• Sunday, August 30th, 2015

harold2011_small2This was a short week for me but included a couple of long nights.

Monday started with calls to council members to hear of their questions or concerns about the agenda for the upcoming regularly scheduled council meeting. I was able to contact all council members but Robinson. The only concern seemed to be a public hearing on a proposal to subdivide a lot on Walnut Street into three lots.

Later Monday I met with management, administration, legal, and public information to go over the agenda items. Our meeting went rather quickly and I predicted the council meeting would not last long.

My last meeting Monday was with the town manager, deputy town manager, and assistant town managers. This meeting lasted over an hour as we talked in detail about several issues. One item we talked about was all the projects in the works for downtown that are not yet public. One of these projects includes structured parking which would include partnering with the town. This may impact our decision on parking on the new Wake County library site. We also did a debriefing of the first Lazy Daze on town hall campus. Feedback included folks that loved the new site and folks that hated it. There were 50 fewer vendors this year because of the limited space on the new site. We will calculate information on how well the vendors did in the upcoming days. There is a good possibility that Academy Street might not be finished in time for next year’s Lazy Daze so we might be at town hall again for the 40th year celebration. Another item we discussed was the Google fiber. Residents have been asking if Google plans to offer service to residents that live in Cary but have an Apex mailing address. The town asked the Google representative about this and they did not know. The corporate office was also asked but they have not responded. There is nothing contractually that would make Google provide service to all Cary residents since the town does not have that kind of authority.

Tuesday I met with Wake County Commissioners Calabria and Hutchison to talk about transit. I told them that I could not speak for the council but I did tell them my personal opinion about the future of transit in this region. That is, it is important to understand that this region will double in population within the next two decades. And without multimodal transportation including buses, bikes-pedestrian, some kind of rail, and cars, this region would suffer economically and personally through a diminished quality of life. It is also important to understand that when talking transit we are not talking about today’s transportation but about tomorrow’s transportation and what conditions we anticipate. If we don’t begin planning now we will just be reacting which will be much more costly and less effective. Our conversation also included today’s congestion points during peak times in Cary’s morning and evening rush hours. On a related note, Cary has more people are coming into town for jobs than are leaving for jobs elsewhere. This change has occurred very recently and is a direct result of bringing high paying jobs to Cary. My meeting with the commissioners lasted about an hour.

Tuesday evening the council held a work session on three topics: the downtown library, the winter council retreat, and appointments to the town’s boards and commissions.

Wake County will be building a library across from the Cary Arts Center on the 13 acre town site. It will be about twice as big as the current downtown library and be a regional library instead of a locale one. The town is looking for opportunities to partner in a design that would allow expansion with office, retail, or residential next to the library and include structured parking. Of course any changes in design or additions would be paid for by the town. Since Cary is currently negotiating a partnership with another project for structured parking in downtown, this makes the decision much more difficult. That is, we probably can’t afford to pay for both. At the end of our discussion we asked the Wake County and town staffs to come back with detailed financial impact and a layout with the library closer to the park site. This additional information will have to be provided soon and the council will have to make a decision before the end of September since the bond money for Wake County expires at that time.

Our next topic at the work session was the town’s winter retreat. The winter retreat is usually held at the end of January and sets priorities for the year and years to come. It is an excellent time to do a “deep dive” on issues that will have the greatest impact to the town. The council identified three main areas for discussion. Communications between council and staff will be an important discussion since 1) we will have at least one new member and 2) council members are not in total agreement of who should talk to whom about what with staff. This sometime causes confusion and inefficiencies with our ability to address issues. The second topic will be on redevelopment and infill. A lot of areas in town are becoming old and dilapidated and are ideal for redevelopment. In addition, there are still several parcels of land completely surrounded by existing homes and businesses that may develop soon. These types of projects, called infill, always create angst and concern. It will be a good opportunity for council to understand each other’s vision of how these are to be developed. Our last issue for the retreat will be regional visioning. That is, what is being planned around us and how will that impact Cary. That will be a very interesting discussion especially with large developments occurring on our borders.

Our last topic at the work session was appointments for boards and commissions. The liaisons went over their nominees and why the recommended each individual. There was little discussion about the nominees and council approved all recommended appointees. The appointments will be approved at the September 10th council meeting.

Wednesday was my wife’s birthday and so I made sure not to have any meetings.

Thursday was a regularly scheduled council meeting that lasted less than an hour and had two topics of discussion. The first council discussion was after the public hearing on the proposed rezoning on Walnut Street to allow a lot to be subdivided into three thirteen thousand square feet lots. Council expressed concern about the lots having the look and feel of the surrounding lots. While the proposed lot sizes match most of what is around it the narrowness of the lots does not. Staff will bring back information that will help council understand the differences better. Meanwhile it will go to the Planning and Zoning board for their review and recommendation.

The second main discussion item was the order to demolish a dwelling in Oxford Hunt that is dilapidated. Apparently the owner had abandoned this property and it has fallen into disrepair. Now it is not only an eye sore but a safety hazard. Council voted unanimously to start proceedings to demolish the house.

The rest of the week was spent out of town visiting with my youngest daughter.

This week generated a lot of emails from citizens that included comments about Lazy Daze, comments about zip codes, a comment about a charity event, a concern about a recently approved rezoning, a concern about a proposed rezoning, a concern about a fee increase at the community center, a concern about school reassignment, a concern about the environment, a request to recognize a certain holiday (not within our authority), a complaint about the town’s recycling, a concern about greenway safety, and a request to meet with council to design the library site.

Next week’s activities include the opening of CineBistro and a quasi-judicial meeting of council.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, September 6th. 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, August 23rd, 2015

harold2011_small2This week was dominated by small meetings and events.

Monday the council met in closed session with a consultant to discuss the process of hiring a new town manager. The main purpose of this meeting was to go over the job description draft and provide our insights of what we expect of a town manager.

Monday night I attended a meeting of the Wake County Mayors Association. Nine of the twelve mayors were in attendance. Absent were mayors of Holly Springs, Wendell, and Garner. We had a very short agenda and spent most of the time talking about the Centennial Authority and their plans for expansion of the RBC center.

Tuesday I headed to Washington, North Carolina to attend a funeral for a dear old friend who lived to be 91. At my age I tend to go to more and more funerals every year.

I returned Tuesday evening to tour Dorcas Ministries. Dorcas Ministries provides crisis relief to Cary and Morrisville residents who seek stability and self-sufficiency. Part of their outreach services includes a food pantry, crisis ministry, education scholarships, childcare, job training and assistance with Cary Parks and Recreation. God bless them for all they do for our community. They can always use volunteers and donations. Please help if you can.

Wednesday I attended and chaired the monthly meeting of the executive board of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO). CAMPO is made up of 19 municipalities and 5 counties that make decisions on regional and local transportation issues. I chaired this meeting because the chairman was out of town and I currently serve as vice chair. Running a CAMPO meeting was much different from running a town council meeting. One of the main differences is that you gavel at the beginning and ending of each public hearing. I am a firm believer that a gavel should be used only to open and close a meeting. The CAMPO agenda was not that long so I went through it rather quickly. We ended after 41 minutes and I was told that was a record.

Thursday I attended a reception for visitors from our sister city in Markham, Canada. I made remarks and read a proclamation in honor of their visit and their ongoing commitment to Cary. Here are excerpts from my comments about sister cities and our official town crier from Markham, Canada:

“… In Cary, we have a long tradition of not just celebrating but also encouraging and exploring diversity. We work to achieve this by partnering with cultural groups within our community. We’re proud to say that Cary is home to a diverse population of many different backgrounds and through our Sister Cities program, which strives to further global understanding by building personal relationships with cities throughout the world. Today, Cary has unique, community-to-community relationships with Le Touquet, France; County Meath, Ireland; Hsinchu City, Taiwan; and Markham, Canada. Since its creation in 1992, the Town’s program has focused on cultural and artistic exchange, education, government, and economic development as a means to help bridge both the physical and philosophical distances that too often divide us as world citizens. I’m excited to host this event on the eve of our Lazy Daze weekend, which always officially starts with our Town Crier and Markham, Ontario resident John Webster. John and his wife Mary help not only make our festival special but also represent the bonds forged by our Sister Cities Program. …”

Also in attendance at this event were two chefs from Hsinchu City that are spending a month traveling around the United States visiting their sister cities and providing cooking demonstrations. They provided samples of their expertise at Lazy Daze. Cary is blessed to have such great sister cities that help us form personal bonds with people from around the world.

Friday I participated in a meeting of the North Carolina Metro Mayors which was mostly an update on legislative items. The discussion centered on the proposed sales tax redistribution which could cost Cary millions of dollars in revenue. According to the latest information there are at least 77 NC house members that are firm no votes against sales tax redistribution. Historic tax credits and other items were discussed but the feeling is that the legislators of focused on the sales tax redistribution.

Saturday I gave welcoming remarks at the 39th Lazy Daze arts and crafts festival. This year the festival was held on town hall campus since Academy Street is undergoing a renovation to update utilities and the streetscape. I enjoyed the new location and hope it is included in future Lazy Daze. We’ll see.

In emails from staff this week we were asked to remind citizens that nominations for the Hometown Spirit Award will be accepted through September 18th. The Hometown Spirit Award is bestowed annually on 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
So if you know of someone who meets these criteria please fill out a nomination form and submit it to the town clerk’s office at virginia.johnson@townofcary.org. The nomination form can be found at http://www.cvent.com/Surveys/Questions/SurveyMain.aspx?r=cf84c2e7-3bc3-4c3d-8420-9eb6bdc5b6c1&ma=0.

Emails from citizens this week included complaints about a fee increase at the community center, requests to demolish a uninhabitable house in Oxford Hunt, and several requests to attend events.

Next week will include the 2nd regularly scheduled council meeting of the month; a work session on board appointments, the new library, and the winter council-staff retreat; and a meeting with a few county commissioners about transit.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, August 30th. 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, August 16th, 2015

harold2011_small2This was a typical week in the mayor’s office.

Monday started with calls to council members to hear of their concerns and questions about Thursday’s agenda for our first regularly scheduled council meeting of the month. I was able to contact all council members but Frantz and Robinson. The main concern expressed was on a staff proposal to request funding for the South Harrison Avenue extension to Kildaire Farm Road from the fiscal year 2017 Locally Administered Projects Program of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO). Based on what I have heard most council members do not want this extension.

Later in the day I met with management, administration, legal, and public information to go over the agenda items. We went over the items and staff explained that the South Harrison Avenue extension was proposed because it scored well of potential funding CAMPO and it is still on the transportation plan.

My last meeting Monday was with the town manager, deputy town manager, and assistant town managers. We talked about the upcoming town’s rezoning of the 13 acre site in downtown that will hold a library and park. We also talked briefly about other projects and issues.

Tuesday I met with the owner of the Triangle Aquatic Center in Cary. We discussed issues with the mall and the potential development of the 95 acres by the Columbia Development group. His main concern was about parking and he is looking for partnerships with the town and developers. Our meeting lasted about 45 minutes.

Wednesday I provided the welcome to the Cary Chamber’s Leadership Dinner. In attendance were several county commissioners, school board members, legislators, congressional representatives, and business leaderships. It was an opportunity to get to know these individuals so that we can work better together. In my comments I thanked them and pointed out that Cary is great in part because of their efforts.

Wednesday evening I entertained guests at the Booth Amphitheater. The performers were Cheap Trick and Peter Frampton. If you are as old as I am you remember them from the 1970’s. Both were excellent and Frampton seems to be as phenomenal a guitar player as he’s always been. It was a fantastic show. There were over 2000 in attendance which is not bad for a weekday night.

Thursday the council held their first of two regularly scheduled meetings for the month. There were no public hearings and six items for discussion. The main item discussed was the rezoning of a property at Ten-Ten and West Lake Road. The complaints from adjacent county residents were that the density didn’t compare to their lots which went up to six acres. In our decisions we have to compare the proposal to the current Land Use Plan. The current plan for this area called for one to three units an acre. This proposal was for two units an acre. In addition, this proposal provided other mitigations beyond what was required. The council approved by a vote of 5 to 1.

At the end of the regular meeting the council went into closed session. Afterwards the council returned and unanimously approved a motion to make Deputy Town Manager Bajorek the Interim Town Manager starting immediately after the current town manager retires on September 30th. Cary is fortunate to have Mike Bajorek and he will do a fantastic job. It is my hope that he applies for the town manager position.

Friday I participated in a meeting of the North Carolina Metro Mayors. This meeting focused on legislative proposals for sales tax reform and historic tax credits. We are hopeful that there are enough legislators to protect Cary from being robbed of millions of dollars of revenue from the proposed sales tax legislation.

Saturday I attended the India Independence Day celebration at the Hindu Society of North Carolina Temple. I was joined by Secretary of State Marshall, NC Representative Adcock, Mayor Stohlman, Council member Bush, and several Morrisville council members. The event started with a small march followed by a flag raising ceremony. The ceremony included national anthems of both countries along with chants of “long live India”. After the flag raising ceremony the celebration continued in the Cultural Hall.

Later Saturday I attended the International Community Day celebration at Pleasant Grove Church. There were several vendors providing different types of cuisine. In addition, the Cary Police, Cary Fire, and parks departments were there with representatives. I provided a few remarks about diversity. It is my hope that this event will continue annually and grow.

Emails this week included a notification that the Triangle Business Journal reported that Hibernian on Kildaire Farm Road would close on August 15th. They plan to reopen in downtown Cary later this year. Newk’s Eatery, a deli chain, will be opening at the old Hibernian location and will be the first in the area. See the Newk’s menu at http://www.newks.com/menu/.

It was also reported this week that Cary was one of the top thirty places to retire according to a new study commissioned by the Bankers Life Center for a Secure Retirement. It is another of a long list of kudos for the best place to live, work, raise a family, and now retire.

Emails from staff this week included the development and construction activity report. The report included:
• 124.02 acres were annexed in July
• The average single family dwelling in July was 3261 square feet valued at $192,152 this compares to July of 2011 of 3614 square feet valued at $172,657. (Note that these values are nowhere near the selling price)
• Cary had 14.3% of all county permits compared to 22.5% in Raleigh.
• Cary issued 121 single family permits and 54 nonresidential family permits.
To view all plans under review go to http://www.townofcary.org/Assets/Planning+Department/Planning+Department+PDFs/planreview/Active+Projects+in+the+Review+Process+%28sorted+by+date%29.pdf.

Emails from citizens this week included a question about Google fiber, concerns about a rezoning proposal, concerns about future traffic on Chapel Hill Road, and invitations to several events.

Next week’s activities include a meeting of the Wake County mayors, a meeting with consultants on the town manager search, a meeting of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organizations executive committee, and Lazy Daze.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, August 23rd. 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, August 09th, 2015

harold2011_small2This week consisted mostly of private and staff meetings.

On Monday I met with the town manager, deputy town manager, and assistant town manager to go over several current issues. We talked about the Dellinger property for townhomes at Crossroads which has been withdrawn. We also talked about the downtown library site. The county will fund the building of their standard library and nothing more. If the town wants anything extra then we must be willing to pay for it. Several council members have stated that they want to do more with that building. So either it has to be designed and paid for up front by the town or the library would have to be designed in a way that additions could be added. This will be a discussion the council will need to have soon. If the town delays the construction of the library then we might be put in the back of the line, so to speak, for county funding. My meeting with staff concluded after about half an hour.

My next meeting on Monday was with individuals planning the Dreamfest celebration for early next year. Last year the Cary Theater was full with the visit from Naomi King. This year they are hoping to create an event with an even bigger draw. My meeting with them lasted about half an hour.

Monday evening I attended the Cofounders Lab Open House next to the Cary Theater. This group of investors is looking to provide capital support to start businesses. They are financially supported by funds from a group of investors. In attendance at the open house were about 100 people who were mostly the investors and interests from the town. It is my hope and belief that these investors will start creating new businesses in Cary and especially in downtown. I think we will see our downtown change significantly during the next four years with new businesses and new residents. It is an exciting time for downtown Cary.

Tuesday morning I met with representatives from Columbia Development interested in 95 acres across from Cary Town Center. They are still in the evaluation and discovery phase so there are no definite plans. If they move forward their development will be significant and will help an area of town that needs improvement.
Wednesday I met with two candidates running for local office. My first meeting was with a candidate running for a seat on the Cary council. It was mostly a get-to-know-you meeting. He spoke about his background and knowledge of Cary and his willingness to serve. My second meeting was with a candidate running for a seat on the Raleigh council. She was more interested in how I balanced a full time job and my duties as mayor.

Thursday the council held a quasi-judicial hearing for a Wendy’s in the Bradford Development at the Davis Drive and High House intersection. The Bradford was approved in 2007 before many of the current council members, including myself, were elected. That approval allowed three drive-through businesses including two restaurants. Any business with a drive-through restaurant requires council review and approval of the site plan for that particular out parcel. Since quasi-judicial hearings are based solely on evidence and there was no evidence against the Wendy’s with a drive-through then it was approved. This was disappointing since I personally believe the last thing we need at that intersection is another fast food. However, we were very restricted from the 2007 approval.

After the quasi-judicial hearing the council held a work session to hear proposals from two consultant groups wishing to perform the search for our next town manager. The two groups were Developmental Associates based out of Durham and the Waters and Company based out of Dallas with branches in Richmond and Los Angeles. Representatives from both companies pitched to the council for over half an hour each. Afterwards the council debated the merits of each. The majority of the council believed that Waters and Company would do a more comprehensive national search while Development Associates would do a better backend with behavioral and emotional analysis. The majority of council also believed that both companies would provide top candidates. After being stuck 3 to 3 on which one to choose I finally agreed to support Waters and Company. Based on their timeline we should have narrowed down candidates and have an idea of who we want to select by early December. Our work session lasted about two hours.

Friday I participated in a meeting of the North Carolina Metro Mayors. Topics of discussion included sales tax redistribution, bond referendum date, historic tax credit, and budget conferees getting closer to agreement. Our meeting concluded after about 30 minutes.

Sunday I attended the 30th anniversary of the Friends of the Page-Walker event. There were about 100 people in attendance including former Mayor Koka Booth and several former council members. It was a who’s who of Cary’s history for the last 30 years. The ceremony lasted about half an hour and included three speakers. The first two speakers, Anne Kratzer and Brent Miller, talked about the history of the Friends of the Page-Walker. I spoke about the importance of the Friends to the town of Cary. Here is an excerpt from my remarks:

“…On behalf of the Cary Town Council and the 153,000 citizens who call Cary home, I want to congratulate the Friends of the Page-Walker on 30 years of enriching our community. We’ve seen you assemble to serve as guardians for the Page-Walker Arts & History Center, advocate for the preservation of Cary historic sites, archive history for tomorrow’s residents, and generally promote the cultural arts in our community.

You have evolved from a grassroots single purpose organization into a multi-faceted group that provides on-going services to the people of Cary. Our unique and close working relationship helps make the Page-Walker Arts & History Center the valued community resource that it is today. It truly is a prime example of a private/public partnership that works.

At the Town of Cary we value our volunteers and believe an involved citizenry is the hallmark of a strong community and an effective government. Because of you, Cary has arguably the highest quality of life in Wake County. We know that with you, we will achieve the best results through effective teamwork, strategic partnerships and community participation. …”

After the ceremony the crowd enjoyed ice cream, provided by Ashworths Drugs, in the courtyard. There was even a photo stand in where council member Bush and I had a picture made. I left after about two hours.

Emails from citizens this week included a complaint about an AT&T installation, a comment from an anti-abortion advocate, a complaint about the lines at the food truck rodeo, a comment about mailing addresses, a complaint about safety at West High and Cary Parkway, and several invitations to events and meetings.

Next week includes a regularly scheduled council meeting, the Chamber Leadership dinner, an India Independence celebration, and an International Community Day event.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, August 16th. 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, August 02nd, 2015

harold2011_small2This week was a typical non-council meeting week made up of mostly meetings.

Monday I met with a representative of CALEA for our police department accreditation. The purpose of CALEA’s Accreditation Programs is to improve the delivery of public safety services, primarily by: maintaining a body of standards, developed by public safety practitioners, covering a wide range of up-to-date public safety initiatives; establishing and administering an accreditation process; and recognizing professional excellence. CALEA’s goals are to: strengthen crime prevention and control capabilities; formalize essential management procedures; establish fair and nondiscriminatory personnel practices; improve service delivery; solidify interagency cooperation and coordination; and increase community and staff confidence in the agency. They spoke highly of our police department and I believe the interview went well.

Later Monday I attended a Holly Brook neighborhood meet and greet. When the Holly Brook sewer system failed in the early 1990’s, the Town worked with the homeowners and Wake County on a mechanism whereby the Town would receive wastewater from the subdivision and treat it at the South Cary Water Reclamation Facility. Twenty plus years later the residents came to the Town requesting annexation. Unfortunately the statutes changed and the Town was unable to make this happen without legislative action. Representative Nelson Dollar Senator Tamara Barringer and the entire Cary legislative delegation supported the Town’s request for annexation on behalf of the residents. The bill passed and Holly Brook became part of the Town of Cary on July 1. Town staff, Mayor Pro-Tem Smith, and I were on hand to answer questions and talk to the residents. I was there a little over an hour.

Tuesday I met with the town manager, deputy town manager, and assistant town managers for our weekly meeting. In our conversation we discussed scheduling issues and for-profit requests for town services. Our meeting lasted about half an hour.

Later Tuesday I met with a developer, the developer’s representative, and a property owner about a proposal at Ten-Ten and West Lake Roads. We discussed the merits of the project and concerns that I and others have expressed. Our meeting lasted about half an hour.

Wednesday I met with organizers of Cary’s first professional tennis championships. Positioned to begin at the conclusion of the US Open, the Cary Tennis Championships, an ATP Challenger Tour Event, will attract many of the top ATP professionals and capitalize on the excitement created from the biggest Grand Slam. Cary is afforded the opportunity to host this annual event as a result of our efforts to get the United States Tennis Association (USTA) Training Center here. Although, we lost that effort to Orlando and Mickey Mouse, we did make a huge impression on the USTA. The tournament will be the week of September 14th and I hope everyone will show up and show the USTA how many tennis enthusiast we have in Cary.

Friday I had the privilege of participating in the retirement ceremony for Police Chief Pat Bazemore. What an amazing person! We will miss her greatly. She became a mother and a high school dropout at 17. But her determination and drive led her to be one of the greatest law enforcement officers in Cary history. She had many firsts:
• First DARE officer
• First School Resource Officer
• First female Sergeant, Lieutenant, Captain, Major, Deputy Chief, and of course, Chief
She was a leader in the state and represented Cary well:
• North Carolina Association of Chiefs of Police (past Region VII president)
• North Carolina Police Executives Association (past Vice President)
• North Carolina Training and Standards Commission
• North Carolina Law Enforcement Assistance Program, Board of Directors
• FBI National Academy Association
Through her leadership Cary became and remains one of the safest places in America to live, work, play, and raise a family. God bless her!

There is an ongoing process for selecting the next police chief. Deputy Chief Godwin will be acting police chief during this time.

Emails from staff include the 2015 2nd quarter report. Here are some of the notable items:
• Cary’s population is 153,865 as of July 1st which is a 2.7% increase for the last 12 months.
• 164 acres were annexed this quarter
• The town has 37,212 acres or about 58 square miles
• 444 single family lots, 58 townhomes, and 29 multi-family units were added this quarter
• The average single family dwelling was 3854 square feet compared to 3571 square feet in 2011.
• Cary had the 2nd most single family permits in the county. Cary permits were 15.2% of the total and Raleigh’s was 19.2%.
• Cary now has over 25,000 manholes, 917 miles of pipeline, and 43 pump stations.
• Cary’s property crime increase 11% while violent crimes dropped 33%

Emails from citizens this week included a comment about the US Postal service, a complaint about cable installation, and a conspiracy accusation from a Morrisville resident about my vote on the golf course amendment.

Next week’s activities include several meetings, several candidate meetings, a quasi-judicial hearing, a meeting with consultants about hiring the next town manager, and an event with the Friends of the Page Walker Hotel.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, August 9th. 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, July 26th, 2015

harold2011_small2This week consisted mostly of two long meeting nights.

Monday I attempted to contact all council members to hear of any questions or concerns about the agenda for the regularly scheduled council meeting on Thursday. I was able to contact all council members but Robinson. Council members seemed mostly interested in the Land Development Ordinance Amendment for Motor Vehicle Restoration, the proposed High Meadow Drive Road improvements, and the Candidate forum.

Later Monday I met with management, directors, administration, legal, and public information to go over the agenda items. Based on what I heard from staff and council I believed the council meeting would last until about 9:30.

Monday evening I met with the town manager, deputy town manager, and assistant town managers to go over several items. Items of discussion included the Beer Garden at Lazy Daze and a future employee survey. Our meeting lasted about half an hour.

Tuesday the council held a work session with five topics. Two of the topics were on Land Development, two were on Land Development Ordinance Text Amendments, and one was on the town manager recruitment.

The first topic was on Land Use Plan Designations and their associated densities. The concern was that actual lot sizes in many low density developments are smaller than expected when zoning is applied. After discussion council decided to send potential changes to a public hearing. These changes would include not allowing transitional development in low and very low density. Transitional development usually allows smaller spaces in between lots and houses. In addition council proposed to add a table to the Land Development Ordinance that would show what is allowed in each plan designation.

The second topic was on what the council reviews in the Quasi-Judicial process. These hearings are very formal, require expert witnesses, and evidence to be presented in support of a change. Many developers avoid these hearings because the council reviews the entire site plan rather than just the change. The risk of site plan denial is too great just to get a change even if everyone (developer, council, and the residents) wants it. Council decided to send potential changes to a public hearing that include not requiring the review of the entire site plan but just certain modifications.

The third topic was on the Land Development Ordinance transportation system requirements for a traffic study. Currently, if a proposal doesn’t generate 100 peak hour trips then they are not required to do a traffic study. The concern was that several proposals in an area could all be under 100 peak hour trips but cumulatively much more. After studying this staff presented data that shows this really doesn’t occur that much. So council decided not to make any changes.

The fourth topic was on the Land Development Ordinance requiring road connectivity. Currently, the ordinance requires most proposals to connect to adjacent developments. While this might be a good thing in some cases it is not good in others. So council proposed a change that would basically require new neighborhoods to connect but would have a tier system for older infill neighborhoods. Developments next to these older neighborhoods would have an option to connect roads. All new developments would be required to provide pedestrian, bike, and utility connections. And in some cases emergency access would be required. There are currently 16 rezoning cases in the process that could potentially be impacted by this decision. Council will hold a public hearing on this connectivity change at its August 27th meeting. It will then be reviewed by the Planning and Zoning Board before returning for a council decision in November.

Our last topic was recruitment issues related to hiring a new town manager after the current manager retires at the end of September. Council agreed on a two page job description and agreed to decide on a firm after an August 6th presentation from the final two vendors. Our work session concluded after about 2 hours.

Thursday the council held their second regularly scheduled meeting of the month. There were four public hearings and four discussion items. Other than a couple of speakers for the public hearing for the new proposal for the Keller property at Stephens Road and Piney Plains Road there were no speakers. Council decisions included approving Land Development Ordinance Amendments that will increase fines for buffer violations and allow motor vehicle restoration in the town center. Other decisions included improvements on High Meadow Drive and the Candidate Forum that will consist of a five minute statement from each candidate. Our meeting concluded after a little over two hours.

Friday I participated in a meeting of the North Carolina metro mayors. Most of the meeting was spent talking about the sales tax redistribution proposal being discussed in the legislature and the veto threat by the Governor. Thank goodness Governor McCrory gets it. In a statement he said that the sales tax redistribution is nothing but “hidden tax increases”. He is exactly right. If this passes then the municipalities that will lose millions in revenue will be forced to cut services or raise taxes or both. So in a sense taxes will be raised in metro areas to subsidize rural counties. Governor McCrory also stated “this bill will cripple the economic and trade centers of our state that power our economy”. Again, he is spot on. In a time when the nation is coming out of a recession why would you cripple the parts of the state that are competitive with other areas of the nation. The Raleigh/Cary area isn’t competing with rural areas of the state for jobs. We are competing with Austin, Nashville, Atlanta, etc. So please contact you legislators and let them know that they need stand up against this crippling legislation. Let them know that the us versus them attitude is harming the entire state. Working together is the only way we can reach our full economic potential.

Emails from citizens this week included a complaint about garbage containers, a complaint about buffer destruction, and a concern about street signage.

Next week will include the police chief’s retirement, meetings, and neighborhood gathering. I will also be traveling out of town to help my daughter recover from surgery.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, August 2nd. 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, July 19th, 2015

harold2011_small2This was a slower than normal week in the mayor’s office.

Monday I signed the Powell Bill for Cary. Technically speaking, Powell Bill funds are expended for the purposes of maintaining, repairing, constructing, reconstructing or widening of any street or public thoroughfare within the municipal limits or for planning, construction, and maintenance of bikeways, greenways or sidewalks.

Later Monday I met with the town manager for our weekly one-on-one session. I received an update on several items that were mostly non-critical. Our meeting lasted about half an hour.

Wednesday I headed down to Pinehurst for the annual Cary Chamber’s Annual Planning Conference. I gave welcoming remarks and an update to about 100 people in attendance. My remarks included the town’s partnership with the chamber, an update on current downtown activities, and my thoughts for the next five years.

Friday I participated in a meeting of the North Carolina Metro Mayors to get an update on the latest legislative actions. Based on information provided there was not a lot of action and instead a lot of posturing by the Senate, House, and the governor on the budget. It will be interesting to see how all of this plays out over the coming weeks and months.

Friday at noon the candidate filing for local offices in Wake County ended. No other candidates filed to run for Cary Mayor. I believe that is the result of Cary citizens wanting to continue in the direction that we have collectively set. During the last 8 years I have offered steady, proven leadership that has kept our town one of the best places to live, work and do business in this nation. I have delivered on my promises to advocate for balanced growth, be disciplined with town finances, protect our environment and bring unprecedented levels of openness to Cary’s government. I am honored and humbled to be unopposed in the October election and I look forward to serving Cary’s citizens for a third term as mayor.

There were very few emails from citizens this week. Topics included sidewalks, aging issues, interest in a townhome development, and a request to meet with first graders in the fall.

Next week will include a work session and a regularly scheduled council meeting.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, July 26th. 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, July 12th, 2015

harold2011_small2With the exception of Thursday’s council meeting this week was a slow week in the Mayor’s office.

Monday morning I joined council member Bush and council member Frantz to file for reelection. While we may be philosophically different, we strongly believe in each other’s character and professionalism. It is our differences and the way each of us respects those differences that actually make us a strong council.

After filing my campaign committee released a press release about my reelection bid:

Cary, NC – July 6, 2015 – Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht filed papers today to seek re-election to a third term in the October mayoral election. For the past eight years, Mayor Weinbrecht has worked to enhance the quality of life for Cary’s citizens, pursuing balanced growth, fiscal discipline, citizen advocacy and environmental protection.

“In 2007, Cary citizens voted for positive change,” Mayor Weinbrecht said. “And in 2011 they re-elected me because they believed I was moving Cary in a positive direction. For the last 8 years I have offered steady, proven leadership that has kept our town one of the best places to live, work and do business in this nation. I have delivered on my promises to advocate for balanced growth, be disciplined with town finances, protect our environment and bring unprecedented levels of openness to Cary’s government. If reelected to a third term, I will continue to advocate for citizens, not for special interests. Cary citizens want to continue in the direction that we have collectively set.”

Harold Weinbrecht was born in Augusta, Georgia in 1956. He has lived in Cary for 39 years and has served as Mayor since 2007, following 4 years as an At-Large representative on the Cary Town Council. He is employed as a software engineer and holds degrees in Mathematics and Computer Science from Augusta College and NC State University. Mayor Weinbrecht has been married to Belinda Weinbrecht for 28 years and has two grown daughters.

For more information, contact Brent Miller (contact information above). Read Harold’s blog at haroldweinbrecht.com, Like Harold Weinbrecht on Facebook and follow @MayorWeinbrecht on Twitter.

It is my hope that the citizens of Cary will allow me to serve a third term.

Later Monday I called all council members to hear about questions and concerns with agenda for Thursday’s council meeting. While there were no major concerns or questions council member Yerha asked that the golf course noise ordinance wording item be pulled so he could vote against the portion about weekend start times.

Monday afternoon I met with management, legal, public information, and administration to go over the agenda. We expected the Public Speaks Out portion of the meeting to go the full hour since people had said they were coming to speak about the golf course noise ordinance.

The last meeting on Monday was with the town manager to go over various items. Our conversation included a renewed focus on infill and redevelopment, a process on how to address requests from organizations that represent the town (Cary Band, Cary Invasion, etc), and a downtown redevelopment proposal.

Tuesday I spent an hour with a student and their parent discussing the job of being mayor. Afterwards I showed her around town hall and provided her information about how each location was used. Our interview lasted about an hour.

Wednesday I had a private meeting. These meetings are becoming more frequent since we have entered the political season.

Thursday the council held one of its two regularly scheduled council meetings. As expected the Public Speaks Out portion of the meeting had several speakers. But most of the speakers commented on the need for more sidewalks and issues related to senior citizens. About half a dozen folks spoke on the noise ordinance with a couple against and the rest in favor. The Public Speaks Out portion of the meeting lasted about 35 to 40 minutes.

There were no public hearings and only two items for discussion. The first discussion item asked the town staff to look into taking over the Coronado pond as a future town park. There are many potential issues with this such as spending public money on private property, not having all homeowners agreeing to the proposal, setting a very expensive precedent of bailing out neighborhoods with failing retention ponds, and giving false hope of a park especially when some parks have been planned for years and are not built.

The second discussion item was on golf course noise ordinance. Unfortunately, there is been a LOT of misinformation confusing many people in Cary. The word change even had two different meanings. There was change to the existing ordinance and change to the existing practices which were not the same. Those spreading misinformation interspersed the two frequently. After 8 months of discussing this item the majority of the council believed that what has been in practice for years with very few complaints was good. So that was what the council codified in the ordinance. The REAL change was that the council added more restrictions in the golf course existing exception hour (6 to 7 AM). In that hour golf courses can only use equipment necessary for preparing the course for that days play; specifically mowers and blowers. They are not allowed to use chippers, shredders, etc. In addition, the noise ordinance was modified to not only restrict based on the 60 decibel average, which is not a change, but now includes a ceiling of 63 decibels at any instant. In summary, if you live on a golf course nothing is going to change from what you have been experiencing for years except it might be less noisy.

The council meeting went into closed session and ended after about three hours. In closed session we gave the town manager his annual review. In addition, we talked briefly about how to proceed with a process to hire a new town manager. Work sessions will soon be announced regarding this. Our first task will be to create and agree on a job description for the new town manager.

Friday I had the pleasure of joining Mayor Pro-Tem Smith, council member Yerha, town manager Shiver, and other guests for the opening of CineBowl. This entertainment center combines a nice restaurant, sports bar and entertainment, bowling, arcades, and movies all in one venue. The movie theaters have the largest screens in North Carolina and over 200 speakers. Theaters have reclining leather chairs and you can be served food until the movie starts. It was a great experience and I wish them great success.

Emails from staff this week included the construction and activity report for June 2015. Notable items include:
• 21 acres were annexed in June
• 448,532 square feet of institutional were approved
• 169,584 square feet of commercial were approved
• 40,620 square feet of office were approved
• Single family homes averaged 4035 square feet compare to 3443 square feet in 2011
• Single family home values were $223,956 compared to $163,789 in 2011
• Cary had 17.5% of all new home permits in Wake County which was the highest
• In the last 12 months new single family permits are down 21.5%
• In the last 12 months new multifamily permits are down 85.7%
• In the last 12 months new non-residential permits are down 24.3%
Based on the numbers we appear to be doing better than the county and nation but are slowing down from the growth spurt after the recession.

Emails from citizens this week included comments about a proposed rezoning, complaints about a proposed site plan, a complaint about not enforcing the irrigation ordinance, and comments about the town’s noise ordinance.

Next week will be another slow week but will include the Chamber’s Annual Planning Conference.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, July 19th. 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, July 05th, 2015

harold2011_small2This week was a holiday week so activity in the mayor’s office was less than normal.

My weekly meeting with the town manager was cancelled on Monday due to his vacation.

Tuesday I provided welcome remarks at the 73rd Annual Convocation of the Soul Saving Station for Every Nation. This event was an international non-profit fellowship of congregations from nations around the world. I spoke briefly at the event and was there approximately 30 minutes.

Wednesday I met with a local pastor whose church has been in existence for about five years. We talked about how his church could be involved in the community. Our meeting lasted about 45 minutes.

Thursday the council held a quasi-judicial hearing and decided to table the item and continue the hearing. Therefore, I am not allowed to write about it. After the quasi-judicial hearing the council went into close session to do the annual reviews of the town attorney and town clerk. Cary is blessed to have such great leaders in these positions.

Friday was a work holiday for most people. I spent the day doing chores, playing tennis, and running (my idea of a good day).

Saturday I gave welcoming remarks at Booth amphitheater for the fourth of July celebration. This event continues to be popular and draw people from around the country and around the world. Two of the people in the audience, Mr. and Mrs. Inoue, traveled to Cary just for this celebration. I recognized them and had my picture made with them and their host.

Emails this week included an inventory of available office space in Cary. There are 11 spaces available in the 10,000 to 25,000 square foot range, 7 spaces in the 25,000 to 50,000 square foot range, and no available greater than 50,000 square feet. Office space will continue to be a premium and high interest in Cary.

Emails from citizens included a complaint about mosquitoes, a complaint about an access to a greenway, and a complaint about solicitors in Windemere.

Next week’s activities will include an announcement about my intentions of running for a third term and a regularly scheduled council meeting.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, July 12th. 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, June 28th, 2015

harold2011_small2This week was busy with long nights.

Monday started with the Official Grand Opening and ribbon cutting of the MetLife Global Technology Campus in Weston. They currently employ about 1500 people with an average salary of well over $100,000 annually. Their buildings have room for expansion to about 2400 employees. MetLife is ahead of their hiring schedule that was contractually mandated so hopefully they will fill up the rest of those buildings soon. It is great to have MetLife as a corporate citizen and I look forward to their partnership with the town.

Later Monday I attempted to call council members to hear their questions and concerns about Thursday’s regularly scheduled meeting agenda items. I was only able to contact council member Yerha. Later in the day I met with town management, administration, legal, and public information to go over the agenda. That meeting lasted about 30 minutes.

Monday night the council went into closed session for about four hours. The purpose was to hear from our direct reports: the Town Manager, Town Attorney, and the Town Clerk. Afterwards the council wrote up evaluations and decided on merit pay. Council will provide feedback to the direct reports on July 2nd or July 9th.

Tuesday I joined staff members and consultants in hosting an Imagine Cary Business Roundtable discussion at the Chamber of Commerce. There were about two dozen business leaders in attendance. This roundtable discussion is an integral part of the community’s ongoing planning process which will culminate this winter with the development of a new comprehensive plan for Cary. For the first time in the town’s history this new plan will establish our community’s economic development vision and policies, developed and designed in coordination with planning for related topics such as future land uses, housing, redevelopment and transportation. This effort aims to ensure Cary remains an attractive place for successful businesses and a talented work force. This discussion with our business leaders focused on recommended goals and policies. The session went very well with great participation and feedback. The roundtable discussion lasted about an hour and a half.

Wednesday I participated in a meeting with the Economic Development Committee. Notable items that came from that meeting included:
• There continues to be a lot of interest from businesses to locate in Cary
• MetLife officially cut the ribbon on its two buildings.
• Downtown continues to see activity even with Academy Street under construction.
• Cary’s unemployment rate was 3.4% down from 3.6%. Wake County is 4.2%, North Carolina 5.2%, and the nation 5.3%.
• Available land for large office is quickly disappearing. Future large office projects may require redevelopment of existing sites.
The meeting concluded after about half an hour.

Wednesday night I gave welcoming comments at the Hindu Society of North Carolina for Swami Mukundananda. Here is an excerpt from my comments:

“…I am a fitness nut. I’m either running or playing tennis or both every day.
Yet, so much of being fit is about exercising the mind and spirit. In a world of instant gratification and “more, more, more” mentality, it’s never been so important to take a pause and reflect. Reflect on the good surrounding us. Reflect on our place in our community. Embrace quiet. And while I strive to incorporate this into my fitness routine, I am humbled to be here tonight with a world-renowned teacher of spirituality, yoga and meditation who is the epitome of humility and divine love. …”

Afterwards I stayed for the religious part of the session which lasted a little over two hours. That consisted of stories from their scriptures and explanations of what it means to your daily life. Needless to say, it was quite an experience and one that I will remember a long time.

Thursday started with a brief gathering of Troop 131 from Apex and Cary who were at town hall to watch the council meeting. I explained the agenda to them and then answered questions. We talked for about twenty minutes. I was glad to see young people involved in local government.

Thursday night the council met over four and a half hours at our regularly scheduled council meeting. There were eight public hearings, three discussion items, and a closed session. Two public hearings that drew most speakers were a rezoning request at Chapel Hill Road and Lake Drive, and rezoning request at Westhigh South. Both of these proposals have protest petitions and will require a lot of effort to get them passed. In the discussion portion of the meeting council approved the fiscal year 2016 budget of $295 million and includes a two cent tax increase from the 2012 voter approved bonds. Despite the increase Cary will remain with Wake County’s lowest tax rate. In other decisions the council decided to send the Dellinger proposal near Crossroads back to the Planning and Zoning Board since it has changed drastically from their last review. After the council completed the agenda it went into closed session. Once returning from closed session the council approved a motion to do an internal and external search for a new town manager since our current town manager is retiring. Staff will bring back information about the cost and process at a future council meeting.

Friday I participated in a meeting with the NC Metro Mayors with about two dozen mayors and representatives from other municipalities. Most of our discussion focused on the sales tax changes being considered by the NC Legislature and how it will impact municipalities.

Emails this week included a notification from Google fiber that construction in this region will begin in the coming weeks. Once construction is completed Google will have laid enough fiber to reach London and back. Here are some of their answers to frequently asked questions:
• It looks like you’re starting construction in my area. Does that mean we’ll be the first to get Fiber?
Not necessarily. We’ll be doing construction all across the metro area in the coming months, but we don’t yet have a schedule for when and where we’ll be able to offer service first.
• When will you start signups for Google Fiber?
It’s still too early to say. We have a lot of construction work to do first! We’ll make an announcement as soon as we have an update about timing. The best way to stay in-the-loop is to sign up for more information on our website, google.com/fiber.
• Are you hiring?
We have a handful of Google jobs, which you can find on our website: google.com/jobs. We also rely on many contractors to bring Google Fiber to a city, and some of those companies may be hiring. You can find some of those partners listed on our website, at fiber.google.com/careers/
• What happens if there are construction issues in my area?
We’re going to work hard to keep disruption to a minimum. Our crews will work quickly, and when they’re done, they’ll return the construction area to the condition they found it in, whether that means patching any holes we had to dig, repaving streets or even planting new grass seeds when needed. If any issues come up, we’ll also have a hotline available so you can get in touch with us 24/7.
• How long will you be constructing in my neighborhood/city?
The amount of time it takes to bring fiber to a particular area varies greatly based on the size of the area, whether we’re doing aerial or underground work, the local soil type, and even the weather conditions. We don’t have a specific timeframe to share just yet, but we’ll try to build as quickly and efficiently as we can, and will keep residents updated along the way.
Look for door hangers which will let you know that construction is about to begin on your street.

In other emails the Homebuilders Association provided a report about building permits. Notable items include:
• Cary had the most new single family permits in Wake County followed closely by Raleigh
• Single family permits in Cary dropped 33% during the last twelve months
• Single family permits have increased 2% in Wake County over the last twelve months
The homebuilders supply this report once a month.

Emails from citizens included a concern about trees, a concern about a proposed Comprehensive Plan Amendment in the Crossroads area, a request for assistance in getting a job, a request to remove an access to a public greenway, a concern about the Google fiber installation, criticism about not having a public aquatics center, and criticism about not expanding CTran.

Next week is a holiday week with most people getting Friday off to celebrate the 4th of July holiday. Most government offices, including Cary, will also be closed. My schedule will include meetings, welcoming remarks, and a quasi-judicial hearing.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, July 5th. 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.