• Sunday, July 16th, 2017

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

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

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

Slow Start to Session

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

Moving from Rural/Urban Divides to Bridges

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

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

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

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

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

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

Investments in Transportation Enjoy Broad Support

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

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

Continued Interest in Local Government Regulations and Fees

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quality of Life In Our Cities

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

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

Bipartisan Efforts Fruitful

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

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

North Carolina’s Strong Business Climate

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

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

Governor’s Vetoes

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

Upcoming Sessions

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

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

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

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

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

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

Interim Studies

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

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

Conference Reports

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

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

 

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

The town manager’s report this week included:

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

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

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

Drug Sergeant Position Filled

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

Cities for Tomorrow Conference

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

Police District 3 Substation

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

Increasing Summer Water Demand

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

Recognitions

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

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

 

Emails from citizens this week included:

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

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

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, July 23rd.  Although I have Facebook and Twitter accounts those are not the best means of communications with me. Please send all Town of Cary questions or comments to Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org and email personal comments to augustanat@mindspring.com.

Category: Uncategorized  
• Sunday, July 09th, 2017

This was a very slow week in the mayor’s office.

Monday I met with the town manager for about an hour and a half. It was mostly catching up on issues and enjoying each other’s company. Cary is so fortunate to have Stegall as our town manager.

Tuesday was the big Fourth of July celebration. As it has been in the past I was asked to give remarks between the Cary Town Band performance and the North Carolina Symphony performance. I started by recognizing the amphitheater’s namesake Koka Booth followed by recognition of council members present: Mayor Pro-Tem Yerha, Jack Smith, and Jennifer Robinson. Then I talked about the meaning of the stars and stripes and asked veterans and those who are currently serving to stand and receive thanks from all in attendance. After my remarks the symphony provided a remarkable performance. The finale of fireworks lasted over 30 minutes. Except for the very young who were upset by the boom of the fireworks everyone enjoyed the show.

Thursday I had the honor and privilege of throwing out the first pitch at the Cuba versus USA baseball game. I was joined by First Secretary Miguel Fraga of the Embassy of the Republic of Cuba who also threw out a pitch. The USA baseball team and the Cuba National team have been playing each other for years. They alternate locations with this year being in Cary and next year being in Cuba. Mr. Fraga, a very kind and personable gentleman, invited me to join the USA team when they travel to Cuba next year. That would be a special trip. I guess I had better start saving up now. The Cuba National team won the game 7-2 after losing the first three games.

The town manager’s weekly report included the following:

Permits Hitting Record Highs

During the month of June, Inspections & Permits issued 194 single family permits. This is the most single family permits issued in a month in years. Historical permitting data can be found on the Town’s website. This data shows that June’s permitting activity is the most since at least 2009.

Morrisville Parkway Extension & NC540 Interchange

Preliminary construction activities are underway! Earlier this year, Cary entered into a Utility Relocation Agreement to address Duke Energy facilities that are in conflict with this project. Now that the right of way acquisition process is complete, we are moving forward with the utility relocation phase of the project. Addressing utility conflicts in advance of road construction will help expedite the project and minimize the risk of accidental damage and service outages during construction. By the end of the year, the majority of utility conflicts will be addressed enabling construction to begin in 2018.

NW Cary Resurfacing & Rehabilitation Project

Contractors working on behalf of the Town began work this week on resurfacing poorly rated streets within the vicinity of NW Cary Parkway. The concrete removal and replacement will require a one-way detour. Detour and project information can be found on our website. The major construction taking place under the detours is planned to be complete in late August.

Bond Park Lake Trail Bridge Replacement Project

Last week, contractors working on behalf of the Town began work on the Bond Lake Bridge replacement. The new design will include paved trails running parallel to the sewer lines crossing culverts over the creek. The previously damaged wooden bridge was removed by PW after the storms last year. We will also be replacing three sewer piers on a 24″ aerial sewer line that were also partially washed out from the storm. Construction is expected to last 90 days.

2017 Sewer Smoke Testing Completed

The 2017 smoke testing focused on the MacGregor sewer service area between Old Apex Road and SW Cary Parkway, south to US1 and US65. This testing was completed on June 30. More than 1,300 manholes and 47 miles of sewer lines were tested. There were 367 leaks identified with the majority caused by damaged cleanout caps that have now been replaced. No major issues were identified.

Thanks go to Utilities and Public Works for their amazing partnership working together to complete smoke testing and make all necessary repairs.

Tree Planting Tips & Updates

This summer, we’re demonstrating our commitment to preserving and protecting our natural resources by focusing on the health of our urban forest. We have taken the following measures to ensure we follow industry best practices for proper mulching and to support our citizens’ efforts to do the same:

  • In the process of updating our Mulching Standard Operating Procedure
  • Shared tips on mulching in the Town’s July BUD monthly newsletter
  • Recorded a “Cary it Green” segment that is airing in the July BUD TV on Cary TV 11 and our YouTube channel
  • Updated our “Tree Planting and Care” webpage

Tidbit: While mounding mulch up too high and too deep around the tree trunk, also known as “volcano mulching,” may be aesthetically pleasing to some, it is always bad news for tree growth and development. When mulching, think 3x3x3: three inches of mulch deep, at least three inches away from the trunk, in a circle 3 feet wide or to the edge of the canopy when possible.

Recognitions

We’d like to welcome Kelly Blazey to the Town as our new Transit Services Administrator. Kelly brings a wealth of transit experience to our Town and is very passionate about municipal government. She is coming from Fayetteville, where she worked for the City as the Assistant Director of Transit.

And a huge round of applause goes to all employees involved in planning and implementing the many Fourth of July events around Town that were so successful and meaningful to our citizens!

 

Emails from citizens this week included:

  • A compliment on the plan to bridge over the railroad on Harrison Avenue.
  • A complaint about the Jordan project that will soon be submitted for downtown.
  • A complaint that the Cary police are racially profiling Indian Americans with traffic tickets (that is absolutely false).
  • Concerns about the intersection at Green Level Church Road and O’Kelly Chapel Road (these are state roads not Cary roads)
  • A request to do a resolution against gerrymandering in the state (council’s practice is to not do resolutions on issues at the state and national level that can be viewed as partisan. Instead we would like to stay focused on issues within our authority).

Next week’s activities include a meeting with the town manager, a meeting with the metro mayors, and a quasi-judicial council meeting.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, July 16th.  Although I have Facebook and Twitter accounts those are not the best means of communications with me. Please send all Town of Cary questions or comments to Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org and email personal comments to augustanat@mindspring.com.

Category: Uncategorized  
• Sunday, July 02nd, 2017

This week was much slower than previous weeks as things finally slow down a little for the summer.

Monday I met with a group representing the Women’s club that is interested in naming something after Walter Hines Page who is the son of Cary founder Frank Page. One of the group members is writing a book about Walter Hines Page. Here is an excerpt from what they gave me:

… Walter Hines Page (1855-1917) was as his highway history marker indicates a multi-dimensional man of three celebrated careers: journalism, publishing and diplomacy.

His last career was Ambassador to the Court of Saint James, London, England during WWI. It was a political divisive time in our history; his service was personally challenging.

Walter Hines Page spent most of early working years as a man of letters, a journalist, a publisher/editor and mentor to building authors of North Carolina. He is held to be singularly responsible for saving one of the country’s most influential literary magazines, The Atlantic Monthly – still in circulation today. Additionally, and for a short time he owned a newspaper in Raleigh (the State Chronicle) that evolved into the News and Observer. And his own news magazine, World’s Work, published in New York City from 1900-1920, became a widely-circulated publication, respected and imitated for its introduction of photography into newsprint.

As a publishing partner at Doubleday, Page and Company, he mentored and published young authors like North Carolina’s short-story master, Greensboro born O. Henry and Tar Heel novelist Thomas Dixon. He opened the publishing doors for black author Charles W. Chestnut, W.E.B. DuBois and Booker T. Washington whose Up From Slavery gave Doubleday, Page an early bestseller. Long is the complete list of authors published by Walter Hines Page. Here in Cary lived a lad whose future gifts to the world were nurtured by a mother who read to and with him every day of his young life, ensuring a lifelong thirst for the wonder within the pages of a bound volume. Thank you Catherine Frances Raboteau Page.

With such a passionate involvement in all things literary, it is no wonder that Walter Hines Page became a powerful spokesman/advocate for public education in the State. (Of course there is the small matter of his father’s support and co-founding of the original Cary Academy that became the first publicly funded high school in the State and was constructed on the land across the street from the new library.) In a commencement speech in 1897 at the State Normal & Industrial College for Women – the forerunner of the Women’s College and later UNCG – Walter Hines Page coined the catch-phrase and reformation rallying cry of “The Forgotten Man,” to depict and proclaim the uneducated among us. Many of his words from that speech ring true today as the State faces another challenging discourse on the condition of public education in North Carolina. …

We talked about a center in the new library and how it could include information about this important person in Cary’s history. They are also interested in naming the center after him. They will be asking the County Commissioners about the naming.

Tuesday I went to Cary’s USA Baseball National Training Center to watch the USA Collegiate Nation Team take on Taipei. It was a pitcher’s duel until the bottom of the 8th when the USA broke it open to take a 6-1 lead. But Taipei came back with 2 runs in the top of the ninth and had the bases loaded when the final out was made. There were dozens of professional scouts in attendance. I had a great time along with my guests. It was special for me to visit one of Cary’s sports gems and see an international game. If you haven’t been to the USA Baseball National Training Center you should check it out.

Wednesday I taped an episode of Cary Matters with council member Frantz. He is probably the best out of all of us on camera so we were able to tape the episode in one take. Our topic was the fiscal year 2018 budget. It has become a tradition at the end of each episode for the two participants to pose for a picture that is used on the website. So let me know what you think about the pose we used next week.

Thursday I participated in a meeting of the Metro Mayors to get a legislative update. Items discussed included the override of the Governor’s veto of the budget, bills on JDIG (Job Development Investment Grant), gang activity, the building inspection process, developer impact fees, wireless providers in right-of-ways, billboards, firefighters, electronic notices of public meetings, planning and development authority for municipalities, and a rural job creation fund. The meeting took about 45 minutes.

The town manager’s report for this week included:

Smart Cities Connect

This week I had the opportunity to join my Town colleagues, as well as our friends at SAS for the Smart Cities Connect conference in Austin. This conference convenes over 200 global city leaders that partner with innovative technology and service providers.  

  • Dan Ault spoke on a panel, along with representatives from SAS, about how governments can transform operations with technology. A special thank you to Council Member Robinson for setting this up.
  • Reid Serozi participated on a panel discussion about connected cities and how they use technology to collect and analyze data to make better decisions that improve city infrastructure and services for our citizens.

This was a great opportunity to talk about everything Cary is doing in the realm of smart cities and learn from other leaders in the industry.

Eye Opener Presentation

On Wednesday morning, Doug McRainey presented at the Chamber Eye Opener about all things Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources. The breakfast was well attended for the overview of what’s happening now and in the future in Cary.

Legislative Updates

H581 Revisions to Outdoor Advertising Laws (“billboard bill”):

This bill was heard on the floor the House Monday night. After some amendments and discussion, the bill FAILED! This bill would have allowed billboards to be relocated, enlarged and digitized. A big thank you to Cary’s representatives, all of whom voted to protect the views in North Carolina and allow cities to decide what they want their communities to look like.

H310 Wireless Communications Infrastructure Siting:

This bill passed the Senate and is now headed to the governor’s office. The bill as a whole is not a win for Cary or other cities, and will have quite adverse impact as many tall poles may be added to our rights of way throughout town. On a positive note, Dan Ault spoke to a bill sponsor, Rep. Saine, about the idea of Smart Cities and municipal participation. While Rep. Saine declined to add anything to the current bill, he did express some interest in looking at this in the future.

S155 ABC Omnibus Legislation:

This bill passed and has been sent to the governor’s office for signature. While it includes numerous changes to the ABC Laws, the most well-known provision is allowing alcohol sales beginning at 10 a.m. on Sundays, which is why it has received the moniker of “the brunch bill.” Rather than allowing these sales outright, however, it allows local governments to allow these sales by ordinance. Assuming this bill is signed by the governor, Council can expect to see proposed ordinance language at an upcoming council meeting.

H243 Strengthen Opioid Misuse Prevention:

Governor Cooper signed this bill into law. Among other provisions, this bill strengthens the controlled substances reporting system in North Carolina.

Field-trip to Caterpillar Plant

On Tuesday, Public Works construction staff visited Caterpillar’s Building Construction Products Assembly Plant in Clayton, NC. Town staff got a tour of the plant, then got to meet with Caterpillar representatives to discuss available and emerging technology and equipment. Staff learned how the technology Caterpillar has can be used to help the Town with asset management and overall construction practices. Additionally, staff was able to get hands-on training on Caterpillar equipment already used by the Town as well as demo various kinds of new equipment and tools.

GoCary/GoTriangle Seek Grant for Electric Buses

As part of the Wake Transit Plan, the Town of Cary (GoCary) has partnered with GoTriangle, GoRaleigh, and Chapel Hill Transit on a federal grant application for electric buses. The proposed move towards regional electric bus implementation supports the Town’s Energy Action Plan and Imagine Cary Community Plan goals and initiatives. The federal agency is expected to announce grant winners in September. If the Triangle agencies are successful, buses could be in the region beginning December 2018.

Fire Station 9 Relocation

The Town is currently in the design phase for the Fire Station No. 9 Relocation project. The proposed station will be located at 1427 Walnut Street. In early 2017, it was determined the existing buildings were not suitable for renovation and should be removed as soon as possible due to safety concerns. The required environmental reports have been completed and the Town has entered into a contract with Demolition and Asbestos Removal, Inc. to perform asbestos removal and demolition. Weather permitting, the demolition will begin July 10 and take approximately 10 weeks to complete. Construction of the new fire station is anticipated to begin in Summer 2018.

Cary Files Briefs in Support for IBT Certificate

On Monday, Cary and Apex, as well as the EMC and DWQ, filed their Briefs in Support of the State’s Petition for Superior Court review of the administrative law judge’s decision in the appeal brought by Fayetteville and its Public Works Commission, challenging our 2015 IBT Certificate. While the administrative law judge’s decision upheld our IBT certificate, it added conditions that are unnecessary and could result in costly and disruptive capital improvements and increased operational burdens. A hearing before the appellate judge is scheduled for September 13-14.

Cary Named A Top City to Raise a Child

SafeWise has named Cary one of the 30 Safest Cities to Raise a Child (Cary listed at number 10). Their survey reviewed reported sex offender concentration, state graduation rates, overall school quality ranking, and FBI violent crime data as well as looked at parks and recreational opportunities in the community.

Arts & Economic Prosperity

The results of the economic study, Arts & Economic Prosperity 5, conducted by Americans for the Arts were released on June 23. This national study surveyed governmental arts agencies and non-profits to gauge their impact on the economy. The Town of Cary partnered with the City of Raleigh and the United Arts Council of Raleigh and Wake County to provide information for the study. The results showed:

  • Direct Economic Activity of the arts in Cary: $16,980,404
  • Full-time equivalent jobs: 628
  • Resident household income: $13,733,000
  • Local government revenue: $924,000
  • State government revenue: $977,000
  • Attendance: 608,168; 14.7% from outside of Wake Co.
  • Event related expenditures: $10,826,761

Data was collected from 69.8% of eligible Cary arts organizations.

Recognitions

Special recognition goes to the staff from the Cary/Apex Water Treatment Facility and the Public Works Operations Division for responding quickly and effectively to assist our neighbor, Durham, with an important water transfer operation. Earlier this week, Durham experienced a temporary interruption of service. During the water transfer operations, Cary conveyed approximately 4 million gallons of drinking water to support them during their repairs.

Recently, the Fire Department worked with a team from Duke University Hospital on a video titled Gratitude. Specifically, firefighters from Engine 8 were able to reenact an actual incident that the team responded to that illustrates how everyone works together as a team to serve the Cary community. The video, along with four others, was shown at over 23 sessions at the Duke All-Staff event over the past few weeks. It was also used at the Duke Health Leadership Summit, attended by over 150 of Duke Health’s top leaders.

 

In emails this week I was notified that in a recent study by SafeWise, a website that tracks information on home security systems and safety, Cary ranks the 30 safest to raise a child in the nation for 2017.  Cary has twice ranked as the safest in the country according to the FBI’s reports.

Emails from citizens this week included:

  • A complaint about downtown events
  • Concerns about the Keisler Drive rezoning proposal
  • A concern about a proposed group home
  • A concern about a developer abandoning a project (we do not have authority to make them finish their project)
  • Several thank you emails for those that support Habitat
  • A new email campaign for me to sign a protest against Trump about the Paris Climate agreement

Next week will be a light week due to the 4th of July holiday. My activities will include remarks at the 4th of July celebration, throwing out the first pitch at USA versus Cuba, and a meeting with the town manager.

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

Category: Uncategorized  
• Sunday, June 25th, 2017

This was a busy week for me highlighted by the 2018 fiscal year budget and dedication of the downtown park.

Monday I joined the Apex Bible Study group for a breakfast meeting. We didn’t talk religion. Instead I gave them an update on what was going on around town. I was there about an hour before having to head off to work.

Monday during the day I contacted council members to hear of their questions and concerns about the agenda for Thursday’s regularly scheduled meeting. I was able to contact all council member but two. Most of the questions and comments were on whether or not to send the Trimble Drive rezoning request back to the Planning and Zoning board for their review since the proposal they denied was completely changed.

Later Monday I met with key staff members and we went over items on the agenda. We talked about staff presentations for the budget, the Trimble Drive rezoning, the Reedy Creek Road widening project, and other items. I believed the council meeting would last until about 10.

My next meeting on Monday was with the town manager and Mayor Pro-Tem. We talked about our process of providing feedback versus providing little feedback after the public has spoken at public hearings. Some council members feel you should say very little after the public has spoken so that you won’t taint ideas of the Planning and Zoning board who would review the project next. Other council members feel that the applicant should know at the public hearing whether or not a council member has concerns about a particular proposal. I suspect there is a happy medium. This is an issue we will need to discuss in the future.

My last meeting on Monday was with the Wake County Mayors Association. Ten of twelve mayors were in attendance. Mayors from Raleigh and Wendell were absent. We talked about our budgets and our tax rates. None of the ten municipalities represented are planning a tax increase with this year’s budget which begins July 1st. Our meeting concluded after about two hours.

Tuesday the council met in closed session for over four hours to review the annual performance of our three employees. The town employees that report directly to the council are the town manager, town attorney, and town clerk. While I can’t talk about the review I can say that Cary is blessed to have such talented people working on behalf of the town.

Wednesday I attended the Executive board meeting of the CAMPO (Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization). There were two public hearings and five discussion items. The discussion items included the Locally Administered Projects Program, the Prioritization 5.0 Modal Candidate Project Lists, among other items. Basically, Cary is set to get several projects in each of these programs. The meeting concluded after an hour and a half.

Thursday the council held its last regularly scheduled meeting of June. On the agenda were six consent items, five public hearings, and seven discussion items. For the first time in many years the entire time allotted for Public Speaks Out was used. Most people spoke about the Trimble rezoning. The public hearing for the proposed Keisler rezoning across from Waverly to put a grocery store in place of an office building drew strong criticism from citizens and council. The other public hearings did not have speakers.

One of the biggest discussion items was the Trimble rezoning. Several council members noted that communications with the applicant, Habitat, and the residents was lacking and as a result wanted to table to see if other condition might be offered. A representative for the applicant stated that there wasn’t enough time to offer conditions and that nothing would change if it were delayed. Staff also presented a slide with citizen concerns. All the zoning conditions were met and the rest were site plan issues. The biggest site plan issue was stormwater which staff has agreed to work with the applicant on.

A rezoning at Walnut Street and Tryon Road also had a good council discussion. This area is a gateway to Cary and some council members felt that the type of restaurant proposed was not good for a gateway. The counterpoint was that development is generational, ten to fifteen years, and that this could redevelop when the rest of the area (which is relatively new) redevelops. Council eventually approved the rezoning 5-2. If the applicant doesn’t sell and builds there project then this will be a Bojangles.

The Reedy Creek Road widening was also approved by council and should be completed by 2020. The reason it will take so long is that funding for this project is being done in two parts. The first part has been approved and we anticipate the second part being approved in the next round of funding.

Our final discussion item was the budget. Most of our work on the budget was done in work sessions. Therefore there wasn’t much discussion and instead a lot of praise heaped on staff for their work. Council approved the budget unanimously. The budget keeps our tax rate at 35 cents and launches several capital projects. We will begin reviewing the budget quarterly starting later this year.

Friday I participated in a meeting of the North Carolina Metro Mayors’ legislative review. Topics included the budget (now on the Governor’s desk), impact fees, road improvements for public and charter school that will now have to be funded by municipalities, economic development, environmental laws, and many more. The legislature will continue their work next week talking about topics such as billboards, quarter cent sales tax for municipalities, and redistricting. This session has been somewhat successful since our legislature has done less harm to municipalities in the past. It is my hope they will focus on helping everyone and less on harming or punishing municipalities that they are angry with.

Saturday I had the joy and pleasure of giving remarks at opening of the downtown park. The ceremony was delayed an hour due to a thunderstorm but there were still a couple hundred people in attendance. Here is an excerpt of my remarks:

… This is an historic moment for Cary. A moment that is possible because of so many hands and hearts:

  • There have been numerous presentations by design firms and architects.
  • Long, countless hours by so many staff from across all departments to coordinate timelines and deadlines, field questions from citizens, and keep us on the track to completion.
  • Sweat by our construction crews.
  • Foresight and leadership by my fellow Council members.
  • And, perhaps most importantly, passion from you all, our Cary voters, who way back in 2012 spoke loud and clear that this project was a priority for our community. Thank you for your support over the last two years during construction, and thank you for your confidence in our vision to create a revitalized downtown.

There is a saying we all know: “If you build it, they will come!” No kidding! Since the weather’s warmed up, I haven’t been able to drive past this park and see it empty. I drove by at 11:30 after a council meeting and there were people here. People are coming to downtown at all hours, on all days, and discovering the great things we have to offer: eateries, breweries, boutiques, places to spend the night…or at least a relaxing evening out of the house.

And while this fountain is quite the show stopper, I don’t want to lose sight of the great work accomplished along Academy Street. The project brought 70 new trees to line up and down Academy Street and over 250,000 pavers in the roadway and sidewalk that improve aesthetics and pedestrian and handicapped accessibility. I believe Academy Street has become an attractive place to citizens and visitors as a place to hold downtown festivals, events, concerts and other activities. This supports downtown businesses and complements the activities of the Cary Arts Center. In fact, our Downtown Chowdown food truck rodeo will be right here tomorrow afternoon. So if you aren’t exhausted from celebrating today, be sure to come back tomorrow, right here, from 12:30 until 5.

Don and I have thanked many people, but I think we’ve forgotten one very special person. This person saw an opportunity to serve the community, and it’s just one of the many reasons I’m proud to have him as a colleague. You see, knowing that folks would be tossing coins into our fountain, Mayor Pro Tem Ed Yerha suggested a few months ago that all coins from the fountain be allocated to support Relief for Recreation. This scholarship program helps youth, adults and seniors participate in Town of Cary programs, camps and team leagues that otherwise may not be possible without financial assistance. Last year, the program awarded over $45,000 to fellow Cary citizens. I may be mayor, but I can’t make any specific wish come true. Yet, thanks to Mr. Yerha, I’m proud that we’ve found a specific use for this loose change.

So today we celebrate! That the dirt’s settled and that the orange cones are gone. Traffic is moving, and all places along Academy Street are accessible. And thanks to our Mayor Pro Tem Yerha, we can celebrate the new opportunities to be had by our neighbors participating in educational courses and camps that otherwise wouldn’t be possible. Thank you all so much for your support and for joining us tonight to mark this special occasion. …

After the ceremony everyone made a wish tossed coins into the fountain. There was a fountain light show at 9 PM that thrilled those in attendance.

 

Emails from staff this week included notification on Tuesday of a tree removal at 307 South Academy Street. Unfortunately, the tree was in a state of decline and presented an imminent danger to pedestrians and the drive public according to an independent certified arborist. Sadly, the tree was removed on Wednesday.

The Town Manager’s report included the following:

Downtown Park Dedication

Mother Nature had staff keeping an eye on possible unfavorable weather for tomorrow’s Celebrate the Park and Streetscape event. Supporting staff recommendation, the event will go on as planned. Do know contingency plans are in place as we continue monitoring the forecast, but plan on enjoying an evening with fellow friends and neighbors as we celebrate the cumulative success of these projects.

Legislative Update

HB310 Small Cell Legislation:

This week staff attended Senate committee meetings on HB310. On Tuesday, the State and Local Senate committee met, discussed and approved the bill. On Thursday, it was also approved by the Commerce and Insurance Committee and then referred to the Finance Committee.

Staff, working with Jack Cozort, shared our concerns with the bill in written comments that were distributed to committee members. Some of those comments, specifically, smart cities components were discussed as part of the bill for the first time. While staff still has concerns with this bill, we are encouraged by several legislators expressing interest in smart cities and underground infrastructure provisions when discussing the bill. Staff will continue to track this bill closely. 

HB436 Local Government/Regulatory Fees :

Staff has been following the progress of HB 436, “An Act to Provide for Uniform Authority to Implement System Development Fees for Public Water and Sewer Systems.” This week, a new version of the bill was introduced with the full support of the League of Municipalities. The bill would create a state-wide system for calculating water and sewer development fees (that would apply to Cary beginning in 2018), and would clarify that the statute of limitations to file suit alleging that a municipality has charged an unlawful fee for water or sewer service is three years. The bill must still be voted on by the Senate and must also return to the House before becoming law.

Jordan Lake Water Allocation

On March 9, the North Carolina Environmental Management Commission unanimously approved our Round 4 Jordan Lake Water Supply Allocation. This was a coordinated effort led by the Jordan Lake Partners, made up of water utilities surrounding the lake to plan for the region’s long-range water supply needs. The time period in which the commissioner’s decision could be contested has expired without any challenges being raised and the State of North Carolina is now completing the paperwork that will secure our Jordan Lake water supply to meet our anticipated needs until at least 2045.

CAMPO Board Update

The Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO) Executive Board met on Wednesday and voted to approve the FY18 Wake Transit Work Plan and Financial Policies and Guidelines and adopt the State Transit Asset Management Performance Measures and Targets for State of Good Repair. The Board received information on proposed FY19 LAPP minor program changes and the 2045 Metropolitan Transportation Plan (MTP) update. Finally, the Executive Board approved releasing Prioritization 5.0 Modal Candidate Project Lists for public review and approved the designation of critical urban freight corridors as recommended by NCDOT. The next Executive Board meeting will be on August 16. There will be no July meeting.

Father’s Day “Rap Session”

Last Saturday, staff from Police, Fire and Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources helped host a community engagement opportunity honoring fathers at Headliners Barbershop in Cary. The Town partnered with the barbers of Headliners and Tru Access Consulting to organize an engaging and edifying discussion (“rap session”) about the challenges and blessings of fatherhood. There was also a bounce house and games for the kids, fire truck and police car displays, face painting and good food. Approximately 100 citizens enjoyed this wonderful event.

Wrenn Drive Block Party

Also last weekend, despite afternoon storms, project PHOENIX pulled off a successful block party for the residents of the apartment communities along Wrenn Drive. Approximately 500 residents joined the fun! There were over 35 different vendors on-site to provide information about local services and resources, as well as free food, live music, crafts and games. The annual block party was first held in 2013 and has grown into a highly anticipated community event!

Statement from EAB

At the June 13 meeting of the Environmental Advisory Board (EAB), the board members crafted and approved the following statement and asked that it be shared with Council.

EAB statement regarding the Town of Cary’s Commitment to Carbon Reduction, Rick Savage, Chair, June 2017

The EAB recommends that the Town of Cary reaffirm its commitment to carbon reduction.

In solidarity with municipalities across the United States who are reaffirming their commitments to reduce carbon, and in response to the federal withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement, we want to reaffirm the Town of Cary’s commitment to carbon reduction.

The Town of Cary has demonstrated an on-going commitment to carbon reduction. In 2008, Council unanimously agreed to join the Mayor’s Climate Protection agreement. Since that time, great strides have been made to reduce carbon emissions in Town operations and in our community. This is consistent with Cary’s core values to preserve and protect our environment. In the 2017/2018 Board year the EAB will add a “Carbon Neutrality” section to its work plan in order to provide recommendations to Town of Cary staff on developing incremental steps toward town-wide carbon neutrality.

Recognitions

In a demonstration of Cary’s benevolence, staff from across departments are working to support the volunteer Fire Department of Autryville, NC. Last month a tornado destroyed their fire station and most of their equipment. An idea that originated in the Fleet Division of Public Works has spurred action and support in Finance and the Fire Department. Cary has a pumper truck ready to go to surplus and now our staff is working to transfer this resource to the volunteer fire fighters of Autryville. This is a great example of OneCary!

 

Emails from citizens this week included:

  • Complaints about me not signing the climate protest against Trump
  • Comments for and against the Trimble rezoning
  • Concerns about a traffic signal at Lake Pine Drive
  • Concerns about a proposed Keisler Drive rezoning
  • A request to have a port-a-john at the downtown park
  • A question about the reedy creek road widening

Next week will be less busy for me and includes staff meetings, private meetings, USA baseball against Taipei, and a Cary Matters taping.

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

Category: Uncategorized  
• Sunday, June 18th, 2017

This was a week of ceremonies, events, and meetings.

Monday I joined council members Frantz, Bush, and George at the Cary High School graduation. There were a little over 500 graduates. On the hoot-n-holla behavior scale I would give Cary High a well behaved 8. Their graduation ceremonies are always a class act. It is always fun for me to see the graduate’s faces as they receive their diplomas.

Tuesday I signed papers to call a special meeting of town council early next week to consider an Economic Development opportunity. This opportunity is moving fast so the meeting had to be called outside other scheduled council meetings. Hopefully we will have a big job announcement soon.

Later Tuesday I talked with a News and Observer reporter about the council’s practice of not passing resolutions or making public statements on state and national partisan issues. The council and staff will discuss this practice in a future work session.

Tuesday evening I met with key staff members about issues related to stormwater runoff.

My last meeting Tuesday was with homeowners who stated their private pond was being impacted by a nearby development. Just as an FYI, council is not involved in operations and enforcement of developers. Our staff is responsible for making sure developers follow regulations. Beyond that the town has no authority. So if this issue escalates beyond enforcement it will be a private legal matter.

Wednesday I attended the graduation ceremony of Green Hope High School. I was joined by former Cary Mayor Pro-Tem and NC Legislator Gale Adcock, former Cary council member and Wake County Commissioner Erv Portman, and Cary council members Bush and George. There were over 600 graduates including the twin daughters of Principal Karen Summers (what a sweet moment of hugs and tears). On the hoot-n-holla behavior scale it was about an average of 5. Interestingly, I noticed that most graduates appeared to be of Asian descent which speaks to the diversity of Cary and neighboring communities. It also appeared that over half the graduates were honor students. I enjoyed the ceremony and was glad I had the opportunity to watch each of the 600+ faces as they received their diplomas.

Thursday I was interviewed by WUNC radio about why I didn’t sign with the other mayors on the Paris Climate agreement. It was a short succinct article that captured my thoughts well. See http://wunc.org/post/why-carys-mayor-didnt-sign-climate-letter-opposing-trump.

Saturday I joined Mayor Pro-Tem Yerha at the free annual Healthfair which held at the Hindu Temple in Morrisville. This was started years ago by physicians who wanted to give back to their community. They cover every field imaginable in medicine. Over 50 physicians give free service for a day to those who are poor or don’t have health insurance. In addition, some of these physicians serve those in need year round at the NCIAP Medical Care clinic in Raleigh. Bless them for all they do for those who need it most.

The town manager’s report included the following:

Legislative Updates

On Thursday, the NC Senate voted to pass House Bill 55, a local bill authorizing the Apex Police Department to serve Apex High School students while the school is located in Cary due to major renovations. This bill was part of Cary’s Legislative Agenda for 2017. A special thanks to Representative Adcock and Senator Barringer for introducing this bill.

On Friday, staff worked closely with our lobbyist, Jack Cozort, on Cary’s comments as it relates to HB310 (Wireless Communications Infrastructure Siting bill). We will be sharing our bill comments with committee members and continue tracking this bill closely.

Moody’s Interim Report

On Monday, Moody’s Investor Service published an annual comment on the Town of Cary’s General Obligation rating of Aaa.  Any municipal unit that hasn’t received an official rating in two years will receive an annual issuer comment from Moody’s which updates the credit overview and key ratios.

To quote from the report:  “Cary has an outstanding credit position, and its Aaa rating is well above US city median rating of Aa3.  The credit profile reflects a sizable tax base, above average resident wealth levels, and a very strong financial position.  The credit profile also reflects a manageable pension liability with an exceptionally light debt burden.”

Urban Drive Speeding Analysis

Prior to the June 8 Council meeting, the Police Department’s Traffic Team had looked into neighborhood concerns over speeding on Urban Drive. In late May, the Police deployed speed sensors on Urban Drive, near Waldo, during a one-week period. 2008 vehicles were captured (average of 287 vehicles per day). The average speed was 20.9 mph. The sensory also calculates the 10mph speed range in which the majority of the vehicles are traveling. The majority of the vehicles were traveling between 17-27mph. During the seven day period, there was one car that did travel 37mph. This was the second time Police had deployed the speed sensory in this location with similar results.

Upon further conversations with a citizen from Public Speaks Out on June 8, we learned of two specific locations that did not have speed limit signage. Last Friday, Police confirmed these two spots (on Webster and the 100 block of Urban) could use additional signage. These signs have now been installed with a posted speed of 25 mph. Furthermore, Assistant Chief Quinlan monitored the area for an afternoon and did not observe any speed limit or stop sign violations.

Technology Services Open House

Technology Services hosted a town-wide open house for employees to learn about technology initiatives happening now and in the future. This also provided an opportunity to view the re-designed office space. There were panel sessions with Managers and Team Leads on different subjects and exhibits showcasing projects such as the Salesforce/Chatter platform as well as Office 360 implementation.

Resource Fair For Seniors

On June 8 and 9, staff from GoCary and Cary Senior Center participated in a seniors’ fair at St. Michael’s Church titled “Live Well at Home.”  Town staff was able to provide valuable education and resources on topics such as our existing recreational programs at the Senior Center and our transportation options via GoCary.

Innovation & Collaboration

Staff from Transportation & Facilities and Utilities teamed up for problem solving! The team used an innovative approach to detect thermal imaging associated with an air leak in a buried pipeline that conveys aeration from the main blower building to the biological reactor basins at the South Cary Water Reclamation Facility. Local engineering and surveying firm, Withers and Ravennel, provided the technology and conducted the test.

Transportation & Facilities staff was able to evaluate the information gathered and incorporate the imagery into a model that the Town crews have marked with GPS coordinates. Additionally, Utilities staff will use the data to plan for repairs of the pipeline.

Cary Parkway/High House Road Open House

On Tuesday, approximately 70 citizens attended an open house to learn more about the upcoming Cary Parkway and High House Road Intersection Improvements Project. Attendees were able to view the final designs and get information on the construction anticipated to begin this fall. We received positive feedback from those who attended about both the experience of the open house and the intersection improvements project.

Thank you to the following individuals who either helped in preparation, set-up, or in attendance to make this event successful: Kay Struffolino (citizen volunteer), Matt Wetherell, Ken Guttman, Mary Beth Huber, Megan Palmer, Jerry Jensen, Tom Ellis, Bob Shultes, David Spencer, James Stiff, Carrie Roman, Deanna Hawkes, Cheron Gilchrist, Ana Orlowsky, Adam Howell, Jay Schubert and crew, Jody Jameson and Senior Center staff, Tracy Strickland, Kenneth Quinlan, Shannon O’Shea, Richard Carter, Charles Chen, Stewart Engineering, and the Alpha & Omega Group.

May 2017 Development & Construction Reports

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

La Farm Opens First Phase

The first phase production bakery is now open! The bakery will have the option for grab and go breads and pastries and will also have their food truck on-site for breakfast and lunch. Second phase will focus on the retail bakery/cafe and the 5600 square feet of retail lease space. Great news for downtown Cary!

Recognitions

Above is a picture of the latest group of Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) graduates. CERT training is a program designed to enable citizens to care for themselves and their neighbors during the first three days following a disaster event. Participants are educated about disaster preparedness, CERT organization, light search and rescue, medical care, fire extinguisher use and disaster psychology. Thanks to our Fire Department, in particular Alicia Dismuke and Loren Cone, for organizing this important community service.

 

The construction and activity report for May included the following:

  • Cary had 8% of the county’s single family permits which is the 5th most.
  • Cary’s single family permits were down 34% from the previous month.
  • The average single family dwelling in May was 3830 square feet compared to 3537 square feet in May of 2013.

Emails this week included the results from the million step challenge competition between Wake County and Cary which was held over 8 days. The following is the email with those results:

We now have all the data in from last week’s Million Step Community Guest Challenge.  This was the first time we had two community guest challengers with both the Town of Cary and Wake County Commissioners participating.  It was an amazing week as both teams really “stepped it up” (pun always intended) and came out with two of the strongest community guest challenger results to date. 

The Wake County Commissioners had an average of 10,314 steps per day per participant (the third strongest performance by a community challenger during our 16 week challenge). However, the town of Cary proved to be unbeatable (or almost unbeatable…see below) as they averaged an amazing 13,489 steps per day!  This was the most of any competitor to date besides Team Senator Tillis – who, rumor has it, walked non-stop laps around our nation’s capital to get 14,033 steps per day per participant during their challenge week in March. 

A very special congratulations to Cary Mayor Weinbrecht who averaged 18,228 steps per day, which is the top performance of any individual community guest challenger during the entire competition.  Congratulations also to Dara Demi with Wake County who led her team with 14,488 steps per day.

Fun competition aside, a very special thanks to both the Wake County government and the Town of Cary for participating – your involvement and support of our participants from Advance Community Health and Alliance Medical Ministry is very much appreciated. As we all work together to develop healthier communities, empowering patients to take control of their own health through healthy lifestyle choices (including being more active) will be essential. 

So now for the truly impressive part – even with the strong performances reported above, one of our participant challenge teams was still able to edge out both community guest challengers: Team Joyner from Alliance came in a with an amazing 18,226 average steps per participant per day!  It has been very inspirational to see so many of our participants not only meet, but shatter, their individual million step goals for the challenge over the past 16 weeks.  We have one participant that has passed 2 million steps!

In case you were interested in a breakdown of my steps: Sunday-20693, Monday-15449, Tuesday-16603, Wednesday-18023, Thursday-17658, Friday-15494, and Saturday-23683. Too bad it wasn’t when I was on vacation. During that time I had two workouts a day and averaged about 23,000 steps a day. I encourage everyone to take a step towards improving their health (pun intended) and start stepping!

 

Emails from citizens this week included:

  • Criticism and praise for not signing they Mayors protest against the President. (Some interpreted this as not supporting the environment and some interpreted this as supporting Trumps actions. Both are absolutely, positively false.)
  • An anonymous tip about prostitution (please send this kind of information to our Police Department).
  • A thank you for doing a good job from 10 year old Timmy Napier. (He made my week!)
  • Concerns about runoff from a new development.
  • A complaint about loud mufflers and parking (Parking decks are planned and one is already funded. We can only enforce our noise ordinance and nothing beyond).
  • A complaint because I won’t do a resolution against gerrymandering (like the climate request, we don’t do proclamations, resolutions, etc for state and national issues and instead focus on the town’s business).
  • Comments for and against the Trimble Drive rezoning.

 

Next week will be busy for me. Activities include talking with a group of people about state of the town issues, a special meeting to consider an economic development opportunity, a meeting of the Wake County Mayors Association, a council work session, a meeting of the CAMPO (Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization) executive committee, a regularly scheduled council meeting, and the downtown park dedication.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, June 25th.  Although I have Facebook and Twitter accounts those are not the best means of communications with me. Please send all Town of Cary questions or comments to Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org and email personal comments to augustanat@mindspring.com.

Category: Uncategorized  
• Sunday, June 11th, 2017

This was tough week after spending a week at the beach with the family. It included three long nights.

Monday started with agenda calls to council members to hear of any concerns or questions they had with the agenda for Thursday’s meeting. There were no questions. Later in the day I met with key staff to go over the agenda and that meeting only lasted a few minutes.

Later Monday I was joined by the Mayor Pro-Tem as we met with the town manager. We met for over an hour discussing several issues. Here are just a few of the issues:

  • Wegmans at Davis Drive and Airport Boulevard mixed use development will not be a rezoning. As a result it will be a staff reviewed proposal. To date there hasn’t been a proposal submitted.
  • The Wegmans proposal on the state property has not been submitted. Based on information from staff they are working on potential office tenants for the office portion of the use.
  • CBL has submitted a proposal for an IKEA on the mall site. They plan to submit a proposal for the redevelopment of the remainder of the site in the near future. It may include some very interesting tenants.
  • MetLife will be submitting plans for a 3rd building in Weston.
  • The intersection improvements at Cary Parkway and High House were discussed. It will be a very painful experience for commuters in the area for a long time. The town is working on a communication plan for helping commuters to know what to expect daily.
  • Interest in downtown remains very strong. Parking in addition to the planned deck(s) may be required. We will be discussing in the near future.
  • The council/mayor’s practice not to weigh in on partisan matters of the state and nation will be a topic of discussion at a future retreat. This is related to the email campaign against me to sign with mayors against Trump on the Paris Climate Agreement.

More than a dozen other items were discussed but I am not permitted at this time to reveal that information.

Tuesday the council held a work session on the operating portion of the budget. Here are some notable items from that work session:

  • The fiscal year budget will include maintaining existing projects, people, and programs.
  • The budget also includes launching a community branding initiative, the Wake County Transit Plan, and expanding body camera usage.
  • Council priorities include addressing existing services and infrastructure, the opioid epidemic, the integration of west Cary, leveraging technology, maintaining and enhancing historic facilities, and future downtown improvements.
  • Open space options will be brought back for our next quarterly review of the budget.

The council is scheduled to vote on the budget at our June 22nd meeting.

Wednesday was a very busy and long day for me.

It started with a delightful breakfast that included the President of the MacGregor Rotary Club Shannon Reaves and radio show celebrity Pete D‘Arruda. We had a wonderful discussion about all sorts of items including personal events in our lives. This breakfast was part of a fund raising prize that the Rotary auctioned off.

Later in the day I attended the Cary Economic Development meeting. Here are some of the takeaways from that meeting:

  • The town manager asked the committee for feedback on the branding initiative.
  • The chamber recently hosted company executives looking to open headquarters in Cary. This would add 1,100 jobs and have a $80 million investment.
  • The owners of MacGregor Village are working on plans for the redevelopment of that center. There will be a focus on more local shops and providing a place for people to hang out similar to Waverly Place.
  • IKEA announced their plans for a store on the Cary mall site with plans to open in the summer of 2020.
  • CBL plans to submit plans for the rest of the mall’s redevelopment that will include premier retail, dining, entertainment, residential, grocery, office and green space.
  • MetLife has announced it will build a 3rd tower.
  • There has been strong office demand for downtown Cary. Also multi-family developers are interested in downtown Cary.
  • Recent Awards and Accolades include:
    • #6 City creating the most tech jobs – Forbes
    • Best new brewery in the nation (Bond Brothers) – USA Today
    • #21 Best places to live in the U.S. – Livability.com
    • #18 Best city to build a forever home – Goodcall
    • Best community investment award for Academy Street – Triangle CREW
    • #6 Best city for young professionals – Forbes
    • #10 Best big city for jobs – Forbes
  • Class A office vacancy is about 7.19% which is low.
  • Cary’s unemployment rate is 3.8% compared to Wake County (4%), North Carolina (4.3%), and the U.S.(4.1%)

Wednesday night I attended the Paul Simon concert at the Booth Amphitheater. Upon arrival I posed with an award received by the town for having the best outdoor music venue in the region (Booth Amphitheater).

I was invited to attend the Paul Simon concert at the Booth Amphitheater by Paul Simon himself which was a first for me. My wife and I joined Raleigh Mayor McFarlane, her husband, and family members. He and his 9 piece band played for two and a half hours non-stop to a packed house who loved it. All proceeds from this and 17 other shows will go to the Half-Earth Project, an initiative of noted scientist E.O. Wilson’s Biodiversity Foundation. After the concert Mayor MacFarlane and I spoke to Paul Simon for about 15 minutes on several issues. He stated that he wanted to meet with us to hear what is going on in our towns. In our conversation with him he shared his beliefs that our nation currently has a lot of angry people which is being fed by the media. He stated that no matter what side you fall on with an issue it should never be driven by anger. WELL SAID! He also made several other notable statements such as Stephen Hawkins predicts the earth has about 100 years left while another notable scientist predicts the earth could become a paradise in 100 years. (I definitely hope the latter is true.) He was great to meet and talk with and I wish him the very best in his efforts to support the half-earth project.

Thursday the council held its first regularly scheduled council meeting of the month. It also included a quasi-judicial meeting which is normally held the first Thursday of the month. As a result we were there about five hours. On the agenda were four consent items, four public hearings, and one discussion items. There were dozens of people that spoke at the public hearings.

The public hearing on the Silverton PDD Amendment to put multi-family residential instead of office drew a lot of speakers. Most felt that office was a more appropriate use. The applicant argued that it would create less traffic. This will come back to council for a vote after a review and recommendation by our Planning and Zoning board.

The public hearing on the Urban Drive rezoning proposal to move the zoning from medium density to Town Center Mixed use drew a lot of criticism. A good portion of the complaints were not related to the proposal. Many complained of flooding even though their houses were in the flood plain (this was done over a half century ago before there were regulations against this). Others wanted to complain about a four story proposal currently under staff review which was not part of the proposal. Most of the complaints wanted denial of the proposal and the property to remain single family residential. This can be interpreted to be in conflict with the Cary Community Plan approved in January. The Cary Community plan was three years in the making and was created mostly by the citizens of Cary.

After our regularly scheduled items a quasi-judicial hearing was held to determine if parking reductions could be given to an apartment proposal in Hillstone at the Alston Town Center. There was a great deal of data presented and a lot of questions by council about the parking reduction and how the development would connect to surrounding developments. In the end the council approved the reduction but not with a unanimous vote.

The council held a quick closed session after the quasi-judicial hearing and then adjourned.

Friday I participated in a meeting of legislative matters with the metro mayors. One interesting note from this meeting is that the metro mayors have created a pilot sister city, Kinston, to see if we can help close the urban/rural divide that creates issues with legislation. Other matters discussed in our legislative update included:

  • The budget – now behind closed doors mostly focusing on the small issues.
  • Redistricting – US Supreme court ruled districts invalid, Governor called a special session, and both the NC Senate and House rejected the idea of a special election as unconstitutional.
  • Billboards – bill has been mostly gutted but is still alive.
  • Elimination of Impact fees (fees charged to developers for the impact their projects have on the community) – they have decided to study this further. This is significant because if fees were eliminated then municipalities , it taxpayers, would be paying for infrastructure needs created by developers which basically subsidizes development.
  • Land Use Plan regulations – an attempt by the legislature to remove local regulations on land use

Many of the bills introduced and forwarded continue the assault on municipalities. In a time when residents are asking the town to do more in areas with controlling development and land use, the legislature is trying to remove most of our authority. I guess it is no secret who is supporting their campaigns.

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

FY18 Budget

On Tuesday, Council held its second and final budget work session, which covered Council priorities that are addressed in the operating budget. The session also followed-up on remaining questions from the first work session and addressed issues raised by citizens about open space and a possible future park at the first budget public hearing.

On Thursday, Council held the second budget public hearing, at which the open space issue was raised again, and one citizen also expressed his willingness to pay higher taxes in order to provide more funding for capital projects. The Imagine Cary Plan Implementation Team will be developing options in the coming months for addressing open space issues and will report back to Council.

Adoption of the budget will be on the Council’s June 22 agenda.

Rezoning Request Changes for Trimble Avenue

On Thursday, we learned from the applicant that based on feedback, Habitat Wake has amended its rezoning application to R-8 Condition Use. This would allow the applicant to maintain conditions requested by the community, such as a maximum of seven detached homes.

Economic Development Committee Update

At the Economic Development Committee’s quarterly meeting, Kyle Greer noted that the source of new jobs is split relatively equally between companies coming into the area and companies started locally. This information provides assurance that we are on the right track with our economic development efforts and committing resources to both “economic gardening” and “economic hunting.”

Town Staff Provide Utility Assistance to Neighbors

Staff from the Cary/Apex Water Treatment Facility provided laboratory assistance to Orange Water and Sewer Authority in the form of water testing using specialized equipment known as a Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometer (GCMS). Cary’s lab staff, Rachel Monschein and Erin Lee, have become experts in our region for conducting this type of testing using the specialized equipment. OWASA’s laboratory supervisor, Katie Harrold, stated “We deeply appreciate the use of the Town of Cary’s specialized equipment and resources.”

Project PHOENIX Event at Chatham Forest Apartments

Last Saturday, Project PHOENIX partnered with Trinity Park Church to host a summer picnic for approximately 175 residents. They were able to enjoy hot dogs, ice cream, face painting, games and a “selfie station.” Town staff was on hand to offer information about services and resources available to our citizens.

Downtown Park Shade

As you may have noticed, over Memorial Day weekend umbrellas were placed at the Downtown Park. This experiment resulted from a Council Initiated Item to provide shade for our citizens enjoying the park. We have heard positive feedback from citizens about the umbrellas being added. In addition to the immediate action of providing umbrellas, staff has also identified other temporary shade structures, such as tensile structures, that can be located in certain areas of the park. These longer term solutions will likely take a 3-4 month lead time.

Cary Parkway & High House Road Intersection Improvements

As was mentioned at the Council meeting, we would like to remind everyone who lives, works, or travels near the intersection that we’ll be hosting an open house at the Senior Center this Tuesday night about our project to improve the intersection. The public can drop in anytime between 5 and 8 p.m. to learn what the plans are and what to expect during and after construction this fall.

Triangle Smart Cities Summit

On Tuesday, Council Member Lori Bush and Technology Services staff attended the Summit at the James B. Hunt Jr. Library at NC State University. This event brought together local city, industry, and academic leaders for an engaged discussion on how to make our region a smarter and more connected community.

As part of this event, Council Member Bush served on a panel discussion with local leaders that was moderated by Governor Martin O’Malley. This panel discussed how Triangle cities are approaching these initiatives.

Technology Services staff showcased Cary’s Innovation Experience Center and Smart Cities Campus Vision during the afternoon poster hall session.

GoCary Services Safest in the State

At the NC Public Transportation Association Annual Conference, GoCary was recognized as having the safest services as a result of having the least amount of any preventable accidents in the last year. This is a testament to the strong partnership the Town has with our services contractor, MV Transportation. Our system design and safety feature requirements in vehicles and stops, as well as exceptional driver/operator training allows us to be an example to all our peers across the state for safety initiatives.

Safe Routes to School

On Wednesday morning, students, parents, and staff from Northwoods Elementary School gathered with representatives from the Highway Safety Research Council, the John Rex Endowment, and the Town of Cary to hold a ribbon cutting to celebrate the completion of a Safe Routes to School project. Town staff assisted by providing design services for an enhanced pedestrian crossing and worked with our on-call contractors to construct the crossing which includes a new ADA accessible ramp, improved pavement markings, enhanced signage, and delineator posts.

Council Member Bush was in attendance for the ribbon-cutting and took the opportunity to respond to Commissioner Hutchinson’s Million Step challenge on Twitter!

Recognitions

I’d like to recognize the work of our entire Budget staff – Karl Knapp, Stacey Teachey, Kathy Lleras, Hunter Frank and Katie Lumb – in all they do to facilitate our budget process, especially as it moves from an annual event to a quarterly process. The work they did to prepare for both work sessions was significant. At the same time, I’d like to recognize the first-time presenters who contributed to the work sessions: Brian Stark, Gregory Jenkins, Sam Trogdon, Rachel Baranski, Hunter Frank and Katie Lumb. Thank you for contributing to the team!

The Town of Cary was recognized this week by Indy Week through their annual Best in the Triangle readers’ choice awards

  • Koka Booth Amphitheatre received the Best Outdoor Music Venue award
  • The Amphitheatre was also recognized as one of three finalists in the Best Place to Hear Jazz category and the Best Place to Hear International or World Music category
  • The Cary Theater was recognized as one of three finalists in the Best Place to See an Indie Film category

 

 

 

Emails from citizens this week included:

  • Complaints about the Silverton proposal.
  • Complaints about the Urban Drive proposal.
  • An email campaign for me to sign a letter against Trump’s controversial climate decision.
  • Concerns about construction runoff Westpark pond.
  • Several requests to budget for various items.

The email campaign against me to sign a letter against Trump took a great deal of my time this week and hurt my productivity spending time to answer. My answers were like the following:

First response:

Thank you for contacting me. While I think the position taken by our president is ridiculous, it has been the practice of this council not to take public positions on partisan matters and instead focus on the business of the town.

Second response:

Thanks for contacting me again

It is important to understand that if I sign with the other mayors then I am taking a position that is viewed as partisan and not universally accepted by the entire council. Keep in mind that Cary’s council is currently nonpartisan. IMHO, the last thing we need is to politicize the Cary council. Almost all of the mayors who signed (listed in the news article) have council’s that are partisan. And of course the Governor is partisan.

Keep in mind that there are always two sides to an issue. How would you feel if I used my political position to represent Trump’s position? While that would never happen I can assure you it would make people, including most council members angry. It would set precedence for the council addressing national partisan issues. And that would eventually destroy the council and for what? To make people feel better because I signed with other mayors. Is that action worth destroying the council? In my opinion no. Putting my name on a national partisan issue is not what is best for the town and the town’s best interest is my main focus. While privately I criticize the president daily for doing dumb things I make sure that I am focused on doing what is best for Cary.

I hope this helps you understand my position better.

 

Next week’s activities include the Cary High School and Green Hope High School Graduations, a meeting on stormwater, and several other meetings.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, June 18th.  Although I have Facebook and Twitter accounts those are not the best means of communications with me. Please send all Town of Cary questions or comments to Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org and email personal comments to augustanat@mindspring.com.

Category: Uncategorized  
• Friday, May 26th, 2017

This was my last week before the yearly family vacation.

Monday I traveled to Augusta, Georgia so Mayor Pro-Tem Yerha called council members to hear any concerns and questions about the Thursday regularly scheduled meeting agenda. There were no questions and the meeting was very short.

Tuesday I was back in Cary and the council held its first work session on the budget. The work session was spent on the Capital Budget and Improvement plan. Notes from the meeting included:

  • With our current tax base one cent on the tax rate equals roughly $2.5 million.
  • There is $240.5 million budgeted in our five year general capital programming.
  • Parks programmed through 2022 included:
    • Neighborhood park at Green Level Church Road and McCrimmon Parkway
    • Neighborhood park at Carpenter Fire Station Road and Highcroft Drive
    • Future phases of the downtown park
    • Mills park community center
    • Improvements at WakeMed Soccer Park
    • Improvements at Cary Tennis Park
    • Historic town facility preservation
    • Improving and expanding our greenways
  • Transportation programmed through 2022 included:
    • General street improvements
    • Intersection improvements
    • Carpenter Fire Station Road/CSX Rail Grade Separation
    • Carpenter Fire Station Road Widening from NC 55 to Cameron Pond
    • Green Level Church Road from McCrimmon Parkway to O’Kelly Chapel Road
    • Reedy Creek Road Widening from NE Maynard to North Harrison Avenue
  • There were also significant Transit improvements, sidewalk improvements, utility improvements and upgrades, facility improvements, downtown improvements, and affordable housing.

Our next budget work session will be on June 6th and will include:

  • Discussion on comments made at the budget public hearing
  • Follow-up on the capital budget
  • The operating budget presentation

Wednesday I had the pleasure of cutting the ribbon for the new Stellino’s Italiano restaurant at Parkside Commons which is located next to the movie theater. I was joined by Mayor Pro-Tem Yerha. We were treated to a dinner of tasting many of the dishes they serve. There was not one appetizer, entrée, or desert I didn’t love and I am a picky eater. Our dinner companions were the owners Chef Corbett Monica and his wife Julie and several key people involved in the restaurant. The food was amazing! This is an absolute must try if you like Italian food. I can’t wait to go back. I wish them much success in the years to come.

Thursday the council held its second regularly scheduled meeting of the month. There were three presentations, nine consent items, three public hearings, two discussion items, and a closed session. The meeting lasted about an hour and forty five minutes. The town was recognized twice at this meeting. First we were recognized with the silver designation for a walkable community. What a great honor especially as we continue to work on becoming a more walkable community. Hopefully, they will be back in the future awarding us with a gold designation. The second recognition was from the North Carolina Government Finance Officers Association Award of Excellence. It was the 32nd consecutive year Cary has had this recognition. What a great finance and budget staff we have. The third presentation of the night was the town recognizing 60 years of support from the Cary Lions Club. Over 50 years ago I played on a baseball field they built. We look forward to continuing our partnership with the Lions Club of Cary.

The budget public hearing that had the most speakers. Speakers from non-profits gave thanks for past and future support. There were also speakers requesting the town to budget money to buy open space. Under discussion items the council unanimously approved the bid award for the White Oak Greenway project.  Once this section of greenway is completed you should be able to go from north Raleigh, through Cary, to the American Tobacco trail, and to Durham. This is a big milestone for our greenway system.

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

Budget Process Continues

On Tuesday we had a productive first work session on the budget framework and the Capital Budget Improvement Plan. We’ll continue at the work session on June 6 focusing on the Operating Budget. And don’t forget, the Question Board remains open throughout the process, so if you have questions or are looking for additional information, please let us know.

Siemens USA Small Business Supplier Awards Ceremony

Mayor Pro-Tem Ed Yerha and Council Member Ken George attended a Siemens USA Small Business Supplier Awards ceremony on May 23. Siemens is Cary’s fourth largest employer. Mr. Yerha welcomed the attendees and presented Cary’s history through the lens of small business and entrepreneurship. NC Economic Development Partnership Vice President John Loyack also spoke to the group which came to Cary for this event from all over the United States. Executives from each of Siemens USA’s eleven divisions presented a small business supplier with an award related to their innovation, collaboration and service.  Also attending were Harry Swendsen, Regional Industry Manager at the Economic Development Partnership of NC and Lana Hygh.

April Development Reports

The Planning, Zoning and Development Report and Construction Activity Report for April 2017 are now available. The Interactive development ESRI map also illustrates active, in review and approved development projects. In addition, the current list of development projects in review and the approved development projects list as of May 2017 are also available.

Ongoing Sunshine Trainings

In an effort to celebrate Sunshine Week all year long, the Town Clerk’s Office is hosting quarterly trainings on Sunshine related topics for employees. The first quarter training, on Thursday, provided information about records management, public records and open meetings. Also, Technology Services provided an overview of searching text messages on phones and how to provide the messages if requested.

National Public Works Appreciation Week

The team at Public Works marked national Public Works Appreciation Week on Wednesday. The theme this year was “Public Works Connects Us,” and the day was complete with competitions including cornhole, basketball and an excavator pin game. Davis Reynolds, Cecil Sheppard, Ben Jones and Stephen Miles prepared a barbeque feast, and staff from other departments served the crews. Doug McRainey was on-hand to deliver thanks and appreciation to the significant part Public Works played in earning the Town the Gold Medal Award. And, as always, Scott Hecht’s love and admiration for his Ops Center family was on full display.

Sister Cities Event

On Monday, Council Members Smith and George attended the Sister Cities event, “Sounds from the Heartstrings of Motherland.” This event, hosted at the Cary Arts Center, celebrated the 2017 Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and Taiwanese Heritage Week.

Recognitions

A recognition to the good sports and great public servants in the Fire and Police Departments. At this year’s Public Safety Day competition, the Fire Department swept all three events of the competition against Police.

  • Chad Stephenson took the bench press event
  • AJ Leighton captured the dead lift competition
  • Kevin Moody conquered the push-up event

As for the Tug-of-War competition…some might say it was Fire Department domination. Thanks to everyone who participated!

 

Emails from citizens this week included:

  • Comments for and against the Trimble rezoning
  • Comments about sprucing up the Veterans Park before Memorial Day
  • An email campaign from several people wanting the council to budget money for open space purchase
  • Comments against a proposed rezoning at Evans and Cary Parkway

Next week I will be on our annual family vacation out of state.

Well, that is all for this week. Because of my vacation my next post will be on Sunday, June 11th.  Although I have Facebook and Twitter accounts those are not the best means of communications with me. Please send all Town of Cary questions or comments to Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org and email personal comments to augustanat@mindspring.com.

Category: Uncategorized  
• Sunday, May 21st, 2017

This week was a combination of big announcements, events, and meetings on the local, county, and regional level.

Monday I met with the town clerk to go over several issues. Two issues discussed were my visit to Le Touquet and ideas to begin planning for Cary’s 150th anniversary in 2021. It’s hard to believe but that big celebration is less than four years away.

Next I went to the Booth Amphitheater for the Cary Chamber’s Honor a Teach event. Each year, the event provides a $1,000 check to local teachers in the Western Wake area schools for their dedication, passion, and excellence in teaching our children. This program strives to help our school system in meeting the challenge of recognizing and retaining some of the best classroom teachers. This year 30 teachers were awarded. I had the honor of addressing the teachers at the beginning of the program.

My last meeting of the day was a meeting of the Wake County Mayors Association. I was joined by mayors from Raleigh, Apex, Holly Springs, Fuquay Varina, Morrisville, Wake Forest, and Zebulon. The meeting started with staff from Wake County presenting proposed changes to the ETJ (Extra Territorial Jurisdiction) that they are working on. Afterwards we went around the table and gave updates on our municipalities including our proposed budget. Based on what I heard it appears Cary will continue to have the lowest tax rate. However it did seem like most municipalities are planning on raising taxes within the next year or two based on bonds. The final part of the meeting was spent listening to the stories from Mayor McFarlane’s visit to see the Dalai Lama. What an amazing trip.

Tuesday I joined council member Jennifer Robinson for a taping of Cary Matters that will air starting June 1st. This episode will focus on downtown and talk about the process being used to hire the consultants for the final phase of our downtown park. We did two takes and were finished in about twenty minutes.

Wednesday started with a phone call from the attorney representing CBL on the Cary mall site. They informed me of IKEA’s intention to announcement a redevelopment proposal on Thursday morning. We talked about what would be acceptable to talk about. Later in the day I received talking points from the town’s public information office.

Later Wednesday I attended an executive board meeting of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization. On the agenda were four consent items and one public hearing. The public hearing for the Wake Transit Work Plan had two speakers: The Executive Director of WakeUp Wake County and the Executive Director of Regional Transportation Alliance (RTA). They both provided recommendations and feed back to the draft plan. The regular agenda included an item on the guiding principles of the States bonus allocation. The principles would send bonus dollars generated back to the municipality or area. In addition these bonus allocation dollars would be used for projects that don’t score well for other funding. In reports portion of the agenda the NCDOT for this area stated that they are working to get two of the last three phases of I540 funded in 2018 and the last phase funded in 2025. It was mentioned that the Secretary of Transportation is redoing programming which could allow more projects to be budgeted.

Thursday I received a picture of me on the Dowdy Ficklen Stadium scoreboard at ECU from a staff member. The metro mayors were meeting there and were showing all the mayors on the scoreboard. How cool is that?

Thursday I joined council members from Cary and Morrisville for a bi-partisan panel discussion on redistricting held by NC Representative Gale Adcock. Both the Democrats and Republicans have drawn districts to their advantage when in the majority power. This has created an undemocratic process. In this last election almost half of the legislature ran unopposed as a result. Panelist pointed out that majority and minority members are not interested in creating a fair process if it creates competition for them. It is time all elected officials stopped putting the political party in front of the citizens they were elected to serve. Hopefully, I will see this in my lifetime but I have serious doubts.

Friday I was notified by the Chamber of Commerce President that on Monday MetLife will announce that they were adding a third building. This is another significant capital investment by MetLife and will bring hundreds more high paying jobs to Cary. Cary continues to see a return on our investments as we work to create an environment for all companies to thrive and prosper.

Saturday I had the joy of attending the “Fest in the West” event and Brooks Park in Cary. While the weather was quite hot it was well attended. I was one of the judges for the pie eating contest and joined council members in awarding the trophy. It was a fun time and should be an even bigger event next year.

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

Update on Habitat Rezoning

Attorney Jason Barron is now engaged by those asking for the Trimble Avenue rezoning, and he has advised that they would like more time to work on their request before the item comes back to the Council for a vote, which I expect will occur this summer. We also understand that the church has extended the purchase option to Habitat through August 31.

Metropolitan Mayors Coalition

Lana Hygh represented the Town at the Metropolitan Mayors Coalition spring meeting in Greenville and Kinston and learned about exciting developments down east. The group met at the home of the ECU Pirates where the scoreboard was rotating pictures of all the mayors of member cities. The group toured downtown Greenville (lots of new building happening) and medical facilities, then went to Kinston to see some of the redevelopment and revitalization efforts going on in that community.

Town Hall Event About Opioid Issues

On Wednesday evening, ABC11 news conducted a town hall style forum on the opioid issue at the Cary Arts Center. The forum, titled “Addiction: Hidden in Plain Sight,” was well attended by Cary residents and others from as far away as Harnett and Lee counties. The forum was moderated by ABC11 anchor, Steve Daniels. Panelists included recovering heroin addicts, treatment specialists, parents who have/had addicted children, medical professionals, Police Chief Tony Godwin and NC Attorney General Josh Stein. Chief Godwin had the opportunity to highlight the Town’s effort to develop a community-wide approach to combat the issue. The Cary Police Department conducted a “Pill Take Back” during the forum and collected nearly seven pounds of unwanted, prescription medicine. After the very somber event, where several people spoke of the devastation wrought upon their families by the opioid crisis, a number of the forum attendees were observed enjoying the peacefulness of the downtown park and fountain.

Green Level West Road Widening Project Kicks Off

After initial preparation, contractors working for the Town have started earthwork construction for the Green Level West Road Widening Project. Almost 25,000 cubic yards of dirt will need to be moved or used to complete this project. The project is expected to be completed by Fall 2018 and will provide a four-lane, median divided street with sidewalks.

Annual Water Quality Report

We are pleased to share the 2016 Annual Water Quality Report, which is also known as the Consumer Confidence Report. It was issued electronically and covers all drinking water quality testing performed in 2016. The Town is committed to providing drinking water that meets all state and federal regulatory standards. After performing thousands of water quality analysis during 2016, we are proud to report that your water remains safe and of high quality. This is the fifth consecutive year that the Report has been distributed electronically. Distribution is required by law and doing so in a primarily electronic format allows the Town to communicate important information about our drinking water to our citizens in an efficient manner. The cover photo of the report, shown above, was taken from Jordan Lake, which provides the Town’s water supply. A special thanks to Rachel Monschein, Carrie Roman and Alexandra Jones for leading the development and creation of the Report.

Western Cary Meeting Feedback Report

Questions gathered before and after the Town’s community meeting for western Cary on May 2 have been compiled into a single document. That report, along with the video of the meeting, have been posted on our website for future reference.

Bangladeshi Civil Servants Come to Cary

Karl Knapp, Tony Godwin, Danna Widmar and Lana Hygh spoke to 50 Bangladeshi civil servants from the highest levels in their national government as part of a program at Duke University. The program focuses on public policy, service delivery and negotiation. As the Bangladeshi system is unitary rather than federal, they found the local government perspective very fascinating.

Classification & Pay Study Complete

The annual study is one of our most important elements of the Town’s compensation program. The main goals of the study are to: recognize position changes and maintain market competitiveness; maintain accurate job specifications and salaries to retain and attract the most qualified applicants; examine salary ranges for external competitiveness and internal equity; and review all of our positions within a four-year cycle. This year’s study, the third of our four-year cycle, included 465 positions from the Fire and Public Works (Operations and Facilities Management) Departments, as well as selected positions from Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources, Public Information, Town Manager’s Office and Development Services. Human Resources has completed this year’s study and changes will be effective July 1, 2017. We anticipates FY 2018 annual cost for implementation to be at $14,500 for the General Fund and no cost to the Utility Fund.

Council Meetings Next Week

At Tuesday’s work session, I will introduce the budget framework and overview as well as the Question Board. Then, my colleagues will present the Town’s Capital Budget and Improvement Plan.

At Thursday’s council meeting, among other items, Council will hear about the Triangle Area Water Supply Monitoring Project and an Interlocal Agreement with Wake County for building inspections.

Recognitions

The Town would like to recognize and thank Turner Asphalt for generously offering to pave the parking lot at Veterans Freedom Park. They placed 110 tons of asphalt and will stripe 13 parking stalls. The work was completed in advance of the Town’s Memorial Day Observance, scheduled for May 29. This kind gesture will be appreciated by all who visit the Park. Thanks also to Scott Hecht and Jim Hallowes for coordinating with Turner Asphalt.

 

Emails from Citizens this week included:

  • Comments for and against the Trimble rezoning.
  • Complements to a town employee for his service.
  • Concerns about a Goddard school proposal under staff review.
  • Compliments on downtown revitalization.
  • A concern that Wegmans is going to take too long.

Next week’s activities include a trip to Augusta, Georgia, a ribbon cutting, a regularly scheduled council meeting, and the beginning of my family vacation.

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

Category: Uncategorized  
• Sunday, May 14th, 2017

This week was a typical week for mayoral duties.

Monday I attempted to contact council members to hear of any questions or concerns about the regular council meeting agenda for Thursday. I was able to contact all council members and there were no questions since the agenda was very short and had no public hearings. Later in the day I met with key staff members to go over the agenda. The meeting lasted about 5 minutes. Afterwards I met with the Assistant Town Manager and the attorney to discuss matters related to an upcoming rezoning proposal.

Tuesday I met with a group of family members about the Cary Community Plan and how it impacts their potential to develop their property. In the past the Land Use Plan and the Zoning had to match before development could begin. Now the plan, The Cary Community Plan, is more of a guideline and a rezoning request can be made without changing the plan. Basically it is one less step and allows the town to be more flexible. The only drawback is if you make too many exceptions to the plan. Council should only make exceptions to the plan if there is a compelling reason.

Later Tuesday I met with two business leaders who wanted to discuss the future of the 13 acre site that houses the Mayton Inn and the downtown park. Their concerns and questions will continue to be addressed with the town manager and staff.

Wednesday I had the pleasure of joining five other council members at Cary’s School of Government graduation ceremony at the Cary Arts Center. The evening started with a slide presentation of downtown from our downtown manager Ted Boyd. He talked about new additions to our downtown and what we can expect in the next couple of years. Next the council members fielded questions from the graduates which covered a wide variety of topics. Then the graduates were called up one at a time to receive their diplomas. Afterwards a reception was held in the Principals room. The entire event lasted about two and a half hours.

Thursday I attended a fundraiser for former Cary Mayor Pro-Tem Gale Adcock who represents Cary and others in the NC House. What a remarkable person. She is one of the few that understands that more can be accomplished by putting the citizens first and making political party interests secondary. We need more like her on the state and national levels. Thanks to Gale for all she does for Cary and North Carolina.

Thursday evening the town held its first regularly scheduled meeting of the month. The meeting began with the town manager formally presenting his budget to the council. The rest of the meeting included two items on the consent agenda including minutes, no public hearings, five discussion items, and a closed session. The discussion items were mostly bid awards and memorandums of understanding. All we passed unanimously with staff recommendations. The council adjourned the meeting after an hour and a half.

Friday I participated in a legislative update meeting of the North Carolina Metro Mayors. Most of the time was spent talking about the NC Senate budget that was sent to the NC House. One item of good news from the budget was that sales tax redistribution was not included. One other item talked about in the meeting was the legislation to increase the age for juveniles committing felonies.  A summary was also given on the rural day and tourism day at the legislature. The meeting lasted less than half an hour.

Saturday I had the joy of attending the 13th annual Ritmo Latino festival in Cary. Ritmo Latino is a festival showcasing Latino music, dance, and visual arts. I was joined by council members Smith, Robinson, and George. Before taking the stage and reading the proclamation recognizing Ritmo Latino I took photographs with the council members and with The Consulate General of Mexico. I also took pictures with the boy scouts who were leading the pledge of allegiance. Once on stage I read the proclamation in English and council member George translated. After several other speakers the music and dancing resumed.

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

Healthy Rewards Results

As health care costs continue to be a challenge, Town employees continue to make their health a priority. We are continuing to focus our collective efforts on keeping health care costs down and working toward being the healthiest we can be. Human Resources, in partnership with Wake Med, just wrapped up our annual onsite health screening initiative, Of our current 1,226 employees, we had 1,184 participate. That’s an amazing 97% participation rate! Comparatively, employers typically see participation rates between 60-70%. Town employees have embraced the screening initiative and various wellness opportunities available to them.

National Bike to School Day

Town staff and Council member George joined Northwoods Elementary School in celebrating National Bike to School Day on Wednesday morning. Over 40 students and their parents lined up outside of Godbold Park to travel approximately one-mile along Northwoods Greenway to the school. Northwoods Elementary has participated in Bike to School Day each year since it began in 2012.

Cary Recognized as Certified Community Wildlife Habitat

On Monday, the Town was recognized by the National Wildlife Federation as a Certified Community Wildlife Habitat. We join 100 other communities in the nation that have received this honor. In Cary, this means that over 400 homes, schools, churches, businesses, and public spaces have committed to actions in their outdoor spaces for wildlife. Council members Bush and Yerha were in attendance for the event on Monday and unveiled a sign that will be placed in a strategic location on a Cary roadside the recognizes this accomplishment.

FY18 Recommended Budget

Along with presenting the FY18 budget to Council Thursday evening, staff gathered to learn more about the budget being recommended this year. As I’ve done before, for my colleagues who are unable to attend in-person, I’m pleased that we were able to stream the presentation to our staff working in our facilities all over Town. The presentation touched on the concept of “living in two worlds” and the need to shift from an annual budget “event” to quarterly updates using rolling forecasts for increased responsiveness and agility.

In addition, I wanted to share the letter I wrote to Mayor Weinbrecht and Members of Council as it relates to the budget. And, as promised, the article that I referenced about the orchestra Orpheus. I’d love to hear your thoughts on either of the documents.

Foundations for Global Success: Zoom-in on India

On Friday, two people from the NCSU Global Training Initiative were on-site to conduct a training with Department Director’s focusing on the Indian population and specific cultural differences between the US culture and the Indian culture. We talked about the strategies for working effectively with the Indian population in the areas of communication, trust, authority figures, decision-making, motivation and the concept of time. The idea of gaining a better understanding of Indian culture was discussed at the Council/staff retreat. Thanks to Renee and Karen Spurlin for organizing this training!

Leading Organizational Innovation

A cross organizational group of staff attended a one-day Leading Organizational Innovation workshop made possible through an IBM Impact Grant. The workshop provided tools to create a culture of innovation, how to foster creative leaders, as well as a process for implementing innovative initiatives.

Police Officers Pilot New Approach Downtown

As downtown continues to develop and more businesses open, the Police department is looking for ways to engage citizens as they visit downtown. With the new Downtown Park also open, it is even more important in these early stages for citizens to feel safe and know that downtown is a safe venue in the evenings. As part of a pilot project, one or two officers will be on a downtown foot/bike patrol on Friday and Saturday evenings/nights. It’s important to recognize that this pilot is not driven by enforcement needs, rather as another way for police officers to be ambassadors for the Town’s downtown efforts. This pilot will run approximately four consecutive weekends and will be reevaluated at the end of that timeframe. While we do not see a downtown foot patrol being needed full-time at this point, we believe experimenting during this early stage will allow us to set the friendly tone moving forward.

Recognitions

Cary’s Utilities staff presented at this year’s Laboratory Technology Day held each year at NC State. This is an opportunity for utility staff across the state to observe presentations on various topics related to laboratory issues. We would like to recognize the work of Rachel Monschein and Erin Lee for their presentation on Optimizing Powder Activated Carbon for Taste and Odor treatment. Rachel and Erin’s work has been instrumental in refining the Town’s drinking water strategy to ensure high quality and consistent drinking water throughout the year, regardless of seasonal variations in source water.

We’d also like to recognize Kelly Spainhour and Damon Forney for their presentation, at the same conference, on a joint collaboration with Winston-Salem/Forsyth County and the State Laboratory Certification Branch to achieve regulatory standards for thermally dried biosolids. Both Cary and Winston-Salem operate thermal biosolids drying facilities.

And a shout-out to Police and PRCR for teaming up with Duck Donuts for a “Cops on Top” fundraiser for Special Olympics NC. Chief Godwin and Sgt. Burgin camped out on the roof of the donut show while families enjoyed face painting, basketball and other activities. The event aimed to increase public awareness and unify athletes with and without intellectual disabilities. The Town’s Inclusion Program Assistant was on-site to promote the Town’s specialized recreation programs. In total, the event raised $2,700 for Special Olympics NC.

 

Emails from citizens this week included:

  • Concerns about construction fencing around the downtown park.
  • A request for a crosswalk.
  • A request for a 100% clean energy program.
  • Several emails supporting and opposing a rezoning on Trimble.
  • A question about the future of TAC.
  • A question about intersection improvements.
  • A question about the homeless in Cary.
  • A complaint that we should be spending more money for potholes (BTW, Cary will fix any pothole inside the town limits upon request).

Next week’s activities include a Teacher Appreciation event, a Mayors Association meeting, a Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization meeting, a town hall meeting with Representative Adcock, and the Fest in the West event.

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

Category: Uncategorized  
• Sunday, May 07th, 2017

It has been a couple of weeks since I last posted. The reason I didn’t post last week is because my wife and I were in France to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. We also spent time visiting Cary’s sister city Le Touquet.

We traveled to Paris on April 23rd and spent a few days there doing the normal touristy stuff and stayed in a small French style hotel within walking distance to the Eiffel tower. One thing I noted was that there were thousands of buildings hundreds of years old. Any one of those buildings in Cary would be iconic. If you are one to enjoy old beautiful historic architecture Paris is a must see.

At the end of our stay in Paris we visited the National Assembly and were guests of Daniel Fasquelle who in addition to being a Member of Parliament (MP) has a duel role of also being mayor of Le Touquet. We were honored to have a private tour of many of the Parliament buildings and rooms and were privileged to have lunch in the private MP (Member of Parliament) dining room with Daniel Fasquelle. After our visit we caught a train to Le Touquet which is on the northeast coast of France. One interesting note about the train was that the French spent a significant amount of money creating grade separated tracks which allowed the trains to go much faster than cars. As a result it is much faster to take the train than to drive. These trains were full even on a weekday and allowed people to commute from distances that would normally be prohibitive by car. I wonder if we will ever have anything like that in our country. Can you imagine catching a train to the coast of North Carolina and back?

In Le Touquet we were blessed to have many sister city citizens take care of us and treat us like royalty. We learned all about their city and its history.  Interestingly their city is a little over 100 years old which is considered new in France. In World War II it was considered the ideal location for the invasion from the allies because of the long flat beaches. Therefore much of the city and beaches were mined during that time. Luckily the city remained pretty much intact after the war. Le Touquet was actually liberated by the Canadians.

Towards the end of our stay in Le Touquet Mayor Fasquelle held a ceremony to honor our visit and the first visit from a Cary mayor. After getting a tour of the beautiful 100+ year old town hall we gave speeches, exchanged gifts, and signed a guest book. We had a wonderful stay and while I was eager to come home I will miss Le Touquet and all the friends I made there. I do plan to return in the future.

Upon returning to Cary early in the week it was right back to work. Most of my town duties started mid-week which allowed some time for me to catch up with my duties at my SAS job.

Thursday the council held a quasi-judicial hearing to hear a request to reduce an opaque buffer from 65 feet to 50 feet. The applicant submitted plans to berm the buffer in addition to creating opaqueness. There was also a power line easement which put more space between the required buffer nearby residents. After much discussion the council agreed on the buffer reduction with a unanimous vote.

After the quasi-judicial hearing the council held a work session on two items. First the council heard from the town manager on the current and future budget process. Then the council discussed consultants for the second phase of the downtown park.

Some of the notable points I took away from the town manager’s budget process discussion included:

  • Currently proposals are made to staff, recommendations are made to council, and council approves a budget which takes effect on July 1st. If something changes in priority during the year the council would have to make a midyear appropriation to fund that new priority. This is rarely done.
  • The town manager proposed process the council and staff would hold mini budget retreats every quarter. This would allow the process to go much faster and priorities to change much quicker. I believe it would allow the town to be more flexible and get things done faster.
  • This year the staff will keep the existing budget process since we are too close to adoption.
  • Staff anticipates the change to the new process would take a couple of years.

In the second part of the work session the council heard from several staff members who investigated consultants from all across the nation to design the second phase of our downtown park. Here are some of the takeaways from that discussion and presentation:

  • With the approval of the 2012 community bonds a master plan for the downtown park was completed.
  • The downtown plan called for a 7 acre signature park
  • Phase 1 of the park was designated for a town square, a central fountain, outdoor performance space, open lawn, and side garden areas.
  • Adjacent to the southern edge of the future park will be the future Cary Regional Library and parking deck.
  • In 2016 council approved the concept for the library and parking deck which will include an art wall that will face the next phase of the park.
  • The library and parking deck are about 65% complete in design.
  • Council recently held a work session to approve a process to move ahead with an update to the downtown park master plan.
  • Staff met over 6 weeks to discuss ideas and research nationally-recognized parks. They presented their findings to council at a work session.
  • The team concluded that when the downtown park is completed it has the potential to be a defining civic space for Cary.
  • To achieve this goal, the planning process must thoughtfully consider the relationship between the park elements and the surrounding development (existing and future).
  • A nationally-recognized firm will be selected to oversee the planning of the update to the Downtown Park Master Plan.
  • Council approved staff recommendations of several design firms who have created award-winning parks and public spaces in cities across the United States.
  • Shared design goals include:
  • The importance of engaging the community and incorporating unique features from the community into the park design.
  • Emphasis on the development of large and small spaces creating the right balance for each unique park setting.
  • Experience working with a variety of funding models to include public/private partnership and/or community foundations to support design and construction of the park.
  • An understanding of the relationship of the park’s immediate proximity to its surroundings be it a museum, a performing arts center, restaurants, shops, commercial and residential development so the entire area thrives along with the park.
  • Council approved engaging 3 firms in a competitive process in order to select one firm to update the Downtown Park Master Plan.
  • The competitive process would include a stipend for each firm to bring their team for an initial trip to learn about Cary, to work with staff and the opportunity to meet council members.
  • Each firm would schedule a return trip to present to staff their ideas and proposed approach.
  • At the conclusion of the process, staff would make a recommendation to council on which firm to select.
  • Funding will be requested in the FY2018 budget

Our work session concluded about a couple of hours.

Saturday I joined council member Bush, Wake County Chairman Hutchinson, Morrisville Mayor Stohlman, and Apex Mayor Olive with dozens of others in a cricket match in downtown Raleigh. The event was held to raise money for breast cancer. It is great to have such good relationships with our neighbors and to join together in a cultural sporting event for a good cause. Now that I have a grasp of some of the rules I hope to play cricket again.

Sunday I joined dozens in the Kiran Walk for Hope. The Kiran organization helps victims of domestic violence and has been in existence for about 17 years. We all joined in on a walk of about two miles and enjoyed each other’s company. Bless the Kiran organization for helping those in need.

Emails from the metro mayor’s office this week included notification of the legislature’s proposed new sales tax redistribution. In this proposal Cary would lose over $500,000. Please contact your legislature and tell them that robbing Cary to help others is not the solution. We should all be working together not against the metro areas.

Emails from staff this week included a reminder that the time for citizens to apply to the town’s boards and commissions is now. So if you are interested in becoming more involved in your town please apply.

Emails from staff this week also included development reports from March. Here are some of the notable items from those reports:

  • Year to date square footage approved for office is 43,024 and for commercial is 148,248.
  • Year to date types of approved housing include no multi-family, 229 single family, and 201 townhomes.
  • 94 single family permits were issued in March.
  • The average single family dwelling in March was 3891 square feet compared to 4052 square feet in March of 2013.
  • Cary had 9.7% of the single family permits in Wake County. This was 5th behind Raleigh, Fuquay Varina, Apex, and Wake Forest.

To see all plans in review go to http://www.townofcary.org/home/showdocument?id=1484.

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

Western Cary Community Meeting Well Attended

On Tuesday, approximately 300 citizens gathered at Crosspointe Church to engage with Town Council and staff to learn more about projects in western Cary. In addition to the presentation, staff was available to speak with citizens before the program at different information tables on topics such as mobility, public safety and sustainability.

This community meeting marks the first time the Town has live-streamed a meeting/event outside of our Town network as well as our first remote TV cablecast of a Town Council community meeting. Over 200 people watched the meeting in real-time or its recording.

Jordan Lake Aeration System: Testing Operations

The aeration system was tested over the weekend and we are pleased to report that everything ran smoothly and as expected. The contractor will complete work next week and conduct staff training on May 19. The U.S. Geological Survey has returned to collect samples throughout this region of the lake as part of our ongoing agreement with them to study the impacts of the units.

Middle Creek High School Parking Pilot

As the result of citizen feedback, the Town is developing a new approach to the parking situation for students of Middle Creek High School and the resulting traffic situation for the area. After brainstorming approaches with Police, our Parks, Recreation & Cultural Resources Department is selling parking passes to MCHS students – 26 as of last week. We will monitor the area and document the effectiveness of this pilot as we work collectively with school officials and HOA officers after the school year.

March & April Development Reports

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

Utility Monthly Reports

The monthly operating report for the Utilities Department indicates that all utility systems are running well and are continuing to recover from the April 24-25 rain event. Jamie and his staff are working to treat all of the wastewater that was stored in our equalization tanks following the rain event. It’s great to report that we didn’t experience any reported sewer overflows.

School of Government Classes Wrapping Up

The 14th class of citizens participating in our School of Government program is wrapping up. On Wednesday, they visited with Public Works and experienced the different components of our operations from snow removal to solid waste collection to sewer inspections. The final class will be next Wednesday when participants will get an update on current downtown events and celebrate with graduation.

Recognitions

The number of staff and the amount of time dedicated to making Tuesday’s community meeting a success is remarkable. I’d like to recognize the efforts of the following individuals.

  • TEAM PRESENTATION: Stacey Teachey, Jerry Jensen, Paul Kuhn, Paul Middleton, Bill Moore, Danna Widmar, Scot Berry, Joe Godfrey, Brian Stark, Kyle Hubert, Doug McRainey, Susan Moran and Russ Overton.
  • TEAM INFORMATION TABLES: Ana Orlowsky, Juliet Andes, Adam Howell, Meredith Gruber, Brian Stark, Glen Baity, Mike Cooper, Loren Cone, LeeAnn Plummer, Carla Witherington, Sarah Schubert, Emily Barrett, Srijana Guilford, Jerry McCormick and Jeph Allen.
  • TEAM LOGISTICS: Dale Naleway, Brittany Strickland, Julie Mitchell, Jay Schubert and Clay Honeycutt.

Spring seems to be picnic season! This week I enjoyed attending Finance and T&F staff picnics. It was a wonderful way to visit our amazing facilities and interact with the people who do the work of keeping Cary great.

 

Emails from citizens this week included:

  • A complaint about development in Carpenter Village.
  • Emails in for and against the rezoning proposal on Trimble Drive.
  • Recommendations for the upcoming budget.
  • A request to sign a petition to support a legislative matter.
  • A complaint about utility installation.
  • Questions about installing an electronic outdoor sign (not allowed with our sign ordinance).

Next week will be busy with several private meetings, the School of Government graduation, a council meeting, and the Ritmo Latino festival.

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

Category: Uncategorized