• Sunday, September 17th, 2017

This was a busy week for me and has kept the string of days going without a day off.

The week included a regularly scheduled council meeting so I started on Monday by attempting to contact all council members about any questions or concerns they may have had with the agenda. I was able to contact four of the six council members. There were no questions since the agenda was short. Later in the day I along with the Mayor Pro-Tem met with staff to go over the agenda. They had no feedback or issues from citizens which led us to believe the meeting would be short.

After the meeting with staff the Mayor Pro-Tem and I met with the town manager for our weekly update. We talked about the newly submitted CBL proposal at the mall site (in addition to the IKEA), housing issues with multiple families, and the Markham trip. Our meeting lasted less than an hour.

Tuesday morning I gave welcoming remarks as the Town of Cary hosted the IoT (internet of things) workshop on healthcare. The group was discussed how IoT and big data can be used in efforts to help with issues like the opioid crisis. I am hopeful that some great ideas came out of that workshop.

Later Tuesday I traveled to a ribbon cutting for the Arkema building expansion. We got our wires crossed and I found out when I got there that the ribbon cutting had been cancelled. But they were very kind and generous and gave me a brief tour anyway. In case you are wondering Arkema has been located in Cary since 1984 and are headquarted here. They develop, manufacture and sell coating resins and additives for various applications and are recognized as one of the world leaders in materials for the coatings industry. Locally they employ over 80 people mostly in R&D. Those employees are mostly PhD’s in chemical engineering. We wish them great success and look forward to further expansions in the future.

Wednesday I joined council members at the Cary Chamber Annual banquet which included NC State chancellor Randy Woodson as the featured speaker. I was able to mingle and talk with people for about an hour and a half before having to leave for another event.

Next I headed over to the Page Walker for the Poe Center annual fundraiser. The keynote speaker was Sam Quinones who is the author of Dreamland. This book explains the opioid crisis facing the U.S. and Cary. This is an absolute must read. My role was to provide welcoming remarks. I also shared my story about being the son of an alcoholic and how addicts impact those around them. That event lasted about two and a half hours.

Thursday the council met for its first regularly scheduled meeting of the month. The agenda included 5 consent items, 1 public hearing, 5 discussion items, and 3 closed session items. There were only a couple of speakers from the public at this meeting. The council approved the staff recommended road and pedestrian projects to be submitted to the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization. After some discussion the council also agreed to Cary’s participation in the historic preservation Certified Local Government program. Bids were approved for raw water transmission lines. Bids were also approved for the following road projects:

  • Cary Parkway at Evans Road
  • Cary Parkway at Kildaire Farm Road
  • Maynard Road at High House Road
  • High Meadow Drive at Cary Parkway

The staff’s recommendation to re-advertise the bid for the Cary Parkway at High House Road project was also approved. This was because in the initial round only one bid was submitted and it was approximately 50% higher than expected. It was noted by staff that most contractors for road projects are very busy and are unable to take on more work. After this re-advertisement, and if a bid is accepted, the project will probably begin construction next spring. In case you are wondering the current construction at the intersection is utility relocation. The council meeting concluded after about 2 hours.

Saturday I had the honor and privilege to emcee the first annual Bond Brothers 5K. 100% of the proceeds went to CAPCommunity Foundation. They support organizations that specifically help children with physical disabilities, illnesses, abuse, poverty, absence of a parent, and more. What a great group. One of the vendors at the event was Read and Feed which is a mobile literacy program in Wake County designed to help low-income, elementary school children by strengthening their literacy skills by providing them with encouragement and by going to their neighborhoods. Both of these organizations are fantastic and I urge you to support them.

My role at the 5K was to start the event and then encourage runners as they finished. In addition, I was able to shake the hands of all the winners in the awards ceremony. There were close to 700 runners in this inaugural event and it was a great success.

After this event I traveled over to the Page Walker to meet with volunteers of the Cary Scavenger Hunt. From my understanding there were close to seventy teams this year. I was told that many of the clues were in the downtown area since that area was under construction last year.

Next I traveled to the Herb Young Center to meet the veterans volunteering to help veterans get benefits. This was covered by all the local media. From my conversations people came from as far away as Arizona to see if they could get their VA benefits. This was the 3rd day of three and there were people lined up around the building most of the day. It is my hope the VA will allow more of these to serve those who have served us. God bless our veterans!

Sunday I attended the Atlantic Tire Profession tennis championships held at the Cary Tennis Park. I had the pleasure of awarding trophies to the doubles champions. The doubles match was a close one and was decided in a super tie breaker. The singles championship was won by a fellow that trained at the Cary Tennis Center for four years as a youth. What a great homecoming. The tournament was a great success and is a great way to market Cary around the nation.

The town manager’s report included:

Cary Continues to Combat the Opioid Epidemic on Many Fronts

This was an exceptionally exciting and powerful week for the Town of Cary. On Tuesday, approximately 150 health care professionals, technology companies and staff gathered on Town Hall campus to share how “smart” communities can use technology to help solve health care challenges such as the opioid crisis, aging population, and ADHD. The NC R!oT (Raleigh Internet of Things) event included various sessions throughout the day in the Council Chambers, a luncheon at the Herb Young Community Center and an evening social with exhibitors in the Town Hall Concourse Area. Mayor Weinbrecht provided opening remarks and Council Members Bush and Robinson attended the event.

On Wednesday evening, Mayor Weinbrecht and Council Member Bush were on hand to welcome Sam Quinones, American journalist and author, to Cary as part of his time in the Triangle talking about the opioid epidemic in the country.

And on Thursday morning, Sam spent an hour with staff and Council Members George and Robinson discussing his book, Dreamland, and his thoughts on the changing culture and values in America over the last several decades and how these changes have spurred the opioid epidemic in this country. He encouraged participants to create community spaces and opportunities for connection between citizens. Sam’s book, combined with the passion of the Mayor, Council and staff, has contributed to the Town’s steps in addressing the opioid issue in our community.

AAA Bond Ratings Confirmed

The Town received AAA ratings from all three rating agencies this week for the upcoming general obligation bond sale on September 26, 2017. Moody’s, Fitch Ratings and Standard and Poor’s also affirmed their AAA ratings for the Town’s existing general obligation debt. Receiving the highest ratings possible results in a lower interest rate for the Town. The Town will be selling $59.7 million in bonds to fund projects from the 2012 community investment bond referendum and refinance a portion of its existing debt.

Pop-Up in the Park

The first Pop-Up in the Park was held on Wednesday afternoon at Walnut Street Park. This new outreach initiative brings a taste of Town programs and services to everyday park-goers. The drop-in audience received free passes to SK8 Cary while checking out action sport demos and gear.

Try Transit Month

In celebration of September’s Try Transit Month, GoCary will offer FREE fares on all fixed routes and Door-to-Door service (Tier 1 only) on Thursday, September 21 as part of Rider Appreciation Day. Other events include Cyclist Day on September 19; Senior’s Day on September 20; and Driver’s Appreciation Day on September 22.

Try Transit Month is an annual event to encourage citizens to try public transit. In addition, GoCary intends to highlight the region-wide collaboration between transit service providers – GoCary, GoTriangle and GoRaleigh – in an effort to provide seamless, efficient and enhanced transit services to the region.

Veteran’s Benefit Action Center

The Herb Young Community Center hosted the Veteran’s Benefits Action Center for the 2nd year on Thursday and Friday of this week. The event will continue on Saturday from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. The program, offered through Veteran’s Affairs, allows eligible veterans and dependents a unique opportunity to be assisted by a combined team that includes Veteran’s Organization Service Officers, Department of Veteran’s Affairs, benefits officials and healthcare representatives.

Recognitions

Seven Cary PD officers, joined by wives and kids, represented the Town at the 9/11 Memorial Run on Sunday at NC State. The officers had good interactions with the students as well as the other responders who were there to participate. It is especially significant that three of our officers elected to complete the run in full uniform, including all gear and a bullet-proof vest. This was done in recognition of all those emergency responders who ran up and down the towers on 9/11 in full gear to save others.

The Town’s Good Hope Farm project was featured on the NC County Commissioner’s website as an example of best practice for economic development. We’re pleased to see this collaborative partnership recognized for others to learn about.

 

Emails this week included notification that LendEDU ranked Cary’s credit score at 7th in North Carolina.

Emails from staff included an update for Google. Their current 2017 plan is to install fiber in three areas in Cary including an area near downtown and an area in the western part of community. Google is also piloting a new construction technique called micro-trenching. This technique is a less invasive way to install fiber and hopefully deliver services to Cary residents quicker.

Staff also emailed and asks that I remind everyone about the Hometown Spirit award. The Hometown Spirit Award nomination period is from August 28 to September 22.  Please help us spread the word so we can recognize Cary citizens who are making a difference in our community. If you know someone who helps out neighbors, demonstrates hospitality and patriotism. Nominate them. If you know someone who promotes and preserves traditional American pastimes and creates a sense of community then nominate them.  If you know someone that has all of these characteristics and who supports our local businesses. Then nominate them! Fill out the form online to nominate your Hometown Spirit Award nominee descriptions at   www.townofcary.org/spirit.

Emails from citizens this week included:

  • A concern about stormwater
  • A question about the progress of Google fiber
  • A complaint and warning about our visit to Huawei last week
  • A concern about RDU airport authority destroying RDU forest (make sure to lobby the decision makers about this – Wake County Commissioners)
  • A complaint about the traffic signal at Davis Drive to the Park Village subdivision
  • A complaint about a dangerous tree on South Dixon
  • A request to use the town logo in a brochure (I don’t think that is allowed)

Next week will also be a busy week. Activities will include a MacGregor Downs Anniversary videotaping, a meeting of the Wake County Mayors Association, the town’s advisory boards and commissions annual meeting, a meeting of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s executive board, the Cary Candidate forum, and the 4th Annual Dragon Boat Festival.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, September 24th.  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.

Category: Uncategorized  
• Monday, September 11th, 2017

This week was a holiday week including a trip to our sister city Markham, Canada.

Monday I enjoyed Labor Day like many Americans by laboring at my house doing yard work. I did take some time out to enjoy the day and rest.

Tuesday I interviewed with a recruiter who is looking for fill the director position for Life Experiences.  Life Experiences is a nonprofit organization that blends education and training into a business it operates for adults with developmental disabilities, allowing them to function as independent, productive citizens. We are blessed to have such a great organization in our community. In my conversation with the recruiter I expressed a desire to get this organization more involved in the business community. The interview lasted about half an hour.

Wednesday I met with Cary’s Economic Development Committee. Joining me from council were Jack Smith and Jennifer Robinson. Also attending were the town manager, public information officer, citizen representatives, the Chamber president, and the Vice President of Economic Development. First we talked about the town’s branding initiative which is needed as we continue to recruit companies worldwide. From our Request for Qualifications we had 18 submissions. That will be narrowed down to hopefully 4 to 6 which the committee will review at our next meeting. Eventually we will make a recommendation to council who will choose the branding firm. The committee also went over the quarterly report. Here are some of the items in that report:

  • Hogana Environment Solutions is now headquartered in Cary. They are a Swedish company with 1,800 employees worldwide.
  • Highwoods Properties has opened a new building at CentreGreen with 250,000 office space in Weston.
  • The MidTown Square building next to Bond Brothers Brewery is now fully leased.
  • SAS has been in meetings to discuss possible ways we could partner with them and utilize their software to aid in economic development.
  • The town’s tech services has been working to make the Town Hall Campus a “Smart Campus”.
  • Awards in the last 3 months include: #8 easiest place to sell a home in North Carolina, #10 safest city to raise a child, #5 state for business, and #4 best city for first time buyers.
  • We are currently working on 10 active projects with the potential for 5,200 jobs and over $278 million in new investment.
  • Class A office vacancy has now dropped to 6.24% which is considered low.
  • The unemployment rate in Cary is 3.33% compared to Wake County at 3.6%, North Carolina at 4.5%, and the nation at 4.6%.

Our meeting concluded after about an hour.

Thursday I was joined by the Mayor Pro-Tem, three council members, three staff members, and two members of the sister cities commission in a visit to our sister city Markham, Canada. The purpose of this trip was to observe their three day 150 year celebration and to visit and talk with several international businesses in the interest of economic development. Our Cary delegation was joined by a delegation from Nordlingen, Germany which is also a sister city of Markham. They were there to help celebrate Markham’s 150.

Friday started with a visit to Markham Convergence Center. This is an innovation center similar to ones we were familiar with except that it was sponsored and housed by IBM. According to the spokesperson IBM he believes that helping startups with providing space and software will result in positive returns in the future if these businesses are successful. That is, these new businesses are likely to use their software and be loyal to the IBM brand. That is an interesting concept that could be tried by companies like SAS.

Next we visited Huawei of Markham pronounced Wa Way. Huawei is a Chinese IT company which is one of the largest mobile providers in the world including software and hardware. There was a presentation made and then several demonstrations of how they will use their software and equipment in the 5G networks which is in the near future. It is my understanding that the information from their products is stored in their cloud. This means they have access to all the information from all their customers. This is a privacy concern in the United States and is the primary reason they have little presence in the United States. They have a huge presence in Europe in areas like Germany and of course in China.

For lunch we visited an historic area of Markham called Unionville. A large number of the buildings in this area were around 100 years old or older. We actually ate lunch in a repurposed building that was at one time a funeral home. Most of the businesses on the main street of Unionville were restaurants and bars. The reason given for that was that it was too difficult to keep retail viable in the area with such small buildings.

Later in the day we went to the new downtown center of Markham. This area was a mixed use made up of several high rises. The demand to live in this area created extremely high housing prices with condos going for over a million dollars. As Cary develops areas like the Eastern Gateway we must be careful not to create an environment that is unaffordable for most people.

In the evening the group joined the Mayor of Markham for dinner. The Mayor from Markham, Nordlingen, and I all gave remarks. After the dinner the group revisited Unionville to a celebration in an outdoor theater. This was part of their three days of celebration.

Saturday began with a visit to Heritage Village of Markham. Markham puts a lot of value is their historic properties. So they decided to create a neighborhood made up of these properties. Structures of all ages and architectural styles were moved to this area, restored, and occupied. Signage was provided in little pocket parks for each street to give the history of each home. I thought this was an excellent idea that we should consider for Cary.

Later Saturday morning we visited Nordlingen Park named for the sister city from Germany with close ties. We posed for a picture with a plaque recognizing Cary and Nordlingen. I should note that Nordlingen and Markham have several citizens that have lived in both municipalities and have contributed to relationship. A tree was dedicated to commemorate the visit from the Nordlingen delegation.

For lunch the group visited a women’s golf club. It is believed to be the only women’s golf club in North America. Afterwards the group visited the Berczy Park for a dedication of a statue in honor of Berczy who is the founder of Markham.

Later the group attended a dinner at the hotel where we were staying. At this dinner all three mayors gave remarks and we exchanged gifts. Cary gave a painting of the Page Walker to Mayor Scarpitti of Markham, a glass bowl with the town seal to Mayor Faul of Nordlingen, and a print of Cary historic sites to our Town Crier Webster of Markham who is also the Cary town crier.

After dinner all delegations were invited to a concert at the civic center across the street. This was the second day of their celebrations.

Sunday started with a visit to the Markham museum. The first floor of this museum was mostly dedicated to interactive exhibits. Next the group visited the classic car show in the Markham village. This is the part of Markham that was the original downtown of Markham and is filled with many historic structures.

The group then headed back to the area of the civic center to participate in their parade. I rode in a car while council members and staff carried an identification banner, a flag of Cary, and the United States flag. The parade ended at the civic center where I joined several other dignitaries from their Parliament as well as from their council. We then were led in a procession to the stage where several of the dignitaries gave speeches. After the speeches I excused myself and the Cary delegation left for the airport to catch our flight home.

This was a very informative trip for me with several thought provoking issues. For example, they had significant new development in two areas with mid-century homes in between. As these areas developed the mid-century homes couldn’t afford to move. Once developed the demand became so great to live in the area that the mid-century homes values skyrocketed. I can see this potentially happening between downtown Cary and the Eastern Gateway.

Markham is twice the size of Cary. They have experienced and are experiencing issues related to development and growth that Cary could face as we grow in population. Like Cary they are focused on economic development, value their historic structures, and embrace their diversity. Their diversity is more profound than Cary’s with most of their residents born in other parts of the world. With the values we both share Cary and Markham can learn from each other’s experiences. We created strong relationships during this visit to Markham which could pay dividends in many ways especially in economic development. In addition, we were also able to create a good relationship with the Nordlingen delegation which I hope to explore further.

The town manager’s report this week included:

 

Hurricane Irma Preparations

Staff met Thursday and Friday to review the ever-changing Irma forecast and make preparations as necessary. By end of business today, we’ll have finished checking and clearing large culverts and areas prone to flooding. We’ve also checked and cleared blockages from greenway bridges, and Town utility plants are ready to implement High Flow Management plans if needed. While the track seems to continue westward, we’re following our inclement weather directives. We’ll keep an eye on the forecast this weekend and scale our efforts as appropriate come Monday. At this time, programs and facilities are operating as regularly scheduled.

The forecast is clear this weekend; as we’ve prepared our Town facilities, I encourage you and yours to prepare your home and family as you see fit should heavy rain or high winds arrive early next week.

Branding Project Update

Following the August 31 deadline for submissions, we have received an amazing 18 responses to the Community Branding RFQ from seven states. This is an incredible response, much more than I expected. We are evaluating each based on the RFQ’s technical requirements to determine whether any is non-responsive. Once the qualified pool is established, I will refer the top four to six firms to the Economic Development Committee for their evaluation and recommendation. As we did with the downtown park finalists, we will bring in the branding finalists to get to know Cary and meet the Town Council. This should occur after the first of the year.

Economic Development Committee Update

On Wednesday, the Committee received a development update from Kyle Greer at the Chamber. Some highlights to note include:

  • Since the beginning of 2017, nine projects have been won with a 1,600 new jobs and $176 million in new investment. The jobs and investment are divided relatively equally between new and existing companies.
  • Cary ED is currently working on ten active projects that account for over 52,00 new jobs and over $278 million in new investment
  • Class A vacancy rate in Cary is down to 6.24%
  • Cary’s unemployment rate of 3.3% is lower than the national, state and county averages (4.6%, 4.5% and 3.6% respectively)

Trilliant Ribbon Cutting

On Thursday, Council Members Robinson and Bush were joined by Town staff at Trilliant’s ribbon cutting ceremony with Governor Cooper at their headquarters in Cary. As part of the ceremony, Trilliant showcased Cary’s Simulated Smart City Lighting Pilot.

The Smart Citing Lighting Pilot will include replacing seven light fixtures on the utility poles in the courtyard area of Town Hall Campus. The light fixtures will be provided by Atlas lighting products and Trilliant will provide the Internet of Things (IoT) Sensors, base radio collector, network to cloud application, dashboard and installation/configuration of all components. This will allow us to test remote light control capabilities and use the data to balance sustainability efforts and public safety.

Recognitions

Recognition goes to our newest STAR Spot recipient, Katie Drye! Katie has consistently demonstrated technical expertise, persistence and adaptability in her work facilitating the rezoning process for our citizens.

 

Emails from citizens this week included:

  • Concerns about stormwater issues in Williamsburg Commons
  • Several requests to pursue Amazon’s second headquarters (we are already doing this)
  • A question about the use of drones in Cary
  • A request for information about Cary’s hurricane shelter (we did not believe there was a need in Cary)
  • Several requests to attend events

 

Next week’s activities will include The Cary Tennis Championships, a regularly scheduled council meeting, a ribbon cutting, remarks at a workshop, an opioid event, the Cary Chamber’s banquet, Bond Brother’s 5K fundraiser, and a Good Hope Farm event.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, September 17th.  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.

Category: Uncategorized  
• Sunday, September 03rd, 2017

This week was a slower week than normal and will be the last slow week for a while.

Monday I joined several key staff members as we met with a representative from NCDEQ (North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality). The representative was visiting municipalities across the state to hear of what each municipality is doing related to the environment and issues they may be having in achieving their environmental goals. In our conversation we talked about water, wastewater, transportation, buffers, and specific environmental initiatives we have implemented over the years. She was very impressed and asked how they could help. We noted that our biggest concern is legislative actions that attempt to remove our authority to govern. For example, one of the latest harmful legislative proposals would reduce our buffers from 100 feet to 50 feet. Experts will tell you that the first 50 feet of that buffer is where the nutrients are removed so it is very important. She vowed to work with us on issues.

Later Monday I met with the town manager for my weekly one-on-one. We talked about several items including quasi-judicial hearings, a downtown business, a meeting with Jim Goodman, the mall redevelopment, the Silverton proposal at Evans and Cary Parkway, a potential Eastern Gateway consultant, and the annual council retreat date and location.

Tuesday I had an interview with a reporter from the Triangle Business Journal on IKEA and the Eastern Gateway. I spoke about my vision of how I thought the Eastern Gateway would develop and how it would eventually one day merge with the downtown redevelopment. Our interview lasted about 15 to 20 minutes.

Tuesday night I had the honor and privilege to introduce Mayor Pro-Tem Yerha and his campaign kickoff event. It was attended by well over 100 people and was a who’s who of people engaged and involved in the town. It should be noted that town staff are not allowed to attend any campaign events.

Thursday I joined the Deputy Town Manager in a meeting with a representative from Columbia development. The purpose of the meeting was a follow-up of our visit to Alpharetta, a review of rezoning and site submissions to the town, and to answer any questions I may have. With the zoning proposal were dozens and dozens of conditions to help assure the town of all the things we have seen and been presented. The rezoning will probably come to council in January for a decision. The project is so massive that I believe council may need a work session before the January meeting so that we can dive deep into the details of the conditions. Our meeting ended after an hour.

Later Thursday I joined council member George in an episode of Cary Matters. I wrote this episode to focus on volunteering since I frequently get requests from organizations and citizens of ways they can volunteer. If you would like to volunteer in some way to help Cary become greater than it is today please contact us.

The town manager’s report for this week included

 

Preparing for Potential Severe Weather

Staff is actively preparing for severe weather forecasted for our area later today. In addition to continuing to monitor conditions, we are implementing the following precautions:

  • The Fire Department is adding one ladder-company and one shift supervisor to augment the emergency response capability. We are also prepared to implement inclement weather dispatching protocols if necessary.
  • Public Works will have customer service staff for citizens to call x4090. The facilities and maintenance group and operations staff will be extending work hours.
  • Utilities staff is ready to implement its High-flow Management Plan.
  • Police will have the Watch Commander available to coordinate any special requests.
  • We have contacted tree removal contractors in the event their services are necessary.

Bloomberg Mayors Challenge

Fifteen cross-organizational staff members and Councilwoman Bush participated in Bloomberg’s Mayors Challenge Idea Accelerator Workshop on Wednesday in preparation for submitting for the Challenge. Cary is one of 300 cities participating in the workshop, which is designed to help develop ideas that solve the most urgent problems facing cities today. Our focus is the opioid epidemic. The grand prize winner receives $5 million to implement their idea.

It was a fantastic day full of great ideas and amazing collaboration. We are all excited and energized to keep the momentum going. We truly believe that Cary will play a leading role not only in our community and state but the world by developing a tool kit where municipalities can understand the health of their community through actionable data.

Harrison Bridge Project Update

As an update to previous conversations, staff recently met with the NCDOT Rail Division to discuss the Harrison Bridge project. The tunneling option was eliminated; the three remaining options (all bridging over tracks) continue to be studied. The discussion also included kick-off of the Maynard project, where both options (under the tracks and over the tracks) will be re-evaluated. On the Maynard project, detouring during construction will be a concern that staff will monitor closely. Additionally, this week staff met with the consultant and NCDOT regarding the US-64 project to evaluate options and discuss access, design and public involvement.

Water Transfer to Durham

Cary provided approximately 4 million gallons of water to the City of Durham in two water transfers via the Highway 55 Interconnect Pump Station. The first transfer, on Tuesday, was in support of a scheduled shut down for construction work at one of Durham’s water treatment facilities. The second transfer, which ran Wednesday through Thursday, was made on an emergency basis after an electrical problem at a Durham water treatment facility.

Cary: 4th Best Real-Estate Market in 2017

Cary was named 2017’s 4th Best Real-Estate Market in a recent study from the leading personal finance outlet WalletHub.com. You can find the full study here. To determine the most attractive real-estate markets in the U.S., WalletHub’s analysts compared 300 cities across 21 key metrics. The data set ranges from median home-price appreciation to home sales turnover rate to job growth. Cary ranks 4th overall and 2nd among midsize cities.

Hurricane Harvey/Fuel Impacts

We have been monitoring the fuel situation coming out of Texas and the situation with Colonial Pipeline to understand how it could impact Town operations.  According to the Colonial Pipeline: “Multiple refineries along the Gulf Coast are closed as a precaution against high water. This has caused a cessation of product injection to the Colonial Pipeline. At this moment, diesel seems to be in shorter supply than gasoline. Unbranded prices are rising as a result of this short supply. Carriers report that lines at terminals are lengthening and delivery times are being pushed out to 48 hours or more.”

With this information in mind, we are encouraging staff with Town vehicles to take precautionary methods to conserve fuel. At this time we are maintaining normal operations and our tanks at the Operations Center are topped off; however, we ask that staff with Town vehicles continue fueling your vehicles off site and often. We are keeping a very close eye on this and will certainly communicate any changes in our fueling operations.

GoCary Visits Glenaire

GoCary staff was invited by the senior advisory members at Glenaire Retirement Community to learn about transit service options for their residents. It was a wonderful opportunity to provide valuable transportation resources, particularly information about our Door-to-Door service. This program allows Cary residents age 60 and older, to travel within the Town limits for any trip purpose. For medical trips, however, the service area can be extended to Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, Apex, and Morrisville. Throughout the course of the presentation, we covered a number of topics including registration process, service areas, fares, hours of service, and related policies. They invited us back in November to hold another presentation, for all residents, and GoCary staff will be joined by staff at the Cary Senior Center. They expressed gratitude for everything the Town of Cary provides for the elderly population.

Cary Selected for TJCOG’s Local Government Showcase

The Town of Cary has been selected to participate in the Local Government Showcase on September 28 at TJCOG’s Regional Summit taking place this year in Clayton. Each presenter will have 5-7 minutes in a Ted Talk fashion to present the program/project and discuss its unique value to the community. Cary’s submission highlighted the urban/rural connection by using a recent example of when Cary helped the town of Autryville purchase a surplus fire truck following an EF1 tornado that completely destroyed its fire station and three trucks.

Recognitions

Thanks to CIO Nicole Raimundo for participating and representing Cary in an hour-long panel yesterday during the North Carolina Digital Government Summit. Nicole joined colleagues from local governments to discuss the issues of working with vendors, defining “smart” in the digital age and accurately measuring success.

And last but not least, huge thanks and appreciation go out to numerous staff, across every department, whose efforts contributed to the success of the 41st Lazy Daze event last weekend!

 

Emails from citizens this week included:

  • Compliments for Lazy Daze
  • A complaint about a restaurant that didn’t know about the brunch bill
  • A proposal to create a Transportation Advisory Board (we need a goal and mission before creating any more boards)
  • A complaint about downtown redevelopment is wrong and how we wasted money on the “dog bowl fountain”
  • A complaint about a purchase at Lazy Daze
  • A request not to allow the relocation of the Ivey-Ellington House
  • A complaint about the traffic signal placement on Evans Road and Maynard Road
  • A complaint about one hour parking in downtown
  • A complaint about rail crossing surfaces (NCDOT issue)
  • A complaint about potholes on Maynard
  • A complaint about grass clippings in the street
  • A complaint about town vehicles and how we should use 3rd parties for town maintenance (IMHO inefficient and more costly)

Next week will be busy for me and include an Economic Development meeting, several small meetings, and a trip to Markham, Canada (our sister city).

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, September 10th.  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.

Category: Uncategorized  
• Sunday, August 27th, 2017

This week was busy which is typical for the last full week of the month.

I started Monday by attempting to contact council members about their questions or concerns of Thursday’s agenda for the regularly scheduled meeting. I was able to contact all but George and Robinson. There were no major concerns or questions from council members. Later in the day I met with staff to go over the agenda items. Most of our conversation was about how to present financial items in simpler terms for all to understand.

Later Monday I met with the Town Clerk and Assistant Town Manager for a logistics debriefing of our Atlanta trip. In general I thought the trip and its format was a success.

Monday night I met with the Wake County Mayors Association. As usual, we went around the table and talked about various items. This meeting included conversations about Quasi-Judicial meetings, growth and development issues, and a new North Carolina Mayors association which could potentially have over 500 North Carolina mayors participating.

Tuesday I joined Mayor Pro-Tem Yerha and council members Bush, Robinson, and George for a Raksha Bandhan ceremony. Raksha Bandhan, or Rakhi, is an annual rite of people of South Asian origin, centered around the tying of a thread, talisman, or amulet on the wrist as a form of ritual protection. The protection is offered principally by sisters to brothers, but also by priests to patrons, and sometimes by individuals to real or potential benefactors. So we were honored to receive this “protection” from some of our citizens as they tied Rakhis on our wrists. It is a great gesture and a blending of cultures with a showing of love. Something our country and world need more of.

Tuesday evening the council held a work session on three topics: a debriefing of the Avalon development in Alpharetta trip, a potentially new transportation strategy, a definition of “the Cary way”, and the board and commission appointments.

In the debriefing of the Avalon visit council members all made positive comments. Most of the comments were related to the development team which is virtually the same team that created Avalon. For me seeing proof of what this team can build and hearing their ideas for Cary was the most important. To see some of the information presented in Alpharetta go to https://townofcary.box.com/s/fo1dwuablas4fflrdkxi8juvs72mlp8s.

The second topic at the work session was a transportation strategy that involved drones. Some the ways the drones could be used include:

  • Tower inspections which now cost over $1000 per inspection
  • Law enforcement to video accident scenes to help get roads open quicker
  • Law enforcement to help capture suspects trying to avoid police in wooded areas by using heat sensors
  • Emergency response to help with search and rescue
  • Firefighters to help with thermal imaging from above
  • Firefighters to help with air quality testing in accident areas to determine safety for responders
  • Firefighters to help with a 360 degree assessment of an ongoing fire or fire that may or may not be extinguished
  • Surveying and mapping
  • 3D modeling and virtual reality
  • Construction inspection
  • Video marketing of the town

In addition to the equipment the town would have to have licensed drone operators (pilots). The program would require sensors and software depending on the needs. Data management and storage will need to be obtained. And there must be ongoing training for staff. When asked about cost and return on investment staff believed it would be very quick. Council will likely see this proposal at a future date.

Our next work session topic was the meaning of “the Cary way”. Over 500 people gave opinions on what this meant. Those opinions were then categorized and summarized to produce the following definition of the Cary way: “Working together to change lives through exceptional service.”

Our last work session topic was the appointment of the board and commission members. The process started in July after the application period closed. Council members then individually reviewed the applicants and submitted their recommendations to the town clerk. The town clerk then tallied the recommendations and presented that information to council. The council liaison of each board then interviewed the top vote getters. FYI, the mayor is not a liaison to any board. At this meeting the liaison made their recommendations for appointments. All recommendations were approved without questions. Council will ratify these appointments at the first meeting in September and the board members will begin the first of October.

The work session concluded after a little over two hours.

Wednesday I had two meetings with religious representatives that wanted information about how to volunteer in their community. How great is that! Cary has many service opportunities. There are town opportunities like SPRUCE (litter reduction program), CAP (Citizens Assisting Police), CERT (Community Emergency Response Team), and all our boards and commissions. There are also non-profits we fund three ways. We set aside 1 percent of our budget, we provide CDBG (Community Development Block Grants) funds, and we donate proceeds from Lazy Daze. Some of the non-profits that have received funding include Dorcas Ministries, The Carying Place, Interact, Habitat, and dozens more. To find out more about these go to https://townofcary.app.box.com/s/01gvodsh089a7v427qlcnnncp3gwhc0r. If you are thinking about volunteering to help make your community a better place, please do!

Thursday I joined council members at a reception to welcome our guests from one of our sister cities Markham, Canada. John Webster is the official town crier for Cary and Markham. He and his wife Mary have traveled to Cary for Lazy Daze many years. The sister cities and town presented him with a framed poster of this year’s Lazy Daze and a humorous survival kit. Before adjourning to the council chambers for our last regularly scheduled meeting of the month, Mrs. Bush and I had our picture made with John and Mary Webster.

On the agenda were twelve consent items, two public hearings, and one discussion item. Most of the people in attendance wanted to speak of the proposed rezoning at the Cary Town Mall site where IKEA had announced they were planning to build. While everyone seemed to want the IKEA a few expressed concerns over potential traffic, noise, and lighting. The proposal will go to the planning and zoning board for their recommendation and will return to the council for a vote in two to three months.

Our only discussion item was a resolution to issue General Obligation Bonds. These bonds were to fulfill the Town’s commitments to implement transportation, parks and fire projects authorized by the voters in November 2012.  Council action was required to approve three resolutions and a bond order to facilitate the bond sale for the community investment bond projects and to authorize refinancing a portion of the Town’s existing bonded debt. The good news was this action saved the town over a million dollars. Needless to say, it was unanimously approved by council. Our meeting concluded after about two hours.

Saturday I had the honor of reading a proclamation and officially opening Lazy Daze. The ceremony began with John Webster’s cry of an “announcement of great importance”. This was followed by introductions of the Lazy Daze committee, key staff members, Jerry Miller who founded Lazy Daze, and former Mayor Koka Booth. Then I introduced all council members except Bush who was out of town. Finally I read a proclamation and introduced the Cary High and Green Hope High bands who played the national anthem. What a fun ceremony. The weather was unusually nice with partly cloudy skies and temperatures in the low to mid 80s. There were over 300 vendors from 16 states at this Lazy Daze. We even had a vendor from California. The proceeds from Lazy Daze will be distributed among cultural non-profits later in the year.

The town manager’s report for this week included:

The Cary Way – Defined

The Cary Way definition, a culmination of a months-long, comprehensive and inclusive process involving all employees, was presented to council at Tuesday’s work session:

Working together to change lives through exceptional service

Working together includes words and concepts such as teamwork, collaboration, family-feel, interdepartmental, creative, inclusive, camaraderie. It also includes the concept of working with citizens to accomplish our goals.

Exceptional service is meant to convey the ideas of service, excellence in all we do, community, citizens, polite and friendly, doing whatever it takes, and going above and beyond. We look for opportunities to provide special moments of “wow,” while continuously providing the highest levels of service to our citizens and to each other.

To change lives captures the idea that we are making a real difference, that the lives of our citizens and colleagues are better because of what we do every day.

You can watch Lana Hygh explain this process and how we came to our common definition in this video.

For many years, we have used “the Cary Way,” and while we didn’t have a common definition, individually, we felt like we knew what it meant. The point of the exercise was to develop this definition so it could be articulated and we could ensure we were talking about the same thing. Ultimately, the definition feels authentic – as if it was discovered more than it was developed or created.

We look forward to now using these words intentionally.

GRCVB – Destination Strategic Plan

On Monday, representatives from GRCVB working on the Destination Strategic Plan came to Town Hall and met with an interdepartmental group to review the objectives of the Strategic Plan as well as better understand Cary’s local assets, opportunities and perspective.

And on Thursday, Council member Ken George and staff members from the manager’s office and PRCR attended the GRCVB Annual Meeting. The meeting reiterated the goals of working together to identify destination strengths of the region as well as gaps that could be filled. The overall goal is to increase the number and length of overnight stays in the county.

In a pre-conference session, Denise Foreman, Assistant to the Manager for Wake County, presented information on the Occupancy/F&B tax. The next large stakeholder meeting will be held after the Destination Strategic Plan and the Cary Sport Venue Assessment are complete.

GoTriangle/GoCary Electric Buses

A joint effort by GoCary, GoTriangle, GoRaleigh, and Chapel Hill Transit to secure a federal grant to help buy seven electric buses has received the support of North Carolina’s Senators Thom Tillis and Richard Burr. The Federal Transit Administration is expected to announce the grant winners in early September.

Annual Wastewater Report

Each year the Town provides citizens and customers an update on the activities and compliance of our water reclamation facilities and wastewater collection system.  The annual report is a regulatory requirement of the Town’s wastewater collection system permit and water reclamation facilities wastewater discharge permits. On August 29th a news release will be issued and the FY 2017 Annual Wastewater Report will be available online.  Printed copies of the report will also be located at the Town Community Centers and the public libraries in Cary and Morrisville.  We are happy to report that the water reclamation facilities performed exceptionally well at consistently treating wastewater to high standards of water quality and there were no regulatory compliance violations during the reporting period.

Hackathon Build Day

The second part of the Hackathon, known as Build Day, occurred on Wednesday. The half day event brought together 10 teams that pitched at the Hackathon to work together in a collaborative manner to construct a scaled down version of the product/solution. The goal was to share and test these prototypes within the teams, in other departments, or on a small group of people outside the team. Next steps will be to share these prototypes with a larger audience and continue working on bringing the ideas to fruition.

2nd Quarter Report to Council

The 2nd Quarter Report, covering Town operations between April-June 2017, has been posted to our website. While the content should be familiar to you, this is the first quarter that we have organized the information based on the chapters in our Imagine Cary Community Plan. This is another example of how we are continuing to think about our work within the context of Council’s visioning document.

Google Pilots Microtrenching

Town staff has been working with Google Fiber to pilot Google’s new microtrenching fiber installation technique. This week Google began piloting this installation technique on Stamford Dr subdivision. This technique has benefits for citizens, Google, and the Town. Microtrenching allows Google Fiber to be installed without disturbing citizens’ lawns by cutting three-quarter inch wide trench in the street where the asphalt meets the curb. The fiber line is installed; backer-rods are installed on top of the fiber for protection, then a sealant on top.

This technique also allows fiber to be installed approximately three times faster than traditional boring; this benefits Google’s construction operation while significantly reducing the impact citizens see on their lawns and neighborhood streets. Additionally, microtrenching does not threaten the Town’s utility system. Microtrenching eliminates utility strikes and the subsequent outages and repairs that have been seen with the traditional boring installation. And since there is no threat to the Town’s utility system, utility locators are able to allocate time to other locate operations.

Recognitions

Hats off to Carrie Roman and Stephen McNulty for providing neighborly assistance to Durham County’s Sheriff’s Office last week during their time of need. As events unfolded, Cary’s PIO stepped in to help with social media communications to the public, which helped free up resources within Durham to better deal with the task at hand. This effort clearly demonstrated The Cary Way!

 

Reports from staff this week included the 2017 2nd quarter report. Here are some interesting points from that report:

  • Population as of July 1st was 160,390
  • MetLife will build a third tower
  • White Oak Greenway between Green Level and the American Tobacco Trail is under bid
  • USA Baseball clubhouse is in design
  • MacDonald Woods restroom replacement is almost ready for bid
  • Mills Park phase two is almost ready for bid
  • Cary Tennis Park expansion is almost complete
  • Black Creek Greenway renovation is almost ready for bid
  • Fire Station 9 is in design
  • Average single family dwelling was 3773 square feet in this quarter compared to 3797 square feet in 2013
  • Cary had just over 13% of Wake County single family permits. Raleigh and Apex had more
  • Morrisville Parkway extension is under design
  • Cary Parkway at High House is under bid
  • Carpenter Fire Station Road is almost ready for bid
  • Green Level West Road widening has begun construction
  • Over the past 10 years there has been a 27% customer growth for water/sewer but a 16% decrease in average customer use.

To look at the entire 2nd quarter report go to http://townofcary.uberflip.com/i/865956-2017q2report.

Emails from citizens this week included:

  • Complaints about a CUBE SMART project on Highway 55 (it is in the county’s jurisdiction and not Cary)
  • A question about the candidates debates
  • A request to regularly power wash the sidewalks in downtown
  • A “demand” to remove confederate monuments in Cary (we have none)
  • Support for IKEA going to the mall site
  • A request to deny the White Oak rezoning proposal

 

Next week will be a light week. It includes a meeting NCDENR, a campaign event for Mayor Pro-Tem Yerha, a meeting with a Columbia Development representative, and a Cary Matters taping.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, September 3rd.  Although I have Facebook and Twitter accounts those are not the best means of communications with me. Please send all Town of Cary questions or comments to Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org and email personal comments to augustanat@mindspring.com.

Category: Uncategorized  
• Sunday, August 20th, 2017

This was a busy week with a trip to Atlanta being the highlight.

Monday I met with the town manager for our one-on-one meeting to go over current issues. One topic we talked about at length was the violence going on in Charlottesville, Virginia. While I know bigotry, hatred, and ugliness exists everywhere I pray that it doesn’t raise its ugly head here. Nevertheless, we continue to prepare in case it does.

Later Monday I joined staff members and some council members to meet the third of four consultant groups interested in designing the final phase of the downtown park. This group, like the others, had ties to North Carolina. They mostly asked questions and listened. The other consultants engaged more in conversation. It will be very interesting to see their upcoming proposal.

Wednesday I attended a meeting of the executive board for CAMPO (Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization). Our agenda had two public hearings and one discussion item. Our first public hearing was on fiscal year 2019 LAPP (Locally Administered Projects Program). The staff presented the percentage mix for modal investment in transportation. Projects will be submitted for consideration until the end of October. Our second public hearing was the SPOT 5.0 modal candidate project list that covers a decade. SPOT is the long term plan and usually is big projects such as the Harrison Avenue bridge over the railroad tracks. Some of the projects in the priority list moved from the last five years of the decade to the first five years because of NCDOT’s commitment to spend down some of the two billion in reserves. Our discussion item was a review of the 2045 Metropolitan Transportation Plan. There were three scenarios presented: do nothing, do everything, or do something in the middle. Of course the doing nothing scenario creates a traffic nightmare and the do everything scenario is cost prohibitive so the committee approved the do something in the middle scenario. After informational items our meeting concluded after about one and a half hours.

Thursday I once again joined staff members and some council members to meet the last of the four consultant groups interested in designing the final phase of the downtown park. This group, although based in Brooklyn, seemed to have a great understanding of what Cary was about and what we were looking for. My interactions with them were mostly answering questions. They seemed very interested in getting to know the back stories of why things were and what we were hoping for in the future.

Thursday night I caught a flight to Atlanta to see a project in Alpharetta similar to what is being proposed in our Eastern Gateway. I was joined by all council members but Smith.

Friday we met with Columbia Development and all of their partners in the Avalon project of Alpharetta to hear their thoughts of how they felt a similar project would work in Cary’s Eastern Gateway. We spent the morning asking questions of developers, designers, architects, and city officials. In the afternoon we toured and explored Avalon to see some of its unique features. Some of the unique features I thought were interesting included:

  • The restaurants and bars in the center of the main street in addition to being on each side of the main street.
  • The multiple rooftop areas for the restaurants and bars.
  • The various unique “rooms” for seating and relaxing.
  • Tunnel like areas that led from the main street to parking which was another separate place to relax and enjoy.

It will be interesting to see if any of these features are offered at conditions to their forthcoming proposal.

 

Friday night the group visited the Battery where the new Atlanta Braves stadium is located. Since there was a game it atmosphere was more party oriented. But again that was a development with a mainstreet feel.

The trip was a success in the sense that you feel better about what they are planning to propose. That is, we have seen proof of what this team can build that is similar to what is being proposed.

The town manager’s report for this week included:

Wake Transit Implementation

Town staff attended Wake Transit’s Implementation Stakeholder’s Workshop on Wednesday at the Raleigh Convention Center. The workshop focused on public outreach and engagement. The main takeaway points were to establish a framework for the public engagement process as well as determine the way to reach target audiences: local workers, employers, elected officials, millennials, students, and senior citizens. 

The second half of the workshop centered around Major Investment Studies (MIS) and Multi-Year Bus Service Implementation Plan (MYBSIP) for FY2018. The MIS will provide transit operating agencies a prescribed list of priorities for short and long-term service expansion opportunities. On the other hand, the MYBSIP will potentially allow GoCary to expand bus service in West Cary (between O’Kelly Chapel Road and Green Level Church Road through McCrimmon Parkway). Western Cary is a priority of Imagine Cary – along with the MYBSIP Plan for transit expansion, and the proposed plans will determine when to implement feasible service.

SHUNK USA Groundbreaking

Mayor Pro Tem Ed Yerha made comments at the groundbreaking for SHUNK USA’s new 41,000 sq. ft. building expansion on Kitty Hawk Drive. The expansion will add manufacturing, office and training space. Council Member Ken George also attended along with Rep. Joe John and Morrisville Council Member Michael Schlink. After the groundbreaking, Milton Guerry, President of SHUNK USA, provided information about the products that SHUNK provides to manufacturers across the globe.

Shunk is an industry-leading clamping and gripping components manufacturer. At the Cary facility, they primarily manufacture gripping components – parts for machines (robots) that are used in all types of manufacturing.

Raleigh-Wake Home Builders Presentation

On Wednesday, I joined Scot Berry and Ken Hawley to present to the Raleigh-Wake Home Builders Association (HBA) Governmental Affairs Committee Meeting. I shared a bit on my career background, leadership philosophy and Cary’s future development outlook as outlined in the Image Cary Community Plan. Scot spoke about the evolution of the Development Services Department and on-going initiatives to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the development process in the Town of Cary. We discussed both short and longer term efforts, such as using technology to better track reviews, streamlining workflows, and developing a knowledge base. Ken gave an overview of FY17 Inspections & Permits numbers. During FY17 staff performed approximately 80,000 inspections (99.77% were completed on the day they were scheduled), and over 37,000 plan review steps (at a 94.1% timeliness rate). The HBA Committee asked several questions which resulted in a very productive dialog.

#CityHallSelfie Day

On August 15 the Town joined municipalities across the country in marking #CityHallSelfie Day, a day for municipal workers to snap a selfie while at work. Across Facebook and Twitter, we had a total of 19 selfies shared by Town employees, reaching over 21,700 social media users. I want to thank staff who joined in the fun, and show appreciation to Council member Lori Bush for participating, too. You can read more about the one-day event on ELGL’s website.

Recognitions

Congratulations and recognition go to Town Attorney Chris Simpson for participating and graduating from UNC School of Government’s Public Executive Leadership Academy (PELA). Chris attended PELA along with other senior management officials from cities across North Carolina. We look forward to learning more about her experience!

 

Emails from citizens this week included:

  • A concern about safety with the Cary Parkway construction
  • A thank you for sidewalk construction on West Cornwall
  • Concerns about the White Oak rezoning proposal
  • A request to change traffic signal timing at High House and Lilly Ridge Road
  • A traffic concern on O’Kelly Chapel Road
  • A request for my opinion on what Cary will do with laws related to cannabis (our authority is from the legislature and we do not have authority to consider such a law)
  • A request for roads to be funded by CAMPO (Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization)
  • A request to approve the IKEA proposal for the mall site (I currently don’t know of any opposition to this request)
  • A complaint about fiber installation digging up a yard
  • A complaint about the Cube Smart facility along Highway 55

Next week will be a busy week. Activities include a Mayors Association meeting, a work session on board appointments, a meet-and-greet with members from one of our sister cities, a regularly scheduled council meeting, many small meetings, and Lazy Daze.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, August 27th.  Although I have Facebook and Twitter accounts those are not the best means of communications with me. Please send all Town of Cary questions or comments to Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org and email personal comments to augustanat@mindspring.com.

Category: Uncategorized  
• Sunday, August 13th, 2017

This week’s activities included a chamber event and a council meeting.

Monday I called council members to hear of concerns or questions about Thursday’s agenda for the regularly scheduled council meeting. I was able to contact most of them and there were very few questions or concerns. The only issue seemed to be the CDBG (Community Development Block Grant) funding for Habitat. Later in the day I met with key staff members to go over the agenda. There was not much on the agenda so our meeting was short. I predicted our council meeting would last about an hour and a half.

Tuesday I taped the next episode of Cary Matters with Don Frantz. Our topic was road projects and we did the taping in one take.

Wednesday I joined all council members in the annual Cary Chamber Leadership dinner. Former Cary council members in attendance included Representative Gale Adcock and Wake County Commissioner Erv Portman. Others in attendance included Wake County School board members, Wake County Commissioners, and representatives from our congressional offices. Every year the chamber holds this event to thank its leaders at every level of government. I had the honor of speaking to the more than 100 people in attendance about the importance of partnerships at all levels of government. I believe Cary’s success is largely dependent on the elected officials, town staff, the chamber, and business leaders working together toward a common goal of making Cary greater than it is today. Cary is blessed to have so many good leaders in our business community that are involved and engaged. My table included the next Chairman of the Cary Chamber, the General Manager of MetLife in Cary, the Senior Vice President of Wake Med in Cary, and a senior executive from AT&T. We had a great discussion that ranged from town projects to personal experiences. The event also had a surprise visitor, the future owner of the Carolina Hurricanes who pledged to move to this area. Thanks to the Cary Chamber for recognizing all our leaders.

Thursday the council held its first regularly scheduled meeting of the month. The agenda included one consent item, two public hearings, three discussion items, and a quasi-judicial hearing. Most of the speakers for the evening spoke at Public Speaks Out and were from the Scottish Hills neighborhood. Unfortunately, they made negative comments about the Habitat for Humanity organization that was recently rezoned for their neighborhood. They requested that CDBG (Community Development Block Grants) not be given to the Habitat organization and to be given to other organizations even though the apolitical staff process scored Habitat with the highest score. After much discussion, the council approved the staff recommended CDBG funding despite council member George’s objections and criticism of Habitat.

Other decisions made at the meeting included the order to demolish a dilapidated structure on Marilyn Court, three new school speed zones, and modification requests from Cary Academy which were required for adding a new science building.

Saturday I had the honor and pleasure of being a part of India’s Independence Day celebrations at the Hindu temple in Morrisville. I was joined by several dignitaries including the Governor, Secretary of State Marshall, Representative Adcock, Wake county commissioners, Mayor Pro-Tem Yerha, the Morrisville mayor and several Morrisville council members. First there was a small parade, followed by anthems for both countries, and then the raising of the American, India, and North Carolina flags. The crowd then headed to the fellowship hall to hear speeches and observe performances.

While I was at the India Independence Day celebration I was approached by a group called Skilled Immigrants in America. They wanted to make me and others aware that there are many highly skilled Indians (advanced degrees) that have been legally living and working in the US for over ten years. They are now stuck in a green card backlog with current wait times estimated between 40 and 70 years. At the same time wait time for applicants from other countries averages around a year. As a result they can’t start a business or hire American workers, cannot freely invest in this country, and are limited in international travel. If they are laid off from their jobs they would have to sell all that they own and leave the country within 60 days. I promised I would mention their issue on this blog. It is a shame that our country has come to this. We probably need to change the Statue of Liberty quote of “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” to have a “Don’t” at the beginning.

The town manager’s report this week included the following:

Pressure Zone Shift Completed

We have completed the second of a series of incremental pressure zone boundary shifts this week to restore central pressure to several communities in the vicinity of Davis Drive and High House Road. The pressure zone shifts, which provide an increase in pressure of approximately 40-psi, are part of a longer term plan for expanding the central pressure zone boundary to provide greater transmission capacity and redundancy within the pipeline network serving the central pressure zone. The first shift was initiated following a water main break at Waldo Rood Boulevard earlier this year. The pressure zone shifts are being implemented in stages to improve our ability to assist citizens with the pressure change. Additional incremental pressure zone shifts are planned next year and in subsequent years.

Pitching Ideas at the Hackathon

On Friday for two hours, hackers, pitchers and interested observers gathered at the Cary Arts Center to take ideas or problems and build solutions! Employees from all departments heard their colleagues pitch ideas and work through solutions with the help of teammates. Many of the pitches displayed a OneCary mindset that would benefit the entire organization. Thanks to The Garage Hackers for leading such an innovative and inspiring event.

NCDOT Stakeholder Advisory Committee Update

Last week Jerry Jensen attended a committee meeting with NCDOT to discuss planned improvements from I-440 from Wade Avenue in Raleigh to Walnut Street in Cary. This project is currently progressing through the Environmental Assessment Process. The basic concepts include widening the highway from four to six lanes, with major interchange improvements. In Cary, there are no changes to the planned interchanges at Walnut Street or the I-40/440/US-1/64. In Cary there should also be no right of way impacts planned and all road widening contained within the existing right of way.

Cary Ranked Top 10 Safest Place to Raise a Child

We’re happy to report that SafeWise has released its updated 30 Safest Cities to Raise a Child for 2017 just in time for the school season. Cary ranked among the safest in the nation.

Coding and Viewing Party

Last weekend, 52 girls attended the Made with Code party hosted at The Cary Theater for a free coding event and viewing of the Oscar nominated film, Hidden Figures. This event was sponsored by Google and the National Foundation for Women Legislators with partnership from the Town of Cary. These viewing parties are held across the nation in an effort to encourage girls that are interested in coding and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics). Special thanks to Information Services for helping to make the event so successful.

City Hall Selfie Day

Tuesday, August 15 is #CityHallSelfie Day across the country. This is a great opportunity to show the virtual world just how great it is to work in Cary where we’re coming together to create the local government that doesn’t exist.

Using personal social media accounts on Twitter and/or Facebook, tag your photo with #CaryNC and #CityHallSelfie. We’ll be posting throughout the day on the Town’s official accounts. In addition, there’s a contest through www.ELGL.org to capture specific types of local government selfies.

Recognitions

The attached excerpt is from a book entitled Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. The particular passage touches on some of the themes we have been talking and thinking about as a group. Being open and vulnerable with one another will make us all stronger. Thanks to Dan Clinton for pointing this out.

And a shout out to Jeff Adkins for publishing in the trade magazine, NC Currents, about Cary’s reclaimed program. The article touches on the Town’s approach to customer service, operational challenges and planning for our future.

 

Emails from citizens this week included the following:

  • Comments about the White Oak rezoning proposal
  • A complaint about a penalty being assessed for not paying a water bill
  • Complaints from Scottish Hills residents about proposed future funding of Habitat
  • A concern about the Piney Plains rezoning
  • Support for demolishing a dilapidated house on Marilyn Circle
  • A safety concern about construction on NW Cary Parkway

Next week’s activities include meetings with architects and designers for phase two of the downtown park, a CAMPO (Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization) meeting, and a trip to Atlanta to observe development issues.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, August 20th.  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.

Category: Uncategorized  
• Sunday, August 06th, 2017

This week was a typical week for summer with a regularly scheduled meeting and a few additional meetings.

Monday I met with the town manager for our weekly one on one. We talked for about 45 minutes mostly on current development proposals. It is important to get staff updates on what applicants are doing especially if applicants are changing proposals.

Later Monday I joined council members and staff in an informal meeting of the first of four architectural design firms for the second phase of the downtown park. The purpose of this gathering was so they could hear various thoughts and ideas about what we think about our town and the second phase of the downtown park. This firm had three representatives that spent a couple of days in town touring parks and other areas.

Tuesday I joined council members and staff for another informal meeting of the second of four architectural design firms. Like the day before, this firm had an impressive resume of projects. They spoke of how the park should project beyond its borders. I can’t wait to see their pitch in a few weeks.

Wednesday I wrote the next episode of Cary Matters. I based it on near term transportation improvements.

Thursday the council held its monthly quasi-judicial meeting with three hearings. The first hearing was for Hawthorne at Parkside apartments near O’Kelly Chapel Road and Highway 55. The reason this matter was before the council was to consider a parking reduction and a change in street improvements from what is required. The discussion focused on the street improvements which required three lanes in front of the development. That would have had O’Kelly Chapel Road go from two lanes to one lane and then back to three. The developer proposed two lanes all the way through. Surprisingly some council members questioned that but in the end it passed.

Our next hearing was to consider a development plan for a six story office building across the lake from the amphitheater. Currently, there is a greenway around the lake and an earthen trail that leads part of the way to the proposed development.  The discussion at this hearing focused on the greenway connectivity. The developer did not want to make a hard connection because of liability. After a failed vote to require a hard surface from the development to the greenway, the council agreed on a hard surface from the development to the earthen path to the greenway.

Our final hearing was to waive required road improvements on Evans Road because of a proposal to cover the Silverton pool. The applicant argued that they are not generating additional traffic and a road widening would require mature trees to be removed. The council agreed and approved unanimously. The three hearings lasted about three hours.

The town manager’s report for this week included:

Locomotive #1871 Dedication

Following close coordination with NCDOT, Town Council and staff had the pleasure of joining NCDOT Secretary Jim Trogdon and First Lady Kristin Cooper to christen the Cary-branded locomotive #1871. The locomotive’s number corresponds to the incorporation or charter date of the city after which it is named; it’s painted in the NCDOT Piedmont paint scheme, which incorporates the colors and symbols of North Carolina’s state flag. It was christened alongside locomotive #1984, City of Kannapolis. Both will be used immediately in North Carolina’s daily Piedmont passenger service.

Downtown Park Consultants Visit Cary

Staff hosted national design firms Nelson Byrd Woltz and Hargreaves Associates, two of the four firms being considered to update the Downtown Park Master Plan, on Monday and Tuesday. The goal of each visit is to provide each firm with a greater understanding of the Cary Community, a focused examination of the scope of the project and the opportunity to interact with Town Council and staff. The two remaining firms, James Corner and The Office of James Burnett will have similar visits on August 14 and 17. Following the site visits, each firm will return to Cary to present to staff their approach/process for how they would go about updating the Downtown Park Master Plan.

Convenience Store Proposal in Amberly

To help ensure that citizens concerned about a development plan for a convenience store and gas station in Amberly are heard and have their questions answered, staff will be working with the group’s leaders to schedule a neighborhood meeting to be held sometime over the next several weeks. As we do for all neighborhood meetings, we are asking citizens to let us know of any other concerns or observations they have about the area so that we can all work collaboratively to keep Cary great.

Vehicle to Infrastructure Technology Grant

NCDOT has selected Cary to implement the first Vehicle to Infrastructure Technology called SPaT, Signal Phasing and Timing. The project allows approaching cars to see the traffic signal timing on their dashboard. The pilot project will include installing advance equipment on 20 traffic signals along NC 55 and High House Road corridors. NCDOT will cover the total cost of $507,000 and the project is estimated to be complete in 18 weeks. Cary will be the first in NC and fifth in the nation to implement this new technology.

Savage Towing Challenge

Savage Towing on May 15 filed a challenge to the Town’s new towing ordinance (which went into effect on June 1) and asked the court to prevent the enforcement of the ordinance (Preliminary Injunction’) until Savage’s complaint could be heard and decided upon. The court denied Savage’s request for a Preliminary Injunction and Savage then turned to the Court of Appeals with a Motion for Temporary Stay and Petition for Writ of Supersedes (Motions’). The Court dismissed the Motions on technical grounds and Savage has refiled them. The Town filed its Response to the Motions on Monday.

New RTP CEO Announced

We received word this week that the Research Triangle Foundation has hired Scott Levitan as CEO. More information on this announcement and Mr. Levitan can be found here.

Utility Monthly Report

The monthly operating report for the Utilities Department indicates some key updates on a number of technology upgrades that are under development along with a spotlight on some of our maintenance activities.

June 2017 Development & Construction Reports

The Planning, Zoning and Development Report and Construction Activity Report for June 2017 are now available. The Interactive development ESRI map also illustrates active, in review and approved development projects. In addition, the current list of development projects in review and the approved development projects list as of July 2017 are also available. Please direct questions regarding the development projects to Scot Berry.

Recognitions – My First Year

Today marks my one-year anniversary with the Town. Thank You for making it a truly magical year. It has been a year of great learning yet I know that the learning never stops as we strive to continue growing. These last 12 months have been a privilege and I am thankful to have the guidance of a visionary Town Council, brilliant people at my side, and talented community partners working with me on this journey. There is still much to learn and even more to discover, but I am humbled and could not be prouder of our accomplishments this year. I look forward to continuing working together in our pursuit of keeping Cary great.

-Sean

 

Emails from citizens this week include:

  • A compliment on our downtown activities.
  • A concern about public records.
  • A question about the name “Alston” and its association with Cary.
  • A compliment on downtown, the Downtown Park, and Cary.
  • A compliment to council on doing a great job in Cary.
  • A concern about global warming.
  • A request from a high school student to learn more about how we operate.

There were also numerous requests this week to attend future events.

Next week’s activities will include a regularly scheduled council meeting, a quasi-judicial hearing, a taping of Cary Matters, the Cary Chamber’s Leadership dinner, and the India Independence Day celebration event.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, August 13th.  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.

Category: Uncategorized  
• Sunday, July 30th, 2017

This week was much busier than the last couple of weeks.

The week started with calls to council members to hear of questions or concerns about the agenda for the regularly scheduled meeting on Thursday. I was able to reach all council members except George and Robinson. There were really no issues or questions on the agenda.

Later in the day I met with management and key staff members to go over the agenda items. There were no controversial items on the agenda and our meeting was short. I anticipated the Thursday meeting would last an hour and a half.

Next I joined Mayor Pro-Tem Yerha in my weekly meeting with the town manager. We discussed the visit from SAS’s Dr. Goodnight, the Cary-Morrisville joint issues committee, and how to make sure town resources aren’t mistakenly used for any political purposes during this campaign season.

The last meeting of the day was the Cary-Morrisville join issues task force. Most of our meeting was spent discussing upcoming East/West Thoroughfare projects. Those projects include:

  • Morrisville-Carpenter Realignment and Grade Separation: This is the new alignment from NC55 to just west of Louis Stephens Drive. It is funded by Cary and construction will begin in early 2018.
  • Morrisville Parkway Extension and Interchange with NC540: This is the completion of the missing gap between Green Level Church Road and NC55 with a new interchange with toll road facility. This is funded by Cary, CAMPO (Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization), and NCTA and will begin construction in early 2018.
  • Green Level West Road Widening: This widening will be between NC55 and NC540. It is funded by Cary and CAMPO and is already under construction.
  • O’Kelly Chapel Road Extension: This extension will be from Parkside Town Commons across CSX railroad at-grade to Little Drive in RTP. This is funded by Parkside Town Commons with construction beginning and ending in early 2018.
  • McCrimmon Parkway – Feasibility Study: This study is from NC55 to Louis Stephens Drive. It will be funded by Cary and will be begin sometime in this fiscal year.
  • Carpenter Fire Station Road Widening: This widening will be from the NC540 bridge at Cameron Pond to NC55. It will be funded by Cary with design underway and construction beginning in the next fiscal year.
  • Aviation Parkway Widening and I40 Interchange Improvements: This will be from just west of NC54 to just east of the I40 interchange. It is funded by NCDOT and includes environmental permitting. Construction will be in 2023.

The committee also discussed and decided to meet with both entire council’s twice a year beginning with the next meeting in January.

Tuesday the council held a work session on Transportation. We talked specifically about funding, Cary projects, technology, and state projects.

Funding options include STIP (State Transportation Improvement Program), LAPP (Locally Administered Project Program), and other sources (Wake County grants, State bonus allocations, etc.). STIP projects are usually over $10 million, are awarded every two years, focus on regional projects, and usually are for capacity improvements. LAPP projects are usually less than $10 million, are awarded annually, and focus on operational, safety projects, and enhancements. Projects throughout Cary use all of these including debt and the general fund.

Cary projects include the following:

  • Academy Street : completed
  • Walnut Street: completed
  • Green Level West Road widening: underway
  • Cary Parkway at High House: utilities are currently being moved
  • Carpenter Fire Station Road Grade Separation: starting soon
  • Morrisville Parkway Extension and NC 540 Interchange: starting soon
  • Reedy Creek Road Widening: under design

Cary Intersection improvements include the following:

  • US1/64 at Cary Parkway: completed
  • Maynard Road at Chapel Hill Road: completed
  • Kildaire Farm Road at Cary Parkway: bidding this fall
  • Evans Road at Cary Parkway: bidding this fall
  • Maynard Road at High House Road: bidding this fall
  • Chapel Hill Road from Bowden Street to Sorrell Street: In design
  • Kildaire Farm Road at Advent Court: In design
  • Kildaire Farm Road at Ten Ten Road: In design
  • Waldo Rood Boulevard at Cary Parkway: In design
  • Waldo Rood Boulevard at MacArthur Drive: In design
  • High House Road from Carpenter Upchurch Road to Widdington Lane: In design

The technology update focused on upgrades to the Traffic Management System that now includes 112 traffic cameras and 199 state of the art signal controllers.

Sidewalk projects listed in our discussion included:

  • Old Weatherstone Way: Completed
  • Cary Town Boulevard: Completed
  • Old Apex Road: In design
  • Penny Road: In design
  • Walker Street: In design
  • SW Cary Parkway: In design
  • North Harrison Avenue: In design
  • East Chatham Street: In design
  • Edinburgh Drive: In design
  • Sudbury Drive: In design
  • Lake Pine Drive: In design

Greenway Improvements listed in our discussion included:

  • White Oak Creek at the American Tobacco Trail Connection: Construction Pending
  • White Oak Creek at MacArthur Drive: In design
  • Panther Creek: In design
  • Crabtree Creek: Under construction

Our transit discussion focused mostly on BRT (Bus Rapid Transit). It is important to identify those corridors since that is where future development might occur. We also talked about a new Bus Operations and Maintenance Facility that will be on Towerview Court. GoCary will also see increased service that will include Sunday service from 7 AM until 9 PM, half hour frequency Monday through Saturday, and a half fare discount for students age 13 to 18.

In our discussion on technology Cary’s installation of LED lighting has already saved us a half a million dollars. Future technology will include information to help cars find parking spaces, autonomous vehicles, and more. These are closer to reality than most people realize. Most predict mainstream in five to ten years.

Regional projects discussed included the Southeast extension of NC 540, Aviation Parkway, Louis Stephens Drive at its planned end near NC 540, Ten-Ten Road, US 64 improvements, Swift Creek Greenway improvements, Black Creek Greenway improvements, US 1/64 at I40/440 improvements, Maynard Road grade separation, Trinity Road grade separation, and North Harrison Avenue grade separation. The Maynard Road grade separation will likely require moving the intersection which will be costly. The North Harrison Avenue grade separation will likely have the CSX moved closer to the other tracks before a bridge could be built. This will be another costly grade separation.

Our work session concluded after a little over two hours.

Thursday the council held the only regularly scheduled meeting of the month. There were 11 consent agenda items, 3 public hearings, and 4 discussion items.

One item of note on the consent agenda was the removal of the NE Cary Parkway extension from the transportation plans. This would have extended Cary Parkway through wetlands and connected it to Trinity Road which would eventually end up at the RBC center. IMHO this would serve as a bypass for I40 on congested times more than anything else. In addition, it would have created more congestion on Harrison Avenue from Cary Academy to I40. That could have a detrimental effect on the future development and redevelopment of that portion of Harrison Avenue. As a result I strongly advocated for the removal of Cary Parkway from the transportation plan.

The Public Speaks Out portion of our meeting had several speakers who complained about giving more money to Habitat for Humanity. They stated they would prefer it to go to another non-profit. These speakers identified themselves as living in the Scottish Hills area which opposed Habitat’s development on Trimble Avenue.

In the discussion items council unanimously agreed to expand the USA Baseball facility using $3.2 million of the Hotel Occupancy Tax funding, begin the Morrisville Parkway and NC 540 interchange utilities project, and approve the brunch bill. The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding was moved to the August 10th council meeting. The meeting ended after just an hour.

The town manager’s report for this week included the following:

Transportation Technology

On Tuesday the Town implemented the first Thermal Imaging Sensor at the intersection of Dry Avenue and Academy Street. The sensor detects pedestrians crossing to/from the Cary Arts Center and Downtown Park. Upon detection, it automatically activates the pedestrian crossing without having to physically touch the pedestrian push button. This technology will help our citizens and all those who visit our downtown.

Rerouting Curbside Collection

As we do every few years to ensure high efficiency and service reliability, staff is in the process of rebalancing our solid waste collection routes. While details are still being worked out, we do know our existing Tuesday through Friday collection schedule will change to Monday through Thursday. With that chance, most Friday customers will shift to Monday. This rebalance is anticipated to impact less than half of our 50,000 households. The new routes and collection days are expected to go into effect late fall. You will start seeing communications on this new service change with our August edition of Bud, which hits homes starting today, July 28.

Cary Approved to Become Certified Local Government

Cary’s application to become a Certified Local Government (CLG) under the National Park Service’s Federal Preservation Program has been preliminarily approved by the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources’ (NCDCR) Historic Preservation Office. The next step in the certification process is for the Town Council to consider signing a Local Government Certification agreement between the Town of Cary and the NCDCR. Entering into the agreement would mean that Cary agrees to follow state and federal requirements in conducting its preservation program, and in return becomes eligible to apply for available CLG grant funds in competition with other CLG. If Council approves the agreement, NCDCR will forward it and our CLG application to the National Park Service in Washington, DC for final approval.

Good News for Municipal Bonds

The House Financial Services Committee voted 60-0 for a favorable report on H.R. 1624, the “Municipal Finance Support Act of 2017” and it is now eligible to be heard on the floor of the US House of Representatives. This bill would require federal banking regulators to treat certain municipal securities held by financial institutions as high-quality liquid assets. This change will protect financial institution investment in communities by including investment grade municipal bonds in bank liquidity buffers, thus ensuring that municipal bonds continue to be a desirable investment which will help keep interest rates low. Protecting the integrity of municipal bonds is part of Council’s Federal Legislative Agenda.

PIT Crew Tackles ACT Chapter

The Plan Implementation Team (PIT Crew) is an interdepartmental team formed to help with organizational-wide implementation of Imagine Cary. This week, the PIT Crew began work categorizing the ACT Chapter into ‘buckets’ of short, medium and long-term actions. The purpose of the ‘bucket’ exercise was to break the actions into manageable groups and logical sequencing for implementation. This will allow us to dig into the short-term bucket in more detail and identify connections between the actions. It was a powerful moment because there are 37 separate actions identified in the chapter.

Smart Cities Conversation Continues

Assistant Town Manager/CIO Dan Ault met with State Representative Jason Saine on Wednesday to discuss opportunities to work in unison with the state in using technology and smart cities initiatives to bridge the urban/rural divide in North Carolina. Rep. Saine sponsored the recently passed small cell wireless bill (HB 310). Staff will continue working with him and other state leaders in finding ways for Cary to be a model smart city community and pave the way for economic development across the state.

Recognitions

Happy THREE year anniversary to the staff at the Western Wake Regional Water Reclamation Facility (aka GPOE)! Collectively, the project was the largest capital improvements project the Town has ever undertaken. It began operating on July 28, 2014 and provided treated water to the Cape Fear River on August 11, 2014. Facility Manager Damon Forney and the plant staff have successfully provided high-quality treated wastewater to the Cape Fear River Basin during the startup and first three years of operation. The facility has operated with no violations and consistently provides water quality that surpasses permit standards.

 

Emails from citizens this week included:

  • A complaint about a proposed rezoning in the White Oak area
  • A compliment of public works cleaning up after a storm
  • A complaint that downtown events create too much noise
  • A request to widen Cary Parkway to four lanes for the Evans to Harrison section
  • Several request from residents in Scottish Hills that Habitat for Humanity shouldn’t receive any additional Community Block Grant money (This comes from residents who were opposed to the Habitat project on Trimble Avenue)
  • A request to fund a group home
  • A complaint about a GoCary driver
  • A complaint that affordable housing will be reduced if projects on Park Street are approved
  • A request for a gas station on Stonecroft Lane
  • A request for a pet parade

 

Activities for next week include the christening of the new “Cary” locomotive, public meetings with the architects of the second phase of the downtown park, and a quasi-judicial council meeting.

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

Category: Uncategorized  
• Sunday, July 23rd, 2017

This was a light week with the exception of attending the Cary Chamber’s annual retreat.

Monday I met with the town manager for a little over an hour as our weekly one on one. Topics included Morrisville Joint Issue task force, personnel issues, and upcoming trips.

Tuesday I had the honor of providing remarks at the celebration of the topping off of the new Homewood Suites hotel in Crossroads. This is the 3rd hotel in Crossroads for the Patel’s and they have all been very successful. Their success means we are attracting people to Cary so we certainly are wishing them the best. Also attending were Mayor Pro-Tem Yerha, council members Smith and George, Deputy Town Manager Overton, and Intergovernmental Relations Manager Hygh.

Thursday I talked with a reporter about the possibility of the NCFC (North Carolina Football Club) leaving Wake Med for a new stadium in Raleigh. It is important to understand that Cary has heavy demand for the park and stadium. We support NCFC and their successful transition into MLS. I believe we will have no problem filling the stadium. In addition to the NCAA and ACC soccer championships there is potential to expand into other sports such as lacrosse, rugby, ultimate Frisbee, etc. Currently 300,000 people vist the park each year and our seven fields are booked solid. So this looks like a potential win-win for everyone.

Later in the day I traveled to Wrightsville Beach for the annual Cary Chamber retreat. Our evening speaker was Steve Malik, owner of Carolina FC, who I sat beside at dinner. Some of the information he provided in his presentation and I obtained in my conversation with him included:

  • He would like Wake Med to be the practice facility for Carolina FC.
  • He doesn’t know if the women’s team will move to the new arena or not. It depends on the attendance.
  • He would like to Make Wake Med the national training center for soccer and he has input and connections to help make that happen.
  • He is very excited about the renderings of the MLS stadium in Raleigh and has had them in his possession for quite some time which means this site was chosen several months ago.
  • He wants to continue a good relationship with Cary and we would like to do the same.

We were very appreciative that after such a busy week that Mr. Malik would come to the Cary Chamber retreat to address our business leaders and elected officials.

Friday was a busy day at the Chamber retreat with several presentations. It started with Cary’s town manager Sean Stegall. He made a lot of great points in his talk about where we are as a town and where we are going. One point worth repeating is that Cary’s past growth rate has allowed Cary to finance great infrastructure and amenities with a low tax rate. In the future there will be tough decisions on how to maintain and increase levels of service without the revenue from so such much growth.

Next I joined council members Yerha, Robinson, Smith, and George in a little question and answer. There were questions about partisan politics and biggest obstacles we will have to overcome. That segment only lasted about 15 minutes.

The next session was on smart cities and smart businesses and was hosted by representatives from Duke Energy, Research Triangle Clean Tech Cluster, Trilliant Networks, and SAS. One of the interesting points made was that technology will allow individuals and cities to better maintain their resources in the future but privacy and security will remain a concern.

The following session was from the Assistant Wake County Manager and focused on the hotel occupancy and meal tax. Cary is a HUGE donor to this program which is mostly spent to fund the convention center (85%). What makes it worse is that even though we account for over 20% of the revenue, we don’t have a voice in the decision making body. This remains a concern of many including me.

Wake County school board member Fletcher and a teacher from Athens Drive held the next session. They talked about how high school and college graduates are not prepared to meet the needs of businesses. Then they discussed a new way of teaching which includes more peer interaction and more discoveries. Basically, making the students use their brains and knowledge in different ways.

The last session before lunch was from Senator Barringer and Representative Adcock from the NC Legislature. Both of these individuals have at time gone against their parties to make votes in favor of what is best for Cary. Of course, we have a special place in our hearts for Adcock who use to be on the Cary town council. Both of these speakers summarized the good, bad, and ugly of the session and provided information on what to expect. The refreshing part is that even though they are in opposing political parties, they work together on bills for benefit Cary.

After lunch our downtown manager, Ted Boyd, gave a summary of what is happening as far as new businesses and opportunities in our downtown. Downtown continues to see redevelopment which I predict will accelerate in the next couple of years.

The next session focused on multimodal transportation and included the RTA Executive Director, the General Manager of GoTriangle, the Deputy Town Manager of Cary, and council member Robinson who moderated. Most of the focus of this conversation was on the Bus Rapid Transit which should be coming in the next couple of years.

The final session of the retreat was from Ted Abernathy who is the managing partner of Economic Leadership. His statistics and analysis is always amazing. One interesting point from this conversation is that he believes that rural areas will continue to decline and there really isn’t much that can be done legislatively to change that. (He needs to give his presentation to the legislature who is constantly battling the urban-rural issue.)

This retreat was jammed packed with information and is always great for those who attend. I am glad I was able to take a day from my job at SAS to attend.

The town manager’s report for the week included:

Dr. Goodnight Visits Town Hall

On Tuesday, the Town had the honor of welcoming Dr. Goodnight to Town Hall campus. This was the first visit Dr. Goodnight has ever made to Town Hall and one of his few times to downtown Cary in recent years.

The visit began with a lunch which provided a relaxed atmosphere for us to get to know each other better. After lunch, Dr. Goodnight was particularly interested in seeing the Traffic Management Center. He spent time learning all we do to promote safety and efficiency on our streets. Next, Dr. Goodnight visited our 911 Communications Center where we talked about the integration of our traffic cameras with our 911 emergency operations. The last stop was in IT so Dr. Goodnight could learn about our efforts to make Town Hall a smart campus as well as updating him on some of our partnerships with SAS analytics.

We ended the visit by presenting Dr. Goodnight with a watercolor painting of Veterans Freedom Park, painted by JJ Jaing, who took first place in this year’s Plain Air contest.

The significance of this visit cannot be understated as Dr. Goodnight is a hugely important figure in making Cary the place it is today.

Chamber Planning Conference

On Friday morning, I presented at the annual Cary Chamber Planning Conference. I talked about KPMG’s annual survey of CEO’s and how their findings relate to Cary in the areas of public trust, technology and talent. I also touched on our focus areas of 311, Imagine Cary Community Plan, quarterly budgeting, citizen participation and branding/reputation.

Dan Ault was also on hand to talk about Cary’s smart cities efforts and Ted Boyd gave an update on our downtown.

Cary Locomotive 1871

Cary’s locomotive, part of NCDOT’s fleet, is maintained at Capital Yard Maintenance Facility in Raleigh. Town of Cary 1871 was rebuilt at the Altoona Works Norfolk Southern Railroad Locomotive Shop in Altoona, PA. The train is being tested for a period of 30 days on the Piedmont line (one round trip to Charlotte per day) before being officially accepted. The train is expected to be officially accepted into service on August 17.

GoCary Service Enhancements

As part of the Wake County Transit Plan, GoCary has proposed a few service changes to benefit our citizens, starting August 6, 2017. This is in concert with other transit providers in Wake County to ensure regional mobility for all. The proposed GoCary changes would extend services on Sunday (all Fixed Route and Door to Door) as well increase bus service every half hour all day (Monday-Saturday) on Routes 3, 4, 5, and 6. The extension of service operations and hours will allow citizens to access many types of services, including employment, church services, and community events. These services align with policies and action items associated with the Cary Community Plan.

Covered Courts at Cary Tennis

The first event under the new covered courts was held last weekend. Close to 600 junior players, as well as parents and coaches were able to enjoy the new courts. Play began Friday afternoon, followed by a player party Friday night!

Homewood Suites in Cary

Mayor Weinbrecht welcomed Homewood Suites to Cary at a Topping Off Celebration on Tuesday. Mayor Pro-tem Ed Yerha and Council Members Jack Smith and Ken George and staff members Russ Overton and Lana Hygh also attended. Mr. Patel, the owner, commented that it was great to build in a community where you could call and someone would answer and help.

Construction continues with a grand opening expected in spring 2018.

Hemlock Bluffs Awarded Grant

The NC Science Museum Grant Program, administered through the NC Museum of Natural Resources, recently awarded a grant of $19,945 to the Friends of Hemlock Bluffs. This grant will be used to integrate science and technology into the Stevens Nature Center’s exhibit hall as part of the Friends’ Exhibit Improvement Project. The grant is a two-year award totaling almost $40,000. With these funds, the Friends will collaborate with the Town to incorporate updated video playback equipment in the mini theater, as well as new videos that showcase the nature preserve and the natural resource efforts.

Legal Updates

The Town was named as a defendant in Estate of Paul Pham v Brown and TOC, a wrongful death negligence action that results from the tragic death of a young bicyclist who collided with Ms. Brown’s automobile on Maple Avenue, a private street in Cary.  On Wednesday, after the Town filed a motion to dismiss the action against the Town based on sovereign or governmental immunity, the plaintiff dismissed the Town as a defendant.  The dismissal is ‘without prejudice’ which means that the plaintiff has reserved his right to refile against the Town within the next year. Similarly, the tax collection action Chatham County v Nasim Nasseri et al has been dismissed as taxes have been paid.

Last Friday the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals decided Lund v. Rowan County, a legislative prayer case.  The Rowan County commissions rotated public meeting prayers amongst themselves, asking the public to rise and pray with the commissioners. The prayers offered were all Christian prayers. The Court found that the prayers ‘veered from time to time into overt proselytization.’  The Court disapproved the prayer practice, saying:  ‘We conclude that the Constitution does not allow what happened in Rowan County. The prayer practice served to identify the government with Christianity and risked conveying to citizens of minority faiths a message of exclusion. And because the commissioners were the exclusive prayer-givers, Rowan County’s invocation practice falls well outside the more inclusive, minister-oriented practice of legislative prayer described in Town of Greece…’

MLS Team Site Bidding

As many of you know, NCFC (formerly RailHawks) submitted a bid for an expansion MLS team. On Wednesday, MLS executives came to the Triangle for a site visit. Ed Yerha, Doug McRainey, and William Davis attended the leadership breakfast. NCFC unveiled their plans for a 22,000 seat stadium and multi-use complex on the northern side of Downtown Raleigh (if awarded the bid). The plan and location received a positive reaction from MLS and the people attending the meetings. MLS will announce the first two cities by the end of 2017 as well as the timeline for future announcements.

WakeMed Soccer Park will still operate as a local and regional training and game facility for soccer, cross country and other sports as well as host major championships like NCAA, ACC, and High School State Championships. The park will still be the training facility for NCFC and if they do go MLS, staff will work to replace their games with other similar tier league teams/games.

NW Cary Parkway Update

Have you ever wondered why the concrete section of NW Cary Parkway was rough as you drove over it before the bridge? Contractors working on behalf of the Town of Cary removed the first panels of concrete Wednesday. This revealed the underlying problem: heavily saturated material was found underneath the concrete along the first 85 feet of roadway. This section of road was initially built by a developer. The wet, soft clay material was removed at a depth of 12 inches and replaced with an asphalt-based material. This provides the structural foundation needed to support the traffic loads of the roadway for years to come. So far, the remainder of the NW Cary Parkway sub-base has been in excellent shape. The contractor anticipates having the eastbound lanes finished by the end of July.

Boys of Summer Bring Home Gold

The 12 & Under and 14 & Under Youth Sports baseball all-star teams both won the SWAC State tournament last weekend. The 12 & Under team, competing in Siler City beat Onslow County, 13-9, in the championship game. In the 14 & Under bracket, hosted by Nash County, Cary won three consecutive games on Sunday, working its way through the losers bracket to beat Wake Forest, 5-1 and 14-0, to take the championship.

Cary Named Top 5 City for First-Time Home Buyers

In a study conducted by WalletHub, Cary was recognized as having a favorable housing market for first-time home buyers. The study took the pulse of real estate in 300 cities of varying sizes using 23 key metrics. The data set ranges from housing affordability to real-estate tax rate to property-crime rate.

Buying a First Home in Cary (1=Best; 150=Avg.):

  • 58th– Housing Affordability
  • 103rd– Real-Estate Tax Rate
  • 16th– Cost of Living
  • 121st– Median Home-Price Appreciation
  • 29th– Foreclosure Rate
  • 5th– Property-Crime Rate

Cary ranks No. 4 overall and No. 2 among midsize cities.

Recognitions

The level of planning, practice and execution that went into Dr. Goodnight’s visit was remarkable. I’d like to recognize the efforts of Susan Moran, and the numerous people who assisted in the effort, for orchestrating the entire experience seamlessly.

Recently, one of our solid waste vehicles experienced a technical malfunction that resulted in trash being spilled all over Galsworthy Street. A crew was called out to clean up the mess, which they did impeccably. Thanks to the clean-up job of Malcolm Monk, Christopher Hendricks, and Aurley Citron, as well as their supervisors Bill Roy and Matt Wetherell for offering assistance in the effort.

 

Emails from citizens this week included the following:

  • A complaint from a parent that their child was being bullied.
  • Questions about Louis Stephens Drive north of Morrisville Parkway.
  • Concerns about a rezoning request at White Oak.
  • Questions by a developer who wants to rezone property and restrict use of alcohol. (we do not have authority to do that)

Next week will be busy for me. Activities will include the Cary-Morrisville joint issues task force meeting, a work session on transportation strategies, the only regularly scheduled council meeting of July, and other meetings.

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

Category: Uncategorized  
• Sunday, July 16th, 2017

This week was a light week with the exception of the quasi-judicial hearing.

Monday the town manager and I talked briefly in our weekly meeting. There are currently no hot issues which is nice. We did spend time talking about the town’s relationship with SAS Institute who is the town’s largest employer.

Tuesday I participated in an end-of-session legislative summary meeting of the Metro Mayors. The in-depth summary provided by the staff does a good job of capturing what happened and what is still possible. And since this week was a light week I thought I would include most of the summary in case you are interested:

Slow Start to Session

The first five months of the 2017 legislative long session proceeded a bit more slowly than usual, but the action was fast and furious in June. In fact, during the last two weeks of session more bills were considered than in the previous five months, and, on the last Wednesday of session, 100 bills were debated in the House and Senate.  Much of the early focus on Jones Street and in the Governor’s mansion revolved around two highly-controversial issues: the ongoing power struggle between Governor Cooper and the Republican-dominated Legislature and the repeal of House Bill 2. Although the power struggle between Governor Cooper and Republican Legislators continues to make its way through the courts, the March repeal of House Bill 2 cleared the way for consideration of other legislative priorities such as the budget.  Accordingly, as of July 11, 90 or so bills have been enacted, and 108 bills await action by the Governor. If Gov. Cooper signs every bill left on his desk, the number of bills passed for the entire 2017 session would be less than half the average for long sessions in the same period.

Moving from Rural/Urban Divides to Bridges

This year the Metro Mayors Coalition demonstrated significant leadership in bridging the urban rural divide.  We jointly authored an op ed with The Rural Center at the beginning of session to call for an end to the divisive language pitting parts of our State against one another and instead talked of building bridges between urban and rural communities.  Your lobbying team met with every new legislator to introduce them to the Coalition and talk with them about our desire to support legislation that would help rural communities without hurting urban economies.  We spent a day in eastern North Carolina touring Greenville and Kinston to see for ourselves the successful economic development initiatives and assets the region enjoys and the challenges that remain.  Lastly, we began the Sister City in NC program adopting Kinston and Mayor BJ Murphy to seek ways to support one another.  We heard very positive feedback from state and legislative leaders on our efforts and would like to thank everyone for attending the eastern tour and sharing the message of regionalism in your own region. 

We heard the talk of regionalism and building bridges between urban and rural economies echoed throughout the halls of the General Assembly especially by Rep. Susan Martin, chair of the House Commerce and Job Development Committee and Chair of the Joint Legislative Economic Development and Global Engagement Oversight Committee.  When Rep. Martin presented her economic development ideas before legislative committees she expressed a desire to draft a bill that helped the rural parts of our State without harming the urban parts of our State.  She noted that good economic development comes from local leaders working together in a region to determine its strategic advantage.  We met with Rep. Martin to exchange ideas on how the State could help create a climate for regions to work cooperatively to succeed in attracting jobs and look forward to continued dialogue in the future.

S126 was introduced to redistribute local option sales taxes based on the economic tiers and passed the Senate.  It is currently awaiting action in House Finance.   The Metro Mayors Coalition met with legislators throughout session to share our concerns about the bill and encourage the legislature to address rural challenges with State revenues rather than redistributing local tax dollars which creates winners and losers.

There were a number of bills to address economic development and the tier system this session. H795/S660/S223 moved throughout the session and through many versions. None passed both chambers but we expect the discussions between the chambers to continue on these subjects.

The legislature did extend the sunset on the JDIG program until 2021, expanded eligible projects in the JMAC program, and created a transformative project category in the budget bill (S257). 

The General Assembly did many things to specifically bolster rural economies this session including appropriating significant funding for rural school construction, water infrastructure matching funds for rural communities, special assistance and funding for transportation project development for rural planning organizations and small metropolitan planning organizations, and creating the NC Ready Sites Program to assist local government units to fund improvements of public infrastructure and industrial sites to name just a few examples from the budget.    

Investments in Transportation Enjoy Broad Support

The General Assembly continues to make large investments in transportation including these items found in the budget bill (link to the bill text and link to the money report):

  • Powell Bill remains funded at previous levels of $147.5m each year and disallows the payment of PB funds for cities that fail to file the required related statement
  • Airports – $40m in the first year and $75m in the second recurring for commercial airports
  • MPO/RPOs (excluding CAMPO/CRTPO) – $750lk each year for help with the 20% federal matching requirement for State Planning and Research funds
  • Creation of a Mobility/Economic Development/Small Construction Fund – $50m each year – $24 equally to each division for high impact construction projects, $6m for the NCDOT Secretary for economic development projects, $20m for SPOT Mobility program for safety and mobility projects that reduce congestion
  • Bridges – $80m in the first year and $85m in the second recurring for a new Bridge Preservation Fund as well as $38m recurring for the bridge program
  • Roadside Environment – new Fund with $104m recurring for vegetation management, mowing, litter control, etc.
  • New Corridor Development Unit to help small MPOs and RPOs develop projects
  • STI – additional $139m in the first year and $180m in the second recurring
  • Requires cities to pay for required street improvements related to schools
  • Requires annual reporting on progress of bike/ped planning grant funds and related construction
  • Establishes time frame for reviewing and making decisions on traffic impact analyses

Continued Interest in Local Government Regulations and Fees

This session we continued to see interest in addressing regulations and fees at the local level. 

H581, the Billboard Bill, would allow billboards condemned because of highway improvements to relocate to other industrial or commercial areas of a city, reducing local government control over the relocation of these billboards. Billboard companies could upgrade their signs from static ads to digital signs that flash more than one advertisement. Billboard owners would also be entitled to just compensation for signs that are unable to be relocated. H581 received significant pushback from many groups over the impact it could have on local government zoning authority. H581 was amended numerous times to try to reach consensus, but it failed by a wide 49-66 margin, with many Republicans voting against the bill claiming it would amount to “crony capitalism” and “corporate welfare.”

H310, the Small Cell Wireless Bill, helps wireless providers upgrade to faster 5G service by enabling them to place small wireless facilities (“small cells”) on city utility poles in public rights-of-way. The bill allows local governments to charge fees to wireless companies that want to install the technology on public streets and existing infrastructure that cities and towns control. However, the bill limits governments’ ability to deny the permits, requiring them to cite one of several acceptable reasons for denial, such as spacing requirements and appearance standards. The bill received pushback from some who claim that the technology could create health issues. H310 overwhelmingly passed second and third readings in the Senate on June 28 and was presented to Governor Cooper on June 29. Governor Cooper has yet to take any action on the bill.

H436, the Impact Fee Bill, is the product of input from multiple stakeholders representing local government entities and homebuilders. The original version sought to eliminate impact fees, but a later version called for a one-year moratorium on new impact fees while also studying the fees. The final version of H436 grants uniform authority to units of local government to implement system development fees for public water and sewer systems. The amount that a local government can charge for a system development fee would be calculated based upon a professionally-prepared written analysis. H436 also sets the statute of limitations for lawsuits based on unlawfully collected impact fees to 3 years. On June 29, the House concurred with changes made by the Senate. H436 was ratified and sent to the Governor where no further action has been taken.

Two bills introduced this session, S145 and H113 would punish cities or counties for noncompliance with state and federal immigration laws. S145, Government Immigration Compliance, would penalize noncompliant cities by making them ineligible for appropriations from the State Highway Fund for road and street projects and distributions of certain beer and wine taxes, telecommunication taxes, natural gas taxes and other revenues that are distributed by the state to local governments. The bill also prohibits public universities from implementing policies or practices that would prevent law enforcement officers from gathering information on the immigration status of any person, places a ban on “community IDs” issued by nonprofit groups to illegal immigrants, and requires the state’s Attorney General to investigate complaints that governments are in noncompliance. S145 passed the Senate and was sent to the House on April 27 where it was referred to Rules. No further action has been taken.

H113, Private Action Local Compliance/Immigration, would permit a person to bring an action against a city, county or local law enforcement agency for declaratory or injunctive relief based on noncompliance with certain state immigration laws. The bill would also impose a civil penalty of up to $10,000 per day on a city, county or law enforcement agency for failure to comply with any order issued as a result of the action. H113 passed the House and was received in the Senate on April 27 where it was referred to Rules, and no further action has been taken.

Quality of Life In Our Cities

The legislature passed S155, widely known as the “Brunch Bill,” despite opposition.  Most notably the legislation allows the sale of alcohol on Sundays beginning at 10:00 a.m. – moved up from 12:00 p.m.  Local governments are required to “opt-in” to allow the sale before noon.  The legislation makes various additional changes to the State’s alcohol laws.  For a more detailed analysis of the bill read the UNC School of Government analysis here.

The state budget provides for revitalization and economic development grants to many areas of the state.  This money includes $5,775,000 for grants-in-aid for downtown revitalization projects, $1,370,000 for grants-in-aid for projects in counties and municipalities, and $835,000 for grants-in-aid for community groups.

Bipartisan Efforts Fruitful

With the NC Department of Health and Human Services reporting that opioid-related deaths have increased in the State by 20 percent over the past year, there was strong bipartisan support to enact H243, Strengthen Opioid Abuse Misuse Prevention (STOP) Act, requires electronic prescriptions for controlled substances such as Oxycontin and morphine, painkillers that can be a gateway to heroin use. In addition, a pilot program to treat opiate overdoses was established and funded in Wilmington, and Governor Cooper recently released a forty-one page Opioid Action Plan.

Another issue with amazing bipartisan support this session was the successful effort to Raise the Age. Before passage of this legislation, North Carolina was the only state in the country to try all 16- and 17-year olds as adults.  Now, most of these cases will be handled in the State’s juvenile court system, with the exception of violent felonies.  The 2017-19 budget included $500,000 to begin implementation of Raise the Age, $13.2 million for a new Youth Development Center in Rockingham County, and funding for additional assistant district attorneys to assist in these cases.

North Carolina’s Strong Business Climate

Legislative leaders continue to tout balanced budgets, revenue surpluses and legal and regulatory reform for North Carolina’s top-rated business climate.  And, just last week, the three major bond agencies reaffirmed the State’s AAA bond rating. 

Many credit the series of tax cuts this decade for our competitive business climate.  The 2017-19 State budget includes a reduction of the personal income tax rate from 5.499 percent to 5.25 percent, an increase in the standard tax deductions, and a reduction of the corporate tax rate from 3 percent to 2.5 percent.  These changes take effect in 2019, and the total savings amount to an estimated $530 million over the biennium.  It should be noted, however, that legislative staff has expressed concern that the additional tax cuts could amount to a $1 billion annual gap between revenues and expenses by 2020.

Governor’s Vetoes

So far, the only bill that has been vetoed by Governor Cooper since adjournment of the General Assembly is H576, Allow Aerosolization of Leachate.  There are still 108 bills pending on the Governor’s desk.  You can keep track of any bills the Governor vetoes and that the General Assembly may consider in the interim sessions here.

Upcoming Sessions

Typically, when the General Assembly adjourns the long session they do not return until the following year for “short session.”  The adjournment resolution, SJR 686, directs the General Assembly to reconvene on Thursday, August 3 at noon.  During the August session, members will consider bills vetoed by the Governor, impeachment of state officials, conference committee reports and appointments bills.  The legislature will then return on Wednesday, September 6 to take up judicial redistricting as well as city and county redistricting.  Legislators may also consider additional veto overrides, constitutional amendments, appointment confirmations and bills related to litigation.  During the September session, the General Assembly could set a date to reconvene prior to November 15 to redraw and vote on new legislative district maps.  The 2018 short session is set to begin on Wednesday, May 16 at noon.  One of the main reasons we are seeing the legislature adjourning to dates certain, is having a Democratic Governor and Republican controlled legislature.  The legislature came back after adjourning in 2011 as well when Beverly Perdue was governor so they could take up any bills vetoed by the Governor.

What’s Eligible and What’s Not in 2017-2018?

A host of bills are eligible according to the rules and those that may be of interest to you are listed below:

  • H794 – NC Permitting Efficiency Act of 2017 – Currently in Senate Rules
  • H340 – Special Separation Allowance Firefighters – Currently in Senate Rules
  • H900 – Safe Infrastructure and Low Property Tax Act – Currently in House Rules
  • H843 – Municipal Election Schedule and Other Changes – Currently in House Rules
  • H56 – Amend Environmental Laws – Currently in Conference Committee
  • S434 – Amend Environmental Laws 2 – Currently in House Rules
  • H770 – Amend Environmental Laws 3 – Currently in Conference Committee
  • S469 – Amend Environmental Laws 4 – Currently in House Rules
  • S660 – Economic Development Incentives Modifications – Currently in House Finance
  • S126 – Change the LOST Adjustment Factor – Currently in House Finance

And according to the rules the two bills below, and their subject material, should be ineligible for consideration for the remainder of the biennium:

  • H581 – Revisions to Outdoor Advertising Laws
  • H110 – DOT/DMV Changes – Megaproject Funding

Interim Studies

There were several studies in the budget that will take place during the interim:

  • Study Solid Waste Disposal Tax – Section 13.5
  • Study Erosion and Sediment Control/NPDES Stormwater Merger – Section 13.6
  • Study Acquisition of Dedicated Dredging Capacity – Section 13.8
  • Study Rates and Transfers/Public Enterprises – Section 24.3
  • State Aid to Municipalities/No Funds if Municipality Fails to File Statement and Study How to Account for Seasonal Population Shifts – Section 34.17

Conference Reports

Conference reports are one of the items the legislature can take up when they return in August.  Below is a list of the conference reports to which conference committees have been appointed:

  • H56 – Amend Environmental Laws – The House version of the bill was 9 pages long while the Senate version was 14 pages and included a number of new provisions including one regarding riparian buffers. Section 15 of the version that passed the Senate would direct the Fiscal Research Division to estimate the value of property that is subject to State riparian buffer protection rules and that is being used as a riparian buffer for each county in a river basin to which the rules apply.
  • H90 NC Truth in Education
  • H162 Amend Administrative Procedure Laws
  • H403 Behavioral Health and Medicaid Modifications
  • H482 County Comm. Role in School Bldg Acquisition
  • H770 Amend Environmental Laws 3
  • S16 Business & Agency Reg. Reform Act of 2017
  • S99 Report Certain CTR Data/Auto Ins. Accuracy
  • S335 Study/Fair Treatment of College Athletes
  • S582 Agency Technical Corrections
  • S628 Various Changes to the Revenue Laws
  • S656 Electoral Freedom Act of 2017

 

Thursday the Cary Town Council held its July quasi-judicial meeting with two scheduled items. The hearing for 204 multi-family units near the intersection of O’Kelly Chapel Road and N.C, Hawthorne at Parkside, was continued until August 3rd. The hearing for Twin Lakes Center sketch plan included retail development on Davis Drive at Airport Boulevard. The plan included a total floor area of 158,300 square feet in four buildings, one of which includes a drive through. There was much discussion about what was presented and if that was enforceable. There was also discussion about screening of the loading dock from Airport Boulevard. Eventually the council approved the plan 5-0 (Bush and Robinsons were out of town). According an applicant representative they have signed a contract for the large tenant to be a Wegmans which is the number one ranked grocery chain in the nation. It will be the first in Cary.

The town manager’s report this week included:

How the Cuban Missile Crisis, Baseball & Air Conditioning Can Help Us Think Different.

On Thursday, I had the opportunity to give another update and have a discussion with staff. I enjoyed being able to share some videos that help inspire and motivate me every day. I hope these videos and stories about the Cuban Missile Crisis, baseball and air conditioning helped better illustrate the need to think differently about our work. As you’ve heard me say before, given that people are bound by our experiences, we need people willing to question whether the things we have done in the past make sense in the future. I believe that a lot of what local governments do simply does not make sense any longer. And the earlier we recognize that, or at least question that, the better off we will be in the future.

All of that being said, this is a human endeavor and my primary purpose is to take care of people. Individual success can create collective successes. We have to create an organization that provides an amazing experience for people.

Drug Sergeant Position Filled

The new Drug Sergeant position in the FY 2018 budget has been filled effective July 9, 2017. The new Drug Unit Sergeant is Tom Spencer. He has been with the Town for 19 years. In addition, effective July 16, 2017 we will fill the vacant Pharmaceutical Diversion Detective in the same Drug Unit. The new Pharmaceutical Diversion Detective is Whitney Hall; she has been with the Town 2 years. Both Tom and Whitney were assigned to Patrol before their move to the Drug Unit.

Cities for Tomorrow Conference

On Tuesday, Allison Hutchins attended the Cities for Tomorrow conference in New York City. This conference brought together decision-makers who create vibrant urban centers – policy experts, developers, entrepreneurs, cultural leaders, architects, urban planners – to discuss how great cities succeed. There were several panels of particular relevance to Cary, such as the discussion of the opioid epidemic and reimagining public spaces through park projects.

Police District 3 Substation

The police department received a Certificate of Occupancy Permit this week for the new District-3 substation. The new substation is located in the Wellington Park Shopping Center at 6420 Tryon Road, near the intersection of Tryon and S.E. Cary Parkway. Though we are still working through some issues with internet connectivity, the move-in process is underway. Patrol teams have access to the facility and will be using the new office to conduct roll-call briefings and other activities. The new facility does not have staffed office hours, so the public is still encouraged to call 911 Communications Center for police service requests. A special thanks goes to Paul Kuhn, Glenn Sheppard, Ishani Padmaperuma, Clayton Mills and all those who have helped in the development of this facility.

Increasing Summer Water Demand

Within the last week, the Cary/Apex Water Treatment Facility staffs have been working hard to supply increasing summer water demand to our utility service area. On July 8, the water system served by Cary/Apex Water Treatment Facility, which includes citizens and customers in Cary, Apex, Morrisville, Wake RTP and RDU Airport supplied a total daily demand of 25.17-MG, which is slightly higher than 2016’s high demand day of 24.9-MG. On July 12, the water system experienced even greater demand of approximately 27.5-MG, which combined with a water transfer to Durham of approximately 0.85-MG, for a total day demand of 28.35-MG. During these higher demand days, water system operators experienced intermittent peak hour production conditions equivalent to a peak flow rate of 37-MGD.

Recognitions

I received an email this week, along with Chief Godwin and the Council, from a citizen about their interaction with Cary Police and wanted to share with all of you.

“Wanted to share an experience I had with one of your officers this past week. I was pulled for a burned-out taillight bulb on Maynard Rd. The two officers that spoke with me (and my 14 mo. old daughter) were highly respectful, courteous, and helpful. I couldn’t tell you their names, as they simply let me off with a warning. I replaced the bulb that night… I’m glad to have interacted with members of your force. Whatever you’re doing in training, keep it up. Grade-A officers.”

 

Emails from citizens this week included:

  • Requests to pass brunch bill (council will see this at our July 27th meeting or the meeting afterwards)
  • A request to support a group home.
  • A complaint about grass fields not having goals (staff removes these to discourage play to allow grass to grow. Constant play will kill this turf grass. Some fields have been replaced with artificial turf to allow more play time but this is an expensive change)
  • A request for the town to have silent fireworks.
  • A complaint about AT&T installation digging up someone’s yard.
  • A request for a house to be demolished (this is a very complicated time consuming process that usually takes months).
  • A new email campaign for me to sign a protest against Trump’s action on the Paris Climate agreement (it is our practice to avoid getting involved in state and national political matters. While climate is not a political matter, protesting Trump sure is).
  • A compliment about my journal.
  • A compliment about the latest Cary Matters episode.
  • A compliment on passing the budget.
  • A compliment for the job the Cary council is doing.

Next week will once again be a light week but will be a little busier. The main activity will be the annual Cary Chamber retreat in Wrightsville Beach. I look forward to spending a little time with our business leaders and hearing what their concerns may be.

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

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