• Sunday, August 02nd, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, August 9th. Although I have Facebook and Twitter accounts those are not the best means of communications with me. Please send all Town of Cary questions or comments to Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org and email personal comments to augustanat@mindspring.com.

• Sunday, July 26th, 2015

harold2011_small2This week consisted mostly of two long meeting nights.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

• Sunday, July 19th, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

• Sunday, July 12th, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

• Sunday, July 05th, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

• Sunday, June 28th, 2015

harold2011_small2This week was busy with long nights.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

• Sunday, June 21st, 2015

harold2011_small2This week was filled with significant events.

Monday I met with Ben Shivar, the town manager, for our weekly meeting. This meeting was different from all the rest of our one-on-one meetings. At this meeting he told me that he was retiring at the end of September. This was quite a shock. It will be difficult for the town to replace such a remarkable person. Mr. Shivar had nothing but praises for the council and the town staff and his reasons were purely personal. During his time as town manager Mr. Shivar has created a strong relationship between the council, staff, and chamber. As a result the town has the highest quality of life with the lowest tax rate and attracts employers from all over the world. His influence is in most of the successes Cary citizens enjoy today. We will miss him very much. I believe retirement announcements may become more common as we baby boomer’s age out of the work force. It is happening in companies all around the nation including at my job at SAS.

After meeting with the town manager I met with an individual and his attorney about a development on Chapel Hill road. Many of his issues and questions can be handled by staff and the NC DOT. Our meeting lasted about 30 minutes.

Later Monday night I attended the monthly meeting of the Wake County Mayors Association. Mayors from Apex, Garner, Knightdale, Rolesville, Wake Forest, and Zebulon were also in attendance. First we heard a presentation from President and CEO Donald Gentzig about the local hospitals and their involvement in the community. Afterwards we heard a presentation from Rose Williams who is the director of Governmental Affairs for the North Carolina League of Municipalities. She gave us an update on legislation currently being considered by the NC General Assembly and how it negatively impacts municipalities. Our meeting adjourned after about two hours.

Tuesday the council held its third and final work session on the budget. This work session focused on how to fund Open Data. Council removed a parking standards study, reduced supplies, reduced contract services, removed a pilot program for asphalt recycling, removed planning for an online communications tool, and cut 2 attendees to the ICMS conference. The council also agreed to a 37 cents tax rate which will keep us the lowest tax rate in Wake County. Our meeting lasted about half an hour before we went into closed session. Council will vote on the budget at our June 25th meeting. In the closed session the town manager notified the council of his intention to retire. I am not allowed to talk about anything else that happened in closed session.

Wednesday I attended the June meeting of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organizations Executive Board. Our agenda was mostly updates and presentations from the staff and votes on non-controversial items. The meeting lasted one hour. To review the entire agenda see https://campo.legistar.com/Calendar.aspx.

Thursday started with an announcement from the Governor’s office that Proto Labs will be expanding in Cary and creating 170 new jobs over the next five years. The company plans to invest in excess of $25 million in the Cary over the same period. Another great win for the Cary and more good jobs within our town limits. We continue to be one of the most attractive places in the region, state, and nation to live, work and play.

Thursday’s first meeting was with the owner of Cary’s minor league basketball team called the Cary Invasion. We talked about the town’s current and future financial commitment. The Cary Invasion will start their seventh year this year and continues to be at the top of the league. This year some of the games might be on ESPN360. The Invasion basketball team has been and will continue to be a good ambassador for the town of Cary.

Later Thursday I met with owner representatives for the Cary Town mall. They presented a concept of their future vision for the site. We talked about town processes and how difficult they were for infill developments like old malls and shopping centers. There may be a future rezoning of the mall to allow redevelopment to include residential and office.

Thursday night I had the opportunity to enjoy the Weird Al Yankovic concert at the Booth Amphitheater. The King of Parody was spectacular even after all these years. The show included most of his songs in medleys or costume. What a great show and I am glad it was in Cary.

Friday I was honored to be a presenter at Career Day which was held at Highcroft Elementary. I talked with three different groups of fourth and fifth graders about my duties and responsibilities. My talk also included needed skill sets and interpersonal skills to be successful in a leadership role. I was there a little over an hour.

Saturday I attended the Triangle Hindu Temples and Triangle Physicians Society free Health Fair. This health fair was open to the public and was a comprehensive health fair that covered about every medical need you can imagine. I toured the booths and met with physicians, volunteers, and vendors. I also made remarks to those in attendance.

Emails this week included a concern about trees, a concern about a proposed land use amendment, and a request for help with unemployment.

Next week will include several long nights. There will be the annual performance review of the direct reports to council who are the town manager, town attorney, and town clerk. In addition, there will be a long council meeting on Thursday. Other events include the ribbon cutting for MetLife’s new buildings and a roundtable discussion with business leaders as part of Imagine Cary.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, June 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, June 14th, 2015

harold2011_small2It has been a couple of weeks since my last post due to a two week vacation.

Unfortunately, my vacation was cut short by the death of my friend Alok Sharma. Alok was committed to serving his community. Not only did he serve on the Committee for the Future but was involved in many other activities such as creating scholarships for children and raising money for cancer. I will miss him not only as a community leader but as a friend. Rest in peace Alok.

Saturday, June 6th I attended a walk to commemorate greenways in Cary. We walked around the Tryon Lake which is part of the Speight Branch Greenway. It is also the sight of a future park.

Sunday I attended the Panther Creek High School graduation. About 600 seniors received their diplomas in about 50 minutes. That was impressive.

Monday it was back to work and back to normal duties as mayor. Since it was a regularly schedule council meeting week, I attempted to contact all council members to hear their concerns about the upcoming agenda. I was able to contact all members but Robinson and Frantz. Most of the questions and concerns had to do with the proposed changes to the downtown park. Later in the day I met with management, legal, administration, and public information to go over the agenda items. Our meeting lasted about half an hour.

Later Monday I met with the town manager over a few items none of which were critical. One item we talked about could be very exciting news later this year if it pans out.

My last meeting of the day was my quarterly meeting with the town attorney. We talked about several items including the Interbasin Transfer case and the progress on hiring the town’s third attorney.

Tuesday I had the joy and pleasure of attending the graduation ceremony for Cary High School or as they refer to it THE Cary High School. I was joined on stage by several school board members, Superintendent Merrill, and council member Frantz. Close to 500 graduates walked across the stage. As usual it was a great ceremony. Congratulations to the Class of 2015.

Wednesday I met with an individual interested in running for office in a Wake County municipality. I provided information about what it takes to run for office and be in office. Our meeting lasted a little less than an hour.

Thursday the council held their second work session on the budget. The work session began with the announcement by the town manager that sales tax on electricity was $1.9 high than expected. This additional revenue was $153,000 short of making up for the previously proposed 1 cent increase to make up for revenue lost with the elimination of the Privilege License Tax. As a result of the additional revenue the town manager’s proposed budget will only have a 2 cents increase to pay for the voter approved 2012. If the budget is approved with this recommendation the town will have a rate of 37 cents per $100 of property value keeping us at the lowest tax rate in Wake County. The council unanimously supported this recommendation to be added to the proposed budget.

The next part of the work session was to review items brought up at the capital budget work session. The majority of council decided to eliminate about $820,000 from the proposed sidewalk projects and put those funds toward the intersection improvements at Carpenter Upchurch and Morrisville Parkway. After next year’s improvements the sidewalk backlog will be about $40 million.

The last item of the work session was on the operating budget. The items discussed included adding crossing guards at additional elementary schools and middle schools, whether or not to spend $60,000 on Open Data, and dozens of items reviewed at an October work session. Council decided that crossing guards at additional elementary schools and middle schools should be evaluated as part of next year’s budget. In addition, council decided to look at options to cut operations by $60,000 to fund Open Data. That will be decided at the June 16th budget work session. Our budget work session concluded after about 2 hours. Council will vote on the budget at our June 25th meeting.

Thursday night the council held a regularly scheduled council meeting. There were 3 public hearings and 4 discussion items. The council approved the rezoning request on Wakena Road to allow 3.1 units an acre for 14 acres. As part of the approval the applicant agreed not to submit any plans until late next year. This would mean that the first homes would be built in late 2017. That will allow time for elementary and high schools to be built. In addition, other developments in the area will improve the roads.

Council also agreed on changes to the bid for the downtown park. That is, council decided that brick should be used for walls instead of concrete panels which will save about $600,000. The remainder of the difference with the lowest bid will be around $500,000 which will be funded out of the pay as you go capital reserve which currently has a balance of about $40 million. This reserve is designated for special projects that will have a significant impact on the town.

The last item discussed at the council meeting was whether or not to provide public parking on a town owned property located on Cedar Street. The estimated worst case scenario has the cost at $20,000 per space which includes tearing down the existing structure and creating parking spaces. The best case scenario would have that cost at about $10,000 per space. This parking is strategically located close to the new brewery, the new office building being built, and the Cary Theater. After much discussion the council approved the proposal with a 5 to 1 vote. The meeting concluded after about an hour and a half.

Friday I participated in a meeting of the NC Metro Mayors. The purpose was to discuss current legislative items and the impact it would have on municipalities. The main part of the discussion focused on the sales tax redistribution currently being considered which could have a huge impact on some municipalities such as Durham. The meeting lasted about 45 minutes.

Saturday started with a big political fundraiser that included a couple hundred people. These types of events will become more numerous as fall approaches.

Saturday night I attended the 15th year celebration of the Amphitheater. I was joined by former mayors Booth and Lang. The evening began with a reception that included dozens of people who were part of getting the amphitheater built and getting the symphony to call it their summer home. After the reception the former mayors and the President of the Symphony joined me in making comments on the stage before the symphony began its show. It’s hard to believe that it has been fifteen years.

Sunday I attended a few matches of the North America Caribbean Rugby Association. I was able to see the U.S. men’s and women’s play. It was a joy to watch and I actually started figuring out most of the rules. It reminded me of backyard tackle football as I was growing up. These guys and gals were big and fast and hit each other like they do in American football but without pads. It was great to have this event in Cary and I hope we can attract future events.

Emails from citizens this week included a complaint about the golf course ordinance, a complaint about the proposed budget, a complaint about a neighbor’s yard filled with junk, and a question about the town’s ordinance on pyrotechnics.

Next week’s activities will include a meeting of the Wake County mayors, a budget work session, a meeting of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, and a speaking event at Highcroft Elementary.

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

• Friday, May 22nd, 2015

harold2011_small2This was the last week before a big family vacation.

Monday I attempted to call all council members to hear concerns or questions about Thursday’s agenda for the regularly scheduled council meeting. I was able to contact all council members except Robinson. Most of council comments were on the High Meadow Drive road improvements, the Cary Tennis Park renovations, and the SK8 Park Master plan. Later in the day I went over the agenda with management, directors, public information, legal, and administration. Our meeting lasted less than 30 minutes.

Tuesday I had the pleasure of playing the Augusta National Golf Course as a thank you for volunteering for the Masters Golf tournament. I am not a good golfer so I looked for one or two holes to brag about. My big story for this year was that I birdied the infamous number 12 at Amen corner.

Tuesday night the council held the first work session on the budget. This work session was about capital projects. For the most part council followed staff recommendations but asked staff to come back with funding information for the Carpenter Upchurch and Morrisville Parkway intersection with the railroad. The estimated price for that upgrade will be over a million dollars. Council member Robinson suggested taking money from the sidewalks allocation. I am not sure the majority of council would support that.

Wednesday I attended the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Executive Board meeting as the vice chairman. Decisions included recommending an amendment to the Transportation Improvement Program, and providing a letter of support for Fuquay for TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) 2015 discretionary grants.

Thursday the council held a regularly scheduled council meeting. There were seven public hearings, five discussion items and a closed session. The meeting lasted about two and a half hours. Public speakers spoke on budget items and the skate park master plan. Council decisions included tabling the High Meadow Drive improvements to get input from nearby residents, replacement of Crescent Green bridges, appropriating money for Cary Tennis Park renovations, and approving the skate park master plan that will include a “vert” ramp.

Emails from citizens this week included comments about the new golf course noise ordinance, concerns about car thefts in a subdivision, comments about a traffic signal at McCrimmon and Lake Grove, and support for the town manager’s proposed budget.

I will be on vacation the next two weeks and will be back in town ready for work on June 7th.

Well, that is all for this week. Due to my vacation the next post will be on Sunday, June 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 to augustanat@mindspring.com.

• Sunday, May 17th, 2015

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

Monday I participated in the Cary Chamber’s Honor a Teacher program. Twenty-seven teachers from schools that teach in Cary’s Western Wake area were recognized. The Honor a Teacher program strives to help our school system meet the challenge to recognize and retain some of the best classroom teachers. All teachers and guests in attendance were treated to a nice meal and then one teacher from each school received a plaque and a $1000 check. Cary businesses including the Town of Cary were sponsors. At the beginning of the program I joined the chamber president and board chairman in giving welcoming remarks. Later in the program I joined Mayor Pro-Tem Smith and council member Yerha in presenting Cary’s recognition.

Tuesday I gave the State of the Town address approximately 50 to 75 residents of Searstone. This address was an update from the original State of the Town address given in January. Afterwards I answered questions from the audience that mostly focused on roads and property around the Searstone area. The residents were very kind and great hosts. I enjoyed my visit and hope to be invited back in the future.

Wednesday the town manager and I met for our weekly one on one. We talked about several issues including downtown parking, the budget, and a future capital project. Our meeting lasted about 40 minutes.

Thursday started with an interview by WTVD on the Privilege License Tax bill that eliminated $1.5 million in revenue for the Town of Cary. We discussed the impact of that legislative action and the proposed 1 cent tax increase to make up the difference.

Thursday night the council held a quasi-judicial hearing to decide whether or not to allow a school use in the Cary Church of God building. The school will take up three classrooms and will focus on gifted children. The request was passed unanimously.

Friday I participated in a meeting of the Metro Mayors. Some of the bills they are tracking include:
• Moving municipal elections to even years (basically making them partisan)
• Making judicial races partisan
• Restricting municipal eminent domain
• ¼ cent sales tax for municipal governments
• Zoning and aesthetic controls
• Sales tax redistribution
• Local incentives for historic preservation
The meeting lasted about an hour and had about two dozen participants.

Saturday I had the opportunity to briefly visit the 4th Annual Wheels on Academy which was mostly on Town Hall campus. In addition to 146 amazing cars on display there was a model T that was assembled and then cranked up. At the conclusion of the show dozens of awards were handed out.

Later Saturday and had the honor and privilege of attending a ribbon cutting for a playground at Lexie Lane park which was renewed by sisters from Cary’s chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. Lexie Lane Park is Cary’s very first park. It opened in 1972 with just one baseball field and was named after the town manager at the time. It had no upgrades or improvements until 1980 when restrooms, the playground and the basketball court were added. The town reinvested in Lexie Lane’s playground in 2009. We are grateful for the additional beautification projects by the Cary Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha.

Alpha Kappa Alpha’s mission is to enhance the quality of life through program development and financial support in the areas of arts, economics, education, family and health. They support our community with fundraisers and donations coupled with the timeless hours of volunteer service by their members. As a result they have continued to provide and support a plethora of programs including a mentoring program, scholarships, meals at Thanksgiving and Christmas for several local agencies including the Carying Place, health fairs, and support of community gardens just to name a few. God bless the Sigma Tau Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha.

Emails from citizens this week included an email from Kathryn Lindquist who is raising money for an interesting cause. Here is an excerpt from her email:

“… I am the founder of Run for Currahee: a solo 800-mile run from Normandy, France to Berchtesgaden, Germany. This event will retrace the path that the famous “Band of Brothers” of the 101st Airborne Division took during World War II. It has never been done before. I will be running 13.1 miles (a half marathon) per day supported by a two person volunteer team in an effort to raise $50,000 for the World War II veterans’ non-profit Camp Toccoa at Currahee of Toccoa, GA, as detailed below.

The “Band of Brothers,” made famous by Steven Spielberg’s HBO miniseries by the same name, trained at Camp Toccoa, GA before being shipped to Normandy. Their efforts led to the end of WWII in the European theater. They landed in Normandy on D-Day and ended the war on VE-Day in Berchtesgaden, Germany. Camp Toccoa at Currahee aims to preserve the legacies of these veterans by rebuilding the historic Camp Toccoa site for educational purposes, building a memorial for the veterans of Camp Toccoa who gave the ultimate sacrifice, promoting wellbeing through athletic competition, and protecting the natural environment of nearby Currahee Mountain for future generations to enjoy.

Run for Currahee has been met with great support, especially by World War II veterans themselves. That support has given me incredible access to their stories, and the stories of the European civilians they freed. I will meet and interview them along the way, combining their stories with my journey in a documentary called 800 Miles To Freedom. …

I am seeking sponsors to help make this project happen and thought you may be interested, or know someone who is. In order to get my feet on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day, I must raise $5,000 to cover airfare, board and food costs, as I simply cannot afford to make the trip happen based on my own finances. I need help getting there. You can view my campaign at https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/run-for-currahee. …”

So if you can find it in your hearts to help this worthwhile cause, please lend your support.

Other emails from citizens included complaint about an abandoned property, a complaint about the intersection of McCrimmon Parkway and Lake Grove, a complaint about the lack of a traffic signals west of Highway 55, a complaint about scheduling at the Sertoma amphitheater, a question about golf carts on the road, a question about bicycles on sidewalks, a complaint about a U-Verse installation, and a promise to open a negative campaign against the town because of the recently approved golf course ordinance.

Next week will be another busy week for me. It will include the first budget work session, a taping of Cary Matters, and a regularly scheduled council meeting.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Friday, May 22nd since I will begin a two week vacation on the 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.