’s an incredible statement considering a few months ago the RDUAA tried to get excepted from those same buffers. Which is it? Are the buffers important or not? Are they only important when the RDUAA says they are?

7 – They go on about being sued by trespassing bikers/hikers. Has that happened? Nope. Does it happen in the real world? Nope. From a legal site:

“It is incredibly rare for a trespasser to successfully sue a property owner for an injury, but it is not unheard of. Generally speaking, if someone trespasses on your property and they get hurt, you will not be liable. You are free from blame unless:

You have acted violently or aggressively toward the intruder, which causes injury. You have been grossly negligent and/or expect that trespassers may enter your property. For instance, if you know about a serious property hazard and you take no steps to post a warning, you could be liable.”

8 – If the RDUAA is so worried about the environmental impact of the hiking/biking trails, then why is their long term plan to either allow Wake Stone to expand onto more of this property and/or clear it and turn it into a parking lot?

John Hite
Resident of Durham


This was sent to the online contact form at the Governor’s office and these people:,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Homelessness Among School Age Children

Wake County Public Schools System (WCPSS) uses the McKinney-Vento definition of homelessness. Rates of homelessness in the United States among children and youth are higher today than at any point since data has been collected on homelessness. Wake County Public School System has seen an increase in the number of students experiencing homelessness over the last few years. A person meets the McKinney-Vento definition of homelessness if they lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence. This includes:

• Children and youths who are sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason; are living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camping grounds due to the lack of alternative adequate accommodations; are living in emergency or transitional shelters; or are abandoned in hospitals;

• Children and youths who have a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings;

• Children and youths who are living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, or similar settings; and

Total # of Students Identified (numbers from WCPSS)

2014-2015: 2,736

2015-2016: 2,940

2016-2017: 3,465

2017-2018: 3,989

2018-2019: 4,365

From the City Council Email Bag

I thought I would start a special series featuring email that I receive at City Council that reflects on important issues. This article concerns leaf pickup and equity. This email exchange illustrates that even leaf pickup can lead to inequity within the city. I applaud the City staff for setting a schedule and not playing favorites.

Below you will find an email that was sent to all of council from a resident of Oakwood concerned about leaf pickup in time for the annual Oakwood candlelight ceremony. You will also find my response. First, my response:

Thank you for noting that Oakwood has received this consideration (i.e. special leaf pickup) in the past. Unfortunately, we have an equity situation.  

Last year the Brentwood neighborhood had to cancel their 50+ year celebration with luminaries because they were not able to get the leaves picked up. Last year residents also inquired about getting a pass through the neighborhood in time for their celebration but no special consideration was received. This year the Brentwood neighborhood is again waiting patiently as it did last year for the trucks to come through per established schedule.

It is frustrating to the neighborhoods but the established schedules for leaf pickup depend greatly on many factors including weather. I will explore with the rest of Council and staff what we can do differently in the future to better meet the needs of our various neighborhoods regarding leaf pickup to ensure that they are collected in a timely and equitable manner.

Best regards,

David Cox
Raleigh City Council, District B

The following is the email that was received this morning…

Subject: Leaf collection in Oakwood

I am writing this in frustration. I also am trying to understand the reasoning for not making a pickup before the candlelight tour which has been done in the past.

We get 4k plus visitor to this tour AND the leaves present a danger not to mention an eyesore. This is a struggle for me to understand WHY the city would not want to keep our citizens and visitors safe

Thank You David Novak

Two years ago David Novak was nominated for and elected to the Raleigh Planning Commission. During the past two years David has served faithfully by attending 25 of 26 meetings which are typically held at 9am and at 4pm during the work day.

David is a long time and beloved resident of District D and has seen Raleigh grow tremendously during his life. I have known David as someone who cares deeply about his neighbors, his community, and the entire city. He has been involved many civic activities.

During his two years on the Planning Commission David has been fair and objective in his evaluations of rezoning requests. He has fairly and objectively evaluated each proposal for its consistency with the City’s Comprehensive Plan and for its public benefits.

David has been and will continue to be a tremendous asset to Raleigh.

David, thank you so much for your service. It was an honor for me to vote for your appointment two years ago and for your reappointment for another two years. I regret that the reappointment didn’t happen but I look forward to your service to the city in whatever capacity you might choose in the future.

The 2017 Raleigh City Council

Today is the last meeting of the 2017 Raleigh City Council. As I look back on the past two years, I realize that together we have accomplished much.

  • We have made City Council and city government more transparent and accessible with televised and video recorded work sessions and free parking for those who attend our public meetings. Our weekly manager updates are now posted and publicly available on the city’s website.
  • We reached decisions on backyard cottages and short term rentals ending years of stalemate.
  • We regulated scooters allowing them as an alternative means of transportation while respecting our pedestrians, particularly our elderly and disabled.
  • We supported numerous neighborhoods with conservation overlay districts.
  • We established the Oberlin Village Historic Overlay District.
  • We established the first on-street accessible parking downtown.
  • We approved our first affordable housing projects paid for by our dedicated 1 cent property tax.
  • We revised our sidewalk petition process and now consider pedestrian generators such as schools and parks when prioritizing sidewalk projects.
  • We tightened the rules regarding stormwater runoff.
  • We approved the Dix Park Master Plan ensuring that the park will be realized without commercial development in the park.
  • We stopped the practice of granting variances to our forestation rules to protect our watersheds.
  • We reaffirmed Raleigh’s unique institution of citizens engagement, our Citizens Advisory Councils and strengthened them under the leadership of RCAC Chair Shelley Winters and the dozens who volunteer their time and talents to lead and manage them.

We accomplished much. But much more remains to be done. We need an affordable housing bond that will allow the city to acquire land for future affordable housing. We need to advocate for help from the state legislature to require including affordable housing particularly when large residential projects are constructed. We should no longer be complacent with the construction of hundreds to thousands of units solely for the wealthy. And we should no longer be complacent with laws that allow the easy eviction and displacement of large populations of city residents as a tool and precondition for new construction.

We need to address our homeless population and those living in hotels and motels. We need to ensure that every child in Raleigh has a safe and healthy home. We need to end the days of school busses picking up and dropping off thousands of children at Motel 6, the Budget Inn, and others along Capital, New Bern, and elsewhere.

We need to protect our environment. We need a regional policy and a regional board for planning and deciding our resource needs including our needs for stone. We need a regional approach to deciding if we need additional quarries, how large they should be, how they are operated, and where they should be located. Such decisions have far reaching environmental and community impacts. These decisions should not rest with bodies such as the Airport Authority whose charge is to fly planes and passengers and not to protect our environment or manage our resources.

We have entire census tracts in southeast Raleigh that census records say are largely devoid of young black men. Either they have hidden from the census takers or are in jail. Either way this is an unacceptable situation and we need to find solutions that encompass education, jobs, and community support. We can no longer continue to lose generations of young people to poverty and crime.

Raleigh is a wealthy city . Let us move beyond airbnb, backyard cottages, and scooters and continue our work to make Raleigh a city for everyone.

I thank my colleagues for their incredible service and dedication and the privilege it has been to work with them. And, I look forward in a few days to working with the incoming Council to meet the many challenges that lie ahead.

Falls of Neuse is now a Parkway

At our last City Council meeting we adopted a change to designate Falls of Neuse from the Neuse River to Capital Blvd as a Parkway.

What this means is that future development of Falls of Neuse in this area must require substantial trees and vegetation. In other words, no more Sheetz like developments in the corridor.

From the motion that established the Parkway:

WHEREAS, the presence of significant amounts of greenery along major roads is a defining element of the Falls North area, and one of the primary goals of the Falls North Area Specific Guidance adopted as an addition to the 2030 Comprehensive Plan is to maintain and enhance that park-like feel; and

WHEREAS, this goal is accomplished through a series of policies that relate to tree preservation, particularly along the edges of main corridors such as Falls of Neuse Road, and through the Parkway Corridor designation on the Urban Form Map; and WHEREAS, this amendment to the Comprehensive Plan will expand that policy guidance to additional locations; and

WHEREAS, these amendments were reviewed and discussed with public input; then THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE CITY COUNCIL OF RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA that the 2030 Comprehensive Plan be amended to include the edits identified as CP-10-19 as shown.

Our Homeless Children

ABC 11 is reporting a sharp rise in homeless children in Wake County – many of whom live in Raleigh’s District B along Capital Blvd and New Bern. According to the story, the Wake County Public School System identified more than 4,000 homeless children. That is nearly double the number identified in 2014/2015.

Here are the numbers over the past five years.

2018-2019 – 4,365

2017-2018 – 3,989

2016-2017 – 3,465

2015-2016 – 2,940

2014-2015 – 2,736

Providing a safe and healthy home to every child in Raleigh and Wake County should be our number one priority. They cannot wait any longer. We cannot lose so many children to poverty.

It is a complete disgrace.

Read more at ABC 11’s website: