Ken Larsen's web site - DOLRT ROMF rezoning approved by Durham City Council (December 3, 2018)


On December 3, 2018 the Durham City Council unanimously approved rezoning (from residential to industrial) for the Durham Orange Light Rail (DOLRT)'s Rail Operations and Maintenance Facility (ROMF).  [INDY story].


[Video of rezoning portion of Durham Council meeting]


18 people spoke for the rezoning.  45 people spoke against it.  [Note:  After all speakers spoke, Mayor Schewel said that there were 52 opponents and 18 proponents.  Some of the opponents left before it was their turn.  It was a very long meeting.]


A petition was presented with almost a thousand signatures advocating that the site not be rezoned.


I watched all four hours of the discussion via my home computer.  I was shocked at the outcome.  To me, the Durham City Council's vote basically said "Drop dead" to the residents of Culp Arbor and the parents of children at Creekside Elementary. 


Remarks made by proponents, opponents plus some Council members


Click on the offset to see the video that begins at that time.


Offset into the video Speaker Summary Ken's comments
31:38 1. John Tallmadge, GoTriangle interim project director Says that GoTriangle first reached out to neighbors surrounding the Farrington Road site in 2015 ... before the ROMF selection was made.  After the site was selected, GoTriangle redesigned the site based on comments that were made at open house feedback meetings ... to minimize impact.  Regarding rezoning, we listened to feedback from neighbors that was submitted on November 15, 2017, November 18, 2017, and January 31, 2018.  Following an October 2018 meeting, we realized we needed a new approach to listening to neighbors.  Since then, we held five small group meetings with Creekside leaders and parents.

Of all the concerns, noise has been mentioned the most.  Dave Charters will address this issue.
33:56 2. Dave Charters, GoTriangle Manager of Design and Engineering Prior to joining GoTriangle, Dave worked for light rail projects in Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Norfolk, and Cleveland.  All have ROMFs.  Noise from the ROMF will be significantly less than the noise coming from a Go Durham bus.  Noise will be lessened by the time it reaches the community (Culp Arbor) because of the ROMF building, the ROMF's earth berm, vegetative buffering, the berm on the Culp Arbor site, lubrication on the curved rails, and noise reducing components on the light rail vehicles.

Dave reached out to a colleague at Norfolk's ROMF to see if he could take actual measurements.  He responded with a brief memo that corroborates my comments.

There will be no noise impact to Creekside Elementary School.
The ROMF's primary hours of operation will be midnight to 5 AM.  Having bus noise during those hours will disrupt the sleep of people living at Culp Arbor, a senior living facility.

I'd like to see the Norfolk memo.

I'd like to see noise monitoring done along the Charlotte line at various distances from the ROMF and at-grade crossings ... along with frequency of the at-grade crossing barrier dropping, how long each lasts, and the dBA of the noise at various distances.
36:14 3. Mark Iwinski Is a proponent of the rezoning, but is bothered by GoTriangle's lack of transparency and the effects that it will have on the Farrington area.  Says that according to John Tallmadge there is no public money to mitigate the ROMF's effects on the surroundings. It's too late to change the site location.  The environmental and visual impacts must be resolved. 

Citizens must be shown plans of what the actual ROMF site will look like.
Cheers to Mark.

It's troubling that GoTriangle has no money to addresses the ROMF impact issues, but finding money for underground tunnels in downtown Durham is not a problem.  Those tunnels may cost as much as $ 100M.
38:37 4. Teddy Telemack Represents Durham's CAN (Congregations, Associations, and Neighborhoods).

Reasons why she supports DOLRT:

1. Claims that DOLRT is the best way to connect affordable housing hubs to jobs, education, and health centers.

2. The Triangle is growing by more than 80 residents/day ... making it one of the fastest growing regions in the country. 

3. Claims that growth brings prosperity and new employment opportunities, but it also adds congestion to our roadways.  DOLRT will provide 26,000 trips per day to commuters in Durham and Chapel Hill.

4. Construction of DOLRT will create thousands of new jobs.

5. Claims that GoTriangle agreed with CAN that all transit related jobs will pay a living wage of $14 to $ 15/hour ... including contractors.  "This is a great opportunity to help the hard-to-employ in Durham secure access to opportunity".
It's great that Durham has an organization like CAN, but I strongly disagree with their trust that DOLRT will solve the problems they think it will.

One myth about growth is that growth will solve an unemployment problem.  Growth will create jobs, but then outsiders move in to compete for those jobs.  I was one such outsider back in 1972 when I joined IBM at the Research Triangle Park.  I moved here from Philadelphia.

If someone is hard-to-employ now, they likely will remain hard-to-employ.  DOLRT and growth will not fix that problem.

 When DOLRT is turned on in 2029, all of the jobs related to running it [e.g. conductors in each train] .. begin and end at the ROMF.  Workers will be obliged to find their own transportation to the Farrington Road ROMF.  This will be a big hassle to people who live in downtown Durham.  If people are currently "hard-to-employ" or don't have their own car, they won't get any DOLRT jobs.  They would have a much higher chance of getting DOLRT jobs if the ROMF were placed in east Durham.  Housing near the Farrington ROMF site will likely be very pricey because of its proximity to Chapel Hill.
40:45 5. Dick Hales Speaking on behalf of Durham's CAN (Congregations, Associations, and Neighborhoods).  CAN is a non-profit whose primary goal is to develop local leadership and organize citizens to change the conditions that prevent low and moderate income families from improving their circumstance.  More than 27 churches, neighborhoods, and community organizations from through Durham are members of CAN.

CAN unanimously supports the ROMF rezoning requests for the following reasons:

1. DOLRT has substantial benefits for Durham citizens ... in particular by reducing overall housing and transportation costs ... particularly for lower income citizens.

2. By placing affordable housing in locations near the DOLRT stations, good access will be assured to all persons for jobs, housing, retail and other destinations.

3. The Farrington site was determined to have the least negative impact on the community.

4. There is already substantial existing noise in the Farrington site area from more than 100,000 car/truck trips per day on nearby I-40.

5. Added noise from this project will be limited by the large landscape buffer, setbacks, and the ROMF building.
Dick obviously believes that gentrification will not occur.

Noise will increase in the Farrington Road area because of all the clear-cutting that is already being done by developers.  DOLRT will accelerate growth by attracting development along the DOLRT corridor.  That's what developers want.  They want an excuse to build tall buildings.
43:15 6. Leon J. Blakeney of the Durham People's Alliance Reads a statement on behalf of the People's Alliance (has over 1400 members and has been in existence for over 40 years).  Leon is a student at Duke University.

PA supports DOLRT because:

1. They see DOLRT as a key building block of a progressive economic growth in our region. 

2. We have weighed in on the need for affordable housing near transit stops - a key feature of DOLRT.

3. Says that GoTriangle will provide a 5 foot bike lane on Farrington Road.

4. Farrington Road site is the best ROMF location because it is the least environmentally damaging of the five locations that were considered.
It would be great if the DOLRT corridor could be permanently reserved for low income people, but gentrification will erode that over time.

GoTriangle has been two-faced in their presentations.  They talk about helping low-income people get to their jobs when they talk to the public, but then they pursue building luxury high rise apartments along the route to provide density and tax revenues to lure investors and politicians into supporting DOLRT.  You can't have both!

I would not want to bike on Farrington Road.  It would not be safe ... too many cars/trucks/school buses ... particularly with an at-grade crossing on it.
45:45 7. Jim Svara Speaks on behalf of the Coalition for Affordable Housing.  Affordable housing and transit support each other in a critical way.  The Farrington site has been the designated ROMF site since 2016.  Changes have been made since the Durham Planning Commission meeting.  The Farrington site can only be used for the ROMF.  It cannot be used for any other purpose without a new rezoning process.  The ROMF is not a noisy disruptive factory.  The opponents of the ROMF have created a monster, but it is a myth.  It will be an extended office building.  There are only 9 houses in Culp Arbor that are within 200 feet of the ROMF building.  The rest (about 100) are much farther back.  There will be no impact on Creekside Elementary School. On December 6, 2018 I called Fountain Southend Apartments in Charlotte to inquire about ROMF noise.  They are located next to the Charlotte ROMF.  A guy named Jeremy told me that the ROMF is quiet!  The only objectionable noise comes from a nearby at-grade crossing when a warning sound is emitted to warn people when a train is about to cross.  [details]  
48:01 8. Anthony Scott Speaks on behalf of the Durham Housing Authority.  Sees DOLRT as an integral part to the future of our redevelopment goals with respect to affordable housing development.  Sees DOLRT as a critical artery to get to job centers.  Over half of our affordable housing sites are within a 10 minute walk of a station.  70% are located within one mile of a station.   80% of our public housing community lie within 2 miles of a DOLRT station. Anthony's speech doesn't address why Farrington Road needs to be the ROMF site.  He also doesn't address the issue of gentrification ... which is what I fear will happen all along the DOLRT route.
50:58 9. Diane Catotti The environmental impact statement notes that the Farrington Road site is the best location of those that were considered.  I've visited the Charlotte ROMF.  It is surrounded by residential apartment buildings.  It is surprisingly quiet outside.  It is a rather large site at 23 acres, and allows for significant buffering and mitigation efforts to address neighborhood concerns.  The ROMF will have less traffic impact than other uses that could be developed for the site for future office/commercial use. Former member of the Durham City Council.
52:47 10. Dan Jewell, licensed landscape architect We need this for the future growth for decades to come.  The DOLRT corridor was designated 20 years ago.  Those Farrington neighbors knew that DOLRT was coming.

I worked on the special use permit and site plan for Creekside Elementary School.

I worked on the rezoning of Culp Arbor.  Ironically, we made the case that Culp Arbor should have higher density because of the proximity of the DOLRT station.  The DOLRT was designated a long time ago.

About 15 years ago, I was asked to rezone a piece of property about a half mile south of here so that a private citizen could land a helicopter.  During that process, we went out to the site and found that the background noise of I-40 was just as loud as the helicopter.  That's what our ears heard.

Once every generation we need to make a difficult decision for the future of our community. 

We need this for our children and grandchildren.
Another member of the urban growth machine.  "Growth is good. The more we grow, the better we'll become." This is bullshit.  Turning the Triangle area into a mirror image of greater Washington D.C. or Atlanta is not the way to go.
55:10 11. Vijay Savaraman, Carrboro resident, faculty member at NCCU, member of Carrboro Affordable Housing Advisory Commission Supports DOLRT. Vijay's speech doesn't address why Farrington Road needs to be the ROMF site. 
56:33 12. Jonathan Osay Current state of public transportation is not adequate.  It takes too long to get places.  You might have to wait 30 minutes to get a bus.  A simple trip to Target takes too long ... particularly if you miss the bus.  I totally agree with Jonathan, but unless you live within a quarter mile of a train station and your destination is also within a quarter mile of a train station, DOLRT will be useless to you.  Gentrification will force low income people to move away from the DOLRT route.  Also, because of the enormously high cost of DOLRT, money will have to be siphoned away from buses to pay for it.

DOLRT is all about lining the pockets of developers ... not helping low income people.
58:47 13. Dr. Chris Selby Lives within walking distance of the proposed the Leigh Village station.  The development behind him is of greater density than originally proposed.  Higher density is needed to support light rail.  More two story homes are packed in behind our properties.  They are out-of-character for Eastwood Park, and the higher density brings more traffic to our street.  Part of our neighborhood is now in the compact Leigh Village neighborhood tier, and a north-south connector road to the Leigh Village station is planned to go right through our neighborhood and displace one home.  Sacrifices such as these are reasonable for those of us who live near the rail station ... considering the improvements that it will bring.  Noise from the rail line will likely be modest compared to the noise from traffic on Route 54.  I believe that DOLRT will enrich our lives and our property values. Dr. Selby's speech cites many reasons why DOLRT is all about lining the pockets of developers.  They profit more if they can build high density. 
1:00:46 14. Sue Hunter Lived for 10 years near the future site of Leigh Village.  That area is not quiet ... because of its proximity to I-40.  She could always hear the sound of the highway no matter how far away she was. Sue's complaints about the noise should make her an opponent of DOLRT ... not a proponent.  But, in a speech she gave last year to Orange County Commissioners, she cited that she was an employee at Duke.
1:02:56 15. Kevin Premis Asks people to sacrifice for the public good ... to sacrifice for a sustainable future.  Recently visited MARTA.  It's Atlanta's mass transit system.  There are "MARTA markets" ... access to fresh food daily, health care, and affordable housing. DOLRT would be great if the areas near stations were reserved for low income people and their jobs.  Instead, developers fight tooth and nail to build luxury condominiums.  They reject all efforts requiring them to build affordable housing.
1:05:01 16. Eric Plow    
1:05:52 17. Shana Anavati Lives in southwest Durham.  Claims that tonight's conversation is all about race.  A primary white neighborhood is threatening to delay a public infrastructure project that will improve life for Durham's primarily black and brown population.  White flight in the 1950s and 1960s led to desolation in central Durham.  Southwest Durham is a product of this sprawl.  Now that central Durham has become richer and whiter.  [Ken:  Gentrification has begun.]  Shana claims that black and brown populations will benefit the most, because they cannot afford a car.  They have to take an hour long bus ride to work.

Shana claims that the Farrington Road ROMF site is the least environmentally damaging site [of the 5 sites that were chosen].   That also means the least expensive.  Durham has already invested millions of dollars into this project.  A delay at this stage would be devastating. Industrial zones have been in black neighborhoods ... in east Durham.  Building the ROMF in East Durham ... instead of the Farrington site ... would be a continuation of white segregationist policies.
Has Charlotte's black and brown population benefited from their light rail line?  Answer:  "No".  Read 'We missed a major opportunity.'  Affordable housing lags near new Charlotte light rail.

What about Atlanta and its light system?  Or, has gentrification pushed these people away from the light rail routes and only benefited developers? 

One of the early arguments for the Alston Avenue site was that the ROMF would provide jobs for people who live there.  That's my recollection.
1:08:19 18. Wib Gulley, GoTriangle   Wib was Mayor of Durham 1985-1989.  He was a NC state senator 1993-2004.  I see him as the original catalyst behind DOLRT.  He now oversees GoTriangle as their general counsel.
1:12:26 1. Kristen Tzendzalian, Creekside parent GoTriangle failed to reach out to parents of Creekside students.  Some learned about the ROMF only within the last few days.  
1:14:38 2. Marion Strandt, Culp Arbor    
1:16:57 3. Ruth Ann McKinney, Culp Arbor We've met for the passed four weeks with GoTriangle to try to mitigate the issues, but GoTriangle refuses to budge.  They say the site is too small, and the project is too far along.  
1:19:33 4. B.R. Hoffman, Culp Arbor Visited Charlotte ROMF with Council member Reese, Council member Alston, Ruth Ann McKinney, and GoTriangle's Jeff Green.  Was told by the director of the Charlotte that what was planned for the Durham ROMF won't work.  B.R.'s speech was cut off, because her two minute time limit ran out.  She had many pictures to share.  See speaker 25, Steve Cromey, for more.  He tries to continue where B.R. Hoffman left off.
1:22:03 5. Cathy Abernathy, Culp Arbor Culp Arbor wasn't notified about the Farrington Road ROMF until 2015.  
1:24:24 6. John Ikonomidis, MD, PhD

"Iím John IkonomidisIím Chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery at UNC Chapel Hill.

As a medical practitioner, I want to speak to you briefly about the effects of one of the issues related to this system which is environmental noise.  The World Health Organization and other scientific groups have studied and reported extensively on the health effects of environmental noise.  Much of this information is common knowledge.  If you have aging parents or grandparents, you have experienced some of this.

Here are some of the facts:  Populations that are especially vulnerable to the negative consequences of noise include people with medical problems, people recovering at home, and elderly people, in general.

In the general facility of this system there will be people that have respiratory disorders, Parkinson's disease, early stage dementia, several recovering from fractures, cardiac surgery, stroke, and cancer.

Uninterrupted sleep is a prerequisite for good physiological and mental functioning, and the repeated train squeals that are anticipated as a result of the building of this station will severely threaten these cycles.  Some of the immediate effects include difficulty falling asleep, being awakened, changes in sleep phases, increases in blood pressure and heart rate, and changes in respiration.


The next day effects of sleep deprivation include increased fatigue and lack of energy, impairment of attention, depression and mood disturbances and proneness for errors and accidents.  This is especially relevant for elderly which show that short nighttime sleep increases the likelihood of falls and injuries.

The delayed effects of chronic noise exposure include high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high blood lipids, peptic ulcer disease, cardiovascular disease, cerebrovascular disease, and years of life lost. 

It is of interest that that the guideline development group of the World Health Organization recommends reducing noise from rail traffic at night to below 44 dBA because this is associated with increased illness, so I cannot help but conclude that this station will have a severe adverse effect on the senior population in the vicinity.

Thank you very much."

Culp Arbor lies just across the street from where the ROMF will be located.  It is a senior living facility.
1:27:24 7. Jeff Prather, retired environmental engineer I ran the Air Force hazardous noise program.  The noise level information presented by GoTriangle is not valid.  
1:29:40 8. Ray West, Culp Arbor Presents an affidavit from Dr. Dennis Norville.  Dr. Norville is a retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel.  He has a Masters and PhD in environment science from UNC Public Health.  GoTriangle has NOT conducted a valid technical evaluation of how the ROMF will impact local residents in Culp Arbor and elsewhere.  There needs to be an accurate noise study, and then GoTriangle must mitigate any negative impacts that found.  Rezoning should not be granted until this has been done. By their 7-0 vote, the Durham Council members indicated that none care about the facts. 
1:31:27 9. Joe Carr, electrical engineer The site selected is not the right site, because it requires too many sharp turns and requires clear cutting of well established trees.  GoTriangle claims that this clear cutting will only increase the noise level by 10 dB.  10 dB is twice the sound level.  GoTriangle's numbers indicates that rail squeal will be 136 dB.  A civil defense air siren is about 136 dB.  Air horns at public events are about 120 dB.  It takes 40 or those to be equivalent to 136 dB.  It's not linearly additive.

The four foot berm will not suppress the sound enough.
1:33:47 10. Linda Spallone, Culp Arbor GoTriangle claims that ROMF noise will only impact 13 homes along Farrington Road and will have no impact on Creekside Elementary School.  Creekside has classroom trailers, and there is an outdoor playground.  GoTriangle is expecting you to believe that they are right, and we are wrong.  They have changed their numbers ... very important numbers ... at the 11th hour just days before this hearing.  Without an adequate noise study, you are believing that the noise can be managed.  These conclusions are simply not rational.   
1:36:03 11. Andrew Johnson, Prescott Place On October 9, 2018 there was no mention of noise to the Planning Commission yet that document was used to decide whether GoTriangle's rezoning request should be granted.  Concerned neighbors worked with Council member Reece and GoTriangle to mitigate noise.  We found two noise experts in our neighborhood.  GoTriangle made no concessions in our meetings.  The last meeting with GoTriangle was November 27th.  John Talmidge refused to make any concessions in writing to the concerns and requests that residents had.  GoTriangle made no effort to notify residents when this plan began in March of 2018.  Creekside Elementary was equally in the dark. Disgraceful behavior by GoTriangle.
1:38:21 12. Gabriela Valdivia, Geography professor at UNC GoTriangle acknowledged an error in their noise and vibration report but said that the errors were typos that did not affect the conclusions, but they do.  According to FTA guidelines, the new numbers mean that the ROMF should not be built at the Farrington site.  Culp Arbor would be severely impacted by noise from the ROMF, but GoTriangle's Geoff Green refused to alert the FTA about the new numbers. More disgraceful behavior by GoTriangle.
1:40:20 13. Joaquin Aguayo, Prescott Place Durham's noise ordinances prohibit noises louder than 60 dBA during the day and louder than 50 dBA at night. The ROMF will be a 24/7 operation with most noise occurring during the night [Midnight-5 AM].  According to the ordinance, Culp Arbor residents will be obliged to call the police when the noise gets too loud.  GoTriangle expects that the noise will be sufficiently less by the time it crosses Farrington Road to reach a person that it won't violate the noise ordinance, but GoTriangle has been unwilling to assure us that this will happen. This is no data in GoTriangle's noise study.  Hard data is needed to prove that the ROMF will not exceed Durham's noise ordinances. More disgraceful behavior by GoTriangle.
1:42:08 14. Ken Hiberd (sp=?) GoTriangle does not have ample funds to cover noise mitigation.  Their plans for noise mitigation have not worked at other ROMF sites.  
1:44:47 15. Eric Hagan One of the few noise mitigation measures that GoTriangle has committed to in writing is to build a 20 foot buffer along Farrington Road.  They recently decided to add a 4 foot earth and berm and a single row of 8 foot evergreen trees.  These mitigation measures will not be sufficient. 

Eric gives a demo of the width of a 20 foot buffer.

GoTriangle leads people to believe that there will be a 90 foot buffer, but in actuality, there is only a 90 foot set back to the front of the building.  The front part of that 90 feet will be a vegetative buffer with only 40% opacity once the trees have fully matured.  Conversely, 60% of that buffer will be able to be seen through.  The rest of that buffer with be a parking lot, sidewalks, and dumpsters ... all on land that is currently heavily wooded.  Finally, they've offered a single row of evergreen trees at the edge of the 20 foot buffer ... planted every 14 feet along that buffer.
1:47:20 16. Dr. Bettie Sue Masters (PhD in biochemistry) Has performed biomedical research for almost 50 years.  Regarding controlled fluids, there will be a 1000 gallon oil tank to store petroleum products on the ROMF site.  This will be stored and transported on busy Farrington Road.  It potentially could explode or leak.  Increasing the risk are electrical high wires and sparks created by wheels on the metal tracks.  Having this so close to an elementary school and senior living is inexplicably poor planning.  There will also be 150 gallons of ammonia.  That's known to be toxic if exposed in large quantities.  
1:49:44 17. Lynn Emeric, Culp Arbor The ROMF will create more impervious surface and increase the likelihood of flooding.  
1:52:00 18. Lawaska Nonan (sp=?), practicing attorney, Creekside parent Traffic on Farrington Road is high and this ROMF will make that traffic much worse.  What if there were a ROMF emergency and parents would have to rush to Creekside at the same time?  GoTriangle planned poorly by not factoring in the impact to Creekside children. GoTriangle is planning two at-grade crossings on Farrington Road.  These will each block vehicle traffic for about two hours/day.  According to section 7.5 of NC Department of Transportation (NCDOT)'s Roadway Design Manual, there should be a level-separated crossing (instead of an at-grade crossing) if the Exposure Index (EI) is higher than 15,000 in a rural area or 30,000 in an urban area.
1:54:07 19. Dr. Leslie Johnson, Creekside parent, Assistant professor at NCCU, speech pathologist Students are at risk in noisy classroom environments.  There are close to 900 students at Creekside.  8% have special needs.  Road noise significantly impairs reading speed.  Teachers get frustrated in noisy environments ... thus contributing to high teacher turnover.  
1:56:23 20. Cheza Hines, Creekside parent Creekside is a title 1 school meaning that at least 40% of its students are from low income homes.  This qualifies the school for extra funding and advocacies to combat low academic performance.  Some students learn in trailers that are parked on campus.  Those trailers are not equipped to handle loud screeching noises.  Also, many of these children live in the neighborhood that you are planning to rezone.  The ROMF will be a maintenance facility.  It is not a station.

Being from the Bronx, I am aware of people making promises that are not kept.  The new Yankee stadium was promised to have a park for the neighborhood and reduce congestion via new parking.  The stadium was built in 2009 but those promises have yet to be met.  Inadequate funding was provided.
1:59:02 21. Jennifer Hodgkinson, Creekside parent    
2:01:35 22. Rhonda Woodell, Creekside parent    
2:04:26 23. Ann Von Holle, Creekside parent Parents were not notified about the zoning by GoTriangle, city administrators, or Creekside school administrators.  Ann found out about it only recently from a listserv called NextDoor.  
2:06:23 24. Lutz Hendricks GoTriangle released the first noise study in October of 2018 ... years after the Farrington Road site was selected.  GoTriangle's claims don't match the facts.  GoTriangle evicted an African American family that had owned and lived on the ROMF site for over a hundred years.  The public never heard about this from GoTriangle.  GoTriangle has lost the public trust. Speaker 35 (Isaac Woods) owned that land.
2:08:14 25. Steve Fromme, Culp Arbor According to the Charlotte ROMF director, "What you're planning for the Durham ROMF won't work.  You need double tracks.  If you don't build it right the first time, you will regret it forever.  He said that he didn't see how the train cars could be delivered on a road as narrow as Farrington.   GoTriangle ignored this advice."  We have tried to find common ground with GoTriangle over the passed month, but sadly have found none. Disgustingly aloof behavior by GoTriangle.
2:09:36 26. Phillip Homest (sp=?) Noncontiguous zoning violates Durham City ordinances. 88% of the trees on this site will be removed.  100% of the wetlands will be filled in.  70% of the stream buffers will be destroyed.  The 20 foot buffer is completely inadequate.  The site is of inadequate size, shape, and location.  
2:11:50 27. Stephanie Galloway, Creekside parent    
2:14:01 28. Gordon Galloway Met with GoTriangle to discuss at-grade crossings and impacts to school buses.  The senior planner of GoTriangle was unaware of this issue.  This could have avoided if GoTriangle made an effort to engage the school community in their DOLRT plans.  GoTriangle excluded the school based community.

The Durham Planning Commission regarding the Farrington site as a poor location.  The ROMF must not be located near any public school.  It's not a NIBY issue.
More negligence by GoTriangle.
2:16:54 29. Dottie Williford 5 sites were considered for the ROMF.  Two of them are already zoned industrial or commercial.

Dottie lives 550 yards away from the Farrington Road ROMF location.  She was notified many times by GoTriangle.
2:17:37 30. Robert Slater Has been in the real estate business for 30 years.  He has taught at both Duke and UNC.

As a developer, he is all for light rail.  It creates great wealth for those who own the sites near the stations.

1. Placing the ROMF on Farrington Road violates the fundamental principle of zoning which is "You don't put incongruous uses together."  You don't put an industrial facility in a residential area.  That's Zoning 101.

My office in DC was near a ROMF for the Washington Metro.  For 8 years I heard the squeaking brakes all day long ... which was fine, because we went home at 5:30 PM.  The Farrington ROMF will impair the value of people's homes.

2. If I came before you as a private developer, I wouldn't have a chance with this proposal, so why should GoTriangle?

3. I think there may be exposure under the 5th Amendment for an inverse taking depending on the noise.
This is what light rail is all about - creating great wealth for developers who own property near the stations.  It's called Transit Oriented Development (TOD).  DOLRT is not about getting low income people to their jobs.  That's just a marketing ploy used by GoTriangle.

Question for Robert:  If the DOLRT route were a bike/pedestrian path instead of a rail line, how would that affect the route's value for developers?  An example would be the American Tobacco trail.  It used to be a rail line.  Now it's a pedestrian/bike trail.  That's what I would like to see done for the DOLRT route.
2:19:51 31. Barbara Smith Two of Durham's five goals [stated on the City's website] are being violated by the Farrington ROMF: 
1. Maintain a secure and safe community.
2. Maintain thriving and livable neighborhoods.
2:21:24 32. John Austin    
2:22:41 33. John von Aken, Culp Arbor GoTriangle has not disclosed everything up front to us.  
2:24:58 34. Ellen Michelson Visited the Charlotte ROMF.  It was built on a dumping ground ... not a family farm.  There are Federal guidelines for building a ROMF like placing it among "like" buildings and facilities such as warehouses ... not 75 yards away from a retirement community and 400 yards away from a school.  The intersection of Farrington Road and Route 54 has accidents every day.

The first notification Ellen got from GoTriangle was last month.
2:27:15 35. Isaac Woods Mayor Schewel told Isaac that "We don't yield time."  Mayor Schewel thought Isaac wanted to speak for more than 2 minutes ... using the time of a few of his family members.

Isaac is a descendent of Isaac Newton Jones, a former slave. They lived at the [future ROMF] site all their lives.  Over half of the property that GoTriangle has taken for the ROMF belongs to African-Americans.  They've already exercised eminent domain.  There was no mention of African-Americans in the GoTriangle report.  They took our property in March of 2018.  We've been to every meeting.  GoTriangle did a false report.

Isaac receives thunderous applause from the audience ... deservedly so.
The most contemptuous behavior yet of GoTriangle!
2:32:03 36. Brian Sower Lives just 100 feet away from Creekside Elementary School.  First time he heard about the ROMF site was in November of 2018.  He would love to take the train to Duke where he works, but there is no station where he lives.  He'd have to drive to get to one.

The berm will not stop noise.
2:34:30 37. Jenny Force    
2:36:09 38. Dr. Robert Yowell, Culp Arbor    
2:37:40 39. Tom Stark, Attorney Is here to represent Oaks III and Culp Arbor.  The Durham City Council is being asked to dismiss the ordinances which protect property.  You're going to mow down the 100 foot buffer that was there to protect us from I-40 and replace it with 20 feet ... with a facility that is clearly much nosier than I-40.  The environmental assessment was just amended 10 days ago.  How does that fit with NEPA?  Very sad note:  Tom would die in his office two weeks after this meeting. 
2:40:69 40. Dan Jensen    
2:42:87 41. John Williford, Prescott Place Has never received notice about the ROMF plans from GoTriangle.  
2:44:10 42. Jennifer Hernandez Heard that of the other four proposed ROMF locations, one got used for a car dealership, one got a lot of letters from children of a Jewish center.  But, Creekside administration never notified the parents.  
2:46:24 43. Kelly Riley Students at a private school near the Cornwallis site were given consideration but not students near Creekside.  Why?  Property values and the affect of the ROMF are not cited in the GoTriangle report.  Why?  The ROMF will not include a station.  Some neighbors believe otherwise.  A ROMF by itself will discourage buyers.  
2:48:41 44. Peter Cenzalian    
2:49:52 45. William Spranzy, real estate developer, investor, and professor at UNC's Kenan School GoTriangle failed to meet the required zoning signage requirements prescribed in the EDO.  Only within the last 8 weeks have they released the impacts of the noise study.  
3:02:23 GoTriangle response to noise issue Talks about lubricating tracks to reduce "wheel squeal".  Says lubricated rails reduce noise to 70 dBA.  Unlubricated rails have a noise level of 80 dBA. What does this lubricating do to the environment?  It probably harms it.  Also, the lubricating probably doesn't mitigate the noise for a very long time.
3:14:27 GoTriangle explains why Farrington Road site was selected for the ROMF over all others. Council member Charlie Reece asks why the Farrington site was selected.  Originally 19 sites were considered.  That was whittled down to five.   
4:01:24 Mayor Steve Schewel Says light rail is what is best for Durham.  Says he visited the Charlotte ROMF (with some Culp Arbor residents) and that visit convinced him that the Durham ROMF would not have the deleterious effects that zoning opponents claim it will have.

Says traffic on Farrington road will be less than what the staff report shows.  [Ken:  At-grade crossing on Farrington Road will make traffic far worse!]

Says Charlotte ROMF did not adversely affect property values.  He says there are luxury studio apartments [539 square feet] that overlook the Charlotte ROMF that lease for $ 1350 per month.

He says the Charlotte ROMF looks like an office building ... not a factory.  He attended a meeting that was held in the second floor of the ROMF and did not hear two trains that passed by on the first floor.

Says that the Charlotte ROMF has a school as far away as Creekside.  He says Creekside will not be affected by ROMF noise.  He says every time a diesel bus starts up, it has an 80 dB sound.  [Ken:  Bus noise is only at the start and end of a school day.]  80 dB at the school is more than wheel squeal at the ROMF ... 1300 feet away.
DOLRT is only good for developers.  It has too many flaws to be useful to the public.

Mayor Schewel is a member of a synagogue which objected to the Cornwallis Road site being selected for the ROMF, because of its proximity to the synagogue.

4:13:17             "  Light rail will be transformational for our region.  Thinks light rail is necessary to improve our quality of life.  It will help climate change locally by taking cars off the road.  Total BS.  The at-grade crossings will block car traffic and negatively impact the environment.  The way to improve the quality of life in our region is to put a moratorium on development and/or and impose impact fees on development.

4:14:20 Council member Charlie Reese Claims that noise mitigation has been designed into the Durham ROMF, so nearby residents are not justified in believing that their lives will be upset by the ROMF.  Thinks GoTriangle is honest and has given their responses with integrity.  "It defies logic, reason, and common sense to think that GoTriangle in their hearts would believe that this facility would generate the kinds of sound that you all are afraid of and still build the thing."

Says noise level will comply with Durham ordinances.  If not, call the police, and they will get the noise to stop.
I find Charlie's comments shockingly naive.
4:24:20 Council member DeDreana Freeman Says that if a developer had been making this request, she'd vote no. Developers are making this request.  DOLRT only benefits developers.  DOLRT gives them an excuse to build high rise luxury apartments all along the route. 
4:26:00 Council member DeDreana Freeman White privilege remark Disgusting! 
4:31:54 Council member Vernetta Alston Strong supporter of DOLRT.  Say DOLRT will move tens of thousands of people through our region every day and in doing so helps to manage our growth, supports the development of affordable housing, provides access to jobs to those who need it most. Vernetta's support for DOLRT is unfounded.  Gentrification occurred in Charlotte, and DOLRT will likewise bring gentrification to Durham.   'We missed a major opportunity.'  Affordable housing lags near new Charlotte light rail. 
4:33:30 Council member Jillian Johnson (Mayor pro tem) DOLRT is a way to grow sustainably into the future.  It's for our kids and grandkids.  It's so they won't have to sit in the kind of traffic we sit in right now.  Thinks that the Farrington site is the best location for the ROMF.  Believes that ROMF noise will not impact Creekside Elementary school. Unbelievably naive.  Is there a city in the United States that has implemented light rail and reduced their traffic and air pollution?  Answer:  No.  None.  Growth only benefits developers. 
4:37:44 Council member Javiera Callero Believes DOLRT will get cars off the roads, and it also supports sustainable growth.  DOLRT will attract people to our region. Incredibly naive. 
4:38:52 Council member Mark-Anthony Middleton Is voting for re-zoning out of principle.  Says it's the right thing for Durham. He doesn't explain why he believes DOLRT is right for Durham.


My recommendation for next steps are:

  1. Measure nighttime noise levels near the Charlotte ROMF.  What is the noise level a quarter of a mile away? 

  2. Investigate whether the Charlotte light rail line has benefited low income people ... or whether gentrification has resulted in benefiting developers.

  3. Publicly criticize GoTriangle's decision to build an at-grade crossing on Farrington Road.  It shouldn't have one per NCDOT's rules.  Having an at-grade crossing will dramatically increase traffic.

I assert that DOLRT only benefits developers (the "urban growth machine").  One lie after another has been told to the public to dupe them into believing that DOLRT will reduce traffic, reduce pollution, and help low income people get their jobs.  [my assessment of DOLRT]



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