• Sunday, October 26th, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, November 2nd. Although I have Facebook and Twitter accounts those are not the best means of communications with me. Please send all Town of Cary questions or comments to Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org and email personal comments to augustanat@mindspring.com.

• Sunday, October 19th, 2014

harold2011_small23This week included a regularly scheduled council meeting.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, October 26th. Although I have Facebook and Twitter accounts those are not the best means of communications with me. Please send all Town of Cary questions or comments to Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org and email personal comments to augustanat@mindspring.com.

• Sunday, October 12th, 2014

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

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

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

Dear Chairman Hunt and RDU Airport Authority Board Members,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In emails received from staff this week council was notified of all the projects under review. They include:
• 90 townhomes on North Harrison Avenue
• 120 single family homes on Lewter Ship Road
• 16 single family homes on Green Hope School Road
• 10 single family homes on Yates Store Road
• 12 multi-family senior units at Glenaire off Kildare Farm Road
To see the complete list of projects under review go to http://www.townofcary.org/Assets/Planning+Department/Planning+Department+PDFs/planreview/Active+Projects+in+the+Review+Process+(sorted+by+date).pdf.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, October 19th. Although I have Facebook and Twitter accounts those are not the best means of communications with me. Please send all Town of Cary questions or comments to Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org and email personal comments to augustanat@mindspring.com.

• Sunday, October 05th, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, October 12th. Although I have Facebook and Twitter accounts those are not the best means of communications with me. Please send all Town of Cary questions or comments to Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org and email personal comments to augustanat@mindspring.com.

• Sunday, September 28th, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, October 5th. Although I have Facebook and Twitter accounts those are not the best means of communications with me. Please send all Town of Cary questions or comments to Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org and email personal comments to augustanat@mindspring.com.

• Sunday, September 21st, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

• Sunday, September 14th, 2014

harold2011_small23This week was typical for a regularly scheduled council meeting.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The council meeting ended about five minutes before 9.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, September 21st. Although I have Facebook and Twitter accounts those are not the best means of communications with me. Please send all Town of Cary questions or comments to Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org and email personal comments to augustanat@mindspring.com.

• Sunday, September 07th, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, September 14th. Although I have Facebook and Twitter accounts those are not the best means of communications with me. Please send all Town of Cary questions or comments to Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org and email personal comments toaugustanat@mindspring.com.

• Saturday, August 30th, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My next post will be on Sunday, September 7thAlthough I have Facebook and Twitter accounts those are not the best means of communications with me. Please send all Town of Cary questions or comments toHarold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org and email personal comments to augustanat@mindspring.com.

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• Sunday, August 24th, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My next post will be on Sunday, August 31stAlthough I have Facebook and Twitter accounts those are not the best means of communications with me. Please send all Town of Cary questions or comments toHarold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org and email personal comments to augustanat@mindspring.com.