• Sunday, November 23rd, 2014

harold2011_small2This was a busy week as we tried to do as much as possible before the holiday week.

Monday started with calls to council members to hear their questions or concerns about the agenda for Thursday’s regularly scheduled council meeting. I was only able to contact council members Yerha and Bush. Our discussion focused on appointments to the Wake County Transit Investment Strategy Study Advisory Committee and a couple of rezonings. Later Monday I met with staff and Mayor Pro-Tem Adcock to go over the agenda. Since there were only two public hearings and no closed session I predicted that our meeting would conclude by 9:30.

Monday night I met with the Mayors Association in Fuquay. Our main topic of discussion was the legislature and the actions they are planning to take. Some mayors disclosed information from inside sources that the assault on municipal revenues would continue. In this session it is predicted that sales tax money (25% of Cary’s revenue) would be distributed to more rural areas rather than the point of sale. That is, even though sales tax is collected for something is sold in Cary some of that revenue would go to rural areas rather than come back to Cary. In addition, it was also disclosed that the state might move maintenance of all roads within municipalities to the towns and cities. In Cary that would mean about 200 miles of state roads would become our responsibility. That would be a HUGE cost. To put it in perspective one lane mile of road is about a million dollars which is about a penny on our tax rate (34 cents per $100). We all agreed that at this point we need to develop better relationships with our Wake County delegation before the session and before we are asking for anything.

Tuesday I joined council member Bush in the taping of the December episode of Cary Matters. Our main segment explained zoning in detail. The Q&A addressed police body armor and discounted taxes for seniors.

Later Tuesday the council held a work session on three topics.

The first topic was to review Legislature Advocacy Conference Goals from the NC League of Municipalities. We took 41 goals, selected the top 25, and categorized them into High, Medium, and Low priorities. That process took about 15 to 20 minutes. The second topic was somewhat related as we reviewed last year’s Cary legislative agenda and provided comments for this year’s legislative agenda. We will vote on that agenda at a later date. This portion of the work session took about 40 minutes.

Our last topic of discussion was the pros and cons of appointing a replacement for Mayor Pro-Tem Adcock who will be serving in the NC Legislature starting in January. Some of the benefits of appointing a replacement included avoiding 3-3 ties and having a representative for district D citizens. Comments related to not appointing included the point that council member Yerha lives in district D, council rarely has 4 to 3 votes on critical issues, and that it takes months to get up to speed and comfortable serving as a council member regardless of experience. The council decided not to make a final decision since council member Frantz was absent recovering from surgery. However, it did appear that the majority of council members were leaning not to appoint a replacement. We will take up the subject again at the December 9th work session.

Wednesday was a very busy day for me which required me to take vacation time from work. Taking vacation for town functions is nothing unusual and I usually use about 2 of my vacation weeks a year for this purpose.

Wednesday afternoon I had the honor of giving remarks at the dedication of the Western Wake Regional Water Reclamation Facility. It took about 10 years and $300 million dollars to get this facility built and it will server our citizens and our region for about 20 to 25 years. This project was on time and under budget. Partners in the building of this facility included Wake and Chatham County, and the Towns of Apex and Morrisville, the New Hill community, a laundry list of state and federal agencies, and private contractors. The Western Wake Regional Wastewater Management Facilities is an excellent example of how all the levels of our government can accomplish great things when we have a shared vision and commitment to our community and our county’s future. The ceremony lasted about 20 minutes and was followed by a reception.

After the dedication I hurried to downtown Raleigh to attend the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization meeting. We only had a few items on the agenda and none of them were critical decision items.

Next it was back to Cary Town Hall. I sat in and listened to the Aging issues Task Force. The purpose of the group is to assess the Town’s level of age-friendliness by reviewing the Triangle J Council of Government’s Livability Toolkit and providing recommendations to Town Council to support an aging population.

Next I met with UNC Chapel Hill reporting student Madison Gardner. She was doing a final report on how Cary is still a town even though it is larger in size than some North Carolina cities and how Cary works to keep an intimate, small town atmosphere even though it is continuing to grow and flourish. Her interview lasted about 30 minutes. As a side note, Madison is a cheerleader at UNC.

Thursday evening I attended a reception and gave remarks at the annual Hometown Spirit Award. There were three fantastic nominees this year.

The first nominee Steve Linton served his community by helping with recovering alcoholics, Jobs for Life with Dorcas ministries, and starting a company to assist women getting back on their feet.

The second nominee was Barbara Magee who has been teaching at Green Hope High School ten years. She promoted community service, as a requirement of your curriculum, in order to foster a sense of stewardship in students and build pride and investment in our town. Her students have logged over 42,000 of service by doing things like maintaining trails at Hemlock Bluffs, removing litter from our streets and streams, helping the Town with compost education and outreach goals, supporting the Town’s green events and celebrations such as Reuse Rodeo, Arbor Day, and Earth Day.

The third nominee was David Martin who coined the phrase “The only place you can go that is better than Cary is heaven.” In addition to being a successful businessman Mr. Martin has been a strong advocate for our town and helps preserve our neighbor-helping-neighbor community. Some examples of his kindness include helping a widow repair a leaking roof, giving emergency housing to a family in financial stress; incubating beginning churches with free meeting space are just a few examples of the many acts of kindness and generosity.

Thursday night the council held the only regularly scheduled (non quasi-judicial) meeting of the month. At the beginning of the meeting I was joined by 2013 Hometown Spirit Award winner Jerry Miller. He announced this year’s winner David Martin and we congratulated him and presented him the award. We are blessed to have so many great people serving and helping keep our small town feel.

The remainder of the meeting included three major rezonings west of Highway 55 which were tabled after applicants pre-meeting talks with various council members and after applicants heard our discussion about issues related to growth in western Cary. Council members expressed desire to approve low density single family residential in western Cary but with no relief school overcrowding coming in the near future and major traffic issues they couldn’t approve these requests.

School information provided to me by our school board representative stated that in western Cary additional elementary capacity won’t be available until 2016, high school capacity won’t be available until 2018, and middle school capacity even later.

Other items at our meeting included two public hearings, the Wake County Transit Investment Strategy Study Advisory Committee Appointments, and a request to investigating potential risks supporting a resolution recommending the approval of tax-exempt bonds for the financing of Triangle Math and Science Academy. Our meeting concluded after about an hour and a half.

Friday I had the pleasure of welcoming everyone to the 4th Annual Waverly Place Christmas Tree lighting ceremony. After my remarks I introduced Santa and he lit the tree with his magic after a count down. There was a good crowd on hand and great entertainment. What a great way to start the holiday season.

Emails from citizens this week included a concern about rezonings in west Cary and a concern about homes being built in Fryars Gate. I also received a lot of invitations, dinners, and performances. While I would like to do them all there just aren’t enough free slots on the calendar. But I do look forward to those I can attend.

Next week is the Thanksgiving holiday week and will be very slow for me. It only includes a couple of meetings. I am looking forward to spending time with family and friends and enjoying some down time. My wish to all of you is that you have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, November 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, November 16th, 2014

harold2011_small23This week was busy despite having a day off for a town holiday.

Monday I met with the town manager to discuss several issues. First we discussed January’s retreat in Charlotte and how to keep costs low. Transportation will be provided by NCDOT Rail without cost to the town. Next we discussed my thoughts on whether council would appoint a replacement for Mayor Pro-Tem Adcock’s vacant seat or wait until the election next November. At this time I believe council is leaning towards waiting. We also discussed next fall’s Lazy Daze location which is might be on town hall campus and a small portion of Academy Street. This new temporary location will be necessary since the usual location on Academy Street will be undergoing new water, sewer, and streetscape changes. Our last topic was about Google fiber. Both of us anticipate Google will select Cary in December since all talks are continuing and everything looks positive. If this happens Google will hire several contractors to install the fiber throughout town with an aggressive 12 to 18 month timeframe. This will mean a lot of dug up yards and a lot of complaints (I have actually complained in the past about my yard being dug up multiple times by communications contractors). In addition, we will need to consider hiring extra inspectors to handle the volume of permits that will be required to complete this installation. Staff is investigating all these possibilities and we will know more soon.

Later Monday I met with Boy Scout Addison Young who interviewed me for his Citizenship in Community Badge. He asked questions about my vision, biggest accomplishments, biggest problems, etc. We had a good talk and it lasted about 45 minutes.

Tuesday was Veteran’s Day which is a recognized holiday for the Town of Cary. So I was fortunate to have the night off. A big salute to all veterans who served and are serving our country. Thank God for you and all you do!

Wednesday I had the pleasure of speaking to the entire 3rd grade class at Davis Drive Elementary. Each classroom had elected mayors and I met with them privately before meeting with the entire 3rd grade class. The toughest question I got from the mayors was “who is your favorite political person”. Since I am not really a big fan of any particular political figure that caught me by surprise. Then I remembered my good friend Gale Adcock who was just elected to the NC House. She is by far my favorite political figure. I spent about 15 minutes with the mayors and then we headed to the assembly of all 3rd graders. I talked about my roles and duties and then answered a few dozen questions. It was a lot of fun and I hope I get invited back to do this again.

Wednesday night I traveled to Morrisville to participate in the Morrisville-Cary Joint Issues Committee meeting. There were several updates that included:
• The Cary Parkway sidewalk project from the CVS to Sheldon Drive. This is in Morrisville and NCDOT approved this month. It should be under construction in March.
• The McCrimmon Extension Project is 14.3 miles from Highway 54 to Aviation. Construction should begin in May and last until 2018. It will open up 400 acres of undeveloped land for Morrisville.
• Morrisville’s Sports Complex will have 2 hockey rinks and will be the practice space for the Carolina Hurricanes. It will seat about 1250 people and will have volleyball and gymnastics space. It will be on 20 to 25 acres on the Morrisville Parkway Extension.
• The Greenways from Crabtree Creek to the American Tobacco Trail is about 10 miles long and goes through sections of Morrisville and Cary. All but two Cary sections, totaling less than 3 miles, will be completed by 2017.
• Louis Stephens Road goes through Cary, Morrisville, and Wake County jurisdictions. The incomplete part is all Morrisville or Morrisville’s ETJ. They are trying to get state funding for the remaining sections.
The meeting concluded in about an hour. The next meeting will be in Cary and held at a date to be determined in February.

Thursday morning I attended the annual Thanksgiving breakfast fundraiser by Dorcas Ministries. There were over 350 people in attendance. Dorcas ministries provided assistance to over 13,000 people last year. Some of the ways they provide assistance is through their food pantry, crisis ministry, education scholarships, childcare, job training center, and park fee assistance. Most of us are blessed in Cary and I believe many would be shocked to find out how many are in need. So if you can find it in your hearts please help Dorcas with clothing, donations, and volunteer hours. Cary is blessed to have this organization serving people of our town and surrounding areas.

Thursday the council held three quasi-judicial hearings. Quasi-judicial hearings are for special use permits, certain subdivision and site plan applications and for certain other applications. During a quasi-judicial hearing, the Hearing Body must hold an evidentiary hearing and make its decision based on the written and oral evidence presented. Unlike legislative decisions (like rezonings), a quasi-judicial decision must be based solely on the evidence presented and cannot be based on opinions of members of the Hearing Body. Put differently, a quasi-judicial decision is one that requires the Hearing Body to find facts and exercise discretion when applying the standards of an ordinance to a specific situation.

The first quasi-judicial public hearing was whether to allow Wake County to develop a 321,000-square-foot high school, called Green Level High, with modifications to location of parking, connectivity to adjacent parcels, removal and replacement of champion trees, and architectural standards. In presentation and deliberation the council agreed on distributed parking, separate entrances for buses, staff, and students, and no connectivity to the future town park since the town hasn’t designed how to cross a stream. The council also agreed on permitting more metal siding than brick on the back side of the school which would require less steel support structure allowing for a higher, 4 story building, with larger windows. And the council allowed the removal and replacement of 7 trees since the trees or their root systems were in the footprint of the school or in the footprint of the road. The hearing took almost an hour.

The second quasi-judicial public hearing to approve a sketch site and subdivision plan to develop approximately 304 townhomes, 126 detached dwellings, and a private neighborhood amenity center on an approximately 100-acre assemblage of land at I540 and Highway 55. This was the project that was approved a couple of months ago in an area that is designated to be high intensity by the land use plan. Our discussion focused mostly on roads, and ability of these roads to allow emergency equipment. Council approved the site plan after about an hour.

The last quasi-judicial public hearing was a request by Parkside Commons to allow a modification to the traffic mitigation timing for Phase 2, specifically, the CSX Railroad crossing at O’Kelly Chapel Road. Basically, they wanted to build parcels without the at-grade crossing that is delayed because of CSX Railroad. In deliberation staff pointed out that the current road mitigations were performing much better than expected and that these additional parcels would not create an issue. Council approved this request after about 30 minutes.

Saturday morning was spent visiting a former first lady of Cary who is recovering from surgery.

Saturday evening I was the chief guest at the Heritage India Association of NC’s children’s day. I gave remarks and was privileged to see a few performances. Our children are the leaders of tomorrow and it is very important that they are involved in events like this so that they can build leadership skills, confidence, and the ability to socialize. I hope that more events like this will be held in the future.

In accolades this week Cary was named the 3rd safest city in the nation by Wall Street dot com. In their comments they noted Cary had 69 violent crimes per 100,000 people, 9th lowest number of murders, 4th lowest poverty rate, and the 10th highest number of citizens with a high school diploma. To read the entire report see: http://247wallst.com/special-report/2014/11/12/the-safest-cities-in-america/4/.

Emails from citizens this week included a concern about Cary’s homeless population, a concern from the Fryars Gate neighborhood about their builder Lennar, a concern about an HVAC inspection, and comments about AT&T’s position regarding net neutrality.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, November 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, November 09th, 2014

harold2011_small23This week was long week that included a major election and several events.

Monday morning I received an email from School Board member Bill Fletcher. In it he reported that teacher resignations in Wake County went from 906 in 2013 to 1210 in 2014. In the last four years teacher resignations have doubled. The email also pointed out that several municipalities are in broad agreement that 40 additional schools are needed but only 16 have been funded. The entire county is endangered of being overwhelmed with growth.

Monday night I attended a dinner with the Divan Center board members. The Divan Center was founded in 2005 by the Turkish-American Community of North Carolina. On their web site they say that dialogue is a key philosophy to settling differences and a way to move forward as a community. To achieve this ideal, the Divan Center organizes and promotes activities including diversity awareness seminars, cultural festivals, dialogue dinners, community service, art performances, and cultural trips where people from different backgrounds can meet and find common ground. I am grateful for them and their mission to help Cary continue to be a diverse community. My dinner and conversation with the board included wonderful Turkish cuisine and great conversation.

Tuesday I visited Kindergartners at Cary Christian School who have been studying government. I explained my role as mayor and then answered questions. They were all as cute as a button and were very smart. After questions they said the pledge of allegiance, sang a song, and recited Bible verses for me. What an impressive group. I enjoyed my visit and hope I get invited back in the future.

Tuesday night I joined the entire council and over 100 people in celebrating Gale Adcock’s election into the NC House. While she will leave a HUGE hole on our council and will be sorely missed, Cary will now have a representative in the NC House that knows, loves, and cares about us. God bless her and I look forward to working with her in her new role.

Wednesday I participated in a post-election night synopsis by the NC Metropolitan Mayors Coalition. Here are some of the interesting points made:
• Generally Hagan won the Triangle, Mecklenburg County, the Northeastern part of the State and the Southeastern parts around Cumberland and Robeson counties, but not by large margins in whole. Tillis lost the urban counties of Mecklenburg, Durham, Wake, Guilford, Buncombe, Cumberland and Forsyth by only 205,392 votes.
• In the NC House Republicans controlled with a 77/43 super majority before Election Day. Democrats needed to net a five seat pick up to overcome the supermajority. Democrats netted a three seat gain. The GOP lost four seats (Murry-Wake, Stone-Lee, Ramsey-Buncombe, Moffitt-Buncombe) and picked up one (Yarborough-Person). Republicans now have a 74/46 majority.
• In the NC Senate Republicans controlled with a 33/17 super majority before Election Day. Democrats did not pick up any seats (there is one race in Wake County that could go to a recount). The Democrats lost Sen. Gene McLaurin increasing the Republican control of the Senate to 34/16. There will be six new faces in the Senate. Senator Berger told a reporter for The Insider, “I think it validates the work we’ve been doing over the past four years. It indicates that the public is pleased with the policies we’ve implemented.”
• According to the State Board of Election, 2.9 million North Carolinians cast ballots in this election cycle, eclipsing the previous record of 2.7 million in the 2010 midterm election. An increase in the number of registered voters due to population growth kept turnout slightly below the 44 percent level of 2010.
The meeting lasted about 45 minutes.

Wednesday evening I met with directors of ITT Technical Institute in Cary. My visit included a tour of the facility and an overview of what is offered. The areas of study they offer include the school of technology, the school of information technology, and the school of drafting and design. Scholarships are also available to certain students such as military. The school holds classes in the evenings and on Saturday and is designed for someone who is working.

Wednesday night I participated in the Citizen Police Academy graduation along with council members Smith and Yerha. The Citizen Police Academy is a free, 12-week program that explores topics like criminal and constitutional law, patrol, criminal investigations, youth services, DWI detection, and domestic violence. All participants will also take a trip to the firing range used by Cary Police for training. This was the 35th graduating class from the program which was started in the 1990s. I along with the council members made a few remarks before the featured speaker retired Major David Wulff who founded the program. Then we handed out graduation certificates and gifts before having refreshments. God bless the men and women who gave up nights with their families to be a part of the Police Department family.

Thursday I attended an open house for Stalls Medical Inc in Cary. They provide products and services to a wide range of individuals in an effort to enhance mobility and functional independence in the home and community. Products include adaptive vans, power wheelchairs, scooters, sports equipment, stair glides, platform lifts, ceiling transfer systems, automatic door openers and much more. Their company provides a crucial service to our citizens and we are blessed to have one of their offices in Cary.

Saturday I attended an Abilities Tennis Clinic for persons with intellectual disabilities held at the Cary Tennis Center. The clinic was positive, upbeat with everyone having a great time learning, exercising, laughing, cheering and socializing. The program not only provides opportunities for persons with disabilities but is a great example of the partnership forged with Western Wake Tennis Association, Abilities Tennis Association of North Carolina, and the Town of Cary. I was blessed to witness this great event.

Emails from staff this week included a notice that council will need to appoint members to the Wake County Transit Investment Strategy study’s advisory committee. Each municipality will appoint a number of members based on population. As a result Raleigh will have ten appointees, Cary will have six, and all other municipalities will have three except Rolesville, Wake Forest, and Wendell which will have two. In addition, there will be appointees from unincorporated areas and various agencies with a vested interest in transit. The total number of appointees will be 70 and they are scheduled to meet for the first time on December 8th. Cary’s appointees will include one elected official, business leaders, interested citizens that are familiar on interested in transit, citizen advocates, and non-profit organizations serving the Cary community.

Email from citizens this week included a complaint about a sewage smell, a complaint about a broken sidewalk, a complaint about a break in, and a question about property tax discounts for seniors.

Next week will be another busy week and includes a quasi-judicial meeting of the council, a joint meeting of Cary and Morrisville, and several events.

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

• Monday, November 03rd, 2014

harold2011_small23This week was a busy week with long meetings for a mini-retreat and a council meeting.

On Monday I called all council members to get questions and concerns they had as part of the preparation for the upcoming Thursday council meeting. I was able to get in touch with all council members except Robinson and Frantz. There were no major concerns expressed in the conversations. Later in the day I joined Mayor Pro-Tem Adcock, management, directors, legal, public information, and administration to review the agenda. The agenda had 9 consent items, 9 public hearings, and 7 items for discussion. Since all public hearings had the potential for speakers and discussion I predicted the meeting would last until at least 11 PM.

Monday evening I met with the town manager for our one on one weekly meeting. Our discussion mostly focused on the winter retreat to be held in Charlotte and how we could cut costs. Having a retreat out of town is about the same cost as having one in town and provides much more benefit since staff and council are together for two whole days.

Tuesday the council held a mini-retreat to set priorities for the upcoming 2016 budget. There were four main topics: 1) Challenges for the future, 2) Capital Improvement Financing, 3) Review of Fund Balance Target, and 4) Near Term Possibilities. The retreat lasted for about 4 ½ hours.

The first topic at the mini-retreat was open to the council to list challenges they believed to be important for the future. Here are some of the items:
• Should we reconsider definitions of land use and overlay districts?
• Millennials have nowhere to live but do we need to be all things to all people?
• Quality of life in West Cary is a concern. It looks different from the rest of Cary.
• Managing expectations is important with two population groups: Seniors and young families.
• We need a plan to grade separate and connect greenways.
• We need to look for innovative ways to help with the crowded schools and congested roads in West Cary even though it falls outside our core authority.
• We need to look into recycling more frequently. We should consider more recycling for businesses and multi-family.
This session of the work session lasted an hour.

Our second topic in the mini retreat was Capital Improvement Financing. Basically this approach will change the way capital improvement projects will be presented in the Fiscal Year 2016 budget. It better aligns projects with available resources. Interesting points I noted in this session was:
• $1 million in debt is equal to $75,000 in debt service.
• We have $60 million of debt capacity within our 15% debt ceiling (of operating budget).
• For the next 5 years there is only about ½ the revenue needed to meet capital demands.
This session completed after about 45 minutes.

The third topic of the mini retreat was on our General Fund Balance. The General Fund Balance is the town’s savings account and is divided into three parts. The first part is the state mandated 2 months (of operating costs) in reserves. This cannot be touched. The second part is the town policy of 4 months of reserves. And the third part was the reserves in excess of the state and town reserves. Initially the town had a practice of keeping four months of reserves with an understanding that some of that could be used for pay-as-you-go capital projects. Over the years there was always money in excess of the town reserves and that was used for pay-as-you-go projects. As a result the town’s four months of reserves was never considered for capital projects. This can be problematic since interest savings is almost nothing and is clearly less than debt interest. So after much discussion the council decided to make the town reserves 3 months in addition to the 2 months state mandated giving us 5 months of reserves. In addition, this 5 months will be a hands off reserves. This is considerably more than other municipalities with the highest bond rating (like Cary) from agencies like Moody’s or Standard and Poor. The excess capital reserves will now be around $45 million. The council will continue to use its current policies and budgeting and reviewing any expenditure of capital reserves.

The last topic at the mini-retreat was basically an open floor for council members to express near term possibilities that they would like to focus on. Here are some of the items mentioned:
• Look at ways to incentivize schools such as providing infrastructure to school sites or building parks next to school sites.
• Look at accessibility improvements for seniors and the handicapped at the Sertoma amphitheater.
• Use the Ivy Ellington House for a town facility like a museum.
• Provide Sunday Service for CTran.
• Create sidewalks in areas that are unsafe for pedestrians like Louis Stephens Road.
• Look at ways to bring all parties together for Louis Stephens Extension.
• Think about ways to market the town and its amenities like the sports venues.
• Investigate alternating Cary Matters with on location programming.
• Realign Jenks Carpenter Road.
• Consider funding more crossing guards at middle schools.
• Look at median issues near Green Hope High School.
• Provide more bus shelters and bike racks at bus stops.
• Support the Cary Invasion more.
The town manager stated that he will summarize all issues from all mini retreat topics and report them back to council with a plan.

Thursday afternoon I met with the town manager, deputy town manager, and the downtown manager to discuss an issue related to downtown.

Thursday night was one of two regularly scheduled council meetings we have each month. The council held eight public hearings, approved the demolition of a burnt structure that has been in a dilapidated state for months, approved the Booth Amphitheater management plan, approved the regional branding for CTran which will be called Go Cary in the future, approved the leasing of street lights on Academy Street from Duke Energy, and directed staff to review the town’s noise ordinance exception for golf courses and come back to council with options. The meeting concluded about 9:45.

Saturday I had the privilege of attending the 56th Cary Band Day competition. All the bands were awesome but I was impressed with Panther Creek and so were the judges. Cary High School and NC State bands provided outstanding exhibitions. At the end of the evening I had the honor of handing out one of the awards.

Sunday I gave remarks at a meet and greet for Gale Adcock which was held in Carpenter Village. Gale will be a HUGE asset to the legislature and I look forward to celebrating her victory on Tuesday night.

Emails from staff included the 3rd quarter report. Notable items from the report include:
• Cary’s population is estimated to be 150,655
• Cary covers 57.56 square miles
• Cary issued 14% of all Wake County single family permits
• Carpenter Neighborhood park should go to bid this winter
• Jack Smith park broke ground for phase one
• The new firestation #2 should go to bid this winter
• Walnut Street improvements at US1/64 overpass will begin this winter
• Green Level West Road widening design should be complete by spring
• LED street lights are 80% installed throughout town
• The dedication for the Western Wake Regional Wastewater Facility will be November 19th.
• Over 50% of curbside collections are diverted from the landfill. That drops to 27.3% without yard waste
• 95 violent crimes have occurred this year compared to 77 last year
• 1391 property crimes have occurred this year compared to 1608 last year
• Average response times for fire structures were under five minutes.
• Over 71% of fires were contained in the room of origin
• 17 firefighters were added in September
• Over 86,000 people attended events at Wake Med Soccer from July through September
To read the report in its entirety go to: http://www.townofcary.org/Assets/Town+Manager$!27s+Office/Quarterly+Report+Documents/3rd+Qtr+2014.pdf.

Emails from citizens this week included a complaint about overcrowded schools, comments about the noise ordinance review, a complaint about health issues at a local restaurant, and a comment about the Carpenter Fire Station Road bridge.

Next week I will be busy with a dinner at the Divan Center, a visit to Cary Christian school, a visit to ITT campus, the Citizen Police Academy graduation, and a Mayors Association outing at the RBC center.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, November 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, October 26th, 2014

harold2011_small23This week was a busy week with several meetings, dinners, and gatherings.

Monday I met with board members from the RDU Airport Authority to talk about the controversy surrounding the future potential development near the Lake Crabtree Park area. We had a good talk and they described the sequence of events that caused the hysteria about Lake Crabtree Park. They explained that airport funding options are changing and that one of the major runways is in need of $100 million in repairs. So they commissioned a study of the land owned by the RDU Airport Authority. The study made all kinds of recommendations including development around the Lake Crabtree Park and the adjoining mountain bike trails. The study’s final report was put aside for later review and action since the board members were busy with several other higher priority issues. In the meantime the lease renewal with Wake County for the Lake Crabtree Park lapsed. The combination of those two factors led everyone to believe that the RDU Airport Authority was going to develop this property. They stated to me that they have no intention to develop in this area in the near future. They also pointed out that before development could happen a land use plan would have to be created which would require further analysis. Within the last week the RDU Airport Authority has also renewed the lease with the Wake County Commissioners for one year. I reiterated the comments I made in a letter I sent to them in July. That is, we want to protect the park and adjoining trails and make sure any development is in harmony with its surroundings. They agreed that any future plan would involve us and other surrounding municipalities. So the park and the trails seem safe for now. In the meantime, Mayor Stohlman of Morrisville is trying to organize a meeting of all the stakeholders interested in this issue so that everyone has the latest and correct information. I am guessing that meeting will take place after the election of the Wake County Commissioners.

Later Monday I met with the town manager to go over next week’s mid-year mini retreat. So of the topics include prioritizing capital projects and reviewing our general fund balance. The retreat will be held at the Wake Med Soccer Park staring Tuesday at 3 PM. The meeting is open to the public.

Monday night I attended the Mayors Association meeting. Eight of the twelve municipalities were represented by their mayors. Absent were mayors from Holly Springs, Raleigh, Rolesville, and Wendell. We talked about planning future meetings with newly elected officials. Many mayors believe there will be new county commissioners and thus new direction by the commissioners. Several stated that it would be in our best interest to talk with them early. Other topics at the meeting included the Lake Crabtree Park. Mayor Stohlman and I explained the events to date. The mayors in attendance agreed to support and attend the future meeting of interested parties being organized by Mayor Stohlman if their calendars allowed. Our next meeting will be held in Fuquay Varina on Monday, November 17th.

Tuesday I attended the Ribbon Cutting ceremony for Building Q on the SAS campus. Building Q is an environmentally friendly building and SAS is pursuing LEED certification for it. SAS currently has LEED certification in three of its buildings. Some features in this building include:

  •  Rooftop solar panels
  • Highly insulated walls and roofing systems
  • High efficient heating and air
  • Extensive use of LED lighting
  • Reclaimed water for cooling towers, irrigation and toilets
  • All building materials and adhesives have low or no volatile organic compounds
  • Twelve parking spaces are designated for electric charging stations

The ceremony’s featured speakers were Dr. Goodnight and Governor McCrory. Dr. Goodnight talked about the jobs and opportunities be provided and also mentioned the need to educate our students in the STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). Governor McCrory talked about all that SAS has done not only in its field but in its community. In the Q&A portion of the meeting the Governor and Dr. Goodnight were asked about statements made a few weeks ago by Dr. Goodnight against incentives. Governor McCrory said he wished there were no incentives and that this was a transition period. He believes that changes in policy and tax laws will make us competitive to a point where incentives are not needed. Dr. Goodnight added that he is not opposed to incentives but is opposed to giving them all to areas like Raleigh/Cary and Charlotte. He believes that incentives should be used to bring jobs to other cities outside this area and named several of them. After the ceremony tours and demonstrations of products were provided.

Tuesday evening I joined co-workers from SAS in entertaining SAS guests from Europe and Asia. We treated them to a pig pickin which they seemed to enjoy. It was fun explaining items like hush puppies and watching their facial expressions. That is, they hear puppy and thing dog. Of course even after you tell them it is a type of bread they still only take one or two. Too funny.

Tuesday night I joined the Sister Cities organization, council member Smith and Yerha, Cary staff, Chamber of Commerce members, and three delegates from our twin city County Meath, Ireland. I was fortunate to visit County Meath in 2011 and the people and landscape are beautiful. After dinner, I gave remarks and we presented our guests with gifts. It was a fun night.

The rest of the week was spent going to meetings and having dinner with the SAS guests from Europe and Asia.

Saturday I gave welcoming remarks to the 19th annual Latino Diamante Awards. Diamante is dedicated to the preservation, development, and promotion of the culture, heritage, and artistic expressions of the diverse Latino/Hispanic population in North Carolina. In my remarks I stated that Cary is a very diverse community and that Cary embraces and celebrates diversity.

Emails this week included a request to put a moratorium on growth (which we are not authorized to do), a comment about the noise ordinance related to golf courses, a comment about the hometown spirit award, and a comment about tabled rezonings.

Next week will be a busy week. It includes the council-staff mini retreat, a council meeting, several other meetings, and the Cary Band Day.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, November 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, October 19th, 2014

harold2011_small23This week included a regularly scheduled council meeting.

On Monday I attempted to call all council members to hear their concerns or questions about the agenda for Thursday’s meeting. I was able to contact all council members but Robinson. The only items for discussion were two rezonings next to each other west of Highway 55. Council members express the usual concerns about traffic and schools. Council member Frantz asked that the proposed Habitat houses be pulled from consent for discussion. Later in the day I met with management, directors, administration, legal, and public information to review the agenda. Our agenda review meeting was quick and I predicted that the council meeting would finish by 8 PM.

Tuesday I was interviewed by a News and Observer reporter about School Impact fees. This was an innovative idea the council tried in the early 2000s that was struck down by the courts. It would have helped fund school seats with direct correlation to growth. The legislature, heavily financed and lobbied by the homebuilder industry, has not given authority for school impact fees since 1989.

I also interviewed with a Durham Herald reporter about the Lake Crabtree Park trails on Tuesday. I pointed out that we were not a decision maker and that we expressed our concern of development to the RDU Airport authority in July.

Wednesday I attended the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organizational (CAMPO) meeting of the executive board. The executive board is responsible for approving an annual work program, a portion of which includes updating the Metropolitan Transportation Improvement Program (a seven-year project programming schedule) and the Long-Range Transportation Plan (a minimum twenty-year forecast of projects and programs). This meeting was relatively short with the review of point prioritization for road project taking most of the time. Those projects will be finalized at the next meeting.

Thursday the council held a regularly scheduled council meeting. The two rezonings, Wackena Road and Indian Wells Road, were slated for discussion and decision but instead were tabled at the request of the applicant. Two topics that generated the most discussion were the public hearing on the Dellinger rezoning proposal at Crossroads and the Habitat rezoning proposal for Evans Road.

The Dellinger proposal was to rezone from office and residential to just townhomes and connect Tryon Manor Road to Piney Plains. After much discussion the council decided to let this go through the process even though it had reservations. Council concerns included the loss of office and the overwhelming number of multi-family units in the area. If this proposal comes back to council for a decision as townhomes as proposed then council expressed an interest to change the comprehensive transportation plan to eliminate the connection to Tryon Manor Road. If the proposal fails and the parcel eventually develops as office then I believe council will keep the connection. This proposal is scheduled to next be discussed by the Planning and Zoning Board. Council will likely make a decision on this early next year.

The Habitat rezoning proposals was pulled from the consent agenda by council member Frantz so he could vote against it and express his concern about the shared driveway. Council discussed the pros and cons of a shared driveway and the rezoning was eventually approved with Frantz being the dissenting vote. The council meeting adjourned around 8:30.

Saturday I met with Congressman David Price to talk about issues in Wake County. One issue we discussed was transit. Our meeting lasted about 45 minutes.

Saturday evening I gave remarks, read a proclamation, and enjoyed the celebration at the 14th annual Cary Diwali at the Koka Booth amphitheater. Diwali is the Indian festival of lights and has grown into the biggest multi-cultural event in Cary. This year’s theme was “Be a light unto yourself.” Over 13,000 people attended this year’s event and many of those stayed through the evening to see the main performance by Indian Idols Sandeep Batraa and Mauli Dave. The performances were fantastic and the place was rocking. The evening finished with a fireworks display. Everyone seemed to really enjoy themselves.

In kudos for the week the American Institute for Economic Research ranked Raleigh-Cary #3 among mid-sized metros for “Best U.S. cities for college students.”

Emails from staff this week included an update on the Crabtree Park trails. Staff was told by Wake County that a lease extension from RDU for the 148 acre portion of Lake Crabtree that is currently used for mountain biking and hiking has been signed. The signed lease extends the term to 2025 with one-year automatic renewals. The lease retains the 45-day written notice of termination that was in the original agreement. The Wake County Board of Commissioners will vote on the lease extension on Monday, October 20th.

Emails from citizens included a complaint about a broken sidewalk, a request for a bike path, requests to support and deny rezonings, a complaint about the Mayton Inn financing, and several comments about the RDU’s contract with Wake County about Lake Crabtree Park and trails.

Next week will be dominated by events hosting guests from Ireland and other parts of the world and a Mayors Association meeting.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, October 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, October 12th, 2014

This week was dominated by the SAS Championship so there will be little town business to report since I had very few meetings.

Monday I joined town management and staff to meet with the Friends of the Page Walker museum committee. This group is interested in joining with the town to make the Ivey-Ellington House, located on Chatham Street, a museum. After a good discussion the staff agreed to gather information about proposals in the immediate vicinity and then present that information to council in a staff report. The staff report may take a few months since we are waiting on information about a proposal.

My scheduled meeting with the town manager was very brief. Our only conversation during the day was about a social media campaign directed at me and other mayors about future development at the Lake Crabtree Park. The decision makers about the park and its trails are not the mayors but the Wake County Commissioners (http://www.wakegov.com/commissioners/Pages/default.aspx ) and the RDU Airport Authority ( http://www.rdu.com/authority/rduaa-board.html ). My understanding at the time was that the current 5 year contract will not be renewed but may be a year to year contract. Of course this is all speculation at this point. It is important to emphasize that this is not a Cary decision and Cary has no plans to build or encroach on the Lake Crabtree Park and its trails. In addition, I did mail the RDU Airport Authority in July about park concerns:

Dear Chairman Hunt and RDU Airport Authority Board Members,

The Town of Cary understands that in the coming months the RDU Airport Authority will be considering a report by the Urban Land Institute (ULI) regarding future land development activities on roughly 2,000 acres of undeveloped RDU property. We understand that this land planning process is likely to be a long one and is just the beginning of this effort and would likely be years before any development would occur.

As the Board and RDU staff begins reviewing the report, please consider how development of ‘Parcel D’ may impact the adjacent Lake Crabtree Park. This Wake County Park is a valuable resource for the area and is a significant feature in western Wake County that enhances the quality of life for the entire region. We would ask that you give thoughtful and careful consideration to any proposed land use or development plan that might adversely impact this amenity for our region. As you weigh how the development of your property will look to complement the world-class facilities already at RDU, please consider how the existing Park can also complement your planning efforts.

Thank you for your consideration on this matter. We hope you have a productive review.
I can assure you the town has done and will do everything within our authority to protect the town’s interest.

Tuesday I met with a citizen serving on one of the town’s boards and commissions. This individual wanted to talk about their role on a board and how they could benefit the town. I always encourage all of our board members to say exactly what they think about a topic. It is the citizen perspective that is very important in decision making.

Tuesday night I attended that SAS Championships pairing party. This was a social followed by a trivia contest. The order of finish in the trivia contest determined the selection for the professional for the Pro-Am the following two days. My team selected Mike Goodes for Wednesday and Joey Sindelar for Thursday.

Wednesday and Thursday was spent participating in the SAS Championship Pro-Am. In addition to the professional I was joined by council member Smith, Chamber President Howard Johnson, and Ralph Ashworth of Ashworth’s drugs. We had a great time and finished in the middle of the pack in scoring.

Thursday afternoon I taped a welcome to the SAS Championships for the Golf Channel. I was concerned that this taping would not look good since the teleprompter was above the camera which made me appear that I was looking over someone’s head as I talked.

In emails received from staff this week council was notified of all the projects under review. They include:
• 90 townhomes on North Harrison Avenue
• 120 single family homes on Lewter Ship Road
• 16 single family homes on Green Hope School Road
• 10 single family homes on Yates Store Road
• 12 multi-family senior units at Glenaire off Kildare Farm 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.

As I mentioned earlier I have received dozens of emails during the last couple of weeks about the RDU Airport Authority not renewing a lease with the Wake County Commissioners. Interestingly the emails were directed at me and other mayors as if we had decisions on this or big influence. In my response I gave the letter I sent to the RDU Airport Authority in July expressing concern about this land being developed. The latest information in this story includes the following information from the assistant to the Wake County Manager:
In 1985, the County signed a lease with the Raleigh Durham Airport Authority (Authority) which allows the County to operate a park on an approximate 33-acre tract of land that includes the parking lots, picnic shelters, boat launch areas, and docks. This lease is scheduled to expire on June 30, 2025. These parcels are referred to as the “Lake Crabtree Regional Park.”
In 1994 an amendment was made to the lease for an additional 148 acres. This parcel is referred to as the North Carolina FATS Mountain Bike Club Amendment. This amendment allowed the County and the bike club to maintain a system of trails for mountain bike and hiking purposes on this tract of land. The amendment was set for a five year term and required both parties to agree to renew. Amendment number four expired December 31, 2013.
In early 2014 staff from both the Authority and Wake County proceeded with a normal renewal process. As a result, the Board of Commissioners approved on March 17, 2014 a five year lease renewal for the North Carolina FATS Mountain Bike Club amendment.
At the same time the Authority was evaluating the long term use of all of its non-aeronautical land. This included hiring the Urban Land Institute to evaluate possible uses and provide recommendations. Some of you may have participated in that process in March of 2014. While ULI did identify the FATS parcel as an area of possible development, the Lake Crabtree regional Park was not included in that study, and it is not in any of the airport’s development plans. The Authority has been very clear from the beginning of the ULI public process that the Lake Crabtree Regional Park was not going away.
The Authority did not move forward with the five year renewal of the FATS parcel pending the completion of the ULI report and the Authority making a decision on how to move forward with that parcel. With no executed Amendment, the County does not have legal authority to use the property; subsequently, the County’s Park Use Agreement with Triangle Off-Road Cyclists (TORC) to maintain the trails is no longer valid. Recently, staff has fielded a number of questions from TORC and the public about the future of the trails and relationship with the RDU Airport Authority.
The Authority is currently engaged in an effort to evaluate their land holdings and has not made a long term decision on what, or when, to do anything with the North Carolina FATS Mountain Bike Club parcel. However, the Authority is working with the County to try and come up with terms acceptable to both parties until it makes a longer term decision regarding the use of the North Carolina FATS Mountain Bike Club parcel.
From my understanding the bike trails are likely to remain safe for now but there might be development between those trails and I40 in the future.

In an email from a citizen this week there was concerned expressed about police action in Fuquay. The citizen wanted our police officers to wear body cameras to prevent a controversy. Here is the response from the police chief:
Thank you so much for taking the time to express your concerns about the incident that happened with the Fuquay Police Department officers. I am familiar with the incident that took place in Fuquay but only from what I have heard from others and through the media. I have not spoken directly with anyone from the Fuquay Police Department. From what I know, it was a very unfortunate situation. We would like to believe we could take measure to ensure those events would never occur in Cary, NC, but we can never guarantee that. However, we do go above and beyond to build relationships and partnerships with our citizens and community members. We are very fortunate to have an outstanding training program and attempt to train our officers well for any kind of situation they may encounter.

In addition, we have been nationally accredited since 1992 through the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA):
• CALEA Accreditation requires an agency to develop a comprehensive, well thought out, uniform set of written directives. This is one of the most successful methods for reaching administrative and operational goals, while also providing direction to personnel.
• CALEA Accreditation requires a preparedness program be put in place—so an agency is ready to address natural or man-made unusual occurrences.
• CALEA Accreditation is a means for developing and improving upon an agency’s relationship with the community.
• CALEA Accreditation strengthens an agency’s accountability, both within the agency and the community, through a continuum of standards that clearly define authority, performance, and responsibilities.
• Being CALEA Accredited demonstrates that internationally recognized standards for law enforcement have been met, as verified by a team of independent outside CALEA-trained assessors.
• CALEA Accreditation facilitates an agency’s pursuit of professional excellence.
We use dash cameras in police vehicles assigned to officers in field operations. In addition, our motor officers utilize body-worn cameras. We have additional body-worn cameras available for supervisors to assign at their discretion. There has been a great deal of discussion across the country on requiring officers to wear these cameras. We are reviewing the pros and cons. The technology is still not as well developed as some people might believe and storage for the recorded images is a major obstacle at this time. We are continuing to research the feasibility of requiring body worn cameras for all officers but are not prepared at this time to make a wholesale recommendation that we purchase them for all of our officers. Our in car cameras are capable of video recording interactions that occur within the camera’s view. They are also capable of recording a great deal of the voice interactions that take place outside of the camera’s view.
Again thanks for taking the time to be involved. If we can ever be of assistance to you or answer additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Sincerely,
Pat Bazemore
Chief of Police
I am so proud of our police department and its leadership. We always seem to be one step ahead in areas of law enforcement.

In another email from citizens there was a complaint about the appearance of the town’s Wayfinding signs. I thought it would be a good idea to provide information on this program since it was done so long ago. The signs showing up around town are part of the vehicular Wayfinding signage directing travelers to Cary’s major parks, recreation and cultural venues, as well as to Cary’s Downtown district. The Wayfinding signage system was originally adopted in 2008 as part of the park’s comprehensive sign plan. The downtown’s signage was approved in 2010. Budgets for the last 3 years have allocated money for the signage. The first fifteen vehicular signs were installed last month. The sizes of the signs are based on NCDOT legibility standards.

The remaining emails from citizens included a complaint about the lack of schools in Cary’s portion of Chatham County, a complaint about a street light, and a request to support a rezoning.

Next week includes a meeting of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, a council meeting, and Diwali at Koka Booth Amphitheater.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, October 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, October 05th, 2014

harold2011_small23This week started on a sad note with the memorial service of former town manager Bill Coleman which was held at Greenwood Forest Baptist Church. The sanctuary was full of his family, lifelong friends, retired town employees, and current town employees. During the service several people delivered a eulogy including his son Ben and council member Jack Smith. It was a very nice service for a great public servant. Rest in peace Bill Coleman.

Monday afternoon I was scheduled to meet with the town manager but neither of us had any pressing issues to discuss so we cancelled the meeting.

Tuesday I joined Mayor Pro-Tem Adcock and council members Bush, Yerha, and Smith to thank our board and commission members for their service. First the chairman of the each of the boards gave a review of what the board was working on. Afterwards I gave welcoming remarks before dinner. After dinner lawyers from the UNC School of Government held a quick educational session using a fictional board member’s actions. We all discussed the actions and commented on the appropriateness of those actions. After the lawyers’ session I gave a 15 minutes PowerPoint of what is going on in Cary with topics that included development, jobs, crime, schools, and the Imagine Cary Planning process. The town manager followed me with a brief talk about what is going on with the town staff’s reorganization which started at the beginning of the year.

A big thanks to all of our current and former advisory board members. We are blessed to have so many citizens willing to give their time, talents, and expertise for the betterment of their town. Their efforts are one of the reasons Cary is one of the greatest places to live, work, run a business, play, and raise a family.

Wednesday I met with an individual who wanted to discuss why Chapel Hill Road is planned for 6 lanes and why stormwater BMPs are not allowed in the 100 foot stream buffers. Our meeting lasted about one hour.

Thursday the council held a quasi-judicial hearing for two cases. Quasi-judicial hearings are held for special use permits, certain subdivision and site plan applications and for certain other applications. During a quasi-judicial hearing, the council must hold an evidentiary hearing and make its decision based on the written and oral evidence presented. Unlike legislative decisions (like rezonings), a quasi-judicial decision must be based solely on the evidence presented and cannot be based on opinions of council members. In this hearing the council approved a site plan for a subdivision off of Penny Road with lots half an acre or greater and also approved modifications for a nursery located along Chatham Street near Cary Parkway. Our meeting lasted about 2 ½ hours.

Friday I had the pleasure to attend the homecoming celebration for Green Hope High School. They are a school recognized statewide for athletic and academic excellence. A representative Wells Fargo was there to congratulate them on winning the Wells Fargo Cup five years in a row. Since 1979 the Cup has gone to the schools which have the best overall interscholastic sports programs. I gave a few words of welcome and afterwards mingled with the folks in attendance. It was a good time and a lot of fun.

Saturday morning I attended the fall annual litter sweep for the Town of Cary which is part of the SPRUCE program. My group picked up litter on McCrimmon Parkway near Panther Creek High School. In my group were students from the junior class attending Panther Creek High School. Nothing very unusual found in this sweep but it was fun. If you would like to get involved in SPRUCE contact us the Town of Cary. You can find out more at http://www.townofcary.org/Departments/publicworks/Spruce.htm.

Later Saturday I attended a celebration for Dorcas ministries and provided a few welcoming remarks. The celebration was to recognize their 3rd year at the Maynard Road and High House location. They continue to grow and expand their ministry. In addition to providing affordable clothing, they provided $5000 in utility assistance, $23,000 in recreational program scholarships, and distributed over 700 pounds of food during last year’s holiday season. I invite everyone to clean out their closets and volunteer their time to this great cause.

Saturday evening I had the pleasure of attending the opening of the T.MAC restaurant in Cary. Although this is a chain, the closest one is in Charlotte. If you like the bar type atmosphere, dozens of beer on tap, and enough TVs to show every game being played, then this is the place for you. And the food is great too! Since this is close to my house I look forward to frequenting this establishment often.

This week I received a letter from Senator Burr’s office who contacted the US Postal Service on behalf of Cary. The US Postal Service has eliminated mailboxes on properties of new homes and now requires developers to provide cluster mailboxes. Their justification this change is strictly based on cost with little or no regard to the US citizens they serve:
“… Delivering to 152 million addresses in the U.S. is the largest fixed cost for the Postal Service at roughly $30 billion per year. Curbside delivery has associated costs of $224 per mailbox per year, as opposed to Cluster Box Unit (CBU) delivery at approximately $160 per mailbox per year. …”
Personally, I would gladly give up Saturday delivery so that everyone would have mail delivered to their mailbox. I fear this is the beginning of the end for the US postal Service.

In emails from staff the downtown manager notified council that there will be a new restaurant possibly by mid-December in the Café 121 spot. It will be called the Crosstown Pub & Grill and you can find out about them at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Crosstown-Pub-Grill/1485267121731506. We were also notified that interior demolition has begun on the former Mitchell Pharmacy building to prepare for Pharmacy Bottle & Beverage, which is the name of the craft beer store council approved to lease this space. Four layers of drop ceiling have been removed to uncover a terrific original wood ceiling with two exposed steel beams running the length of the building. They are scheduled to be open in early to mid-December.

Emails from citizens this week included dozens from people wanting the Cary mayor to do something about the RDU Board not renewing the lease for trails to Lake Crabtree Park which is a county park. Unfortunately, this is not a town decision and we have no representation on the board. Although I have expressed my concern in the past via letter to the authority about development in this sensitive area, it remains to be seen if they will honor our requests.

Other emails from citizens included a concern about the growth rate (which has been around 3% since I have been mayor) and a comment about Google fiber.

Next week will be dominated by SAS Championship events. I will be playing in the Pro-Am and taping a commercial inviting everyone to visit Cary and the surrounding area. In addition to the SAS Championship I have a couple of private meetings.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, October 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, September 28th, 2014

harold2011_small23This week was a regularly scheduled council meeting week which is always busy.

Monday started with calls around to council members to hear their concerns or questions about the upcoming agenda. I was able to get in touch with all council members but Robinson. There were very few concerns and questions expressed and all of us noted that there will be some interesting votes on the rezonings. Later Monday I met with management, directors, administration, public information, and legal to go over the agenda items. Our meeting lasted a few minutes and I predicted the council meeting would end around 8:30.

Afterwards I met with the town manager, deputy town manager, and assistant to the town manager to go over a few items. At this meeting I received the latest information on last week’s shootings and other items.

Monday night the council held a work session to go over the Academy Street Streetscape and the downtown park. For the streetscape we decided on the granite bench text engravings, paver concepts, street lighting, tree palettes, and tree lighting. We asked staff to come back with information on putting in our on decorative street lights rather than renting them from Duke Energy. Having our own street lights would also allow receptacles at the base for events like Lazy Daze. In the downtown park part of the work session the council decided not to have a bronze bowl or collars on the fountain (saving over $100,000 in cost). We did decide to have an additional pump and colored lights to enhance the water flow and appearance. In the garden sections of the park we decided to have active areas for botchy ball, concrete ping pong tables, and concrete chess tables. Both the park and streetscape should begin construction in the spring of next year. Construction will last until the summer of 2016. During that time Academy Street will only have one lane and will become a one way street. It will be challenging to get through the construction period but I believe the end result will be well worth the trouble.

Tuesday the council held a regularly scheduled council meeting. Normally our meetings are on Thursday but this one was scheduled around the Jewish holiday Rosh Hashanah which started on Wednesday and ended on Friday.

I am not familiar with the holiday so I looked it up. I found that that Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish holiday that takes place on the first two days of the Jewish New Year. The holiday marks the anniversary of the creation of Adam & Eve and is celebrated as a sign of accepting God’s kingship. During Rosh Hashanah a ram’s horn, known as a shofar, is sounded. This is done to represent the coronation blasts used for kings but is also a call to repentance. Rosh Hashanah is also the anniversary of man’s first sin and his repentance thereof, and serves as the first of the “Ten Days of Repentance” which culminate in Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Those celebrating the holiday do so by eating a piece of apple dipped in honey, blessing one another with a specific phrase and saying a special prayer near a body of water.

At the council meeting there were three public hearings and six decisions that were discussed. The Public Hearing for the Keller property on Stephens Road (near Crossroads) drew about two dozen speakers. Most were opposed to the proposed rezoning for townhomes because of traffic, density, and stormwater issues. Since this proposal has a valid protest petition it will take six council members to approve the proposal when it comes back to us for a vote sometime early next year.

Council also approved a motion to call for a public hearing to change the Land Development Ordinance requirements on the Walnut Street Corridor. If these requirements are changed then it is likely that the trailer park along Walnut Street will be redeveloped.

Council approved the Stitt property along Green Hope Church Road. This single family development was proposed with less than three units per acre which is much less than the eight units an acre which was the maximum density allowed. Unfortunately the local paper, in their never ending attempt to create controversy, inaccurately reported that we rezoned to the maximum rather than the minimum despite residents’ concerns with overcrowded schools.

It is important to point out that the council doesn’t have the authority to stop growth and that rezonings are decisions on a type of growth and not a decision of whether or not to allow development. Every vacant parcel of land can be developed without council approval as long as the match the current zoning. And since our job is to decide the best use of the land I believe this particular decision was a good one since it was at the minimum density. In addition, denying a rezoning based solely on school capacity can be viewed by courts as arbitrary and over turned especially since we don’t have authority to regulate schools. What we do need is to help the school overcrowding county commissioners to fund schools that have been planned for years this area.

In another decision the proposed rezoning for single family houses on High House was also approved with much less density than is allowed.

A decision to rezone townhomes along Holly Springs Road near Tryon Road was also approved. I voted against this proposal because it was six units an acre when the land use plan called for density that could be three units an acre.

In other decisions the council approved a mutual aid agreement with Raleigh. This included purchasing a pipeline along Holly Springs Road eliminating the need for the town to build one. Council approved an additional member to the Aging Issues Task force which should finish their meetings by the end of the year. The council meeting adjourned around 9 PM.

Wednesday started with the sad news of the passing of former town manager Bill Coleman. I had the good fortune to work with Bill when I served as a council member and as a mayor. I also got to know members of his family very well through church. I teach alongside his former wife Kay and had his son Ben and daughter Nicole in my Sunday School classes over the years. My thoughts and prayers are with Bill’s family as they grieve his passing. Here is a copy of the statement I released to the media that asked for comments from me:
“Our hearts are heavy today as we grieve the passing of Bill Coleman, a wonderful man and outstanding public servant who was Cary’s Town Manager from 1994-2008.
We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to him for leading Town staff in helping create the Cary we love today by expertly and tirelessly bringing to reality the Council’s vision for this great place he and we call home. Truly, Bill was a unique man, a real force of nature for all that he loved, from his son, Ben, to baseball to friends and fun, and, of course, the very, very best in local government.”
Bill will be sorely missed by many.

Wednesday afternoon I was joined by council member Jack Smith for the taping of the October episode of Cary Matters. Our main topic was about the newly revised tree ordinance. We also talked about burglaries and the future of Louis Stephens Drive. Our taping lasted a little over 30 minutes.

Later Wednesday I met with the General Manager and Golf Couse Superintendent of MacGregor Downs Country Club. They are having an issue with the vagueness of the town’s noise ordinance. The ordinance gives an exception for golf courses to begin maintenance starting at 6 AM rather than the normal noise ordinance hour of 7 AM. However, the ordinance exception on refers to greens. So they and the other golf courses in Cary would like it changed to allow maintenance from tee to green starting at 6 AM. I presented this information to the town manager who is investigating the ordinance before anything else is done.

My last meeting Wednesday was with a group of investors who are looking to create a public private partnership in a sports venue venture. I was joined by the town manager and the Vice President of Economic Development. We listened to their concept and asked them to come back with more information.

Thursday I attended the Governor’s “1000 for 100” initiative which was kicked off by the Governor and Secretary of Commerce Decker at Deutsche Bank in Cary. The initiative is a fact-finding tour in which local workforce development teams will visit 1,000 businesses throughout North Carolina’s 100 counties during the next 100 days to learn the skill sets the state’s economy demands. The “1000 in 100″ initiative is part of the new NCWorks program which essentially put all of the state’s workforce development efforts under one roof.

Saturday morning I attended the first ever Dragon Boat festival held at Regency Lake and Booth Amphitheater. I provided remarks with several other dignitaries. The purpose of the Dragon Boat festival was to celebrate Asian culture, diversity, ethnicity, roots and history. It was a great time with Asian offerings in food, stage performances, cultural exhibits and merchandise. Next year’s event promises to be bigger and better.

Saturday afternoon I had the privilege to attend the ground breaking of the Jack Smith Park near Penny and Holly Springs Road. What is being built is the first phase of this 50 acre park. It will be our town’s southernmost park and will include several unique features. Outside of the usual playground, picnic shelter and greenway trails, the park will be home to a climbing wall, the Town’s second dog park, and our first Sprayground which will be fun especially on hot days. The park’s first phase is scheduled to open next fall. The layout of the first phase can be seen at http://www.townofcary.org/Assets/Parks$!2c+Recreation+and+Cultural+Resources+Department/Planning+and+Design/bartleyparksiteplan.pdf. To see the full layout of all the phases of the completed park go to http://www.townofcary.org/Assets/Parks$!2c+Recreation+and+Cultural+Resources+Department/Parks$!2c+Recreation+$!26+Cultural+Resources+Department+PDFs/parks/masterplanrender.pdf.

Sunday I joined Mayor Pro-Tem Adcock and Council member Bush in a community meeting at Stonewater with about 50 residents to discuss ways to make their community safer. I started with a few remarks that basically said:
“Even though Cary may be one of the safest communities in America that doesn’t mean much if you don’t feel safe. And safety is not only a police department issue or a mayor issue but everyone’s issue. It takes a partnership to make a safe community.”
The overall atmosphere was positive and I believe Stonewater will continue to look for ways to work with our police department to become safer.

In the news this week Money Magazine ranked Cary as the #19 best places to live in the US for cities between 50,000 and 300,000.

Emails this week included complaints about overcrowded schools, comments about our noise ordinance, and comments about High Meadow Drive.

Next week’s activities will include a joint meeting of the council with boards and commissions, a quasi-judicial hearing, the Green Hope High homecoming celebration, the fall litter sweep, a celebration event at Dorcas, and a private preview of the new T.MAC restaurant in Cary.

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

• 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.