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• Sunday, August 13th, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pressure Zone Shift Completed

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

Pitching Ideas at the Hackathon

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

NCDOT Stakeholder Advisory Committee Update

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

Cary Ranked Top 10 Safest Place to Raise a Child

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

Coding and Viewing Party

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

City Hall Selfie Day

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

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

Recognitions

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

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

 

Emails from citizens this week included the following:

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

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

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

Category: Uncategorized  
• Sunday, August 06th, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The town manager’s report for this week included:

Locomotive #1871 Dedication

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

Downtown Park Consultants Visit Cary

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

Convenience Store Proposal in Amberly

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

Vehicle to Infrastructure Technology Grant

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

Savage Towing Challenge

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

New RTP CEO Announced

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

Utility Monthly Report

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

June 2017 Development & Construction Reports

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

Recognitions – My First Year

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

-Sean

 

Emails from citizens this week include:

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

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

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

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

Category: Uncategorized  
• Sunday, July 30th, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cary projects include the following:

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

Cary Intersection improvements include the following:

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

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

Sidewalk projects listed in our discussion included:

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

Greenway Improvements listed in our discussion included:

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

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

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

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

Our work session concluded after a little over two hours.

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

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

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

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

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

Transportation Technology

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

Rerouting Curbside Collection

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

Cary Approved to Become Certified Local Government

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

Good News for Municipal Bonds

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

PIT Crew Tackles ACT Chapter

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

Smart Cities Conversation Continues

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

Recognitions

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

 

Emails from citizens this week included:

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

 

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

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

Category: Uncategorized  
• Sunday, July 23rd, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The town manager’s report for the week included:

Dr. Goodnight Visits Town Hall

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

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

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

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

Chamber Planning Conference

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

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

Cary Locomotive 1871

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

GoCary Service Enhancements

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

Covered Courts at Cary Tennis

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

Homewood Suites in Cary

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

Construction continues with a grand opening expected in spring 2018.

Hemlock Bluffs Awarded Grant

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

Legal Updates

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

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

MLS Team Site Bidding

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

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

NW Cary Parkway Update

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

Boys of Summer Bring Home Gold

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

Cary Named Top 5 City for First-Time Home Buyers

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

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

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

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

Recognitions

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

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

 

Emails from citizens this week included the following:

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

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

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, July 30th.  Although I have Facebook and Twitter accounts those are not the best means of communications with me. Please send all Town of Cary questions or comments to Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org and email personal comments to augustanat@mindspring.com.

Category: Uncategorized  
• Sunday, July 16th, 2017

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

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

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

Slow Start to Session

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

Moving from Rural/Urban Divides to Bridges

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

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

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

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

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

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

Investments in Transportation Enjoy Broad Support

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

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

Continued Interest in Local Government Regulations and Fees

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quality of Life In Our Cities

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

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

Bipartisan Efforts Fruitful

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

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

North Carolina’s Strong Business Climate

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

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

Governor’s Vetoes

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

Upcoming Sessions

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

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

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

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

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

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

Interim Studies

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

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

Conference Reports

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

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

 

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

The town manager’s report this week included:

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

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

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

Drug Sergeant Position Filled

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

Cities for Tomorrow Conference

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

Police District 3 Substation

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

Increasing Summer Water Demand

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

Recognitions

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

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

 

Emails from citizens this week included:

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

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

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

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.

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• 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.

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