• Sunday, May 01st, 2016

Harold2015This week was another long week with three long nights and a Saturday work session.

Monday I called around to all council members to hear their concerns and questions about Thursday’s regularly scheduled council meeting. I was only able to contact Yerha, Frantz, and Smith. There were no major concerns expressed about the items on the agenda. Later Monday I met with management, administration, finance, legal, planning, and engineering to go over the agenda. I predicted that our council meeting would last about 3 hours.

After the agenda meeting I met with the Deputy Town Manager and the two assistant town managers to go over current issues in town. We discussed the Jordan project coming up at a work session, downtown construction, issues with construction around the Mayton Inn, and a few other items.

Monday night my wife and I joined Mayor Pro-Tem Yerha for a VIP dinner at the Pre-Opening night of Hickory Tavern in Parkside Commons. They are ranked one of the top sports bars and I thought the experience was great. The food was fantastic and the management and wait staff outstanding. I am looking forward to my next visit.

Tuesday I met with the Cary Chamber’s Leadership class to talk about my duties as mayor. After explaining my role I answered a few questions mostly about western Cary not feeling connected to the rest of Cary. 

Tuesday night the council held a work session on Imagine Cary and a downtown proposal. The council approved staff recommendations for the Imagine Cary Chapters on Shop, Engage, and Serve. The only significant change to the documents was that art should be integrated in town infrastructure and buildings rather than just incorporated.

The council also approved a staff recommendation to partner with Northwoods Associates on a $46 million dollar private investment. The proposal has 55,000 to 75,000 square feet of office and retail, 188 multi-family units, a parking deck of 466 spaces (222 public spaces), and the movement and restoration of the Ivey Ellington House. The First Baptist Church is also a  partner in this development proposal. The town’s investment would be $4.1 million which the council voted to use out of the $33 million available in fund balance. The council also agreed to move the Ivey-Ellington House to allow an entrance to the development off Chatham Street. This was after a passionate plea by Mayor Pro-Tem Yerha to keep the house at its current location. The council asked that staff work with the State Historic Preservation to determine the best location for the Ivey Ellington House. Council also agreed that the parking deck should be screened from view especially from Academy Street. The work session concluded after about two and a half hours.

Wednesday I attended the Cary Chamber of Commerce Elected Officials reception at MacGregor Downs Country Club. There were about 100 people in attendance. I gave welcoming remarks and introduced the council who were all in attendance. Almost half of the attendees were elected officials or running for elected office. There were representatives from the US Senate, US Congress, State offices, NC Senate, NC House, Wake County Commissioners, Wake County School Board, and judges. Council members left the event after about an hour and a half for a closed session meeting.

The council then went to the Mayton Inn to a conference room to go into closed session to discuss the town manager’s position. We met for about three hours and are still on schedule to make an appointment.

Thursday the council held their last regularly scheduled meeting of the month. There were five public hearings, four discussion items, and a closed session. The public hearing that had the most comments was the Hanna public hearing which proposed to build a house looking structure to hold a medical office, allow some retail sales, and be the resident for Dr. Hanna. Nearby neighbors voiced concerns about potential multi-family housing and traffic. The four discussion items were noncontroversial and were approved unanimously. Once returning from closed session the council adjourned. The meeting lasted three hours.

Friday I participated in the NC Metro Mayors Coalition meeting. The purpose of the meeting was to give a legislative update of the first week in session. Discussed topics included visiting the legislators, economic development, the light rail cap, House Bill 2, the governor’s budget, and a few other bills. The meeting lasted a little over half an hour.

Saturday the council, staff, and consultants met for three hours to finishing reviewing the Imagine Cary draft that will be presented to the public. First the council reviewed the LIVE chapter which is about fostering strong and sustainable neighborhoods. Next the council reviewed the MOVE chapter which is about an efficient transportation system. This was followed by the SHAPE chapter which was about managing future land use including redevelopment and infill. Finally the council reviewed the ACT chapter which is about moving the vision to reality. Council will review examples of how the plan works in the July timeframe. The public will have two separate weeks in the July-August time frame to review and provide their suggestions. The plan is expected to be completed by year’s end.

Emails from staff this week included a public service announcement about construction at the intersection of Academy Street and Chatham Street. Beginning May 16th crews will close the intersection nightly Monday through Friday at 7 p.m. and all day Saturday. They will re-open the intersection to traffic at 7 a.m. Monday through Friday and Sundays. Concurrently, crews will be working to re-open the Kildaire Farm Road and Walnut Street intersection in all directions from Kildaire Farm Road to Facility Avenue. With that intersection re-opening, Academy Street traffic flow will change to one-way northbound between Dry Avenue and Chatham Street. Work is expected to be completed this fall.

Another email from staff included the first quarter report from 2016. Here are some notable items from the report:

  • Cary’s population as of April 1st is 156,531 which is a 2.44% increase in the last 12 months.
  • Cary’s incorporated limits include 58.84 square miles.
  • 14% of Wake County’s new single family homes were in Cary during this period.
  • AT&T, Google, and Time Warner are installing fiber in Cary. The town is not involved but helping citizens resolve concerns and complaints.
  • The town purchased its first automated leaf collection truck which uses one person instead of three.
  • First quarter water demand averaged 15.9 million gallons. This is a 0.6 million gallons more than last year at this time.
  • There was a 72% increase in violent crime over the last year. Those were mostly robberies and aggravated assaults (robbery from 5 to 12 and assaults from 10 to 15). Property crimes and other crimes were down for the last 12 months.
  • Fire/rescue calls increased 34.48% during the last year.
  • Participation in environmental events increased 9% in the first quarter of this year.
  • The town’s SPRUCE program and Adopt-A-Spot had 141 events that collected 5,592 pounds of litter and 42 trees.
  • The town refinanced GO Bonds that will save Cary taxpayers $980,000.

To view the entire report, go to http://townofcary.uberflip.com/i/673033-2016-1st-quarter-report.

Emails from citizens this week included:

  • Comments about Chesterfield Drive and Chapel Hill Road.
  • More Carpenter Village emails against a developer proposed rezoning.
  • A complaint about the way I listed Carpenter Village emails in last week’s blog.
  • A complaint about getting tickets for the amphitheater.
  • Comments about a proposed Publix in Amberly.
  • Comments about a newly proposed downtown development.
  • Comments against a proposed rezoning on Kildaire Farm Road.

Next week will continue to be busy for me. Activities include a budget preview meeting, a meeting on the town manager search, and a talk at the Heart of Cary Association meeting.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, May 8th.  Although I have Facebook and Twitter accounts those are not the best means of communications with me. Please send all Town of Cary questions or comments to Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org and email personal comments to augustanat@mindspring.com.

• Sunday, April 24th, 2016

Harold2015This week included several meetings and events.

Monday started with meeting the two Assistant Town Managers to go over current items. Most items were follow ups from previous conversations.

Later Monday I joined all the mayors in Wake County at our monthly Wake County Mayors Association meeting. The meeting started with a presentation from WakeMed, Duke Health, and UNC Rex Representatives. The purpose of their presentation was to get the Mayors Association and municipalities to consider adopting a resolution in support of healthcare. The resoltuion stated that encouraging the Wake County delegation to act on behalf of businesses leaders, and in turn support healthy communities, will allow providers like them to continue to deliver high-quality, accessible health care. Our meeting concluded after about two and a half hours.

Tuesday the council met for two quasi-judicial public hearings. The first hearing was to consider an exception for two required access points for the subdivision located in Chatham County. I along with majority of the council agreed to this exception because a subdivision to the south, that has already invested $7 million, will be required to make the connection to this subdivision to complete their project. So it appeared the exception will be temporary. The second hearing was whether or not to allow a storage facility on highway 55 in the Carpenter Historic District. Although this was approved by the majority of council, I voted against it because I felt there were much better uses than having another storage facility along highway 55. It’s unfortunate, that the Highway 55 part of Cary is becoming so industrialized. In my mind we need to have better vision in this area.

Tuesday morning I did an interview with PBS News Hour on the topic of HB2. This was the full blown interview with two cameras and a producer. They even powdered my nose. After the setup we talked about HB2, the impact on Cary, and what we are doing to mitigate the impact. We also talked about the demographics and economy of Cary. The interview is scheduled to air next week.

Wednesday afternoon I attended a meeting of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s executive board. CAMPO is a federally mandated planning organization responsible for the continuous and comprehensive transportation planning process in Wake County and parts of Franklin, Granville, Harnett and Johnston Counties. CAMPO is responsible for carrying out an annual work program that includes updating the Metropolitan Transportation Improvement Program (a seven-year project programming schedule) and the Long-Range Transportation Plan (a minimum twenty-year forecast of projects and programs). At this meeting there were two items of interest to Cary. First, the board approved a required letter which would allow Cary to request a TIGER grant for the Walker Street tunnel project under the railroad tracks. TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) is a supplementary discretionary grant program included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Beginning with the Recovery Act and continuing through the Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 appropriations processes, Congress has provided DOT with eight rounds of competitive grants totaling nearly $5.1 billion for capital investments in surface transportation infrastructure. Since 2009, the TIGER program has awarded 381 projects in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, including 134 projects to support rural and tribal communities. Applications for the eight round of TIGER grants are due on April 29, 2016. The town believes that the Walker Street project scores well for this grant. The meeting also included a public hearing on rail crossings from Raleigh near Meredith College to Maynard Street in Cary. This plan for the crossing changes are unfunded and will likely remain that way for years. But this plan is important because it will dictate how future development around those areas is allowed to proceed. The board approved the staff’s recommendation after hearing concerns from several attendees.

After the CAMPO meeting I met with two artists who are planning integrated art for the downtown parking deck which will be next to the downtown park and new library. They had a lot of great ideas and are meeting with council members to hear about their vision and their concerns. I am looking forward to what concepts they bring back.

Wednesday evening I attended a political meeting of one of Cary’s legislators. It is important to keep in touch with our delegation and establish a relationship so that they better understand the town’s needs.

My last event Wednesday was a private dinner.

Saturday I attended the Children’s Day Festival celebration at Sertoma Amphitheater. This was put on by the American Turkish Association of North Carolina and Sister Cities. I gave remarks and read a proclamation before visiting the booths at the event. The event was so crowded that parking was a problem but it was a great event none the less. The event coordinators are looking at different locations for next year.

Saturday afternoon I attended the ACC Tennis Championships semi-final matches at the Cary Tennis Park. The most exciting match was #1 nationally ranked Virginia against #3 nationally ranked North Carolina. Virginia rallied from a 3-0 deficit to win 4-3. The matches were announced by Patrick McEnroe on ESPN3.

Saturday night I had the joy of attending a dinner with ACC officials, Patrick McEnroe, and other USTA board officials. McEnroe told stories of the times when he was playing and coaching in the Davis Cup. Now he spends his time announcing for ESPN and working with the USTA. It was great to have him in Cary and he was very gracious with the dozens of fans who asked for pictures and autographs.

I received lots of emails this week about my personal comments on HB2. Almost all shared by beliefs and one adamantly opposed my comments with multiple emails arguing in favor of the legislative majority. The reason for the multiple emails was to help me “understand concerns other than your own.” Yep, I think I got that the day the legislative majority passed HB2. Thanks though.

Other emails from citizens included:

  • An organized email barrage against the Carpenter Village rezoning proposal. (BTW, filling up council member’s mailboxes with comments that say the same thing really doesn’t help a cause.) Hopefully, those folks will work with the developer for a win-win solution.
  • A complaint about the lack of homes with solar options.
  • A complaint about crime in Carolina Preserve.
  • A complaint about the intersection at Chapel Hill Road and Chesterfield Drive.
  • A complaint that the area around Cary Town Mall is not bike friendly.
  • A question about placing banners at a church.
  • Invitations to several events.

Next week will continue to be busy for me. Activities include two chamber events, a long work session on the Imagine Cary planning, a regularly scheduled council meeting, and other meetings.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, May 1st.  Although I have Facebook and Twitter accounts those are not the best means of communications with me. Please send all Town of Cary questions or comments to Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org and email personal comments to augustanat@mindspring.com.

• Sunday, April 17th, 2016

Harold2015Monday was my first day back after spending most of last week in Augusta, Georgia working at the Masters. Other than getting wind blasted for 12 hours a day, it was a fantastic tournament and I was blessed to have the opportunity to volunteer for my 38th year.

Monday afternoon I attempted to contact council members to hear their questions or concerns about the agenda for Thursday’s regularly scheduled council meeting. There were very few questions and most of them were about the Land Development Ordinance amendments being proposed by staff. Later Monday I met with management, administration, public information, legal, and finance to go over the agenda. After our meeting I predicted the council meeting would take about an hour.

After the agenda meeting I met with the Interim Town Manager and Assistant Town Managers to go over items. They pointed out that a parking lot that will be built on Cedar Street near the new Bond Brothers Brewery is anticipated to be much less than expected. Savings could exceed $100,000. We also talked about several other issues including the Academy Street construction which remains a major concern to many people. Staff assured me that we are “leaning” on the construction firm as much as possible.

Following the meetings with the town manager’s office I participated in a meeting about a potential diving facility in Cary. This has been in the news recently. At this meeting we were given a presentation and discussion followed about next steps. The diving facility is a long way off from becoming a reality but I am hopeful.

Tuesday morning I received information about Deutsche Bank’s decision to delay their expansion efforts in Cary due to HB2 commonly referred to as the bathroom law. After a couple of hours passed I was contacted by several members of the media including ABC, CBS, the Cary News, and PBS. I talked with all of them except PBS who wanted talk to next week.

Tuesday all of the council members except Robinson were present at we presented our agenda to the Cary delegation of the NC legislature. In attendance from the Cary delegation were Senator Barringer, Representatives Adcock, Avila, and Hall. Downtown manager Ted Boyd presented the legislators a summary of changes in the downtown. I followed him by going over our legislative agenda. First I talked about our advocacy principles and followed that with requests for this upcoming short session which included:

  • Seek a local bill to amend the town’s charter to:
    • Allow the town to sell property subject to covenants or restrictions
    • Allow the town council to delegate authority to the town manager to execute utility easements or agreements on town-owned property
    • Clarify the town’s authority to condition site plan approval
  • Seek a local bill to authorize the town to donate service animals to their handlers
  • Support legislation to protect Jordan Lake as a drinking water supply
  • Support legislation to amend the Iran Divestment Act of 2015 to eliminate the requirement for local governments to require contractors to document their exclusion from the Iran Divestment List.

To read the principles presented to the delegates see http://www.townofcary.org/Departments/townmanagersoffice/Legislative_Program/2016_NC_Legislative_Agenda.htm?PageMode=Print. Our meeting concluded after about two hours.

Following the meeting I did an interview with ABC11 on the Duetsche Bank announcement and HB2. My comments were similar to what I had said earlier in the day.

Wednesday I had a phone interview with Bloomberg News. Their initial interest was HB2 but then we discussed the legislative majority and how their actions have harmed metropolitan areas. We talked for about half an hour.

Wednesday night I joined council members Bush, Smith, and George at the graduation ceremony for the town’s School of Government class. The School of Government is basically a “citizen’s college” designed to increase understanding of how and when the public is involved in Town processes and decisions. A major goal of the class is to spur greater community involvement. The course has been offered annually since 2003. This last class session focused on the Imagine Cary planning process. After the session I, along with the council members, handed out graduation certificates. Then we adjourned and talked with class graduates. All comments were positive and one graduate told me that all Cary residents should take this class. I agree.

Thursday was a busy day for me. First the council held a work session on Imagine Cary. We spent most of the time discussing downtown subareas: East Chatham Gateway, North Academy, Central Chatham, South Academy, West Chatham Gateway, and Supporting Neighborhoods. In general the council agreed with recommendations. We also spent ten minutes reviewing the Eastern Gateway. We confirmed that we wanted this to move forward ahead of the Imagine Cary process since there is so much interest in this area.

After the work session I met with culinary exchange students from our sister city Le Touquet, France. I introduced myself and tried to pronounce their names. Then we posed for pictures together.

Thursday night the council held their first regularly scheduled council meeting of the month.  There were three public hearings and four discussion items. The public hearing for the Carpenter Village PDD rezoning had several speakers mostly opposed to the proposal. The discussion items did not generate much discussion from council and were all passed unanimously. Our meeting concluded after about one and a half hours.

Friday I issued a statement on behalf of the entire Cary Town Council on HB2 which was as follows:

“The Town of Cary is a warm, friendly, and thriving community with a flourishing economy and a strong job market. As the 7th largest municipality in the state, we embrace the gifts, talents, and experiences that each of us has to offer. It is through mutual respect and understanding that we can reach our full potential.

“While we and our staff work to understand the legal and practical effects of HB2, we want to take this opportunity to assure our citizens and others that Cary is a welcoming community that is dedicated to the principles of non-discrimination and equal protection for all.

“The Town of Cary continues to be a great place to live, work, play, raise a family and do business.”

The Cary Town Council usually stays out of state and federal political matters and does not pass resolutions on such things. We would prefer to focus on local issues. However, since this matter directly impacted our citizens we made the statement. While the council was not unanimous on whether to voice opposition or support HB2 we were unanimous in supporting our statement which embraces diversity. The statement was agreed on by all council members. They were each contacted and read the statement before it was released.

Here are my personal thoughts on HB2:

“Based on comments I have read, most people don’t seem to understand the definition of a transgender person. Basically, a person who is transgender identifies themselves as the opposite sex from the sex they were born. They usually appear as the opposite sex and may still have genitalia of their birth sex; and that is nobody’s business but their own as that does not constitute a threat to anyone. With the new HB2 law you may now see what appear to be males in the women’s bathroom and what appear to be females in the men’s bathroom.

I believe this whole ordeal was purely political and citizens across the state are and will continue to suffer as a result of this political gamesmanship. It started with Charlotte making a political statement by passing an ordinance. Then that was followed by the legislative majority passing HB2. Rather than addressing the issue directly with Charlotte the legislative majority once again passed a one-size-fits-all law that is having negative impacts on everyone in the state. Political leaders are elected to SERVE citizens not play political games. Too bad the legislative majority doesn’t understand that. Shame on all of those involved (on both sides) for generating this issue!”

Saturday the council spent nine hours interviewing town manager candidates. We were all pleased with the candidates we interviewed and I believe we are on scheduled to appoint a new town manager in the coming weeks.

Emails this week included:

  • A complaint about fiber installation.
  • A complaint about the lack of a scooter race track.
  • A concern about cut through traffic as a result on the Morrisville Parkway closing.
  • A complaint about the town’s public information release that included a quote from Ringo Starr on why he cancelled his concert in Cary.
  • Several complaints on not wanting a rezoning to be approved in Carpenter Village.
  • A comment about median plantings.
  • A complaint about water leaking in the Cary Senior center garden.
  • A complaint about AT&T’s lost service and our lack of making them fix it sooner (we have no authority to make AT&T do anything about service).

Next week will continue to be busy for me. Activities include a meeting of Wake County Mayors, an interview with PBS, a quasi-judicial meeting of council, a meeting of the executive board of CAMPO, a meeting with artists who are doing integrated art in our parking deck, and speaking at the American Turkish Children’s Day festival.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, April 24th.  Although I have Facebook and Twitter accounts those are not the best means of communications with me. Please send all Town of Cary questions or comments to Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org and email personal comments to augustanat@mindspring.com.

• Sunday, April 03rd, 2016

Harold2015This week was a slow week with mostly small meetings and a few events.

Monday I met with staff to go over the Academy Street streetscape project. This project is now several months behind and if not finished by the end of June could result in penalties to the developer. To make up time the developer proposed closing Chatham Street and the Academy Street intersection for several weeks. To my knowledge this is not gaining any support from council and will probably not happen. While I would love to see this project move forward quicker it is not worth shutting down a major intersection especially if there are no guarantees from the developer that the work would be done sooner.

Later Monday I met with town management to go over issues. There are several issues related to new businesses coming to downtown. Hopefully those can be resolved and we can announce these new businesses soon.

Tuesday I met with the Ticket and Corporate Sales Executive for the Carolina Mudcats. He let me know that Sunday, September 4th would be Cary Community Night. I encouraged him to talk with the Chamber and other business leaders to help get the community involved. He also asked that I throw out the first pitch which I, of course, accepted. Although it is a long way off, I hope to see you there.

Wednesday I attended the ribbon cutting for Union Bank in Cary. This is the first branch location in Wake County. Speakers included the bank president, board members, and other employees. I gave the official welcome to Cary. Joining me from council was Mayor Pro-Tem Yerha, council member Robinson, council member Smith, and council member George. After cutting the ribbon a DJ played while people enjoyed hors d’oeuvre, beer, and wine. I stayed about an hour before attending a private dinner with a guest from France.

Saturday morning I joined several volunteers and council member Robinson at a litter sweep at Panther Creek High School. The weather was drizzly at the beginning of the sweep and turned into a downpour about an hour into the sweep. Although my crew was thoroughly soaked, we did manage to pick up several bags of trash. Most of which seemed to be fast food cups and packaging. Thanks to all of those who participated throughout the day to help keep Cary litter free, clean, and green. And if you want to get involved in keeping Cary beautiful please contact Sarah Justice and Sarah.Justice@townofcary.org.

Emails from citizens this week included:
• Questions concerning the use of Wake Med Soccer Park.
• Concerns about a Sheetz gas station in Reedy Creek Plaza.
• Concerns about plans for a road on a Macedonia Road property.
• A request for a bathroom in the MacDonald Woods Park. (This park is built in a flood plain so we can’t add a bathroom there. However, the town is looking at other options.)
• A concern about downtown bicycle parking.
• A concern about the non-coordination of fiber optics competitors. (The town has no authority to require them to work in the same areas at the same time to minimize disruption. But it would be nice if we did.)
• Several requests to participate and speak in events. Some as far away as October.

Except for a brief meeting with the town manager next week will be spent out of town on vacation working at the Masters Golf Tournament in Augusta, Georgia. So I won’t be posting a journal entry.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, April 17th. Although I have Facebook and Twitter accounts those are not the best means of communications with me. Please send all Town of Cary questions or comments to Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org and email personal comments to augustanat@mindspring.com.

• Sunday, March 27th, 2016

Harold2015This week was a holiday week so most meetings and events were in the first half of the week.

Monday began with calls to council members to hear any questions or concerns about Wednesday’s regularly scheduled council meeting. I was only able to contact half of the council members and of the ones I contacted there weren’t any concerns. Later in the day I met with management, administrative, legal, planning, and public information to go over the items on the agenda. We believed that most of the meeting time would be on the public hearings. The agenda review meeting ended after a short amount of time.

My next meeting Monday was with the Interim Town Manager and the Assistant Town Managers for my weekly one-one-one town manager meeting. We discussed issues with construction and potential businesses that are interested in opening in downtown. It is my hope that I will be able to announce a new business opening in downtown soon.

My third meeting on Monday was with town staff to go over a downtown development proposal. This proposal will include property from the town, the Baptist Church, and the developer. If all things work out we should see the development from Chatham to Academy Street include retail, high end multi-family, and office with a parking deck. This project has been in the works for about ten years and there is still a long way to go for this to become a reality. We will see.

My last meeting of the day was with the Wake County Mayor’s Association. All mayors were present except the Mayor of Rolesville. The meeting was held in downtown Raleigh and the only real business worth mentioning was a discussion on a resolution by the Wake County Mayor’s Association regarding the Wake County Transit Plan. Our meeting concluded after about 3 hours.

Tuesday I attended the annual volunteer award banquet for Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Resources. There were several hundred volunteers in attendance and the banquet was a lot of fun. I made a few remarks and then was followed by our featured speaker, Steve Malik. He spoke of several changes that he is making to the team and fan experience. He believes his roster changes will allow the RailHawks to compete for the championship. He is creating family zones at the stadium and things that would be attractive to millennials including a swimming pool, food truck rodeos, and other interesting ideas. His talk was very interesting and I am excited about the RailHawks this year. After the featured speaker the awards were handed out. While there were only a dozen or so handed out, I believe all of our volunteers are deserving. They give the gift of their time and talents for the benefit of others. That is a significant reason for Cary’s success and why we are consistently ranked as one of the greatest places to live, work, and play in America. God bless them all!

Wednesday the council held the second regularly scheduled meeting of the month. Usually our meetings are on Thursdays but this one was moved up because of the holiday week.

Before the council meeting I met with Boy Scout Troup 244 from Peace Presbyterian Church. There were about a dozen scouts there to earn their community merit badge. I explained briefly the duties of the mayor and then answered a few questions. We then had our picture made in front of the town seal.

Later Wednesday the council held its second regularly scheduled council meeting of the month. The meeting included a review of the biennial survey, 11 consent items, 8 public hearings, and 2 discussion items.

Before the Public Hearings the council was presented the results from the 2016 Biennial survey. The Town of Cary has been using its biennial survey since 1998 to help provide guidance for serving its citizens. This year’s survey had over 400 citizens participating in a survey that took about 15 minutes. 89.0% of the numbers contacted were wireless. Some of this year’s results (letter grade equivalent of “A” or higher) include:
• Police response time, fairness and courteous, with response time rated the highest ever earned by the department;
• Courteous, fair and competent Fire Department;
• Increased satisfaction with the Town’s curbside yard waste and loose leaf collections; and
• Increased satisfaction in the Town’s cleanliness and appearance of public areas like parks, greenways, streets and medians.
The 2016 survey also revealed that:
• Nine out of 10 citizens (97.6%) believe that the quality of life in Cary has remained the same or improved over the past two years
• A majority (58.7%) of residents feels that Cary’s tax rate is “about right”
• The most important issues identified by Cary citizens are growth, transportation/infrastructure, crime/safety and schools.
• Over three-fourths (79.4%) have visited downtown Cary in the last year
• Roughly one in 10 citizens have someone living in their home who is legally disabled
Just like Gallop, Nielsen, and other international pollsters, consultants for the Town utilized scientifically developed sampling techniques and statistical analysis that allow the survey results to be generalized over the entire population even though not everyone in Cary is called. The margin of error for the 2016 survey was +/- 5 percent.
To read the full report see: http://www.townofcary.org/Assets/Public+Information+Division/Biennial+Survey/2016+Biennial+Survey/2016biennialsurvey.pdf.

Three public hearings generated the most comments. A public hearing on the town’s Community Development Block grant had speakers stating their cases for why funds should be spent on their organizations. There were several negative comments at a public hearing for a proposed Sheets gas station at Maynard Road and Reedy Creek Road. This current proposal seems to have little support. A proposal to put a permanent cover over the Silverton pool had several speakers talk mostly in favor of the proposal.

One of the discussion items that generated comments from council was whether or not to consider changing the town seal. The request was to not change the components but to change the look to give it a more current look. The majority of the council voted in favor of keeping it the way it currently is.

The council meeting concluded after about two and a half hours.

Thursday I chaired a meeting of the Cary/Apex Water Treatment Facility Advisory Committee. This committee is comprised of the mayors and managers of the Town of Cary and the Town of Apex. The purpose of the committee is to advise the operating agency on all policy matters and select the independent consultant. At this meeting we accepted the proposed fiscal year 2017 Capital and Operating Budgets for the Cary/Apex Water Treatment Facility.

I next chaired a meeting of the Western Wake Partners Policy Advisory Committee. This committee consists of the mayors and town managers of Apex, Cary, and Morrisville, and considers matters which relate to the Western Wake Regional Wastewater Management Facilities including raw wastewater pumping and conveyance facilities. At this meeting we accepted the proposed fiscal year 2017 Capital and Operating Budgets for the Western Wake Regional Wastewater Management Facilities. We also received information on the annual audit procedures. These two committee meetings are usually to formally approve staff proposals. While committee members ask questions they are usually at a high level. That is, there isn’t enough knowledge on our part to question the various components needed for a water or wastewater plant but we do question the proposals and how they fit within the planned budgets.

Emails from citizens this week included:
• A request for housing homeless veterans.
• A complaint about Academy Street construction.
• A complaint that the delay of Imagine Cary is impacting the ability to develop property.
• A complaint about covering a swimming pool in Silverton.
• A complaint about overcrowding in Cary.
• Several complaints about a proposed Sheets gas station in Northwoods.

Next week will be a light week for me. It includes private meetings and a ribbon cutting.

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

• Sunday, March 20th, 2016

Harold2015This week kept me busy for most evenings but overall was a typical week.

Monday I joined Jack Smith in a taping of the April episode of Cary Matters. The main topic for the episode was the Cary Water Treatment Facility expansion. I wrote this episode with a lot of facts and figures giving a little bit of history of Cary’s beginnings in water treatment. Council member Smith said it was the hardest episode he has ever done but we both did it without a hitch. The taping only took half an hour.

Monday night I gave my State of the Town address to Glenaire. This was an updated version of the slides I presented to the Chamber of Commerce back in January. Their interests and questions seemed to be in the Academy Street construction and the failing Cary Town mall. After answering questions they surprised me with a Distinguished Citizens Award. What an honor! All the residents there are so very kind. It is such a pleasure to visit them. I hope they invite me back in the future.

Tuesday I met with the Interim Town Manager for our weekly one-on-one. We discussed a variety of topics including the railroad crossing repair on Harrison Avenue which will have already been completed by the time this journal is posted. The crew will next move to the rail crossing at Northeast Maynard. This will involve lowering the tracks which sounds like a more extensive repair. And extensive repairs, in my mind, mean a longer time. We also discussed the town seal which a council member will propose to investigate modifying at our next council meeting. The last town seal modification was in the 1970s when the “gourd capital of the world” was removed. It is not clear what this modification request entails. Our meeting concluded after about half an hour.

Later Tuesday I met with Ms. Renee Smith who is the Vice President of Sales for Fonville Morrisey Realty. She is part of a leadership class and was interviewing me as part of the requirements. We had a great discussion about leadership styles, philosophy, and types of personalities. She was an absolute joy and the interview was fun. I wish her the best in moving forward in her leadership class.

Wednesday I attended the monthly meeting of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s (CAMPO) Executive Board. This MPO is responsible for carrying out an annual work program approved by the executive board, a portion of which includes updating the Metropolitan Transportation Improvement Program (a seven-year project programming schedule) and the Long-Range Transportation Plan (a minimum twenty-year forecast of projects and programs). One of the items of interest at this meeting was the setting of a public hearing for April 20th on a study of the Raleigh-Cary railroad crossings. Another item of interest that created a lot of discussion was the development of an Interlocal Agreement for the Wake County Transit Investment Strategy. The Wake County Commissioners want to plan how the money from a half cents sales tax (which is part of the Wake County Transit Plan on the November referendum) is managed and distributed. There is the duty of bookkeeping of the funds which will likely be carried out by Go Triangle. Then there are all the policies associated with distributing the monies. That decision body may or may not be made up of CAMPO and GoTriangle and/or additional entities. CAMPO will need to make a decision on their recommendation at their April meeting for the commissioners to formulate a final plan at their early June meeting. The CAMPO meeting concluded after about an hour and fifteen minutes.

Thursday I attended a private reception for individuals interested in bringing a national sports venue to Cary. It was a Who’s Who of Cary that can make things happen so I hope it will become a reality. Since this is still very preliminary I am not allowed to share more information at this time.

Sunday I attended the 2016 Arbor Day Celebration in Cary. Mayor Pro-Tem Yerha gave remarks and I read a proclamation. Arbor Day was first celebrated in 1872 as a special day for planting trees and has grown to thousands of celebrations in communities across our nation each year. It should be pointed out that Cary has been recognized as a 2015 Tree City USA by the National Arbor Day Foundation and North Carolina Forest Service. This marks the thirty-third consecutive year that Cary has received this special designation. Only 12 other cities in North Carolina have received this award for longer than the Town of Cary. So help Cary stay green and go out and plant a tree!

Emails from citizens this week included:
• A concern about the Northwoods PDD amendment which has yet to be proposed to council.
• A complaint about links on my blog on the Cary Citizen. It is important to know that my blog is posted on www.haroldweinbrecht.com and is picked up by the Cary Citizen. I do occasionally send pictures to Cary Citizen to go with my blog.
• A complaint about affordable senior housing in Cary.
• A question about Wake Med Soccer Park.
• Several requests to attend and participate in events.

Next week’s activities include a Mayors Association meeting, the Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Resources annual volunteer banquet, a regularly scheduled council meeting,

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

• Sunday, March 13th, 2016

Harold2015This was a busy week for me as is typical this time of year.

Monday I called council members to hear their concerns about the upcoming regularly scheduled council meeting on Thursday. I was able to contact all council members. They expressed questions and concerns about the Memorandum of Understanding with Wake County on the downtown library and the adjoining parking deck. Specifically the council members would like to review the parking deck design and the integrated art early in the process. Later in the day I met with staff to go over the agenda items. Since the agenda was short our meeting only lasted a few minutes.

Later Monday I met with the two Assistant Managers since the Interim Manager was on vacation. We discussed several items including development interests in downtown and Academy Street construction. Our meeting concluded after a few minutes.

Tuesday the council held a work session to discuss Cary Matters and Imagine Cary. Cary Matters is a council program that has monthly episodes played on Cary TV which is the town’s government access channel. The purpose of the program was to inform citizens about current issues. At the work session the council decided that updating and refreshing the eight year old program was in order. Changes will include a shorter program on a three week rotation. In addition the writing duties will be shared with all council members instead of alternating with Mrs. Robinson and me. The episodes will be around five minutes long (currently they average eighteen minutes) with two council members. Most of the show’s tapings will be indoors as before but some may be outdoors. They goal is to have these changes in place in about four months.

Imagine Cary was the next topic. We had planned to cover three special planning areas but were only able to cover one. The Carpenter special planning area was discussed for over an hour and a half. Basically, the council agreed with recommendations to protect the area and keep it historic and rural. The only change was to have major thoroughfares in the area include curb and gutter but with a non-traditional look. That look might include meandering paths, fences, stone walls, and more.

The council also discussed the timeline for the Imagine Cary process. To move our discusses along faster and get a proposal to the public sooner, the council decided to hold a half day work session before Memorial Day. Council was also notified that the final recommendation for the Eastern Gateway Special Planning Area will be presented to council in a staff report in the coming weeks. This special planning area will move ahead of the Imagine Cary but will be included in the overall plan. Our work session concluded after two hours.

Wednesday I met with the town’s Economic Development Committee. This committee is different from other town boards in that it is made up of the Mayor, two Cary Town Council members, the Cary Town Manager, the Cary Chamber’s President and Vice President of economic development, the chair of the Cary Chamber’s board of directors and three citizens. The committee oversees the activities of the Town’s economic development program and considers economic development initiatives that can be jointly implemented by the Town and Chamber. Most of the meeting is usually spent reviewing the quarterly report of the Chamber’s Vice President of Economic Development. Some of the interesting notes from this quarter’s report include:
• CoFounders Capital, located in downtown Cary and starts new businesses, has raised about $12 million and has invested $1.2 million on six companies.
• The chamber has completed a small business guide for new businesses looking to open in Cary.
• The ‘state’ property located in the Eastern Gateway is still under contract with Columbia development. They have not brought a formal proposal forward to council.
• Cary is lacking Class A office space. There is currently an 8% vacancy rate. If all pending projects came to fruition Cary would need about 1 million square feet of additional office space to accommodate the projects.
• Construction on the Midtown Square project in downtown is underway and is expected to be completed by late summer. It includes a 25,000 square foot office building, retail, and connects to a building with a beer garden and courtyard.
• Cary Chamber’s Economic Development hosted a neighborhood meeting of corporate executives in Weston. They hope to hold another in Regency later this year.
• Kelloggs Corporation announced they would be investing $19.5 million into their facility in Cary. They are exploring the potential of a major expansion.
• Cary’s Economic Development is currently working on 11 projects with a potential for 4500 new jobs. These projects could generate over $300 million in new investment which would increase tax revenue by over $1 million.
• The unemployment rate in Cary remains strong at about 3.5% which is well below North Carolina and the country.
The committee concluded its meeting within an hour.

Later Wednesday I finished writing the April episode of Cary Matters and finished a Cary Magazine questionnaire.

Thursday the council held a regularly scheduled meeting. On the agenda was one public hearing and two discussion items. Both discussion items were approved unanimously. The first discussion item was the Legislative Agenda for this short session. Our agenda will include:
• Support legislation to amend the Iran Divestment Act of 2015 to eliminate the requirement for local governments to require contractors to document their exclusion from the Iran Divestment List.
• Support the conveyance of real property with covenants and restrictions and delegate authority to the Town Manager to execute utility easements and agreements on Town-owned property.
• Support donating service handlers to their handlers when they retire.
• Support the Jordan Lake Rules. Jordan Lake is the region’s drinking source.
In 2016, the Legislature will be in session from April 25 through mid-July. The Legislature held a two-day special session from February 18-19 to redraw Congressional district maps.

The second discussion item was a Memorandum of Understanding with Wake County for the downtown library and parking deck. Since the Cary taxpayers are paying over $7 million for a parking deck council wanted to make sure we had plenty of opportunity to review and decide on the design of the deck. After discussion items the council went into closed session on issues related to the town manager search. We adjourned our meeting around 8 PM.

Sunday I had the pleasure of welcoming runners at the beginning of the Tobacco Road Marathon and Half Marathon. This is the 7th year of this event and I am proud to say I have been at the start of them all. I have seen this grow from several hundred runners to thousands from about 35 states and all over the world. The course is flat and fast and is on the American Tobacco Trail for a good portion. I might even consider running a half marathon next year.

Sunday evening I had the honor and privilege of being present at the kickoff campaign event to re-elect former Cary Mayor Pro-Tem Gale Adcock to the North Carolina House. What a great representative for Cary. She will continue to be an advocate for working together to find the best solutions to all issues. As she says “I don’t cross the aisle, I work in it.” I am honored to know her and call her a friend.

Emails from staff this week included the development and construction activity report for the month of February. Notable items include:
• 124 residential units, 9 multi-family units, and 48 non-residential permits were issued for additions and alterations.
• The average size of a house was 3,472 square feet as compared to 4,164 square feet in 2012.
• 80 certificates of occupancy were issued for single family homes in 20 different neighborhoods.
• Cary issued the 15.3% of the county’s single family permits which was second only to Raleigh with 18.5%.
• Development plans were submitted for 159 single family lots, 11 multi-family units, and 26,600 square feet in February.
To look at all the approved plans for 2016 go to http://www.townofcary.org/Assets/Planning+Department/Planning+Department+PDFs/planreview/Current+Year+Approved+Projects+(sorted+by+Date).pdf. To see all the plans under review go to http://www.townofcary.org/Assets/Planning+Department/Planning+Department+PDFs/planreview/Current+Year+Approved+Projects+(sorted+by+Date).pdf.

In other emails from staff I was notified that after several months the intersection at Kildaire Farm Road and Walnut Street will be opened. This will relieve a lot of traffic headaches for downtown. Now if we can just get the rest of the project done…

I also received an email from Searstone retirement community this week. Through April 17th they will be receiving nominations for Ageless Heroes. The categories are as follows:
• Ageless Hero of the Year – An individual (age 55+) who has made an indelible mark on our community
• Ageless Hero Student of the Year – A middle- or high-school-age student who has improved the lives of Wake County seniors
• Ageless Hero Business of the Year – An organization that is not primarily senior-focused but that has made outstanding contributions to area seniors
• Ageless Hero Person of the Year – Individual of any age who has made exemplary contributions to area seniors
• Ageless Hero Lifetime Achievement Award – An individual or business that has made long-term contributions to area seniors
If you would like to nominate someone go to www.searstone.com/hero.

Other emails from citizens included:
• A question about using the Wake Med Soccer Park.
• A complaint about downtown construction.
• Two complaints about the construction at Walnut and Kildaire.
• A complaint about loitering in the shopping center at the corner of Waldo Rood and Cary Parkway.
• A complaint about the lack of police presence and the lack of lighting on the section of Morrisville Parkway that is not opened.
• Several requests for meetings, events, and interviews.

Next week will be busy with a taping of Cary Matters, a presentation of the State of the Town address to Glenaire, a meeting of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, an Arbor Day celebration, a leadership interview, events, and meetings.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, March 20th. Although I have Facebook and Twitter accounts those are not the best means of communications with me. Please send all Town of Cary questions or comments to Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org and email personal comments to augustanat@mindspring.com.

• Sunday, March 06th, 2016

Harold2015This week mostly consisted of appearances and a quasi-judicial hearing.

Monday I met with the Interim Town Manager to go over several items at our one-on-one weekly meeting. In addition to talking about issues coming before council we talked about an idea being floated by some people to do property reevaluation every four years instead of every eight years. The down side of that is the cost which I understand would be over one million for Cary.

Later Monday the council met in closed session to receive information about the town manager search. I’m very pleased with the progress we’re making and the great pool of applicants we have. While I won’t get into specific numbers at this point, I will say that I for one am very optimistic about the group of qualified professionals who are interested in Cary. Over the next month or so, we’ll be bringing several of our top picks into the town to meet with us. I’m very proud of how the Council is once again working together in the best interest of the organization and our community. We don’t have a specific date we’re shooting for to hire the new manager, but of course we want it to happen as quickly as possible, being sure that every Council member has the time he or she needs to participate in the process. We appreciate the great work our staff continues to do keeping the Town going strongly while we conduct the search.

Tuesday I met with a 4th grade class at Kingswood Elementary in downtown Cary as part of Read Across America. The book I chose to read was the Lorax which has been made into a movie. Very few of the students had read the book but many had seen the movie. The students were very quiet and attentive as I read. The story seemed to have an impact on some. One girl said she wanted to be President so that she could save trees. After reading the book, I spent a few minutes answering questions about what I do as a mayor. The questions from kids this age are always very amusing. For example, they wanted to know if I lived in a mansion, if I had a limousine, or if I knew the president. And in case you are wondering, no is the answer to all of those. I enjoyed my time at Kingswood and hope they invite me back in the future.

Wednesday I joined several council members in “Read Across America” day at Davis Drive Elementary. I read “Two Bad Ants” by Chris Van Allsburg. Most of the students had read this book before but said they didn’t mind if I read it again. After reading the story the students asked prepared questions related to reading. I explained that reading and comprehension skills were essential in my job as Mayor and my job as SAS. And that those skills were crucial in being successful. My visit lasted about 45 minutes.

Wednesday evening I joined all council members in welcoming this year’s School of Government class. This class has nine sessions and is organized around Town Council focus areas that include community planning, infrastructure, budget and finance and municipal services. Students get a behind-the-scenes look at Town government structure, culture and decision-making. Participants are chosen from all submitted applications to represent a cross-section of Cary by age, gender, length of residency and area of town. Through discussion and hands-on activities, students obtain greater awareness of the breadth and depth of Town planning and operations. I, along with all of my council colleagues, made comments to the group and about the importance of citizen involvement. I look forward to attending their graduation in a few weeks.

Thursday morning I met with several high school students as part of the Cary Chamber Youth Leadership program. I talked about my role has a mayor and then answered a variety of questions related to leadership and decision making. The group then spent the rest of the morning visiting various departments at town hall.

Thursday started with an announcement from Fortune that two Cary companies were listed in the top eight as best places to work. The two companies were Kimley-Horn and SAS. Kimley-Horn was ranked number seven moving into the Top 10 this year after being ranked 25th last year. SAS, which has been on the list for the last 19 years, moved four spots down to number eight. This is the company’s 13th Top 10 ranking on the list. I am very proud of these two companies and we want the world to know that Cary is full of talented, committed people doing fantastic things in great businesses, large and small throughout our community. Congratulations to SAS and Kimley-Horn!

Thursday night the council held a quasi-judicial hearing on two items. The first hearing was on Fryar’s Gate Phase 5 modifications. The first modification request was to provide a payment-in-lieu for 112 feet of a future section Stockwell Lane. This was approved by council since DOT won’t allow a stream to be crossed unless the road connects to another road. The second modification request was to provide a partial payment-in-lieu for a future section of Highcroft Drive to cross a stream. Once again, DOT won’t allow them to build since it also won’t connect to a road. The partial payment request was denied by council and the applicant agreed to make the full payment.

The second hearing was for the Manors at High House which is bordered by High House Road, Bridal Creek, and Bradford Drive. This proposal was to eliminate a vehicular and pedestrian connection to Preston. Council agreed to remove the vehicular connection but denied the request for removal of the pedestrian connection. The majority of council believed that neighborhood residents would cut through that part of the neighborhood to go to Preston and others would cut through the neighborhood to go to the Bradford. So it made sense to go ahead and create the partial pedestrian access even though Preston asked that the connection not be made.

After the quasi-judicial hearings the council went into closed session to hear about two legal matters and then to discuss the town manager candidates. The town manager search is ongoing and I remain excited about the applicant pool.

Emails from citizens this week included:
• A question about a café closing.
• A question about scheduling at the Wake Med Soccer Park.
• Several invitations to participate in events.

Next week’s activities include a regularly scheduled council meeting, a work session on the Cary Matters TV program and the Imagine Cary Plan, an Economic Development meeting, and other meetings.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, March 13th. Although I have Facebook and Twitter accounts those are not the best means of communications with me. Please send all Town of Cary questions or comments to Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org and email personal comments to augustanat@mindspring.com.

• Sunday, February 28th, 2016

Harold2015This week was difficult for me as I balanced taking care of my wife after two surgeries and performing my mayoral duties. I would like to thank Mayor Pro-Tem Yerha and the town staff for taking care of my duties and helping me through this time. I would also like to thank all the folks who sent food and for all their well wishes. We feel truly blessed to have so many people that care.

Monday I usually call council members to hear of concerns about the agenda for the meeting later in the week. Since my wife was having the first of two surgeries, Mayor Pro-Tem Yerha made these calls. He then met with staff later in the day to go over the agenda. I participated via telephone to hear any concerns. I also talked briefly with the Interim Town Manager.

Tuesday was my wife’s second surgery and so I was with her instead of being present at the work session. I did WebEx into the work session. Mayor Pro-Tem Yerha ran the meeting and started by asking me for comments. I announced that the council had chosen a town clerk and asked that the council make a motion to approve her. This was done and Virginia “Ginny” Johnson was unanimously selected to be the next town clerk of Cary. She was selected from a candidate pool of 119, with applicants from as far away as Nevada, Wisconsin and Missouri. We are very excited about having her as our town clerk. Congratulations Ginny! Next the council got into the business of the work session items.

The first work session item was to hear limitations created by House Bill 44 on riparian buffers. The biggest concern is that buffers will now be allowed in platted lots. Most homeowners don’t know or care what is in a buffer or not. And if they own property in a buffer they will likely clear it and use it which of course destroys the buffer. Another concern is that these new limitations allow developers to meet town yield requirements which will result in more lots and density. It is disappointing that our legislators seem to, once again, be passing bills that favor special interest rather than the interests of citizens and the environment.

The second work session item was an Imagine Cary Special Planning area for Green Level. There are four special planning areas in Imagine Cary. They include Green Level, Carpenter, Downtown, and the Eastern Gateway. At our last work session we talked about the Eastern Gateway. In this work session we were scheduled to talk about all the special planning areas but council spent too much time on the first one, Green Level. The others were postponed to another work session. Most of the discussion in the Green Level special planning around centered on the look and feel of the roadways. It was decided that we should propose curb and gutter but allow the rural feel of meandering sidewalks and less manicured medians.

Our last work session item was on Quasi-Judicial hearings. It was explained that the town makes three types of decisions: legislative – council makes the decision, administrative – staff makes the decision, and quasi-judicial – council makes a decision in a formal environment in which it only considers information presented at the hearing. Most of this presentation was a review for all council members except George who is the newest of the council members. The work session concluded after about 3 hours.

Thursday I met with a group of Weblos (an acronym meaning “We’ll Be Loyal Scouts”) before the regularly scheduled council meeting. They are out of First United Methodist Church and were working on their building a better world pin. I talked with them about mayoral duties and then answered a few questions. We then took photos in front of the town seal in the council chambers.

Thursday night’s regularly scheduled council meeting lasted about three and a half hours. There were 25 consent items, 7 Public Hearings, and 8 discussion items. Most of the comments from citizens were on the Comprehensive Plan Amendment to add commercial to multi-family at a site on Carpenter Fire Station Road and Green Level Church Road, and on rezoning on High House Road. After discussion council approved the Comprehensive Plan Amendment to include commercial development. Since this is now part of a mixed use the developer will be required to submit a preliminary development plan as it moves forward. There will also need to be a rezoning which will allow the developer to address some of the citizens’ concerns. The comments on the High House Road rezoning were mostly related to traffic. Since High House Road is a NCDOT road and since they will not allow a traffic signal between Carpenter Upchurch Road and Highway 55, the town staff is working with them on alternative solutions. The rezoning which included 10 residential units passed.

Saturday I joined local Chinese business leaders and elected officials for dinner at the newly opened East Garden in Cary. They wanted to show us authentic Chinese food in an upscale atmosphere. According to them this is the only authentic Chinese restaurant in the area. We were served 10 courses and the food was amazing. During the meal we discussed what was attractive about Cary to businesses and how Chinese businesses are now looking at Cary as business location. If you want a great authentic Chinese meal in a very nice atmosphere you must try East Garden.

Sunday I attended a contemporary Community Connection service at Pleasant Grove Church. This particular service was to recognize teachers for their service and contributions to the community. The key speaker was a representative from the Governor’s office. I also made remarks and then awards were handed out to the eleven teachers in attendance. God bless the men and women to commit their lives to teaching our children despite very little pay and very little recognition for the great work they do.

Comments from citizens this week included:
• A concern about pedestrian safety in downtown.
• Comments for and against a proposed Publix at Carpenter Fire Station Road and Green Level Church Road. (ABC11 reported that council approved a commercial rezoning which was not true. Council approved a Comprehensive Plan Amendment. The zoning has yet to be presented to council for a vote.)
• A concern about trees blocking line of sight at an intersection in Preston.
• An offer to help the police department with Spanish lessons.
• A concern about traffic on High House Road.
• A concern about dangerous dogs. (Council passed an amendment to the ordinance at Thursday’s meeting.)

Next week will be a busy one with several meetings and a session on town manager recruitment. I am also scheduled to participate in “Read Across America” at Kingswood Elementary and Davis Drive Elementary. In addition, the town will hold a Quasi-Judicial meeting on two topics.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, March 6th. Although I have Facebook and Twitter accounts those are not the best means of communications with me. Please send all Town of Cary questions or comments to Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org and email personal comments to augustanat@mindspring.com.

• Sunday, February 21st, 2016

Harold2015The first half of the week was busy with meetings. The second half of the week was not as busy which allowed me to spend time with my wife.

Monday started with a bond signing session of refinanced bonds which will save significant taxpayer dollars in the coming years. In attendance were the acting town clerk, the interim town manager, town attorneys, outside attorneys, and representatives from the financing agency. I, along with several others, signed multiple copies of documents to be used in the selling of these municipal bonds. The entire session lasted about 15 minutes.

Later Monday I met with the interim town manager to go over multiple issues. Our talk included preliminary numbers received for the upcoming property reevaluation and how that might impact our tax rate. We also talked briefly about the recent staff-council working retreat and pros and cons of that retreat. Construction on Academy Street was also discussed. Hopefully, we will see the opening of the Dry, Walnut, and Kildaire intersection by the end of March.

Monday night I attended a meeting of the Mayors Association. Nine mayors of the twelve were in attendance. Missing were the mayors of Rolesville, Wendell, and Knightdale. Most of our discussion was updates from each municipality. It is important for us to share experiences since some of us have already faced issues that other municipalities are now facing. We share, discuss and provide advice to each other. This is extremely beneficial especially to the newer mayors. I know their advice has helped me over the years. Our discussions also included a brief talk about the upcoming legislative session.

Tuesday I met with representatives from Xianning, China who are interested in establishing a relationship with Cary. Xianning is a prefecture-level city in southeastern Hubei province of China, bordering Jiangxi to the southeast and Hunan to the southwest. It is known as the “City of Osmanthus”. A prefectural level city is an area that has been merged into one unified jurisdiction. A prefectural level city is often not a “city” in the usual sense of the term, but instead an administrative unit comprising, typically, a main central urban area and its much larger surrounding rural area containing many smaller cities, towns and villages. Xianning has a population of over half a million and covers approximately 3800 square miles. During our conversation the representatives notified us that they will be sending a delegation to visit Cary in April. They would also like me to visit Xianning but unlike our visitors I cannot use taxpayer dollars for such a visit (nor should I). And unfortunately, I can’t afford that kind of a trip now. Hopefully, I will be able to visit in the future. It will be interesting to see how this relationship progresses.

Wednesday I attended the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s executive board meeting (I am currently the vice chairman). The Executive Board is comprised of elected officials from member governments, as well as stakeholders from other agencies. The Executive Board is the decision-making body of the MPO. The MPO is responsible for carrying out an annual work program, a portion of which includes updating the Metropolitan Transportation Improvement Program (a seven-year project programming schedule) and the Long-Range Transportation Plan (a minimum twenty-year forecast of projects and programs). At this meeting there was one decision that directly impacted Cary. The MacArthur Section of the White Oak Greenway was included in the Fiscal Year 2017 projects. CAMPO will provide over $2 million of this $4 million project. The board also spent a few minutes discussing how funds of the Wake Transit Plan would be administered if the voters approve the referendum. The Durham transit has their funds administered by Go Triangle. So members stated they preferred that while others believed the executive board of CAMPO should administer the funds. We will discuss this further at a future meeting.

Later Wednesday I met with development representatives for the Singh property located at the corner of Cary Parkway and Evans Road. This property has been in front of council several times with several different proposals. In the past there has been strong resistance to proposals from the adjacent neighborhood. The sketches presented to me for my thoughts made sense for the location and would have minimal impact on roads and schools. We’ll see what they end up proposing.

Emails from staff this week included the announcement that the NCAA Division I Women’s Lacrosse Committee has chosen WakeMed Stadium in Cary, North Carolina, and Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium in Stony Brook, New York, to host national semifinal and final matches for the 2017 and 2018 NCAA Division I Women’s Lacrosse Championships. While women’s lacrosse will make its debut in Cary, we are no stranger to NCAA championship competition. The Women’s College Cup has been hosted their seven times, while the Men’s College Cup has made four appearances at WakeMed Stadium. Cary’s selection is a testament to the town’s dedication to making Cary one of America’s premier host communities for collegiate athletics. It also makes a statement about our venues and facilities, which the NCAA continues to recognize as some of the finest in the nation. We’re honored to host this championship, and look forward to greeting participants and fans alike with true Cary hospitality.

Emails from citizens this week included:
• Comments in favor and against a proposed Publix at Carpenter Fire Station Road and Green Level Church Road.
• A complaint about the ice/snow removal.
• A complaint about construction on Academy Street.
• A complaint about the potential lack of fiber being installed in a neighborhood (pretty much the choice of the provider and we have little or no authority to require providers to include everyone).
• A complaint from a Cary resident with an Apex address (addresses are determined by the post office delivering the mail to your home).
• A question about a downtown bakery.
• Compliments for investing in downtown.
• A complaint about an historic house off Kildaire that was destroyed by development (Cary has no authority to prevent property owners from destroying historic structures unless the property is designated an historic landmark. Even then there would be very little authority. But any designation depends on the property owner).
• A complaint that my last blog included comments that were not civil and not being tolerant. (Not tolerant? Really? This made me laugh since the person complaining had previously sent me email that the town should not tolerate Muslim organizations. I know I am stating the obvious but… council members receive criticisms, complaints, etc on a regular basis. It is part of our job. And as mayor I receive all of the above multiple times a day. To my knowledge we have always listened and responded professionally. So respectfully I disagree. I think we are very tolerant and respectful to differing opinions. Regarding the civility of my comments, I will try to be more accommodating to those that are ultra-sensitive to me stating my opinions.)

Next week will begin with my wife’s surgery. That will keep me from attending meetings for a couple of days. The rest of the week will include a few meetings and a regularly scheduled council meeting, which should be a long one.

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