Tuesday, 23 August 2022
Written by Hannah Lee
Fayetteville City Council member D.J. Haire is excited to be back on City Council for his eleventh term.
Haire is the longest-serving council member on the current council. He was first sworn into office in December of 1997, and remained until November 2013. He won the district seat again in 2017, and has continued to maintain his seat representing District 4.
The 63-year-old bested challenger Thomas Greene by an overwhelming majority. He was sworn in by North Carolina Justice Mike Morgan.
“I think it went very well, just like everyone else, we're always hoping for voters to come out. So with those that came out, we're very honored and thankful for the number [of votes]that we received. Very grateful,” Haire said.
District 4 includes Bonnie Doone, Cambridge, Glen Reilly, Lake Valley, Mallard Creek, Scotty Hills, Stewart’s Creek and Woodfield.
One of the most recent projects for Haire included working with the state to drop the speed limit on sections of Pamalee Drive, Cliffdale Road and Stoney Point Road. He wanted the speed limit to change to 35 miles per hour for each section. However, the North Carolina Department of Transportation — which owns the roads — decided to change the speed limit on Pamalee Drive and Cliffdale Road from 50 to 45 mph. For Stoney Point Road, the NCDOT changed the speed limit from 55 mph to 45 mph.
“I think that's a great improvement to slow down cars in that major thoroughfare that is surrounded by residential neighborhoods,” Haire said.
Another successful project he is proud of is the extension of zoning notification for neighborhoods. Previously only houses within 500 feet would receive notification of a new zoning permit. Now, that notification area is 1,000 feet.
“In my district we're saying that [the residents] were not receiving the notices and it was because they were outside of that 500 feet but were still in the neighborhood that encompassed the zoning for construction,” Haire said.
Looking to the future, Haire wants to continue to focus on small local businesses and encourage and support them in his district. As a second-generation small business estate investor, Haire believes the community is backed by small businesses. According to Haire, $400,000 has been dedicated to helping local businesses in the first quarter alone.
“When they do well, the city does well. When we help our small businesses, and they can expand or hire new or additional employees, if their footprint can grow, where we can help increase their tax base. That's a big, big plus,” Haire said.
He is also excited to see the new Amazon distribution center scheduled to be built in his district. The 1.3 million-square-foot facility is getting built on 94 acres inside Fayetteville’s Military Industrial Park, near Interstate 295 near Fort Bragg. The center is projected to create up to 500 jobs by the time operation begins.
Other projects Haire wants to work on for District 4 include adding bathrooms in parks, developing pieces of worn-down property, and continuing to push for improved stormwater drainage.
One recent item that Haire suggested the council look into is a possible retirement plan for council members above 60 who have served at least ten years on council. Council members would not receive the money until the official leaves the City Council and each official would receive $500 per month.
Haire tells Up & Coming Weekly that he just wants the city to look into the possibility after he spoke with county commissioners and realized that the state delegation has a form of retirement/deferment plan.
Cumberland County commissioners are eligible to invest in a 401k-like matching investment plan with the county matching up to 4.9% of a board member’s salary for those who opt
to participate in the deferred retirement plan.
“It's just a matter of staff bringing that information. Nothing is a done deal. Anytime there's a council member request at a work session, it is only for information,” Haire said.
During the election of mayor pro-tem, it was Haire who nominated Johnny Dawkins and motioned for Dawkins to take on the position.
Haire also voted against the “Vote Yes Fayetteville” referendum so it would not be on the November ballot. The referendum would require that four of the nine City Council members be elected by citywide voting rather than voting by district.
The issue was that the Vote Yes group may not have followed the “notice of circulation” procedure to get signatures on its petition, according to Mayor Mitch Colvin.
The State Board of Elections decided last week that it will be up to City Council to vote on if the petition is valid or not. [At press time, the matter had not yet been decided.]
Haire wants people to know that neighborhood concerns are just as big as economic concerns. He says he wants to continue to work on community programs like crime prevention and safety groups.
He is also open to looking at old ordinances and see what needs to be updated for this growing city.
“I try my best not to let my community down as far as being at meetings. Talking with them, standing up in front of them, taking their questions. Whatever their concerns are, I'm going to continue to do the job, what I've been doing, and that's just working aggressively hard and building trust and being loyal and being committed,” Haire said.
“That's what I've tried to do since 1997, is let my word be my bond. And because of that, we have built a lot of trust.”
Tuesday, 23 August 2022
Written by Hannah Lee
After a petition was issued in June to change how municipal districts are organized, a referendum might be on November’s ballot to restructure the nine-person Fayetteville City Council.
The proposal comes less than a year from the last time the city decided on voting districts for City Council members.
Currently, one member is selected from and represents each of the nine city districts.
According to city documents, the proposal calls for Fayetteville’s municipal districts to be reduced to five. That would result in five representatives from five separate districts within the city. The remaining four would be decided at-large, meaning all Fayetteville voters would decide on nearly half of the members of the city council.
North Carolina law requires that at-large members of any city or town council in the state be fewer or equal to half of the total elected municipal body, according to legal analysis from the UNC School of Government.
If voters approve, redistricting ahead
If the petition is validated, the measure is placed on November’s ballot and if a majority of voters approve of the restructuring, Fayetteville City Council members would be responsible for passing a new district map, like any other municipality in North Carolina.
Under the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution, the potential new five districts would be required to be substantially equal in population.
At a regular meeting earlier this month, council members considered the petition for approving the measure to be put on the ballot for the upcoming election in November, but the City Council delayed the approval.
City Attorney Karen McDonald said at the meeting that the council must decide on the ballot measure at its next meeting on Aug. 22 or hold a special meeting to conclude the matter.
The timing is required because of the public notice to voters that must be issued by the Cumberland County Board of Elections in a certain time frame before the election, as required by state law. Per state law, any proposed change to voting districts must have enough public notice prior to a vote.
Neither McDonald nor members of the council discussed the petition’s origin.
5,000 valid signatures prompt question
According to N.C. General Statute § 160A-104, municipalities of Fayetteville’s size only need 5,000 valid signatures on a petition to ask for a change to the structure of the City Council. U.S. census figures show that Fayetteville had an estimated 209,000 residents in 2021.
The Cumberland County Board of Elections is charged with validating the petition. According to a letter addressed to the city and signed by the board’s interim director, Angie Amaro, 5,009 of the 5,721 signatures on the petition have been verified, certifying the validity of the petition on June 13.
Upon direction from the City Council at last week’s meeting, McDonald will follow up with the Board of Elections on the petition’s validity and ask for a copy of the filed notice of the circulation of the petition.
State law requires that such a notice must be registered with the county board of elections for the petition to be valid.
The City Council will review the notice once it is obtained from the Board of Election, at its Aug. 22 meeting or a special meeting.
If the petition is ultimately deemed valid, the City Council will be required by state law to send the proposal to voters.
Then, if voters ultimately reject the proposal, the current district map will be used for the next decade until the next U.S. census recalculates the city’s population in 2030.