• Sunday, September 21st, 2014

harold2011_small23This was a slower week in the mayor’s office. It allowed me to have dinner with my family a couple of nights which is always nice.

Monday I had a brief meeting with the town manager. We discussed a big economic opportunity coming to Cary that would be announced later in the week.

Monday night I attended a monthly meeting of the Wake County Mayors’ Association. Nine of the twelve mayors were in attendance. Our guest speaker was from Advocates for Health in Action. The purpose of their visit was to make us aware of their organization and offer to help with initiatives related to healthy food and healthy living. We adjourned after about two and a half hours.

Wednesday I attended a meeting of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Transportation Advisory Committee. This group is comprised of 29 municipal representatives. There was not much on this agenda for action but we did receive presentations on Raleigh’s redesign and rebuilding of the Moore Square Transit Station project and Cary’s North Harrison Avenue Grade Separation Study. The committee had no questions and our meeting adjourned after about 45 minutes.

Thursday I attended the announcement of over 1200 jobs being added by the HCL Corporation in Cary. I, along with Governor McCrory, and a representative of HCL provided remarks. Then instead of cutting a ribbon we lit candles which are an Indian custom. I am very excited about the new jobs coming to Cary and it will be a big economic boost for our town. We continue to attract not only jobs but headquarters to Cary. In addition to HCL there are SAS, Deutsche Bank, Lord Corporation, Cotton Incorporated, and more.

Sunday I joined several council members at the annual Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Resources Volunteer Appreciation Picnic at Booth Amphitheater. This was our opportunity to say thank you to over 400 volunteers and let them know that we value their time, commitment, and contributions.

Announcements this week included 24/7 Wall Street’s ranking Cary as the #8 best cities to live in America. In subcategories Cary ranked 4th best in economy, 7th best in crime, 4th best in education, 5th best in housing, 27th best in the environment, 34th best in leisure, and 41st best in infrastructure. To read the entire report go to http://247wallst.com/special-report/2014/09/17/americas-50-best-cities-to-live.

Emails from citizens this week included a concern about the shooting in downtown Cary. He wanted to know if there was a plan for “restoring law and order in Cary”. I assured him that there is and will continue to be law and order in Cary. And while the shooting incident was very unfortunate, Cary remains one of the safest places in the country to live, work, and play.

Being a safe community means we have a very low crime rate but it does not mean we are crime free and incidents like the shooting are possible. Part of the reason Cary one of the safest communities in the nation is that many of our citizens partner with our police department (the best in the state) to prevent crimes. Crime is everyone’s problem and it is not just a police department problem or the mayor’s problem. If you would like to get involved in making your community safer I would urge you to sign up for the Cary Police Academy and eventually sign up to serve with Citizens Assisting Police or CAP. We have almost a one to one ratio of CAP members to police officers. The CAP team members free up officers to provide more crime protection and are working tirelessly to keep us safe.

In other emails from citizens there was a complaint about the water taste, a complaint about a builder, a cut and paste email from several citizens about burglaries, comments about crossing High Meadow Drive to the shopping center at Cary Parkway and Kildaire, a question about a future sidewalk on Louis Stephens, a concern about a resident who keeps trash in his driveway, and a concern about growth in west Cary.

Next week’s activities include several meetings, a work session on the downtown streetscape and park, a regularly scheduled council meeting, a taping of Cary Matters, a ribbon cutting, and the ground breaking for Jack Smith Park.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, September 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.

• Sunday, September 14th, 2014

harold2011_small23This week was typical for a regularly scheduled council meeting.

Monday I attempted to contact council members about Thursday’s upcoming agenda. I was only able to contact two. In my discussions there was interest in the naming of the park at the old Bartley farm located on Penny Road near the intersection at Holly Springs. Discussions also included the Barbee tract in Preston and the Kildaire Farm/Cary Parkway intersection analysis. Later in the day I met with management, directors, public information, administration, and legal to go over the items on the agenda. Our meeting lasted about 20 minutes and I predicted Thursday’s council meeting would last until about 9 PM.

After the agenda review I met with the town manager and the public information officer. They wanted to make me aware that a story had been leaked to the news about convicted murderer Brad Cooper possibly making a plea deal for second degree murder rather than going through a retrial. In case you are wondering, the town isn’t really involved in this matter at this point.

Tuesday I had my quarterly meeting with the town attorney. We spent a half an hour mostly talking about legal risks associated with rezonings.

Wednesday I attended the Gold LEED Certification ceremony for the McDonalds at Crossroads. Joining me was NC Secretary of Commerce Decker and several McDonalds’ upper management. We were two of the half dozen speakers to be able to thank and congratulate owner Ric Richards for his second Gold LEED certified restaurant in Cary making Cary the only municipality in the world with that distinction. In obtaining their Gold certification they recycled 95% of the old building and created a new building with several green features. For example, their solar panels heat the fryers, light is provided by solar tubes, food waste is composted, etc. These are just a few of the dozens of green features of this restaurant. This is a building of the future and reflects the sustainable, environmentally friendly community that Cary is creating. They give tours so I would suggest signing up for one if you get a chance.

Wednesday evening I met with the Economic Development Committee. Some of the notes of interest included:
• North Carolina’s two largest employment centers (Charlotte and Raleigh) will grow faster than any large metro areas in the next 15 years.
• Currently there are 7 active projects considering Cary. If they all located in Cary it would mean 3200 jobs, $335 million in investment, $1.2 million annual tax revenue, and 1.3 million square feet of office.
• Class A office space is shrinking and is now below 8% and expected to continue dropping.
• Cary’s unemployment rate is 4.4% this quarter which is a slight tick upwards. Wake County is 5.5%, RTP is 6.0%, NC is 6.9%, and the US is 6.3%.
• The Chamber is exploring the creation of a “startup ecosystem”. They are contacting key people about creating a co-working incubator place in Cary.
• The VP of Economic Development is working with the Planning Director to identify potential future employment centers.
• Numerous businesses and met and discussed the idea of locating in downtown Cary.
The meeting concluded in just under an hour.

Thursday afternoon I had the pleasure of meeting 8 year old Mary Harrison who was crowned “Miss Tar Heel State” 2014 Sweetheart along with her mom. They showed me videos of her competition and I heard her incredible voice. I am proud that she lives in Cary and that she is great example of the talent we have in this area. Next she will be heading to the national competition at Disney in Orlando. I wish her the best of luck.

Thursday the council met for our 1st regularly scheduled meeting of September. Items that seem to generate the most interest included the public hearing for apartments in Weston, intersection improvements at Kildaire Farm Road and Cary Parkway, a rezoning on Indian Wells Road, the naming of a park, and traffic calming on Castalia Drive.

The public hearing for apartments in Weston had no speakers. However, council will have a tough decision of whether to allow multi-family in a place that was planned for office. While it might provide a good mix of uses it will take away valuable office land. As I mentioned earlier, the Raleigh/Cary area will be one of the fastest job growth areas in the country within the next 15 years.

Council also spent a lot of time discussing the intersection improvements at Kildaire Farm Road and Cary Parkway. I believe most of the council wanted to protect the median so we chose option 14 which would mostly add width rather than narrow medians. We also directed staff to look at options for High Meadow Drive which impacts that intersection.

The Indian Wells Road rezoning was to allow 3 single family homes per acre. This future subdivision is west of 55 in an area which is seeing a lot of growth. But the proposal was for the smallest density possible and it matched our land use plan. It is important to understand that our job at a rezoning is to decide the best possible use of the land. In my opinion the proposal of the lowest density was the best possible use.

Council decided to name the park on Penny Road near Holly Springs road for sitting council member Jack Smith. Council member Smith is the longest serving council member ever with 25 years and counting. In the future when people visit the park and ask who Jack Smith is they will find out that he gave a good portion of his life in service of this town. We are blessed to have such a great public servant. Thank you for all your years of service Jack and I hope to work with you for many more.

Our last discussion point for the evening involved the repaving of Castalia Drive and whether or not to restripe it. Residents previously asked council to have more time to collect signatures to not have the striping. By the time of the meeting 82% of the residents signed a petition to not have the road striped. So council voted to repave without the stripes.

The council meeting ended about five minutes before 9.

Friday I had the joy of joining in the Walk-To-School Day event at Highcroft Elementary. There were about 100 students in attendance with parents and teachers at the neighboring park. The event started with games of soccer, hula hoop, and other activities. Then there were few speakers including me. After the talks local leaders from the YMCA led the group in stretches and exercises. Around 8:30 the walk started. What a fantastic event and I am looking forward to joining them again next year.

Later Friday I talked with a County Commissioner about the school overcrowding in western Wake County. She mentioned, and I agreed, that it is not just western Wake County that is experiencing growth issues. We talked about possibilities of getting schools sooner rather than later and about how to fund those schools. At the conclusion we agreed to work on a meeting with others.

Saturday I joined council member Bush in participating in Cary’s 5th annual Scavenger Hunt. This was my 2nd year as a participant. The other 3 years I was a judge. Council member Yerha was also a participant and council member Smith was a judge. As a participant we had to get as many pictures and answers to 25 pages of clues in a span of about 4 hours. This included driving over most of Cary’s 60 square miles. Being the driver this time I can tell you it was nerve racking. Overall it was great fun and, as always, I learned something new about Cary.

Emails from staff this week included development and construction activity for the month of August. During the month there were 11 non-residential development plans approved totaling over 110,000 square feet. 6 residential plans were approved for 163 townhomes, 72 single family houses, and 0 multi-family units. Currently there are 23 rezoning cases in review, 9 annexation cases in review, and 4 comprehensive plan reviews. 52 new single family permits were issued in August which is a 46.39% decrease from last month and a 52.29% decrease from the same period last year.

Staff also sent an email with the current projects under review. Some of the projects that began the process in July and August include:
• 4800 square feet of retail by the Patel brothers on Chatham Street
• 44 single family units on the Young property off Old Apex Road
• 81,252 square foot Courtyard by Marriott hotel at Parkside Commons
• A greenway connection to Crabtree Creek on Weston Parkway
• An elementary school on Pleasant Grove Church Road
• 14,400 square foot church by Raleigh Chinese Christian Church
• A bank at Parkside Commons
• 19,011 square foot office building on Pinedale Springs Way
• 152 single family homes and 270 townhomes on Petty Farm Road
• 38 single family homes on Highcroft Drive
• 18,932 church on White Oak Church Road
• 96,384 square foot building for a YMCA on Carpenter Fire Station Road
To see the complete list of projects under review go to http://www.townofcary.org/Assets/Planning+Department/Planning+Department+PDFs/planreview/Active+Projects+in+the+Review+Process+(sorted+by+date).pdf.

In another staff email council members were made away of a new statute adopted by the legislature that permits ‘temporary family health care structures’ to be placed as an accessory use on single family lots regardless of local regulations concerning accessory use. I can see this being a potentially big conflict in the future.

Emails from citizens this week included comments about traffic calming on Castalia Drive, concerns about the school board changing Mills Park Middle School to a year round calendar, a concern about high grass on the state portion of Bond Park, a concern about school overcrowding in general, and a comment about the Cary Parkway and Kildaire Farm intersection.

Next week will be much slower and will include a meeting of the Mayor’s Association and CAMPO.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, September 21st. 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, September 07th, 2014

harold2011_small21This was a short week due to the Labor Day holiday.

Tuesday I had my regularly scheduled weekly meeting with the town manager. Joining us was the assistant town manager. We mostly clarified issues brought up at last week’s work session on the task force for disabilities, board appointments, building guidelines, and the winter retreat.

Later Tuesday I joined council member Smith for the ribbon cutting of The World of Beer in the Arboretum. As the name suggests, they had dozens of beers many of which are local. In addition, their food choices where created by chefs from their national chain associated with Outback. I would definitely recommend you giving this establishment a try. At the ribbon cutting were representatives from SafeChild. This is a non-profit group that focuses on preventing child abuse. You can find out more by visiting http://www.safechildnc.org.

Wednesday I attended the annual Cary Chamber of Commerce banquet. I had the honor and privilege of sitting next to Secretary of Commerce and guest of honor Sharon Decker. We had met and worked together previously in an effort to bring the USTA to Cary. We had a great dinner and conversation. She is an incredibly sharp lady and North Carolina is blessed to have her in the position of Secretary of Commerce.  In her comments to the sold out crowd she talked about how Cary was doing so many things right and was a model to other communities in North Carolina. She even suggested a sister city program with other communities in North Carolina so they can learn from us. In her speech she announced that the new Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina will be headquartered at 15000 Weston Parkway in Cary. This is the newly privatized segment of the Department of Commerce that will be responsible for all of the marketing and recruitment for the entire State. In the awards portion of the banquet Brad Simmons was named ambassador of the year, The Umstead was named business of the year, and council member Robinson was named citizen of the year. The banquet ended at 9 PM.

Saturday I attended three events. The first event was the Capital Area Rally for Recovery. There are over one hundred non-profits in the area that are helping alcoholics and addicts in recovery. I along with the mayor from Chapel Hill made a few comments and committed help from Cary. You may not know this but Cary has police officers trained to assist citizens with issues related to addiction. In addition, we work hand in hand with the Wake County Mobile Crisis Unit. I left the event after about an hour.

Later Saturday I attended the Eid festival in downtown Cary. Eid is a religious holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide that marks the end of Ramadan. I joined Congressman David Price in giving remarks. Here is an excerpt from my remarks:

“…we know that no matter how different our cultures may be, we still have so much in common. We all want good government, safe communities, a clean environment, great educational opportunities and respect. It’s only through mutual understanding and respect that we can reach our full potential as a community and truly have a reason to celebrate….”

After making remarks we founder of the festival presented the town a large oil painting from Morocco. I spent a little time talking with those in attendance and came across a Turkish family whose daughter was writing a paper about me in school. I didn’t catch her name but did get a picture of us together.

Later Saturday afternoon I joined a few dozen people at a fundraiser for Mayor Pro-Tem Adcock who is running for NC House. Ms. Adcock will make a huge difference if elected and will be a fantastic representative of Cary and her district.

In emails from staff this week we were notified that contractors will begin installing the Town-wide Wayfinding signs on or about September 9. This is the second phase of our Wayfinding program, the first phase being focused on downtown. To see the type of signs that will be installed and their locations go tohttp://www.townofcary.org/Departments/fdts/facilities/Current_Projects/Town-wide_Wayfinding_Project.htm.

Staff also sent the 2014 fiscal year C-Tran Triennial Review Final Report. The report is prepared by the Federal Transit Administration every three years since we receive substantial subsidies for our service. At least two things are worth reporting: 1) no deficiencies were found which is the best “rating” or result we could receive and 2) there is some discussion of a planned operations and maintenance facility and associated grant funding that is included in our capital planning. This is evidence that our system is operating efficiently.

Emails this week also included a funny story. I received an email from an individual that included the statement “I have lived in Oakwood Hills for over 10 years and I am sure you are familiar with the discontent…” Then the writer went on to ask that there neighborhood be annexed by Cary. I was surprised that there was a neighborhood that I had never heard of and that there were issues and that they wanted to be annexed. So I responded and apologized for not knowing about the problems. Then I explained about NC laws that prevent involuntary annexation and suggested they go through a petition process. I also copied the town manager and his staff and asked them to respond. The town manager confirmed my comments and asked a director to respond. The director made a few comments and asked a staff member to respond. This is very unusual for staff to go through that many levels. Finally the staff member responded with “I believe you contacted the wrong Cary. I believe you meant to contact Cary, Illinois.” If that wasn’t bizarre enough, I found that the unannexed Oakwood, Illinois government has pretty much shut down because of threats due to the proposed building of a power plant (seehttp://chicago.cbslocal.com/2014/08/27/closed-over-power-plant-fight-oakwood-hills-village-hall-to-reopen-next-week). And that is why they wanted to be annexed by Cary. So if you thought WE had problems…

Emails from Cary, NC citizens this week included a complaint about our growth rate via my comments on this blog, a concern from a parent about getting his son enrolled in school, a concern about burglaries, a request to stop approving rezoning requests, and a complaint about radio encryption.

Next week is a regularly scheduled council meeting week. In addition to our council meeting on Thursday, I have a few events including the LEED certification ceremony of the Crossroads McDonalds, and the Cary Scavenger hunt.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, September 14th. 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 toaugustanat@mindspring.com.

• Saturday, August 30th, 2014

harold2011_small23It was a busy week in the mayor’s office prior to the holiday weekend.

As is typical in weeks where there are regularly scheduled council meetings, I started the week by attempting to call council members for their concerns and questions for the upcoming meeting’s agenda. I was able to get in touch with all council members but two. The only comments were on two public hearings. The public hearing for habitat houses always draws interest because some people don’t want low income housing near their homes. This particular proposal was for houses near the west side of Evans Road north of West Dynasty Drive. The second potentially controversial public hearing was a proposal for 92 homes on 32 acres on West High Street near Cary Parkway.

Later Monday I met with management, administration, legal, public information, directors, and others to go over the agenda. Our review lasted about 15 minutes and I projected a 9 PM finish.

Following the review of the agenda I met with the town manager, deputy town manager, an assistant town manager, and public information to go over about half a dozen issues. The issues ranged from future development to development in the downtown area. That meeting lasted about 45 minutes.

Monday evening I attended a fundraiser for John Burns who is an attorney running for Wake County Commissioner. I believe Wake County needs better decision making on several issue including schools, transit, and the economy. I believe Mr. Burns would be the right guy to lead us in that direction and into a prosperous future. I was at this event about an hour.

Tuesday started with the taping of the September episode of Cary Matters. The topics were good ones and included information about the development process, school capacity, roads, and other issues related to growth. Council member Robinson and I completed the taping in about 30 minutes.

Later Tuesday the council held a work session with four agenda items. First we heard from three people representing the Mayor’s Task Force on Disabilities. Interestingly a mayor’s task force is usually appointed by a mayor. But this group was not appointed by a mayor and they are not a town sanctioned board. However, we are always open to helping those in need and agreed to work with them on issues. They will arrange a point person to interact with a member of staff to get answers to issues and concerns. Actions needed by council will be brought forward by staff.

Our second agenda item at the work session was the recommendations for boards and commissions. There were 74 applicants for Cary’s boards and commissions. The liaison of each board summarized their interviews of candidates and made a motion with their recommendations. All recommendations were approved. One concern brought up during our discussion was that some of the boards may be becoming unbalanced with experts. It is important for our citizen advisory boards to provide recommendations that include the average citizen’s point of view. The recommendations approved at this work session will be ratified at the September 11th council meeting.

The next work session agenda item was to hear an update on architectural building design standards and to provide feedback. The building design standards reviewed included materials, composition, proportion, scale, rhythm, transparency, articulation, expression, and color. The community will provide feedback in the fall of this year followed by public hearings and eventually a proposal to council in the summer of next year.

The final topic discussed at the work session was on the annual council/staff retreat that occurs in January of each year. The council went through an exercise to narrow down retreat topics and priorities for the retreat.  The work session concluded after about two and a half hours.

Wednesday I had a private meeting which is typical during campaigning season. These will become more numerous as we approach the election.

Thursday started with an interview by 2nd grader Emma Sharma. She wanted to understand the town’s role in government and my role in the town. She was as cute as can be and was a delight to be around. I hope my interview will encourage her to learn more about her town and all government.

Thursday night was a regularly scheduled council meeting that lasted until shortly after 9 PM. The item that had most of the public speakers was a proposal to rezone 32 acres on Westhigh Street to allow 92 homes. Residents complained of existing traffic and overcrowded schools and explained that this would exacerbate the problems. Council also expressed some of the same concerns as this proposal was sent to the Planning and Zoning Board for their recommendation. The proposal included a valid protest petition which means six out of seven council members would have to approve it when it comes back for a vote. That vote will be at least a couple of months away. Another item that generated emails and speakers was the proposed removal of traffic calming pavement markings on Castalia Drive. Residents trying to acquire 70% of resident signatures to make remove the markings asked for more time. Council, in an effort to be fair and balanced, tabled this item until our next council meeting. That decision generated several nasty grams the following day including personal attacks and statements like “kudos for not doing your job, and costing Cary residents unnecessary costs by your, and your town councils inaction.”

In other action the council approved the Stitt proposal to all single family homes on a five acre tract with council once again expressing concerns about the lack of school capacity.

I know I have said it before but it is worth repeating. School capacity issues need to be addressed at the county level. It is important to understand that Cary projects, plans, and data are provided to the school board well in advance of any construction. The school board then plans for schools to meet each municipality’s growth. However, the funding is provided by the Wake County Commissioners. Unfortunately, the current commissioners refuse to adequately fund the schools putting the school board in a no-win situation. This results in severe overcrowding, capping, and other extreme actions. These actions are being felt not only by Cary but by every municipality in the county. Hopefully, the commissioners will change their minds and start funding our schools appropriately and provide the education services we expect and deserve.

Emails from citizens included a complaint about lack of affordable housing, a request for free Wi-Fi to serve the poor, emails for and against removal of traffic calming on Castalia Drive, a complaint about last week’s blog stating that the growth rate was 3% (btw, it changes as reports come up each month and quarter), a complaint about schools, and a complaint about funding the Morrisville Parkway interchange early than was planned.

Next week’s activities include a ribbon cutting, the Cary Chamber banquet, and three Saturday events.

My next post will be on Sunday, September 7thAlthough 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 toHarold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org and email personal comments to augustanat@mindspring.com.

Author:
• Sunday, August 24th, 2014

harold2011_small23This week was a slower week than last week. Slow weeks will become very rare as we move further into the year.

Monday my weekly talk with the town manager was very brief with no new information to share.

Monday night I met with the Wake County Mayors Association. Nine of the twelve mayors were in attendance. Missing were the mayors from Holly Springs, Wendell, and Morrisville. Our first discussion was on requests to speak with our group. Other topics included the Wake County commissioners awarding hotel/motel funds to Morrisville for a skate rink and to Knightdale for several Naismith basketball gyms. We spent a great deal of time talking about the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri and how some of those issues might be in our own towns.

Tuesday was the quarterly joint meeting of Cary and Morrisville. Some of the information included:

  • Morrisville will be applying for state funding for sidewalks on Cary Parkway from Highway 54 to Sheldon Drive. Our division of NCDOT must spend these funds by next summer or they go to another district. Morrisville’s project, along with Cary’s signature, should be a shoe in.
  • There was a new traffic projection for Highway 54 through 2040. Traffic is suspected to be 50% lower. This will allow a much smaller cross section which makes this stretch available for state funding sooner.
  • The county will rework the transit plan with Cary being a funding partner and heavily involved. Morrisville pledged to provide us with corridor priorities within their town. The kickoff for the new transit plan will be September 22nd and is scheduled to be completed by March of 2015.
  • School capacity and school capping is a major issue for both towns. Communications are good with the school board and both of our governing bodies have had several meetings with school board members. We will continue to look for less invasive solutions to the school overcrowding in west Cary.

Our meeting lasted about an hour and we will meet again in November.

Wednesday I attended a meeting of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO). There were three items that were approved that positively impacted Cary: the statewide prioritization point assignments, the call for locally administered projects for fiscal year 2016, and the final adoption of CAMPO’s memorandum of understanding. The decision portion of this meeting lasted about 45 minutes.

Wednesday evening I joined seven of my friends as we attended a soccer match at Wake Med between the US National team and Switzerland. The place was packed with close to 10,000 in attendance. What a great showcase for our town.

Saturday I gave opening remarks for the 38th annual Lazy Daze festival in downtown Cary. After giving remarks I fulfilled the ice bucket challenge I received from teen Kashif Osman of Cary. I was joined by Garner Mayor Ronnie Williams, Morrisville Mayor Mark Stohlman, Council member Michael Schlink of Morrisville, council member Lori Bush of Cary, and council member Ed Yerha of Cary. I challenged all Cary citizens and would urge all to at least give a monetary donation to the local chapter of ALS.

This week in kudos, Raleigh-Cary was ranked Number 2 on Forbes’ best list for your professionals. This is yet another reason why Cary is one of the greatest places to live, work, and raise a family.

Emails from citizens this week included comments for and against our decision not to remove a traffic lane for a bicycle lane on Harrison Avenue, a complaint about an unkept property, a comment about the potential hacking of Cary’s traffic light system, a concern about development proposals on Green Hope School Road, a complaint about CTran, and a complaint that Cary is growing too fast (btw, we are growing by less than 3%).

Next week will busy with a regularly scheduled council meeting, a work session, a taping of Cary Matters, and a political fundraising event.

My next post will be on Sunday, August 31stAlthough 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 toHarold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org and email personal comments to augustanat@mindspring.com.

Author:
• Sunday, August 17th, 2014

harold2011_small22It was a busy week for the Mayor’s office with groundbreakings, speaking engagements, and a council meeting.

Monday I attempted to call all council members to hear their concerns or questions about Thursday’s regularly scheduled council meeting. While I was only able to get in touch with two on Monday I did hear from the remainder of the council members by late Tuesday. The items on the agenda that was questioned by council members were the Alston Activity rezoning, the lane reduction for the North Harrison Pilot Project proposal, the rezoning on Green Hope School Road, and two of the Land Development Ordinance amendment proposals. Later Monday I met with management, administration, legal, and public information to review the agenda along with Mayor Pro-Tem Adcock. After reviewing the agenda and getting feedback from staff I predicted the council meeting would end around 9:30 PM on Thursday.

Later Monday I met with the town manager and deputy town manager to go over about half a dozen issues. Issues included a wide variety of topics including how to structure out winter retreat.

Tuesday I met with developers along with North Carolina Senator Floyd McKissick to talk about a hotel idea in Cary. What was proposed in concept to me seemed like a good idea for the location. I urged them to go ahead and submit the project for review. The meeting lasted about an hour.

Wednesday started with the groundbreaking of the Mayton Inn in downtown. The process to get to this day took about two and a half years. The groundbreaking was a wonderful event with over 75 people in attendance. Here are excerpts from talking points that I spoke from:

For years, downtown Cary has been a priority for us as both citizens and Town Council members. We’ve invested millions into projects like our Cary Arts Center and The Cary Theater. We completed streetscape improvements to Chatham Street. This winter we’ll begin an $8 million facelift to South Academy Street from Dry Avenue to Chatham Street. This Community Investment Bond project will be under construction at the same time as our signature downtown park, and together will ultimately serve as a setting for street festivals and other activities designed to continue to attract visitors to our downtown. These revitalizing efforts are important and strategic as we remain committed to our downtown.

Our vision and commitment to downtown Cary is what captured the attention of successful hoteliers Colin and Deanna Crossman, who saw the potential and seized the opportunity to develop the Mayton Inn. The only boutique hotel in Wake County, the Mayton Inn brings $12 million of private investment into our downtown, resulting in a 40-plus room hotel, a restaurant, and meeting and event space. Through this project, the Town is able to preserve two of our historic home: the Waldo Rood House, behind me, and the Mayton House, currently located on Academy Street next to Ashworth Village.

Colin, Deanna: Thanks for having me here today, and thank you for helping us make downtown Cary a destination. Public-private partnerships are invaluable to our local economy, as are small business entrepreneurs like you both. As with our other downtown merchants, you could have chosen to do business anywhere, but you chose Cary, and for that we thank you.

I look forward to the ribbon cutting for the Mayton Inn which could be as early as next summer.

Wednesday evening I, along with the entire council, attended the Cary Chamber leadership dinner. This was a time not only to say thank you to leaders representing Cary on all levels of government but also a time to talk with them about issues. In attendance were Congressman Holding, NC State Senators and House members, Wake County commissioners, and Wake County School board members. I was fortunate to have dinner next to Congressman Holding. We talked about many issues. Some were personal in nature but many were not. One issue we talked about was the new guidelines from the United States Postal Service requiring CBUs (Cluster Mailbox Units). I explained the hardship this was creating to some of our residents. He stated that the home builders had brought this issue to Congress about five months ago. He also said that current regulations might prevent much change. He stated that there might be opportunity for some change in hardship cases. Congressman Holding was very personable and I very much enjoyed my time talking with him. I found out that he has three daughters and a young son which keeps him very busy. I also found out that he lived close to former Senator Jessie Helms and worked for him. As is always the case, the Chamber dinner was a great success and a lot of great conversations took place. It is my hope that relationships built at this dinner will carry over to policies that will continue to help Cary thrive and prosper.

Thursday morning I met with representatives of the developer for the Alston proposal along with Mayor Pro-Tem Adcock and council member Bush. They explained that the site they were proposing for their “Inside Wade type project” would prevent that site from being built as all apartments which could be done without council approval. They also went over environmental issues on the site that would limit office from being built there. In addition, they showed how the adjacent site still had great potential for class A office.

Thursday’s council meeting was full of difficult decisions. The first tough decision was whether or not to convert a section of North Harrison Avenue from Maynard to Chapel Hill Road into a three lane cross section with bike lanes. Unfortunately the local newspaper misled their readers by reporting that 70% of people surveyed wanted the bike lanes on North Harrison. What they left out of their story was that the survey didn’t mention that Harrison would go from having two lanes both ways to one lane both ways. I am sure the survey would have had much different results if that crucial fact was included. So much for fair and balanced reporting. Anyway, the majority of the council felt that loosing that much capacity in a congested area on a congested road outweighed the benefits of bike lanes. While I am a big proponent of bike lanes I strongly believe this proposal would have created serious queuing situations possibly resulting in dangerous traffic situations. Therefore I did not support the proposal.

The next tough decision was whether or not to approve a rezoning at Highway 55 and Green Hope School Road. The proposal included 5000 square foot lots with 6 feet of separation between buildings. To me this type of density is ridiculous and I would have not supported it. If there is a proposal with that small of a lot with including that type of separation you might as well have multi-family. During our discussion the developer read the tea leaves and asked to have the item tabled so he could rework the proposal. We will see what the new proposal includes at a future date.

Next was a request of residents to have four way stops along Brookgreen Drive to slow traffic. The town asked residents for their feedback and most said they would not prefer the stop signs. Council agreed and decided not to make this change.

Our toughest decision of the night was the proposal to allow single family residential to the Alston Activity Center Concept Plan. While this land could be developed as apartments today most of the council preferred something better. It was also argued that council should redo the overlay so that office would go there. I love office and I540 and Highway 55 would be a great location for office. However, the developer offered an Inside Wade type product which would still allow office immediately to the south. Inside Wade in Raleigh has a mixture of single family and multi-family and is located next to office and commercial. In the discussion there were passionate arguments on both sides. And everyone’s arguments were right so there was no great answer. I voted to approve the inclusion of single family mostly because I knew there was still room for office.

After a closed session our council meeting ended at 9:35.

Saturday I had the honor of joining Attorney General Roy Cooper and Morrisville Mayor Stohlman at an Independence Day celebration for India. Council members Lori Bush and Mayor Pro-Tem Adcock also joined me in this important day for our Indian American citizens. After a short parade the flags of the United States, North Carolina, and India were raised with national anthems and chants of “long live”. Following the flag ceremony the crowd headed to the fellowship hall for activities and more celebratory events.

Emails this week included several emails about the North Harrison proposal. Most of the emails were against the proposal. Other emails included concerns about construction in the Davis Drive and High House area, comments about cluster mailboxes, concerns about an increase in burglaries, and comments about encrypted police radios.

Next week will include a join meeting of Cary and Morrisville, a meeting of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, Lazy Daze, and several private meetings.

My next post will be on Sunday, August 24thAlthough 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 toHarold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org and email personal comments to augustanat@mindspring.com.

Author:
• Sunday, August 10th, 2014

harold2011_small23
This was a much slower week than previous weeks. Most of my activities were on Monday and Thursday.

Monday I had a conference call with the NC Metro Mayors to get a legislative update. The staff reported that legislative members are very eager to adjourn since they can’t raise money during session. Some of the legislative bills still being considered include:

  • Remove existing sales tax authority from Wake County.
  • Regulatory reform that would remove protest petitions that require a super majority for approval.
  • Several other Regulatory reforms
  • Removing local authority for aesthetic controls

Some of the bills already enacted include:

  • Counties can only hold special elections in even years.

Both the senate and the house have bills for adjournment and the Governor has signed the budget.

Later Monday I met with the town manager for our weekly get together. We discussed the future of the SK8 Park and potential development by the airport authority. Our meeting lasted only a few minutes.

Monday night I had the privilege of participating in an Eagle Scout ceremony for Hunter MacConnell. For his Eagle Scout project Hunter built a pergola to cover picnic tables. The Eagle Court of honor was a special ceremony and I was honored to be a part of it.

Tuesday consisted mostly of quick conversations. I spoke with Chairman Hunt of the RDU Airport Authority Board about my concerns of the future expansion and building next to the Crabtree Lake Park. We were in agreement that this was a sensitive area and that construction should be avoided. He committed that he would not support this type of construction while he was on the board. Next I talked with NC Senator McKissick and a developer about a future hotel in Cary. The developer agreed to meet with me next week to talk more about the details.  My final conversation on Tuesday was with Wake County Commissioner Caroline Sullivan. I asked about the recent vote not to allow citizens to decide whether or not to have a referendum to increase teacher pay. She was very disappointed with the outcome and will continue to look for ways to move our schools and our county forward.

Wednesday talked briefly with John Burns who is a candidate for Wake County Commissioner. We talked about issues that have impacted Cary especially schools. We both agreed that schools and teachers continue to be underfunded. I will be endorsing Mr. Burns to hopefully turn this around.

Thursday the council held a quasi-judicial hearing for a commercial site plan next to Patel Brothers Grocery at Chatham Street and Maynard Road. During a quasi-judicial hearing, the council holds an evidentiary hearing and makes its decision based on the written and oral evidence presented.  Unlike rezonings, a quasi-judicial decision must be based solely on the evidence presented and cannot be based on opinions of members of the council. At this hearing council members Robinson and Bush were absent. The remainder of the council approved the site plan 4 to 1 after about an hour of deliberation. The development on this site will complement the existing Patel grocery, provide additional parking, provide a safer traffic flow, protect a champion tree, add streetscape, and give the town a payment in lieu of widening Chatham (since there are existing alignment problems with NCDOT). The hearing concluded after about an hour and fifteen minutes.

In tweets this week I found out that the Raleigh-Cary metro area was named @bizjournals #10 best cities for women in business and among the best for raising kids.

Emails from staff this week included projects currently being reviewed. Among them are:

  • 3,624 square foot Bank of America building in Parkside Commons
  • 14,400 square foot building on Chatham Street for Raleigh Chinese Christian Church
  • 19,011 square foot office building on Pinedale Springs Way
  • 18,932 square foot church on White Oak Church Road
  • 152 single family homes and 270 townhomes on Petty Farm Road
  • 96,384 square foot church building at Crosspointe Church on Carpenter Fire Station Road
  • 38 single family homes on Highcroft Drive
  • 100,000 square feet of commercial and over 100 residential units at Alston Town Center Phase 2
  • 73,550 square feet of commercial at Alston Town Center Phase 1 at Highway 55 and 540
  • 100 townhomes on Weston Parkway
  • 50 townhomes on Waldo Rood Boulevard
  • 8,000 square foot Union Bank on Davis Drive
  • 3,624 square foot Bank of America building on O’Kelly Chapel Road
  • 110 townhomes on River Pine Drive
  • 6,000 square foot medical building on Davis Drive

To see all projects under review go tohttp://www.townofcary.org/Assets/Planning+Department/Planning+Department+PDFs/planreview/Active+Projects+in+the+Review+Process+(sorted+by+date).pdf.

In other emails from staff citizens were notified of an online survey for Imagine Cary which is the planning process for the next 25 years in Cary. So if you want to:

  • Provide critical input regarding future housing needs in Cary;
  • Provide valuable input about the types of employment areas needed for our future;
  • Share your opinions about preferred types of shopping and dining areas, or mixed use areas;
  • Offer your suggestions about the future growth of Southwest Cary – the Green Level area.

Go to the online survey at www.imaginecary.org and click on “Take the Surveys”.

Emails from citizens included a complaint about train horn noise, complaints about the staff proposal to narrow Harrison Avenue for bike lanes, a complaint about carpool entrances at Green Hope High School, and a complaint about school reassignment.

Next week will be busy with a regularly scheduled council meeting, the groundbreaking of the Mayton Inn, the Chamber Leadership dinner, and an Indian Independence celebration event.

My next post will be on Sunday, August 17thAlthough 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 toaugustanat@mindspring.com.

 

 

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Author:
• Sunday, August 03rd, 2014

 

harold2011_small23
This was a busy week that included a couple of historic events: the swearing in of a new town clerk and the recognition of 50 years of service by Cary Rotary clubs.

Monday morning I had the honor and privilege to administer the official oath of office to our newly appointed town clerk Sherry Scoggins. She is replacing Sue Rowland who retired at the end of August. Cary is blessed to have had Sue Rowland serve for 22 years and to find such a great clerk to replace her. I look forward to working with Ms. Scoggins and believe she will do an outstanding job.

Later Monday I contacted council members to get their questions or concerns about Thursday’s regularly scheduled council meeting. Council members I contacted expressed concerns mostly about the Harrison Avenue Street conversion and the Pritchet rezoning at Cary Parkway and Holly Springs Road.

Monday afternoon I met with management, directors, legal, and administration to go over the agenda items. We talked about council members concerns as we went over the items. Our agenda review lasted less than thirty minutes. I estimated that Thursday’s meeting would end around 8:30 PM.

My last meeting on Monday was with the town manager. We only had a couple of topics to talk about so our meeting only lasted a few minutes.

Tuesday the council held a work session to discuss the tree preservation ordinance. As a result the council agreed to the following tier one priority list:

  1. Any upper story tree 40 inches and greater and any understory tree 15 inches and greater in prominent locations (i.e., along major roadways).
  2. Any other hardwood champion tree (oaks, poplars, etc) in prominent locations including groupings.
  3. Groups of two or more hardwood champion trees that share the same critical root zone located in non-prominent locations.
  4. Any grouping of a champion tree and a specimen tree less than 18 inches located in non-prominent areas on a site.
  5. Any single upper story tree 40 inches and greater and any single understory tree 15 inches and greater located in non-prominent areas.

Council then reviewed tier two priorities, authority for removal, champion trees in bio-retention streetscape, and the current clear cutting ordinance. Some of the criteria for removal of champion trees include a life expectancy of less than ten years, greater than twenty percent radial trunk dieback, and two or more major dead limbs. The revised tree ordinance will be presented to council on August 28th. The work session concluded after about an hour and a half.

Later Tuesday council said their private goodbyes to our long time town clerk Sue Rowland. She not only provided a great service to the town, staff, and council but was a friend to all. She will be greatly missed.

Wednesday I attended Wind Down Wednesday at Waverly Place and talked with several business leaders. Waverly is quickly becoming a destination and businesses are filling up the center. In my conversations I understood that there were very few vacancies remaining.

Thursday’s council meeting had three topics that generated most of the discussion. A public hearing for a townhome proposal with six units to an acre on Holly Springs Road concerned me. That proposal was forwarded to the Planning and Zoning board for their review. I am skeptical and will need more to convince me that the proposed density is the best use of that land. Another topic that generated discussion was staff’s proposal for a pilot program to narrow Harrison Avenue to two lanes with a turn lane and bike lanes between Maynard and Chatham. Council seemed to have concerns with this and asked for a public hearing which will be held at our August 14th meeting. The other major topic of discussion was the Pritchet rezoning of single family homes at Cary Parkway and Holly Springs Road. This proposal has seen several revisions and has been delayed several times. Even though there was a valid protest petition, requiring six of seven votes for approval from the council, it passed. My feeling was that 75% of this proposal was good and the remaining 25% was questionable with its density. However, the applicant made several concessions which I believe will prove that this proposal will blend nicely into what is around it. This was a very tough decision for me for several reasons. One reason was that I live very close to the proposal and literally heard from my neighbors about it.

Friday was a tribute and a dedication of 50 years of service by the Cary Rotary clubs. A monument including a time capsule was unveiled at the Cary Chamber of Commerce to mark this occasion. The ceremony had over a dozen speakers including myself. Here is an excerpt from my comments:

… 50 years ago in 1964 milk was less than a dollar per gallon. It only took a nickel to mail a letter, and $20,000 could get you a new home. I was a living on Waldo Street and walking to Cary Elementary every day by a chicken coup. I didn’t know if but my uncle, Fred Bond, would soon be elected mayor. The population here was about 5,000, and our community proudly found itself with its first Rotary Club.

Today, we’re so fortunate to have five active Rotary Clubs that continuously give time and talents to benefit Cary. … 50 years is a long time. And during that time our five Cary rotary clubs have never deviated from their mission: to provide community service at its best. …

The ceremony lasted about an hour. The rain held off and it was a great event. The Rotary will continue the celebration of 50 years of service at a gala to be held on August 15th.

After the ceremony I traveled to Greenville to help my daughter move into a house for her senior year at East Carolina. I spent the remainder of the weekend catching up on work.

Emails from staff this week included a reminder about the hometown spirit award. The Hometown Spirit Award is given annually to a Cary resident who enhances the quality of life in Cary by preserving, promoting and carrying out positive and quantifiable traditional small-town community values and traits as embodied in the following criteria:

  • Helps out neighbors and fellow Cary residents
  • Demonstrates hospitality
  • Promotes and preserves traditional American past-times
  • Shows a concern for preservation and works to preserve traditions and the small-town atmosphere in the community
  • Promotes entrepreneurship through supporting locally-owned business
  • Promotes a sense of community in their neighborhood and all of Cary
  • Demonstrates patriotism through promotion and preservation of the country’s symbols and dedication to the U.S. military, past and present
  • Serves the community through business

Applications will be accepted from August 1st through September 8th. The winner will be recognized at November 20th council meeting. So if you know of someone that should be considered PLEASE nominate them.

Other emails from staff included the 2nd Quarter report. Here are a few of the highlights:

  • The Town of Cary is now 36,806 acres or about 57.50 square miles.
  • As of July 1st, 2014 the Town of Cary’s population is estimated to be 149,854, which is a twelve month increase of 3.36%.
  • The average unit size in this quarter was 4,027 square feet, which is a slight increase in home size compared to the previous quarter.
  • The average construction value of new home in this quarter was $219,375.
  • There were 25 permits issued for commercial new construction in this quarter, totaling 337,776 square feet which is an increase of over 13% from last quarter.
  • Cary issued 25% of all new single-family dwelling permits in Wake County for the months of April and May. This was the most of any other jurisdiction in Wake County.
  • Construction for the park on the old Bartley farm should begin this fall and conclude next fall.
  • The downtown park construction should begin next spring.
  • Construction is underway and on schedule for both the expansion at the water plant site and the raw water pumping station on Jordan Lake.
  • 41 apartment communities representing a total of 9,808 apartment units are actively participating in an education and zero crime tolerance program called Project PHOENIX.
  • 3% of all calls answered by our fire department were categorized as fire incidents. Over 60% were EMS and rescue.
  • The Cary Arts Center saw an overall increase in attendance 11.5% during the last 12 months.
  • Aquastar cost savings and benefits were recognized nationally when the Town received an Award for Excellence from the Government Finance Officers at the national annual conference in May 2014.
  • The old Mitchell’s Pharmacy store adjacent to the Cary Theater was leased for a craft beer store.
  • The Cary Downtown Farmer’s Market relocated to the lawn of the Ivey Ellington Waddell House on Chatham Street, which has proved successful to the market and had increased foot traffic for neighboring businesses.
  • The NC Legislature has approved a bill restricting the privilege license tax which will cost Cary $1.7 million in revenue annually.
  • The NC Legislature has approved a bill, the Energy Modernization Act that provides for permits for horizontal drilling to be obtained as soon as the rules are complete.

The report can be read in its entirety athttp://www.townofcary.org/Assets/Town+Manager$!27s+Office/Quarterly+Report+Documents/Second+Quarter+Report+2014.pdf.

Emails from citizens this week include inquiries about a traffic signal, concerns about our current recycling, several comments about the rezoning at Holly Springs and Cary Parkway, a concern about the police click-it-or-ticket project on Harrison Avenue, and several invitations.

Next week will be a slower week for me. It includes an Eagle Scout ceremony, a quasi-judicial hearing, and a few meetings.

My next post will be on Sunday, August 10thAlthough 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 toHarold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org and email personal comments to augustanat@mindspring.com.

Author:
• Sunday, July 27th, 2014

harold2011_small23This week was a much slower week with a lot of time spent on non-town related issues.

Monday I met with the town manager, the assistant to the town manager, and one of the assistant town managers. We talked about our annual retreat which is held at the beginning of the year. While it might seem a little ridiculous to talk about that now it is important to plan this event to make sure it is effective. The annual retreat is when direction is set for the year. After that topic I talked with the town manager about other minor issues.

Tuesday I was part of a Cary SAS contingent entertaining a group of SAS workers from Japan. We took them to a Durham Bulls game and had a great time in spite of seeing the Bulls lose 4 to 0.

Wednesday I joined council member Frantz for the taping of the August episode of Cary Matters. Our main topic for August will be the US Postal service and the cluster mail boxes which have been causing a lot of problems in Cary. Our taping was done in a record time of just 18 minutes.

Thursday I talked with a representative of the Pritchet rezoning proposal on Holly Springs Road. They have continued to make concessions to try and accommodate the residents adjacent to the property. I, along with these county residents, am looking for a transition from town to county.  It is my hope that the densities will be lower and that residents will support the proposal. The residents will meet Monday night to decide their next step. Council will vote on this Thursday.

Friday’s meeting of the Metro Mayors was cancelled so that staff could attend the NC House meetings that were in session. Later in the day the Metro Mayors staff reported that the Senate will be in skeleton session Monday at 9:30 AM but is planning to come back later it the afternoon for action. And that House Rules Chair Representative Moore said there was not a budget deal. The House held a non-typical session which is probably a sign the end could be near.

Emails from staff this week included a notification that the Town of Cary and regional transportation partners will present the findings of the Harrison Avenue railroad bridge feasibility study. There has been plenty of research and public input leading to this presentation which will be held at the Cary Chamber of Commerce on August 5th from 4 to 7 PM. Staff also sent out a notification that there will be parking lot resurfacing at Godbold and Bond Parks. The resurfacing at Godbold Park will begin July 28th and finish by August 1st. The Bond Park resurfacing will be from July 28th until August 24th.

Next week’s activities will include the swearing in of our new town clerk Sherry Scoggins, a work session, a council meeting, and the dedication of a tribute in honor of 50 years of Rotary in Cary. The Rotary tribute is a five sided granite piece of art. Each side represents one of the five Rotary clubs in Cary.

My next post will be on Sunday, August 3rd. 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.

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Author:
• Sunday, July 20th, 2014

harold2011_small22This week was dominated by a regularly scheduled council meeting and a couple of political meetings.

Monday began with calls to council members to hear of their concerns or questions about the agenda for Thursday’s regularly scheduled council meeting. I was able to contact and have conversations with three members. Most of our discussions centered on the Green Level West Road Widening project, the Howard rezoning on Carpenter Fire Station Road, the public art for Fire Stations #2, and the council initiated school capacity issue. Since the meeting had nine scheduled public hearings and ten discussion items I predicted the meeting would last until 10 PM.

Later Monday I met with the town manager and several staff members to discuss an economic development issue.

Tuesday I had the honor and privilege of meeting and talking with Clay Aiken who is running for the Second Congressional District seat. If you think that Clay is just a singer with a golden ticket then you are sorely mistaken. I was extremely impressed with his knowledge of all the national issues and his district. What I also liked was his eagerness to work with both parties. In fact his logo starts with blue coloring and goes to red symbolizing this bipartisanship. Clay Aiken has a passion for helping people and doing what is right for his district regardless of party affiliation. I think he would represent Cary and his district well and be a breath of fresh air in Washington. I would invite anyone to check out his stance on issues and contact him. His campaign office is in downtown Cary and is staffed by smart, knowledgeable people.

Wednesday I headed down to Pinehurst to give welcoming comments and a mid-year update to the attendees at the Cary Chamber’s Annual Planning Conference. My talk lasted about ten minutes and included about a dozen PowerPoint slides. To see my slides go to http://origin.library.constantcontact.com/download/get/file/1113097892257-242/2014+Mid-Year+Review+-+Chamber.pdf.

Later Wednesday I was scheduled to attend the monthly meeting of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization but that meeting was cancelled. So I headed over to former council member Erv Portman’s residence for a Jessica Holmes fundraiser. Jessica is running for Wake County Commissioner. I had the honor of introducing State School Superintendent June Atkinson who made a few comments. Later we heard from Jessica about her passion for education. She told a great story about how education and teachers changed her life. You can find out more about Jessica Holmes at http://www.jessicaforwake.com/.  Also in attendance were about a dozen or so candidates for other offices.  I stayed and talked with folks for about two hours.

Thursday the council held one of three regularly scheduled monthly council meetings. The nine public hearings did not draw many speakers. However there were a few that spoke of the rezoning proposal for a YMCA on the land next to the Crosspointe Church on Carpenter Fire Station Road. Discussion items took much more time. The Howard rezoning was approved and I was the dissenting vote. My objection was the 6000 square foot lots which I believe is too small for a single family house unless it is a cluster home. The next discussion item was public art on the new fire station that is being built. Council wanted integrated art instead of affixed art so it rejected the proposal. One item that was a no brainer was to refurbish the water tower on Maynard across from Cary High School and build an additional tank near Maynard and Kildaire. Months ago information showed that this would be cost prohibitive but after much work by the staff we were able to save the old tower. Other agenda items included the appointment of the aging issues task force, direction to staff to investigate adding minimum lot sizes to the land use plan, and direction to staff to investigate changing the land development ordinance to further discourage mass grading. Our longest discussion of the evening was about school caps in western Cary schools. Even though we are not the decision makers when it comes to schools, it is a very important topic that significantly impacts the town. The capped schools in western Cary will not allow more students even if you move into a home that already had a student going to that school. School board member Fletcher was on hand to provide data and answer questions. At the conclusion of that discussion, council member Robinson agreed to work with school board staff to come up with additional detailed information about the school caps. After two closed session items our meeting adjourned at 10 PM.

Friday morning I joined Mayor Pro-Tem Adcock to talk with a representative from a major publication. More on this at a future date.

In tweets this week the Raleigh-Durham (including #Cary) was ranked the #3 swim-friendly locales in US bit.ly/1wztvpH @WakeGOV @TriangleBIZJrnl @CaryChamber.

In emails from staff this week council was notified that contractors working on behalf of the Town will enlarge existing multi-purpose slabs at White Oak Park to create three permanent pickleball courts. A combination of tennis, badminton and ping pong, pickleball is among the nation’s fastest growing sports.

Emails from citizens this week included a complaint about cluster mailboxes required by the US Postal Service, a complaint about electrical outages, and several invitations to participate in events.

Next week I will be spending time entertaining visitors from Japan that work for SAS. In addition to those meetings and events I will be attending a few meetings including a meeting of the Wake County Mayors Association. I will also join council member Frantz in the taping of the August episode of Cary Matters.

My next post will be on Sunday, July 27th. 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.

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