'); } -->
Mike Rieder and Mary Jane Clark have a lot of work to do.
The newly elected Wade CAC chairman and vice-chairwoman take office following a contentious election to succeed longtime predecessors Bill Padgett and Louise Griffith.
Rieder defeated Seth Hollar and Craig Ralph in a vote that attracted an overflow crowd of 170 people to the Jaycee Community Center. Clark was unopposed.
The pair will try to restore a sense of cooperation to the Wade CAC, a community advisory council that encompasses some of the city’s most historic and politically active neighborhoods. Created in the 1970s, CACs weigh in on issues ranging from zoning to mass transit.
“This process was damaging to the community,” Clark said. “We have a lot of healing that needs to take place.”
The city’s community services department stepped in to oversee the election after complaints about a poorly organized nominating process.
Joe Boisvert opted not to run after some CAC members questioned whether it would be a conflict of interest for Boisvert to serve as chairman while also holding the role of president of the University Park Homeowners Association.
The larger issue, however, boiled down to tension over development, long a touchy subject for Wade’s collection of inside-the-beltline neighborhoods.
The Wade CAC district sits just north of N.C. State University and Hillsborough Street, and extends west to Meredith College and Interstate 440.
In recent years, development proposals have stirred objections over size and scale. The epic battle involving the aborted Coker Towers, envisioned at the corner of Wade and Oberlin Road, remains a top example of this tension.
Hollar rankled many neighbors by arguing that the CAC should be receptive to development that fosters walkable, mass transit-friendly environments.
There’s also a generational divide at play, Hollar believes. Newcomers are more open to development that brings new shopping and dining options, while longtime residents would rather avoid more traffic and preserve the quiet character of their neighborhoods.
Newcomers “are coming from areas that are maybe more metropolitan,” said Hollar, 38, who moved to Raleigh five years ago from Tokyo, where he worked for Toshiba. “Places where there’s more comfort with transit and density.”
Attitude toward developers
In a joint interview last week, Rieder and Clark said developers should expect to be treated with respect when they come to CAC meetings to discuss plans.
But, Rieder added, the onus is on the developers to show why projects should be allowed if they fail to comply with area plans or the city’s comprehensive plan.
“A developer should have clear data as to why it’s needed and why it’s beneficial, not just for his or her profit, but for the community and the city as a whole,” Rieder said. “Otherwise, we just shouldn’t bother with plans.”
Clark, 52, a resident of Canterbury Road, works for StepUp Ministry, a nonprofit that provides job placement and life skills training.
Rieder, 66, who lives on Bedford Avenue, works for the state Division of Juvenile Justice. He was director of Haven House Services, a nonprofit for at-risk Wake County youth and their families.
The new leaders say they want to get more people involved in the CAC, in part by reaching out to aspiring neighborhood activists such as Hollar.
“Seth has indicated a willingness to work with us,” Clark said. “It’s up to us to find out what gifts and talents people want to offer.”