• Sunday, February 22nd, 2015

harold2011_small2This week was dominated by snow and ice resulting in the cancellation or postponement of most of my activities. The good news is that I had more time to spend with my wife. The bad news is that almost all of my meetings, activities, etc, were rescheduled which will make for much busier days in the future.

Monday’s postponements included a meeting with the town manager and a banquet for the Parks volunteers. In addition, a meeting of the Mayors Association was cancelled. Tuesday I had a scheduled dinner that was postponed. On Wednesday the monthly meeting of CAMPO (Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s executive board) was cancelled. Friday the Metropolitan mayors’ weekly legislative update was cancelled.

The morning after all big snow/ice events I always go for a long walk (about 5 miles). This winter event was no exception. So I headed towards the Crossroads shopping center about 11 AM. On my walk I happened to see the town’s A team in action. By the time I saw them they had already been working for hours. By the afternoon they had finished all major roads in town and were working on secondary roads and in neighborhoods. By the end of the day they had completed their mission in a town that has over 660 miles of roads. I actually witnessed five plows completely clear the length of Piney Plains Road in less than fifteen minutes. Wow! What an impressive performance. A huge thank you to the town staff for the many hours of overtime to make sure Cary roads were the first cleared in the triangle!

The only meeting I held this week was with the town manager and deputy town manager via phone to discuss several issues. Among the issues discussed was the council’s potential participation in the design of the town’s skateboard park, proposed options for the noise ordinance as it relates to golf courses, and Google fiber.

Apparently Google is not happy with last week’s journal entry speculating that Morrisville and Cary might be the first places Google fiber is installed. My comments were based on staff information that included Google spending more time with Cary and Morrisville staffs than other municipalities. I apologize for my speculation and will only provide facts about Google in the future. I would recommend that Google’s public information start providing more information as soon as possible. That would eliminate all speculation. Just sayin’…

Friday I did join most of the Mayors in Wake County and their guests at a hockey game. The Wake County mayors were the guests of the Centennial Authority which hosts the mayors twice a year. It was a good time to talk with other mayors in an informal setting to find out what is happening in other parts of Wake County.

Emails from staff this week included interesting information about the town’s traffic management system which will be the topic of April’s Cary Matters. Yes, it is true I am already working on that. Some of that information includes:
• All major corridors throughout Town utilize traffic signal coordination including, but not limited to: N Harrison Avenue, Cary Parkway, Maynard Road, Davis Drive, NC 55, US 64, Walnut Street, and Kildaire Farm Road.
• A typical intersection has between 4 – 6 timing plans per day. For all locations, there is a peak hour plan for the morning and afternoon.
• A typical traffic signal can cost $150,000 to $200,000, depending on the size of the intersection, pole type used, and features required (like pedestrian crossing signals). A typical CCTV camera installation can cost $50,000.
• By the end of 2015, the Town will operate over 190 traffic signals and 30 CCTV cameras along over 100 miles of fiber optic cable.
• Traffic signals are preempted by emergency vehicles. The system gradually adds/subtracts time to a cycle to get the traffic signal back into sync.
To learn more about the traffic management system check out the town’s website or watch the April episode of Cary Matters.

There were very few emails received from citizens this week. Several emails commended the town on the snow/ice removal. Other emails included invitations to various events.

Next week will be busy for me. Some of the activities and events include the Parks Volunteer banquet, a work session on Imagine Cary, a regularly scheduled council meeting, events, dinners, and speaking engagements.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, March 1st. Although I have Facebook and Twitter accounts those are not the best means of communications with me. Please send all Town of Cary questions or comments to Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org and email personal comments to augustanat@mindspring.com.

• Sunday, February 15th, 2015

harold2011_small2This was a typical week that included meetings, presentations, and a council meeting.

As I always do in weeks with regularly scheduled council meetings, I called all council members to listens to their concerns and questions about the upcoming council meeting. Then later in the day I met with management, legal, public information, and others to go over the agenda. Based on the comments and emails I believed plan amendments and rezoning proposals would be the focus of much of the discussion during the council meeting.

After the agenda meeting I met with the town manager, deputy town manager, assistant town managers, and Mayor Pro-Tem Smith to talk about upcoming items of concern. One item we talked about was the Google installation. It appears Google will start installation in Cary and Morrisville first. This will have an impact on Cary finances since we will have to have staff to address issues and to inspect over one hundred contractors all working at once. It is estimated that our cost might approach one million over three years.

Tuesday started with a presentation to me by The A.D. King Foundation from Naomi King who was the sister-in-law to Dr. Martin Luther King. Afterwards I talked with the board member making the presentation about how we can grow and create similar events such as the MLK event held in Cary.

Tuesday night I had the honor and privilege to hand out Lazy Daze grant checks to organizations involved in Cary cultural arts. Lazy Daze raised $35,000 this year for this cause and has raised over $565,000 since its inception. Thanks to all the organizations that work so hard to make Cary a better place.

Wednesday I visited Buhler Aeroglide in Cary to welcome the US Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez, NC Secretary of Commerce John Skvarla, and Buhler Aeroglide President Hans-Joerg ILL. The purpose of the visit was to talk about the apprenticeship programs at Aeroglide, in the State, and around the Country. Currently there are about 500 companies in the State of North Carolina participating in apprenticeships. The Buhler Aeroglide apprenticeship program takes high school students and puts them through a four year program in addition to school. At the end of the apprenticeship program individuals will have graduated high school, obtained an associate’s degree from Wake Tech, learned several skills such as welding, and will be offered a job. According to the Buhler Aeroglide officials their investment per apprentice is about $150,000.

This was my first meeting with a member of the President’s cabinet and it was an honor to meet and talk with the US Secretary of Labor. Secretary Perez arrived about 30 minutes late in a two car entourage with what appeared to be three secret service men (but they could have been staff for all I know). At our initial greeting the Secretary knew who I was and that I worked in the IT field. So it appeared he was briefed on everyone he was to meet. I would have loved to see the briefing on me. Next we toured the facility. Most of his conversation during the tour was with the President of the Company and the NC Secretary of Commerce as it should be. However, Secretary Perez was very good in stopping along the way to talk with workers who were not expecting it. Those were great conversations and he was very skilled in getting them to talk. He also made time to talk with me about getting apprenticeships in the IT field. My impression was that he was a very kind and very sincere individual who was excellent at what he does.

I also had an opportunity to meet briefly with the new NC Secretary of Commerce who started his position in January. He congratulated me on MetLife and said he is looking forward to some other things that are in the pipeline. Me too!

Wednesday evening I met with the executive director of the Triangle Land Conservancy or TLC. Over the last 30 years TLC has conserved over 16,000 acres and own and manage six nature preserves. Their mission is to safeguard clean water, protect natural habitats, support farms and food, and connect people with nature. In our discussion we talked about all that Cary is doing and how we could work together along with developers to create something special in Cary. We acknowledged that opportunities to preserve land is becoming more and more limited and that our future successes might depend on working with specific developers interested in creating open space with their projects. I am sure we will be talking again in the future. Our meeting lasted about 45 minutes.

Thursday’s regularly scheduled council meeting lasted approximately three hours. The council made decisions on several discussion items. Council unanimously supported the sale of revenue bonds that could save the town $1.8 million with refinancing existing revenue bonds. Council unanimously agreed to approve a comprehensive land amendment on High House next to the Bradford development to allow low density single family housing instead of higher density. Another plan amendment next to Crossroads that would have eliminated office for multi-family was tabled to hear the recommendations from the Imagine Cary process. Those recommendations will be presented within a few weeks at a council work session. Before the tabling Crossroads plan amendment it appeared from our discussion that it would have failed. In another decision the council passed an agreement with CASL for soccer fields which will include two artificial turf fields. This agreement will provide more field time for non CASL players in addition to CASL players. The discussion item on the Carpenter Neighborhood Park and associated items was unanimously approved by council. The council also approved a license agreement for downtown economic development with David Gardner, Alex Osadzinski and Whitney Rowe to provide professional advice and consultative services to promote business investments in its Downtown Business Improvement District (BID). This agreement will include the creation of a business incubator for startup and early-stage businesses, and help the Town identify and coordinate potential public and private actions in the downtown area in exchange for the shared use of Suite 301 in 122 East Chatham Street. The council’s last discussion item was a rezoning proposal to allow multi-family on Stephens Road just off Piney Plains Road which was denied.

Friday I participated in the weekly Metro Mayors conference call to hear a legislative update. Some of the notable items include:
• The latest state revenue forecast anticipates collections for the current fiscal year to come in about $271 million below the $21 billion the General Assembly budgeted for the year. Revenues in the current fiscal year have grown by only 2.9 percent, rather than the 4 percent growth predicted in May 2014.
• The Senate gave final approval Thursday to legislation, Senate Bill 20, that would cut the state gas tax this year before placing a floor of 35 cents that will likely push the rate higher than it would have been – enough to raise a projected $1.2 billion for transportation needs by 2019.
• Savings from the Gas Tax bill will be achieved partly by cutting 500 occupied jobs and 50 vacancies in the North Carolina Department of Transportation. It puts layoff priority on DOT administration staffers, maintenance jobs that could be outsourced, and positions that allow the agency to reduce management layers.
• The House passed a bill which would prevent government from seizing property for private development. The goal is to ban eminent domain in cases where government seizes property only to sell it to a private developer.
• Governor Pat McCrory has been touring the state and speaking about the value of restoring the state’s historic tax credits, which expired at the end of 2014.
• Bills have been filed to eliminate municipal Extra Territorial Jurisdictions.
The conference all lasted about 30 minutes and had roughly two dozen mayors participating.

Emails from staff this week included the construction activity report. Some of the interesting data include:
• In January the average single family dwelling was 3,936 square feet and valued at $249,585 compared to January 2011 when the average single family dwelling was 4,069 square feet and valued at $191,328.
• In December 2014 Cary had 15.9% of single family permits issued in Wake County. Only Raleigh had more with 21.3%.
• In December 2014 single family permits were up 4.55% nationally, up 14.8% statewide, and up 20.9% in Cary from the previous month.
• Five development projects were staff approved in January including: 53 townhomes on 14 acres and a 39,420 square foot office building in Cary Park.
We continue to see strong growth in Cary.

Emails from staff this week also included information on available acreage for development within our planning jurisdiction. The total acreage for Cary in both Chatham and Wake Counties is 8,464 acres which is a little over 13 square miles. The developable acreage in Cary’s portion of Wake County is 6,010 acres or 9.39 square miles. Developable acreage includes properties that are vacant, or have extremely low value of improvements relative to parcel size and do not have approved or submitted site or subdivision plans. These figures do not include developed or under-developed sites that have the potential for redevelopment.

Emails from citizens this week included a concern about Lake Crabtree Park, a concern about potholes on Cary Parkway, a request to know the opening of a hot yoga business, and several requests to approve and deny rezoning proposals.

Next week’s activities are all meetings and events. They include the Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Resources Volunteer Banquet, my first meeting as vice-chairman of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Executive Board, and a Mayors Association outing.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, February 22nd. Although I have Facebook and Twitter accounts those are not the best means of communications with me. Please send all Town of Cary questions or comments to Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org and email personal comments to augustanat@mindspring.com.

• Sunday, February 08th, 2015

harold2011_small2With the exception of one day this was a light week.

Monday I met with the town manager and the deputy town manager to catch up on issues. Most of our discussion was focused on two issues. First we talked about an organizational change that we all believe will help our staff respond to customers more effectively and efficiently. Then we talked about last week’s planning retreat and how we would structure future planning retreats. Our meeting concluded after about 45 minutes.

Tuesday the town held a quasi-judicial meeting. Quasi-judicial hearings are different than regular public hearings in that they resemble a court hearing where testimony is presented. The Town Council must make a decision based solely on the written and oral evidence actually presented at the hearing itself. This means that the Town Council should not receive any information about these cases outside the hearing, including emails, phone calls, letters, etc. There were three hearings at this meeting.

The first was a dispute about a daycare paying for a reclaimed water line. There were many circumstances presented as to why and why not this should happen. In the end the applicant offered to pay half the cost which I thought was a good compromise. As a result the council approved.

The second was the annexation, special use, and site plan for an elementary school on the Durham County line. While this was not an ideal location it was one of the few pieces of land that was available to the Wake County School System. The council unanimously approved all items related to the school which should be operational in the summer of 2016. Once it is opened it should have a domino effect starting with Briar Creek Elementary. According to the school system it should also provide some relief to Alston Ridge and Mills Park.

Our last quasi-judicial hearing was for the Phillips Place Townhomes site plan. Since this was tabled the quasi-judicial rules remain in effect and I cannot provide any information. Our meeting for all three hearings lasted a little over 3 hours.

Wednesday I met with the Board of the Friends of the Page-Walker Hotel to hand out Certificates of thanks for awards the group recently received from the North Carolina Society of Historians. In case you are not familiar with Friends of the Page-Walker Hotel, they serve as guardians for the Page-Walker Arts & History Center, advocate for the preservation of Cary historic sites, and archive town history. In addition they facilitate history education and promote the cultural arts. The awards received included the Malcolm Fowler Society Award, Willie Parker Peace History Book Award, Evelyn Davis Miller Museum Award, and the Joe M. McLaurin Newsletter Award. If you are interested in becoming involved in the Friends of the Page-Walker Hotel go to http://www.friendsofpagewalker.org/.

Friday I participated in the Metro Mayors weekly conference call on legislative actions. Some of the discussion topics I noted included:
• It is believed that Historic tax credits can be renewed if 4 Republican Senators favor the tax credits.
• Economic Development incentives were discussed. Legislators are excited that these incentives could bring an auto manufacturer to North Carolina. Many in the legislature believe this is better than bringing something like a MetLife because it will create other businesses to support it. I disagree. The high paying jobs brought by MetLife create a huge economic benefit in the region from homes sold to all things needed by a family. This supports small businesses which are the backbone of our economy.
• The governor’s $2 billion in transportation will have a hard time getting enough legislative support.
• Rural legislators are “angry” with the prosperity of the Triangle and Charlotte and they are the majority of the majority.
• Eminent domain bills are a concern. This may impact municipal interests for air rights and transit systems.
• HB150 (aesthetics bill) is moving rapidly and will be easily approved. This will eliminate a municipal’s ability for certain aesthetic controls like colors or types of bricks in developments.
• Bills, backed by the homebuilders association, to remove or reduce the effectiveness of protest petitions are moving forward. A likely compromise would be to change the definition of a valid protest petition from a 5% requirement of adjacent properties to a 25% requirement. Developments with a valid protest petition require a super-majority. In Cary that would mean 6 out of 7 council members for a development to pass.
The meeting concluded after about 40 minutes.

I received phone calls and emails this week about crime, traffic, and growth in general. Cary is ranked as the safest community in the nation by the FBI. But if you are a victim of a crime you do not feel safe and may have the feeling that you will never feel safe again. I believe that was the feeling of one crime victim I talked with. I assured him that we are doing everything within our authority and means to make our community safer and safer.

Much of the traffic complaints I receive are in western Cary where much of our growth is occurring. This week complaints included Davis Drive and High House. Unfortunately, neighborhoods along Davis Drive are having an increasingly difficult time turning onto Davis Drive. Sadly this will only get worse. NCDOT maintains this road and most major thoroughfares. Once they determine that left turns from neighborhoods are no longer safe on Davis Drive they will close the medians. This will force residents to turn right and then make a U-Turn. I do not think this will happen in the near future but I predict it will happen.

Weekly I receive emails about growth in western Cary. Interestingly some of these developments were approved before this council was elected. Other developments were stalled because of the recession, and then others were approved right after the recession. As a result there is a massive amount of development occurring in western Cary. While the town’s growth rate is 2.85%, western Cary residents describe growth there as “skyrocketing”. There is also a perception that council is rubber stamping each and every approval which couldn’t be further from the truth. Council reviews each and every proposal on its merits. It is our duty to make sure there is enough police and fire protection, water and sewer capacity, parks, roads, and schools. While most of the roads and all of the schools are out of our control, it still matters in our decision making. As a result, development proposals in western Cary are finding it very difficult getting any rezoning request approved.

Other emails from citizens this week included complaints about blasting near a development in western Cary and an opposition to a development proposal off Piney Plains Road.

Next week will be busier for me. Activities include a visit from the US Secretary of Labor, a council meeting, an award reception, and meetings.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, February 15th. Although I have Facebook and Twitter accounts those are not the best means of communications with me. Please send all Town of Cary questions or comments to Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org and email personal comments to augustanat@mindspring.com.

• Sunday, February 01st, 2015

harold2011_small2This was an exhausting week for me.

Monday I called council members for their concerns and questions about Wednesday’s regular meeting agenda. I was able to contact all council members but Robinson and Smith. The most comments were on the multi-family proposal on Stephens Road just off Piney Plains Road.

Monday afternoon I met with management, administration, legal, public information, engineering, planning, and others to step through the agenda. There wasn’t a lot to talk about and staff had not received much feedback on any of the proposals.

After the agenda meeting I met with the town manager and his staff for our weekly one on one meeting. Our meeting was short and most of the discussion was on naming rights of town facilities. A few years ago the council had directed staff to investigate the use of naming rights and they are now ready to present their findings.

Tuesday Google Fiber announced that they would be coming to Cary, Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, Morrisville, Garner and Carrboro. In the town’s press release I stated:

“Given that a recent national survey ranked Cary as the second-most wired community in the country, it’s only fitting that Google chose Cary to be a partner in its next deployment of community fiber. With over 97 percent of our citizens having access to the internet, our community has clearly demonstrated that they are heavy users and will certainly make great use of the additional resources that will come with the Google service. We’re thrilled, and it’s just one of the many ways in which our citizens-both residential and corporate-can thrive in Cary.”

I look forward to not only having Google in Cary but other fiber providers as well.

Tuesday evening the council held a work session to review two topics. The first was to hear the goals and work plans for each of the town’s boards and commissions. Each board chair or representative provided a report and council voted unanimously to accept all the reports. The town is blessed to have so many citizens that volunteer for boards to make our community better and we are grateful for their service.

Our second work session was to review the building design standards. These standards, which haven’t been updated since 2005, have worked well for the town resulting in high-quality and visually attractive nonresidential and attached residential developments. But a recent focus group made suggestions that might allow more flexibility and take into account additional materials that were not available ten years ago. The town council spent about two hours reviewing suggestions and made several recommendations to staff. Some of those recommendations included:
• Provide more information and examples of using wood and hardiplank siding in lieu of masonry materials within and near historic districts and in rural areas.
• Provide more information and examples of allowing formed concreate to mimic masonry.
• Masonry materials should be applied at logical and visually appealing breaks in the building. For example, not in mid-window like is seen in the Bradford development.
• Provide more information on painting non-residential brick buildings built before 1970 which is not currently allowed.
• Provide more information on allowing flexibility in materials that may not support masonry materials.
• Provide more examples of allowing the definition of transparency to include translucent.
• Provide more examples of allowing additional light reflectivity in colors on building accents.
Staff will take the direction given by council and hold another work session in the future to further specify building design standards.

Wednesday I presented the State of the Town Address to, what is typically, my largest audience of the year. After the address I answered about a dozen or so questions ranging from business sign issues to road concerns. My talk lasted about 35 to 40 minutes and the Q&A portion lasted about 15 minutes. You can read the official State of the Town address text file at http://www.townofcary.org/Town_Council/stateofthetown.htm and see the video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OVmIUjR2v74.

After the State of the Town address I joined Mayor Pro-Tem Smith and several Cary Chamber board members and briefly met with a group from Wake Med including their President and CEO Donald Gintzig. They talked about their new mission of improving the health and well-being of our community as opposed to their old mission of treating the sick and ill. We are grateful that Wake Med is in our community and I believe their new mission fits into exactly what we are trying to accomplish in Cary, which is a healthy and happy community.

Wednesday night was the last regularly scheduled council meeting for January. There were six public hearings and five discussion items. The public hearing to allow a school in the Amberly Planned Development District had several people speak against the proposal complaining about the busy roads that surrounded the site. Another public hearing for a rezoning proposal near the Chatham County line also had speakers complain about the proposal. These and other public hearings will go to the planning and zoning board for their recommendation and council will vote on them at a later date.

Discussion items included multi-family proposal along Stephens Road just off Piney Plains Road to allow 80 multi-family units. This proposal had a valid protest petition which required 5 yes votes for approval. I am strongly opposed to this rezoning since there is an overabundance of multi-family in this area. The council decided to table this since there were several people in the audience who wanted to speak that didn’t understand that there was not an associated public hearing. It will also give the applicant time to try and address concerns about the proposal. Council will vote on this at the next council meeting. The council meeting ended around 10 PM.

Thursday the council and management staff left on a train to Charlotte to hold our annual planning retreat. This year’s format was different from previous years and was almost totally interactive made up of tours and discussions. The purpose was to gather information, thoughts, and ideas about infill and redevelopment.

On our way to Charlotte the NCDOT Rail made two presentations including an update on all the projects along the Raleigh to Charlotte corridor. It was also pointed out that the Cary train station was ranked #2 in the nation for customer satisfaction.

Once we arrived in Charlotte we boarded a bus and headed to a redevelopment project. This North Hills type development, called the Metropolitan, replaced a rundown mall. There we heard from the president of the development company that built to project. He gave a project description, history, and lessons learned. The biggest take away was hearing how both the city and developer had to compromise to make this project happen. In the end neither got what they wanted but the result was a tremendous improvement over what was there. The relevance to Cary can be scaled to include current and future rundown malls and strip malls.

Friday started with presentations and discussions at the Charlotte Center City Partners. They are a combination of our chamber and planning staff. We also heard from city and county planners. Since the county is mostly made up of Charlotte it results in close planning between the city and county. The presenters talked about how the city is divided up into corridors of density, wedges of single family, and centers within those wedges. Most of the development they are seeing is multi-family south of the city’s center in an area called South End. The biggest take away from these presentations was how all groups are in sync and working toward a common goal. I believe Cary’s planning staff, chamber, and council are also doing this.

After the presentations we boarded the light rail to tour the South End. This area of the city is experience explosive growth with 5500 multi-family units currently under construction. As one might expect they are experiencing growth concerns from the residents especially related to traffic. In fact, the CBS affiliate was doing a story on growth related problems and interviewed me about why we were there.

The multi-family units we visited were on the light rail line and are very nice. They were mostly occupied by people in the 20s and early 30s. Interestingly, these units were a block away from very poor neighborhoods which created quite a contrast. And apparently crime is an issue for these units requiring elaborate security for entering the buildings and parking areas. The owners and operators of these multi-family units talked about the importance of working with the city on issues. They also said that they believed all the multi-family units on the light rail line would probably have been built anyway but maybe not as concentrated. One take away point here is that transit oriented development might not create as much new development as one might think but will certainly concentrate it in one area.

After lunch we visited several small businesses in the South End area. We heard from several small business owners that talked about the trials and tribulations of starting a business in an area near transit. Even though they all experienced a lot of difficulty they all stated that it was well worth it. They also strongly emphasized the importance of preserving older historic buildings and preserving the character with new buildings. Preserving character is certainly relevant to what are experiencing and planning in our downtown.

Saturday we visited a redevelopment site about five miles from the city center. This was an edgy area (tattoo parlors, electronic cigarette parlors, live entertainment, etc) but had a very well organized and involved community group. They worked hand in hand with the city to work on issues to help businesses, adjust public policy, and create infrastructure such as streetscapes and linear parks. While I thought this edgy area was interesting I don’t really want to see edgy in Cary. There were several very small takeaways from this area that I would like to see in Cary. A Harris Teeter didn’t have windows on the side but had integrated art instead and in addition had a garden roof with a seating area next to it. It would be worth revisiting our policies to try and create something like that in Cary. There were also several other interesting small things like painted designs in the crosswalks. Cary seems to only have striped outlines or bricked crosswalks. This is another thing to look at.

Our last tour of the morning was through some of the affluent areas of Charlotte that included Dilworth and Myers Park. Interesting developments there included a Lowes Home Improvement that was two stories with parking on the roof. This area showed that certain types of developments that might not be what one would think would fit in certain areas will work if done right.

After a late lunch we had the chance to talk with the Mayor Pro-Tem of Charlotte, the Charlotte city manager, and other representatives from the north of the city. Although the talks were brief they were interesting. They mentioned having the similar types of problems we are having.

The last tour of the trip was to the Music Factory. This facility is a collection of entertainment venues made to create a walking experience for patrons. They could walk to over a dozen venues that allow everything from live music, to comedy, to beer games. While it is an interesting concept I really can’t imagine where you would see something like that in Cary.

Saturday evening we headed to the train station, caught the train, and had a debriefing for about half an hour. We arrived home a little past 8 PM. This retreat, like all retreats, was very valuable and intellectually stimulating. But three solid days of this was exhausting for me. Needless to say I had no trouble sleeping Saturday when I returned.

This week the town’s first and only Information Technology Director, Bill Stice, retired. He took the town from basically no IT to one of the top municipal IT departments in the State. We will certainly miss him. His replacement will be hired by the town manager after a national search.

Emails this week included a monthly report from the Homebuilders Association. The report showed a 4% drop in new single family home permits for the last twelve months.

An email was also sent from staff that contained the 4th quarter report from 2014. Some of the most notable information included:
• Cary’s population was estimated to be 151,727 at the end of 2014.
• Cary’s population grew at 2.8% the last twelve months.
• Cary now covers 57.56 square miles.
• The town launched the Bike and Hike App to give trail conditions.
• The town installed advanced technology to reduce fuel consumption in its vehicles resulting in a 19% reduction.
• Cary experienced a 6% decrease in overall crime during the last 12 months.
• The town website overhaul has begun and will be finished in the fall of 2016.
Read the entire quarterly report at http://townofcary.uberflip.com/i/455347.

Emails this week included a complaint about sedimentation pollution which was actually on a Morrisville site. I also received emails from an individual complaining about the appraisal value of his property which is not something the town does. Other emails included comments for and against rezonings cases, thanks for working to bring Google Fiber to Cary, and a complaint about the “crime wave” in Cary.

Next week will be much slower for me. Activities include meetings, a quasi-judicial hearing, and a presentation.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, February 8th. Although I have Facebook and Twitter accounts those are not the best means of communications with me. Please send all Town of Cary questions or comments to Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org and email personal comments to augustanat@mindspring.com.

• Sunday, January 25th, 2015

harold2011_small2This was a busy week with tapings, meetings, and dinners.

Monday I joined Mayor Stohlman of Morrisville in a meeting with about a dozen Sri Venkateswara Temple leaders to discuss a break-in that occurred in their business office the previous day. After answering a few questions we committed to working together to making their facility more secure and to partner in deterring future crimes.

Monday evening I attended the monthly Mayors Association meeting in Cary. Nine of the twelve Wake County mayors were in attendance. Absent from the meeting were the mayors from Garner, Holly Springs, and Raleigh. Topics of discussion included setting up a meeting with the county commissioners and creating a legislative agenda. The biggest legislative concerns expressed by the mayors included the potential loss of revenue from a change in the sales tax formula, transportation issues, and school issues. Our meeting concluded after about two and a half hours.

Tuesday I taped the State of the Town address for Cary TV. The State of the Town address this year is over 3200 words which is my longest address ever. The producer broke the address up into three segments and we did at least two takes on each segment. The entire taping took about an hour and fifteen minutes.

Later Tuesday I headed over to the Page Walker to join council members in hosting the Wake County legislative delegation. We were honored to have Senators Barringer and Stein, Representatives Dollar, Avila, Hall, and Reives (Chatham County), and of course our good friend former Cary council member Representative Adcock. We provided dinner which was followed by a presentation on the town’s efforts related to the Interbasin Transfer process which is ongoing. Afterwards I walked the legislators through Cary’s legislative agenda. Here are my comments on each item:

• Advocacy principles – Our advocacy principles acknowledge that we are accountable to the citizens of Cary. They expect us to maintain our roads, use revenues wisely, be environmental stewards and plan carefully to maintain the ‘look and feel’ of Cary. We can best be accountable when we have the authority to make transportation, land planning, design, spending and development decisions that consider the needs of Cary citizens.
• Holly Brook annexation – we have received a request from homeowners in Holly Brook to annex their subdivision. The Town has been providing sewer services to this community since their on-site system failed many years ago. While the area has become suburban in the intervening years, it does not currently meet the criteria for either voluntary or involuntary annexation. Even though a large majority of homeowners desire it, we can’t move forward without your help. The Town is capable of providing services and we ask for your support by legislatively annexing this area.
• We are also asking for two other local bills – both to make Town government run more efficiently. First, we would like authority to simplify the process of disposing of unneeded easements by allowing Council to delegate approval to the Town Manager. And, second, we would like to be able to sell Town property subject to covenants or restrictions when council deems it in the best interest of the citizens (Ex: historic property must continue to be maintained as an historic property).
• As you know, the General Assembly abolished the privilege license tax effective the end of June. We are not asking you to reinstate this tax, but we do request that, as you consider additional tax reform, you look for ways to make us whole in overall revenues.
• The look and feel of Cary is very important to our citizens and we support legislation that makes it clear that aesthetic-based design standards are authorized for residential dwellings. What’s right for one community may not be right for another community. Developers can build and move on; our citizens have to live with it for decades.
• The Town would support legislation that establishes a revenue source to compensate municipalities for infrastructure damage caused by oil and gas extraction and grants municipalities authority to require that damaged infrastructure be repaired.

We talked about each of the requests and heard their thoughts on where they thought legislation was going. Representative Dollar did state that he felt the aesthetics bill would pass which will harm Cary. We also had a good discussion on the sales tax distribution formula which will take revenue from the urban areas and give it to the rural areas. Representative Avila said she understands the concerns but the rural areas will need to present how they would use the money. Our meeting concluded after about an hour and a half.

Wednesday I attended an executive board meeting of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO). The organization’s members are from governments in Franklin, Granville, Harnett, Johnston and Wake Counties. There were a couple of items that are of interest to Cary. The first was the approval of the Locally Administered Project Program which funded 3 out of 4 Cary submitted projects. Those projects include Green Level West Road widening, Panther Creek greenway and trailhead, and Crabtree Creek greenway phase 2. The second item of interest was the election of CAMPO board members. The Holly Springs mayor was elected chairman and I was elected vice-chairman. The meeting lasted a little over an hour.

Thursday I was joined by council member Robinson as we taped the February episode of Cary Matters. Our main topic was on sustainable initiatives that the town is involved in such as energy projects, recycling, water, wastewater, and local food and community gardens. Our taping session lasted about half an hour.

In accolades this week the Raleigh-Cary area ranked in the top 50 among the world’s leading 300 metropolitan areas, says a new survey from the Brookings Institute. There were only 4 US metropolitan areas listed in the top 50.

There were very few emails from citizens this week and they were all requests for events or requests for proclamations.

Next week will be a busy week for me. It will include a council meeting, a work session, the State of the Town address at the Chamber breakfast, and the annual planning retreat that will start around lunch on Thursday and keep me away from home until last late Saturday night.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, February 1st. Although I have Facebook and Twitter accounts those are not the best means of communications with me. Please send all Town of Cary questions or comments to Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org and email personal comments to augustanat@mindspring.com.

• Sunday, January 18th, 2015

This week was not that busy but did include a couple of busy days.

Monday started with a call to each council member to hear their questions or concerns about Thursday’s upcoming regularly scheduled council meeting. I was able to contact all five council members and there were very few concerns or questions. Council member Frantz did express concern about an apartment proposal in Weston to convert from office. The most concerns were expressed on the Indian Wells proposal. This was an previously approved proposal that bought an adjacent piece of property and wanted to remove the buffer between the properties.

Later Monday I met with management, directors, legal, public information, and administration to go over all items on the agenda. Our review lasted about 20 to 30 minutes. I predicted that our meeting would end at around 9 PM.

After the agenda meeting with staff I met with the town manager, deputy town manager, assistant town managers, and the assistant to the town manager to go over various issues. Our biggest discussion was on the town’s ordinance that doesn’t allow the painting of brick if the building is older than 1970. I predict that this ordinance will be reviewed in the near future.

Monday night I gave a State of the Town Address (preliminary version) to the residents of the Glenaire Retirement Community. About 50 to 75 people were in attendance and it was broadcast throughout the Glenaire community on closed circuit. My presentation included 30 slides and lasted about 30 minutes. Afterwards I received about a half dozen questions about sidewalks, schools, legislative actions, and school impact fees. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Glenaire and the residents were all very, very kind.

Thursday’s regularly scheduled council meeting started with a report from the Aging Issues Task Force. The chair of the task force presented their final recommendations that included findings and initiatives for council to consider in the future. The Task Force concluded that the most important issue facing the senior population was “communications.” They discussed many ways to “get the word out” for the many opportunities for seniors to be involved socially, receive help individually, and know where the resources are to enhance their lives. Information and feedback from the task force was also forwarded to the Triangle J Council of Governments to complete a pilot initiative. That feedback included:
• Housing: Rating of 13 out of a possible 18 points and ranking of a Substantial Investment
• Transportation: Rating of 15 out of a possible 18 points and a ranking of a Substantial Investment
• Safety: Rating of 6 out of a possible 6 points and a ranking of a Substantial Investment
• Health Care: Rating of 8 out of a possible 9 points and a ranking of a Substantial Investment
• Supportive Services: Rating of 6 out of a possible 6 points and a ranking of a Substantial Investment
• General Retail and Services: Rating of 6 out of a possible 6 points and a ranking of a Substantial Investment
• Social Integration: Rating of 7 out of a possible 9 points and a ranking of a Substantial Investment
The presentation lasted about 5 minutes and was unanimously accepted by council.

Other council decisions at the meeting included a unanimous approval to continue with naming rights for the Wake Med Soccer Park. However, the naming does not include the stadium itself. In the discussion 3 council members stated that they didn’t like naming rights at all but would support this since it was a continuance.

Another item for discussion was a request to amend a previously approved Indian Wells rezoning to remove a perimeter landscape buffer. The applicant’s reasoning was that they bought the adjacent property and it was to be a part of the neighborhood. Without council approval this property would still be built but would have a buffer in the interior of the neighborhood. The size of the buffer was so narrow that additional houses were unlikely and instead larger lots would be created. Council approved this request unanimously.

Another item of discussion was a resolution recommending the approval of tax-exempt bonds for the financing of Triangle Math and Science Academy. This is an existing charter school that is expanding regardless of the council decision. For them to be eligible for a $7.2 million loan required a local governing body to pass a resolution of support. The town’s attorneys worked with the applicant’s attorneys to remove any town liability in case of a default. As a result I believed the risk was very minimal. And since the school was already in existence it made since to help them get funding to expand and increase their educational programs. The vote was approved by a 4-2 margin.

Council also discussed whether or not to rezone office in Weston to allow apartments. The applicant stated the most employers these days, like MetLife; want a live-work-play atmosphere for their employees. Since Cary has so little class A office space left I felt this was not in the best interest of our town. The rezoning to allow apartments was approved 4-2 with council member Frantz and I voting no.

Other items approved by council was a rezoning to allow 30 homes on 16.41 acres located on the south side of High House Road, an amendment to our legislative agenda to allow residents of Holly Brook subdivision to be annexed, and sidewalk and roadway improvements bid awards. Our meeting concluded just before 9 PM.

Saturday I have the honor and privilege of attending the 2015 Dreamfest event “A Dream of Community” featuring Mrs. Naomi King who was the sister-in-law of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Before the event I met with Mrs. King and pastors from local churches. She was a very warm and kind lady and greeted everyone with hugs and kisses. At the event I had the honor of making a few remarks and reading a proclamation recognizing the 2015 Dreamfest events in Cary. Afterwards we were treated to a documentary film on the civil rights movement of A. D. King who was Dr. Martin Luther King’s little brother and the husband of Naomi King. Based on testimonials he was the one who created the marches and kept everyone involved. Once the documentary was over the audience was treated to a reading from Mrs. King followed by stories and a question and answer time. She talked about her husband’s life with her and the civil rights movement including stories about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It was fascinating to hear the stories and how the civil rights movement took place. What a great event for Cary.

Emails from citizens this week included comments from an Again Task Force member who said:

“… between you and me…..I honestly believe Cary is doing a fantastic job with all age groups ~ room for improvement, always, however part of the burden to learn what’s available within the community has to fall on the individual… no town has enough staff to do door-to-door with ‘here’s what we have to offer’ …”

In another email a citizens made a public records request for my emails regarding rate hikes for CTran. BTW, ALL my emails go to the media once a week and are readily available. Other emails included a complaint about the process notifying people that DOT has changed speed limits, a complaint and litter, and a couple of complaints about last week’s blog post.

Next week’s activities will include a meeting of the Mayors’ Association, the taping of the State of the Town address, a meeting with the Wake County legislative delegation, a meeting of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s executive board, and a taping of Cary Matters.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, January 25th. Although I have Facebook and Twitter accounts those are not the best means of communications with me. Please send all Town of Cary questions or comments to Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org and email personal comments to augustanat@mindspring.com.

• Sunday, January 11th, 2015

This week was the first full week of the year as my schedule slowly begins ramping up to full speed.

Monday I met with the town manager, deputy town manager, assistant town managers, and the assistant to the town manager to go over several items. The items ranged from information related to potential sports events to upcoming legislative items. Our meeting lasted about an hour.

Wednesday I represented the Cary at a public hearing being held in Apex by the North Carolina Division of Water Resources on Cary’s Interbasin Transfer Certificate Modification request. Since Cary is divided by a ridge line we are in two river basins, the Neuse and the Cape Fear. Our water comes from Jordan Lake which is in the Cape Fear basin but our treatment plants don’t return all to the Cape Fear basin. Therefore, an Interbasin Transfer Certificate is required. Cary received this in 2002 with a promise to put most of the water back in the Cape Fear basin when a new regional wastewater plant was built. The plant, the $300 million Western Wake Regional Wastewater Management Facilities opened last fall. In 2013 the law regarding IBTs (Interbasin Transfers) was changed by the General Assembly. We are requesting modifications to our certificate to meet these changes and to ensure environmentally responsible and cost-effective water resources management through 2045. My remarks were as follows:
Good evening. I’m Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht, and on behalf of the Cary Town Council and the more than 150,000 people who call Cary home, I want to thank the North Carolina Division of Water Resources for facilitating a comprehensive and inclusive process to ensure that the requested modification to the current interbasin transfer certificate does not adversely impact our region’s environment.

I am pleased to be commenting in favor of our requested modification to the current interbasin transfer certificate. This modification is necessary in order to be consistent with the 2013 changes to IBT law by the General Assembly, and to ensure environmentally responsible and cost-effective water resources management through 2045.

The 2013 changes to the IBT law require updating methodologies and assumptions, with IBT calculated as a daily average of a calendar month instead of as a maximum daily average. The requested IBT certificate modification, like the existing certificate, will be based on a 30-year planning period, which is consistent with the planning period for the Round Four Jordan Lake water supply allocation process currently underway. Additionally, the requested IBT certificate modification is consistent with Cary and Wake County’s 2013 Long Range Water Resources Plan and the Jordan Lake Partnership’s 2014 Triangle Regional Water Supply Plan.

I am happy to report that analysis performed by the North Carolina Division of Water Resources for 2060 shows that the requested IBT certificate modification will have no detrimental impact on any downstream communities’ ability to meet their water supply needs.

In addition to Cary’s long history of meeting or exceeding utility regulatory requirements, we’ve joined Apex, Morrisville and Wake County to aggressively minimize future interbasin transfer needs and maintain compliance with the current certificate. In November, these municipalities jointly opened the Western Wake Regional Wastewater Management Facilities, a $300 million system of wastewater pump stations with a water reclamation facility to return clean, high-quality wastewater to the Cape Fear basin. This was one of the largest, most successful public works projects in the recent history of our state, and we are very proud of our work and the results.

Throughout the state, Cary is known as a leader in environmental management, with efforts that include: curbside recycling, computer recycling, urban stream restoration, partnership for safe drinking water, mandatory year-round water conservation, 100-foot stream buffers, reclaimed water, sedimentation control, stormwater management, biosolids drying, and tree preservation. Each of these programs either represents firsts in the state, firsts in the region, or award-winning efforts by the Town of Cary, and it is with this history and this culture that we come to you with this certificate modification request.

We are committed to effectively and efficiently serving the region and being good neighbors to those downstream. As Mayor, I give my personal pledge that our organization will continue to be good stewards of our finite natural resources.

In closing, we appreciate being given the opportunity to comment on this project and the fair, full, and science-based consideration we know the agency will give to our request. Thank you.

Other elected officials speaking in favor of the IBT modifications included Mayor Sutton of Apex, Mayor Pro-Tem Johnson of Morrisville, and Wake County Commissioner Hutchinson. There will be another public hearing held in Fayetteville in the upcoming weeks.

Thursday the council held two quasi-judicial public hearings. This first hearing was whether or not to approve a site plan for a bank at the Bradford development at Davis Drive and High House. The council unanimously approved the 8626 square foot bank with no modifications to the town’s development standards. The second hearing was a site plan approval for the Crowne at Cary Park Apartments. This was not a decision of whether or not to approve the apartments. That decision was made in 2006. This was a decision to approve or disapprove five modifications to the development standards. The council unanimously agreed to accept a payment to install a traffic signal at the Cary Glen Boulevard/Carpenter Fire Station Road intersection, to a 9.5% reduction in parking, to the use of retaining walls for stormwater control, to eliminate connection to the Duke Energy substation, and to eliminate the sidewalk that would lead to the Duke Energy substation. The quasi-judicial hearing lasted about 1 ½ hours.

This week lifelong Cary resident Jean Ladd passed away. She and husband Dick Ladd were one of the few couples that were born and raised in this area and experienced Cary growing from a very small community to the 7th largest municipality in the state. My thoughts and prayers go out to her family and friends.

Cary and Raleigh received another accolade this week. The Milken Institute ranked the Raleigh-Cary area #5 in the nation for “Best-Performing Cities”. In their comments they said: “although this area experienced solid employment growth over the past several years, it was the acceleration in job creation in 2014 that boosted it in our rankings. The area is becoming one of the leading innovation hubs on the East Coast, as witnessed by its 11th-place ranking in the importance of high-tech to its economy.”

Emails from staff this week included a news release about work beginning on Walnut Street from the US 1/64 southbound ramp to Piney Plains Road, and Buck Jones Road from Walnut Street to the Best Motor Imports business. Improvements include new sidewalks from Walnut Street to Buck Jones Road; the addition of a third northbound lane from Meeting Street to Buck Jones Road; improved lane alignment; and the widening of the existing bridge over US 1/64. There will be access to all businesses and citizens who live within or adjacent to the construction area throughout the project. The cost of the project will be about $7 million including right-of-way acquisition. This will be funded by NCDOT and the Town of Cary.

Other emails from staff included the December construction and activity report. Interesting notes included:
• There were 578 Single family permits in 2014 compared to 616 in 2013
• There were 625 townhome permits in 2014 compared to 318 in 2013
• There were no multi-family permits in 2014 compared to 492 in 2014
Based on this information and other information I have received it appears that Cary’s growth boom of 2013 has leveled off and that point is reflected in our 12 month population growth rate of 2.85%.

In other emails I received information about school capping from school board member Bill Fletcher. On January 20th the board will vote on staff recommendations to change capping. If approved the following will be implemented:
• Caps will be removed at Alston Ridge, Books, Cedar Forks, Combs, Forest Pines, Holly Ridge, Holly Springs, Jones Dairy, Lacy, Leesville, North Ridge ES, Apex HS, and Holly Springs HS.
• Caps will remain at Hodge Road, Holly Grove, Hunter, Mills Park ES, Mills Park MS, Walnut Creek ES
• Caps will be added at Cary ES, Davis Drive MS, Enloe MS, Panther Creek HS, and Heritage HS.
In other related information the school board will meet with the county commissioners on January 26th.

Emails from citizens this week included a complaint about noise from Austin Foods, questions about speed limit changes, a request to provide close captioning of council meetings, and a complaint about the operation of heavy equipment in Carolina Preserve during early morning hours.

Next week mayoral activities include a presentation of a preliminary version of the State of the Town, a town council meeting, and the MLK Dreamfest activities.

CORRECTION: In last week’s journal I stated that if the General Assembly changes the sales tax formula the impact to Cary combined with the Privilege License change could result in a loss of about $6 million in revenue. I also stated that this would be about 5 cents to the tax rate. That was not correct. One penny on Cary’s tax rate is equivalent to about $2.2 million so the loss would be 2 3/4 cents to the tax rate.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, January 18th. Although I have Facebook and Twitter accounts those are not the best means of communications with me. Please send all Town of Cary questions or comments to Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org and email personal comments to augustanat@mindspring.com.

• Sunday, January 04th, 2015

harold2011_small2Happy New Year! This week was another holiday week so there were very few meetings.

On Monday morning I met with two newly elected county commissioners Jessica Holmes and Sig Hutchinson. We spent a great deal of our time talking about the greenway systems in Raleigh and Cary which was the purpose of the meeting. By 2017 there will be a strong chance that greenways could be connected from Falls Lake to Umstead Park, from Umstead Park to the American Tobacco Trail. That would provide one continuous route from Falls Lake to Durham. Commissioner Hutchinson mentioned that the county has open space money that they may consider to help connect gaps in various greenways throughout the county.

Our conversation also covered the school overcrowding in western Cary. Both commissioners were quick to point out that the capping and overcrowding is not a Cary problem but a county wide problem. They also stated that the earliest bond referendum would be in 2016 due to legislation made by the general assembly. We also discussed Cary’s development fees on schools which are used to cover the impacts any development has on water, sewer, and roads. I also pointed out that Cary does not have the authority to waive development impact fees. But our ordinance does allow different development districts, such as the downtown business improvement district, which has a different fee structure. The commissioners also questioned a past council decision to deny a modular school in Cary. I explained that modular units are allowed in Cary on a temporary basis. And since the school board’s purpose was to have those units for years then that didn’t meet the definition of temporary. To change the ordinance would allow modular units of other types throughout Cary on a more permanent basis.

Our last major conversation was about transit. They mentioned that they would prefer to have a rail component to Cary in phase 1. This is controversial to some people including one of our council members. We will see what the new transit committee does with that part of the plan.

Monday afternoon I met with a gentleman who is creating an Independent film in Cary called “Spices of Liberty”. This movie will show an Indian American immigrant’s perspective that the foundation of US Laws and Constitution have summarized the core of Hindu Scriptures. He also pointed out that spirituality and religion are different and that spirituality is integrated in our government. . For example, the statements “In God We Trust”, “God Bless America” are political but are a reflection of a spiritual mindset. All these interesting points will be part of the movie that is a beautiful love story of second generation Indian Americans. To find out more go to www.facebook.com/tiosia. The movie will be filmed in this area and should be released in 2016.

My last meeting on Monday was with a gentleman that moved here because of his business. He had asked his employers for an opportunity to come to Cary if there were ever a transfer and finally got that opportunity. He said that he has always been impressed with Cary and loves living here. He wanted to meet with me to tell me this and to talk about Cary.

Tuesday I joined Mayor Sears of Holly Springs in a conversation with NC Senator Barringer. We talked about a variety of issues coming up this year in the Legislative long session. The senator believes that the aesthetics bill, limiting municipal authority to control the look and feel of residential developments, will pass. It is currently in negotiation with the League of municipalities. The senator also mentioned that she will do what she can to protect Jordan Lake, our water source, from fracking. She mentioned that Cary may suffer from the sales tax distribution if it passes. This is part of the urban versus rural war that seems to have started in the legislature. She is very concerned about this and will work with all parties to help protect municipalities. The sales tax redistribution conversations in the general assembly could cost Cary about $4 million. This combined with the privilege license revenue loss would equal about $6 million less in revenue or about 5 cents on our tax rate. If Cary raised taxes to match the revenue loss it would be equivalent to about a 15% tax increase. So I, along with council members, staff, and other legislators will do what we can to prevent this from happening. Our meeting with Senator Barringer lasted a little over an hour.

In emails this week staff notified council that Novozymes decided to go to RTP rather than Cary and will give up the $375,000 incentive package that Cary offered with the state package. While this will mean that Cary will lose a $36 million building we should still get the benefits of their residents living and shopping in Cary. So while the news is disappointing there is still a positive in that Cary will benefit from their presence.

I also received email from the Homebuilders Association this week. In the email it reported that Wake County single family permits were down 5% for the past 12 months. Cary’s single family permits were down 6% during that same period.

Next week will be a full week but will remain somewhat slow as we ramp up to full speed. The main item on the calendar is a quasi-judicial hearing in which we will hear three items.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, January 11th. Although I have Facebook and Twitter accounts those are not the best means of communications with me. Please send all Town of Cary questions or comments to Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org and email personal comments to augustanat@mindspring.com.

• Sunday, December 28th, 2014

harold2011_small2This week was a holiday week so there wasn’t a lot going on.

Monday afternoon I spoke with a reporter who wanted to know if I was concerned about Google fiber’s decision to delay their announcement about cities they will choose. It is important to understand that our staff has been working closely with Google fiber for months and, to my knowledge, have planned and resolved all issues. It is my belief that Cary will be one of the cities they will choose for their expansion. Their presence, in addition to the other fiber in town like AT&T, will improve the quality of life for our citizens and make Cary an even more attractive place to live, work, and play.

Monday I joined council members Bush and Frantz at the third annual Jewish Cultural festival at the Cary Arts Center. There were several speakers before the lighting of the Menorah including the featured speaker council member Bush. I read a proclamation recognizing the day. The lighting of the menorah was a little difficult for the Rabbis. The candle apparatuses would blow out just as fast as they were lit. Finally after about 20 minutes all were lit. The festival included traditional Chanukah food and activities. It appeared that there were at least a couple of hundred people in attendance and they all seemed to be enjoying themselves.

Tuesday the town manager and I met with a couple of people interested in bringing a professional sports team to the region. They talked with us about our interest in supporting this idea. Our meeting lasted about 45 minutes.

Wednesday, after finishing work at my SAS job for the year, I joined my family to usher the 9 PM Christmas Eve service at our church. This is one of our family’s traditions that we started years ago.

The rest of the week was spent with the family enjoying the holiday. I also started work on the state of the town address which is due for proofreading and fact checking on January 5th.

The only emails from citizens this week were holiday greetings and thanks for my service. What a great town I live in! I am honored to be the mayor.
Next week is also a holiday week and will only include small meetings. I am joining a council member to meet with a couple of newly elected county commissioners on Monday. I also have a couple of meetings with citizens about a movie and about starting a business.

Well, that is all for this week and this year. My next post will be on Sunday, January 4th. Although I have Facebook and Twitter accounts those are not the best means of communications with me. Please send all Town of Cary questions or comments to Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org and email personal comments to augustanat@mindspring.com.

• Sunday, December 21st, 2014

harold2011_small2This week was a slower week as everything slowed down for the holiday break.

Monday I joined council members Smith, Bush, and Adcock at the annual Mayors Association banquet. It was a great time to meet and talk with elected officials from municipalities throughout Wake County and especially the new county commissioners. Many of the elected officials are looking forward to the new direction from the county commissioners.

Tuesday I spoke with the town manager briefly about a couple of issues. One was regarding working with another municipality on an issue and the other was about a business within the town.

Tuesday afternoon I met with the town attorney for our quarterly update. We went over about ten pending legal issues. It is my opinion that the town is in great legal standing. Our meeting lasted about half an hour.

Tuesday evening I met with several members of Sister Cities of Cary. The Town of Cary has four sister cities: Le Touquet, France, Markham, Ontario, Canada, Hsinchu, Taiwan, and County Meath, Ireland. A delegation from the Sister Cities of Cary visited Le Touquet, France earlier this year. This meeting was a presentation of the gifts sent to the town of Cary from Le Touquet, France and its mayor. One gift was a very nice picture of their entertainment venue (like our Page Walker). We are very fortunate to have such gracious, kind, and generous sister cities.

Wednesday I attended the Cary Economic Development Committee meeting. Here are some of the notable items:
• The technology center is taking over the innovation center. It was also noted that the town is considering providing space for key people in the entrepreneurial startup.
• There is an 8% vacancy rate of class A office space in Cary.
• Charles Duncan is interested in creating a fully accredited college in Cary with about 1400 students. He is current meeting with various people about this proposal.
• A 25,000 square foot retail and office space will be submitted soon for Chatham Street near Walker Street.
• In 1994 the US Government created an area in Cary which is eligible for significant CDFI Fund tax credits. It is bordered on the west by Academy Street, on the east by I40, on the North by the railroad, and on the south by Walnut Street and Cary Town Boulevard.
• The economic impact of the NCAA Division I College Cup held recently was estimated to be $5 million.
• The Regional Transportation Alliance is trying to attract a direct flight to Paris from RDU. If created Dr. Walden of NC State estimates that it would have an economic impact of $1.2 billion and 14,000 jobs.
• Under the McCrory administration Cary has had two of the top three job announcements: Met Life and HCL.
• Cary’s unemployment rate is 3.4% which is at pre-recession levels and is considered fully employed. Wake County is at 4.4% and the state is at 5.5%.
• The Economic Development Partnership of NC has located its headquarters in Weston and created 30 jobs. This is the marketing arm for the Department of Commerce for the entire state.
• The Research Triangle Regional Partnership will be moving their offices to Cary. They promote economic development for the entire Research Triangle Region. Cary now houses both the State and Regional economic development offices.
The committee also welcomed a new member, Laura Demarse, who is the Associate Dean at NC Central for Career Management and Student Professional Development. Our meeting concluded after about an hour.

Thursday I joined council member Bush in a meeting with management staff to discuss the way we name (or not) venues, roads, etc for past council members and staff. We came up with ideas that may recognize all past council members that have served. We will see how this proceeds once we get more information. It was the opinion of staff that things should not be named after former staff members even though we have Bill Coleman field and Annie Jones Park. Again, we will wait and see how that plays out.

Saturday my wife and I had the joy of attending a ballet performance by the Cary Ballet Company. First we were treated to the “Miracle on Madison” jazz performance. Next we enjoyed a wonderful performance of the Nutcracker. Cary is blessed to have so many talented people.

Saturday night my wife and I had the pleasure of attending a Christmas Carol sing-a-long at former Cary Council member Erv Portman’s house. Thanks to the Portman’s for making this a Christmas tradition for many in Cary.

Sunday my wife and I attended the last Christmas party of the year. Then our family joined council member Bush’s family in celebrating Chanukah. Even though we are not Jewish it was very special for us to share that holiday with them. I feel so blessed to live in a diverse community where everyone embraces different ideas, cultures, and religions.

In accolades this week Wake County Economic Development tweeted that Cary ranks as #1 for the nicest housing market in the US.

Emails this week included a correspondence with school board member Fletcher about capped schools. Though it is only preliminary at this point, it appears that the school board will be considering lifting caps for many of the western Cary schools.

Emails from citizens this week included a complaint about drivers in Cary, comments about the Golf Complex written about in the local newspaper (council hasn’t seen this and I don’t think it has been proposed to staff), a complaint about streetlights being out, a complaint about a homeless person in Morrisville begging for money, and a complaint about a sidewalk. There were also numerous invitations to future events and a YouTube of Christmas lights in Cary.

Next week is a holiday week so my duties will be light. Those duties will include the Jewish Cultural festival and a couple of meetings. The rest of the week will be spent enjoying time with my family and writing the state of the town address.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, December 28th. Although I have Facebook and Twitter accounts those are not the best means of communications with me. Please send all Town of Cary questions or comments to Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org and email personal comments to augustanat@mindspring.com.