Archive for the Category ◊ Uncategorized ◊

• Sunday, June 25th, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

The Town Manager’s report included the following:

Downtown Park Dedication

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

Legislative Update

HB310 Small Cell Legislation:

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

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

HB436 Local Government/Regulatory Fees :

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

Jordan Lake Water Allocation

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

CAMPO Board Update

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

Father’s Day “Rap Session”

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

Wrenn Drive Block Party

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

Statement from EAB

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

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

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

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

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

Recognitions

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

 

Emails from citizens this week included:

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

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

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

Category: Uncategorized  
• Sunday, June 18th, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The town manager’s report included the following:

Legislative Updates

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

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

Moody’s Interim Report

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

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

Urban Drive Speeding Analysis

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

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

Technology Services Open House

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

Resource Fair For Seniors

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

Innovation & Collaboration

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

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

Cary Parkway/High House Road Open House

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

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

May 2017 Development & Construction Reports

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

La Farm Opens First Phase

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

Recognitions

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

 

The construction and activity report for May included the following:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Emails from citizens this week included:

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

 

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

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

Category: Uncategorized  
• Sunday, June 11th, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday was a very busy and long day for me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FY18 Budget

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

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

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

Rezoning Request Changes for Trimble Avenue

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

Economic Development Committee Update

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

Town Staff Provide Utility Assistance to Neighbors

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

Project PHOENIX Event at Chatham Forest Apartments

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

Downtown Park Shade

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

Cary Parkway & High House Road Intersection Improvements

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

Triangle Smart Cities Summit

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

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

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

GoCary Services Safest in the State

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

Safe Routes to School

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

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

Recognitions

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

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

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

 

 

 

Emails from citizens this week included:

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

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

First response:

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

Second response:

Thanks for contacting me again

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

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

I hope this helps you understand my position better.

 

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

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

Category: Uncategorized  
• Friday, May 26th, 2017

This was my last week before the yearly family vacation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Budget Process Continues

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

Siemens USA Small Business Supplier Awards Ceremony

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

April Development Reports

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

Ongoing Sunshine Trainings

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

National Public Works Appreciation Week

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

Sister Cities Event

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

Recognitions

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

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

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

 

Emails from citizens this week included:

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

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

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

Category: Uncategorized  
• Sunday, May 21st, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Update on Habitat Rezoning

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

Metropolitan Mayors Coalition

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

Town Hall Event About Opioid Issues

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

Green Level West Road Widening Project Kicks Off

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

Annual Water Quality Report

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

Western Cary Meeting Feedback Report

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

Bangladeshi Civil Servants Come to Cary

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

Classification & Pay Study Complete

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

Council Meetings Next Week

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

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

Recognitions

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

 

Emails from Citizens this week included:

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

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

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

Category: Uncategorized  
• Sunday, May 14th, 2017

This week was a typical week for mayoral duties.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Healthy Rewards Results

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

National Bike to School Day

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

Cary Recognized as Certified Community Wildlife Habitat

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

FY18 Recommended Budget

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

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

Foundations for Global Success: Zoom-in on India

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

Leading Organizational Innovation

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

Police Officers Pilot New Approach Downtown

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

Recognitions

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

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

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

 

Emails from citizens this week included:

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

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

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

Category: Uncategorized  
• Sunday, May 07th, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our work session concluded about a couple of hours.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Western Cary Community Meeting Well Attended

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

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

Jordan Lake Aeration System: Testing Operations

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

Middle Creek High School Parking Pilot

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

March & April Development Reports

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

Utility Monthly Reports

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

School of Government Classes Wrapping Up

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

Recognitions

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

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

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

 

Emails from citizens this week included:

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

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

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

Category: Uncategorized  
• Sunday, April 23rd, 2017

This week was a busy week and included a couple of big announcements.

Monday I met with representatives of Columbia Development. These are the folks interested in developing the property off Cary Town Boulevard across from the mall. They showed me two simulations of what they plan to propose. It included a Wegmans, retail, residential, a parking deck, and integrated art. The vision was similar to a cross between North Hills and Park West. If the vision gets built I think it would be great for Cary. But that is a big if. We will see what they propose and what conditions they offer to help guarantee that vision will be built. Council members will also need to keep in mind that retail that is likely to redevelop across the street which is important because we don’t want an area dominated by retail. Instead we, the council and the community (through the Cary Community plan), want an area with a mix of uses. In addition, the council has expressed numerous times that it wants more office on the site across from the mall.

Tuesday was a big day for Cary. I joined Governor Cooper, Wake Chair Hutchinson, and several council members in an announcement that Trilliant was adding 130 jobs to Cary. While most people might not have heard of Trilliant they probably will in the near future since their expertise is in communications to save energy. They describe themselves as:

“Trilliant helps savvy utilities and energy retailers achieve their smart grid visions through the Trilliant Smart Grid Platform, the only purpose-built communications platform that integrates these disparate system of systems into a unified whole. Only with using a smart grid platform purpose-built for the energy industry can utilities and energy retailers unify the information from their disparate system of systems to achieve their smart grid visions and enjoy the benefits.”

The ceremony started with Chairman Hutchinson making remarks and introducing the Governor. The Governor made remarks and presented a North Carolina flag to the CEO. After the CEO made remarks I finished the ceremony with remarks. Trilliant could have moved their global headquarters from Silicon Valley to anywhere in the world but they chose Cary. We are grateful they chose Cary and will do what we can to help them thrive and prosper.

Tuesday afternoon the NCAA announced that Cary would once again receive championships. Starting in 2018 Cary will host the Division I College Cup for four consecutive years alternating with men and women. Cary was also awarded four consecutive Division II Baseball Championships starting in 2018. This will be a huge economic benefit to our town. After the NCAA announcement the local media outlets were asking for comments so I made the following statement:

“We are pleased to learn that Cary has once again been selected to host NCAA championships. Cary’s selection is a testament to our dedication to being one of the premier host communities for amateur and collegiate athletics. We are certain our venues, hailed as some of the finest in the nation, will continue to provide an exceptional experience for NCAA athletes and fans.”

I did do one interview on the phone with WUNC.

Later Wednesday I met with the Mayor Pro-Tem about meetings he will be facilitating next week. We were joined by the town clerk for part of that meeting.

Wednesday Cary received more good news as the ACC announced that championships will come back to Cary. The Cary tennis park will hold the ACC championships in 2018 and the Wake Med Soccer Park will hold the women’s semifinals and finals soccer championships in 2018. We are so grateful that these events are back in Cary where they belong. It is a true testament to our excellent facilities and staff.

Wednesday I attended a meeting of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Executive committee. Transportation Secretary Trogdon spoke to the elected officials for about 20 minutes. Here are some of the notes I took on what he said:

  • The focus of the department is to work on infrastructure including roads and bridges.
  • They will be trying to reduce the cycle of time needed to complete a project.
  • They will be less conservative on projects meaning they will spend money allocated as soon as they can.
  • There is about $1 billion in the bank due to slow projects. They want to accelerate those projects.
  • North Carolina is fifth in the nation in automobile fatalities. He wants to lower that.
  • He wants to improve mobility.
  • He believes the state should share analysis tools with the municipalities.
  • He hopes to have funding for the remaining sections of I540 in 2018 rather than 2020.
  • He expects automated vehicles and other technology to become more common fast. Currently I540 is one of ten roadways used for pilot testing of automated vehicles. He believes in the future individuals will not have cars which will leave a lot of redevelopment opportunities for parking lots.
  • Only 17% of all projects submitted are funded. He wants to at least double that in the next five years.
  • He wants to see light rail to Durham which will help us be competitive with our neighboring states.

Other items at the meeting included information on the Wake Transit Plan implementation, a memorandum of understanding for federal grants, and a 2045 metropolitan transportation plan update. The meeting concluded after about an hour and a half.

Later in the evening I attended a meeting of the Indian-American PAC. Other elected officials at the meeting included Governor Cooper, NC Senator Barringer, NC Senator Chaudhuri, NC Legislator Adcock, NC Legislator Dollar, and Mayor Stohlman. The Governor and Representative Dollar made remarks. The rest of us answered questions or made a statement towards the end. All pledged to work together. I was there about two and a half hours.

Thursday I attended and spoke at a homeowner’s association meeting. I talked about projects in the area of the neighborhood and what is going on around town. Then I answered a few questions. If you would like me to speak at your homeowner’s association meeting just ask and I will try and fit it in my schedule.

Friday I participated in a meeting of the North Carolina metro mayors for a legislative update. It was mentioned that this upcoming week will be busy as proposed legislation crosses from the house to the senate and vice versa.  Items discussed included:

  • Impact fees and how the ones already in place will stay in the current proposal.
  • Billboards which were the 2nd most debated topic of the week after impact fees.
  • Electronic notices which would require public notices on the web rather than the newspaper. It was pointed out that many more people are reading the web than newspapers.
  • This is the state incentive program used to attract companies like MetLife to Cary. The proposal would limit the amount of money that can be given to metro areas in Raleigh-Cary, Charlotte, etc.

Personally, it seems that some legislators are more interested in serving special interest groups (and donors) rather than the public they are elected to serve. I hope the majority will step up and do the right thing.

The town manager’s weekly report included the following:

NC Welcomes Trilliant Networks to Cary

Mayor Weinbrecht and Council members Frantz, George, Smith and Yerha along with Cary Chamber officials were on hand for Gov. Cooper’s announcement that Trilliant Networks is establishing its global headquarters in Cary, creating 130 jobs over the next five years. The company will invest $1.8 million at its current offices to accommodate for this expansion of corporate operations.

“Wake County and Cary have the ideal business environment, location and talented workforce for the headquarters operations of a high-technology company,” said Governor Cooper. “We’re proud that this global smart grid software and communications company has chosen to expand its operations right here in the heart of the Research Triangle.”

NCAA & ACC Announce Returns to Cary

Lots of great news to share with regards to NCAA and ACC Championships returning to Cary. On Tuesday, the NCAA announced the return of Division 2 Baseball (2019-2022), Division 1 Women’s Soccer (2018 & 2020) and Division 1 Men’s Soccer (2019 & 2021). Cary has successfully hosted the baseball and soccer championships since 2004.

On Wednesday, the ACC announced they will be coming back to Cary, bringing soccer and tennis championships to our facilities. Cary has been selected to host Men’s and Women’s Tennis Championships in April 2018 and Women’s Soccer Championship in November 2018.

We look forward to hosting these great events with our university partners and the Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance.

H436 Amended as Study Bill

We are thrilled to share that Representative Dollar spoke up for Cary at the committee meeting on Local Government/Regulatory Fees. Rep. Reives also spoke against the bill as written. Another representative offered an amendment to make this a study bill; this amendment PASSED! While the exact language has not been published yet, this is a great win for Cary. Please reach out to Nelson Dollar as well as Rep. Reives and thank them for supporting Cary citizens.

This bill will now proceed to the full House for discussion and potentially further amendments before coming to a vote. We expect this to happen next week.

Ban Smoking in Parks? Here’s What We Found

After inquiries from citizens, Council asked staff to look into what other NC municipalities do regarding smoking bans in parks. Staff has completed initial research on smoking ordinances in NC. Of the six largest cities, five have ordinances regulating smoking to a certain extent (Winston-Salem does not have a ban.) Each municipality that does regulate smoking do it in slightly different ways. However, when reaching out to our Police counterparts in these different localities, they could not remember a time when they enforced the ordinance.

NC Mayors: Call Off Travel Ban

Mayor Weinbrecht joined fifteen other NC mayors, including Charlotte’s Jennifer Roberts and Raleigh’s Nancy McFarlane, in asking mayors of cities across the country to reconsider their bans of travel to North Carolina. Chicago and Washington state this week became the latest to reaffirm travel bans that started after the passage of House Bill 2, now repealed. In the joint letter, the NC Mayors reiterated that “the values our cities hold are not changed by legislation” and “our cities remain safe, welcoming places for all people.”

Thursday’s Work Session

After the regular Council meeting on Thursday, staff will also present three topics at the Work Session. Those topics include: a Manager’s operation update, an update on our legislative efforts with the General Assembly, and a presentation about the next steps in the development of the Downtown Park Phase II.

Cary Named Among the 20 Safest Cities in NC

On Tuesday, SafeWise ranked Cary #8 among the 20 safest cities in NC. The SafeWise method to identify and rank the safest cities is based on the most recent FBI Crime Report statistics from 2015, along with population data. It is important to note that we are by far the largest city of any in the top 20.

CAMPO Executive Board Meeting Action Summary

At the April 19 meeting, opening remarks were delivered by NCDOT Secretary Jim Trogdon. Highlights from Secretary Trogdon’s remarks included a new commitment to significantly accelerating transportation projects and consolidating existing programs for small projects to rapidly simplify that process. Secretary Trogdon also shared his commitment to reducing motor vehicle fatalities due to driver behaviors and the department’s work to improve safety. He closed with a discussion on moving up the 540 project scheduled to advertise the project in 2018, instead of the currently planned 2020.

The Executive Board voted to approve the MOU for the Sub-Allocation of Federal Transit Administration Formula Grants to the Raleigh Urbanized Area, endorse the Southeast Area Study recommendations and approve the TPAC/Wake Transit Administration new CAMPO staff position. The next Executive Board meeting will be helped on May 17 from 4-6 p.m. at One City Plaza in downtown Raleigh.

Women’s History Month

As part of “Women’s History” month, our own Council member Lori Bush coordinated with the National Foundation of Women Legislators to showcase the documentary, “Miss Representation” at The Cary Theater. A special thanks goes out to Council member Bush and The Cary Theater staff for making such a great collaboration happen!

Cary Honors Family with Police Funeral

On Thursday, Police officers from around the region came together to celebrate the life of Riyansh Suraneni, a 4 year-old boy who loved the police. Earlier in the week, we were contacted by Morrisville Council Member, Satish Garimella, asking Cary to support the family’s request to lay their son to rest as a police officer. We were honored to be able to work with the family and have the opportunity for Riyansh to join our ranks as a Cary Police Officer. The family was presented with a Cary Police Officer Badge and patch for his uniform, which he was buried wearing. Additionally, Assistant Chief Toni Dezomits and Assistant Chief Tracy Jernigan presented an American Flag, a symbol of honor for police funerals, to the Suraneni family. Officers lined the walkway outside the funeral home to pay final respects.

Recognitions

This week we received an extraordinary email from a citizen about her family’s experience with one of our trash collectors. We thought others would enjoy reading and so we have copied it below. After a little investigating, we determined this driver is Grady McKey. He has been with the Town for over 14 years.

“For over a year (likely longer) we have had the same trash collector each Wednesday. My 4 year old son LOVES him and calls him “his buddy.” I apologize that I’ve never had the chance to learn his name.

Each week he collects the trash and honks his horn for my son who sits by waving hello. He even honks when my sons isn’t there…just in case he just didn’t make it to the door in time. Well, today we weren’t home when the trash was collected. But the drive came back around when leaving the neighborhood, making sure to pass our house and stopped in front until my son came to the window…so he could honk!

This is obviously beyond his job requirements and well above typical customer service expectations. He simply does this to make a random four year old smile each week! This is the type of service and behavior that should be acknowledged and rewarded. Please be sure that he and his supervisors read this and know how appreciated his weekly act of kindness is to us!”

In the true spirit of OneCary, I’d like to recognize staff in Public Works, Police and Fire for working multiple days to rescue a citizen’s cat that had become trapped in a stormwater drain.

 

Emails from citizens this week included:

  • A nasty complaint about my signing a letter asking cities to call off the travel ban. (Folks I don’t mind anyone disagreeing with me but name calling and nastiness is not productive in a discussion. All I ask is that we all be civil.)
  • A request to honor a war veteran.
  • Several requests to attend and speak at events.
  • Questions about the Trimble Avenue rezoning.
  • A request to oppose the White Oak rezoning.
  • A complaint about the town’s plan for the state property.
  • Several requests to oppose the Urban Drive rezoning.

 

Next week I will be traveling with my wife to France. We will spend a few days in Paris and then head to Cary’s sister city Le Touquet. Therefore, I will not post next week. And just to be clear I am paying for this not the taxpayers.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, May 7th.  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, April 16th, 2017

This was my first week back after spending the week in Augusta, Georgia working at the Masters Golf tournament. This was my 39th year volunteering at the tournament.

Monday I called council members to hear of any questions or concerns about Thursday’s upcoming agenda. I was able to contact all council members and there were very few minor questions. Later in the day I met with staff to go over the agenda. Are meeting was very short and I anticipated the council meeting on Thursday would be less than an hour.

Later in the day I, along with Mayor Pro-Tem Yerha, met with the town manager for my weekly one-on-one. This week we spent most of our time talking about legislative action that is harming Cary or costing Cary money. Here are some of the legislative items:

  • H436 Local Government/Regulatory Fees: These are impact fees charged to developers for the impacts they create with their projects. If they are not paid by the developer then all Cary taxpayers will have to pay for their impacts. This could have a $11.6 million impact on Cary annually. We would have to raise our tax rate about 5 cents to make up the difference.
  • H340 Special Allowance for Firefighters: This creates a new benefit for firefighters similar to the current special separation allowance for law enforcement. While it is a fantastic idea, the legislature does not plan to fund it. That means it will cost Cary taxpayers an estimated $2 million over the next 5 years.
  • H310 Wireless Communications Infrastructure Siting: This eliminates local authority to control the placement of small cell wireless on light poles and in public right of way. If you thought cell towers were ugly you haven’t seen nothing yet.
  • S94 Elections Transparency: This would make local elections partisan starting in 2019. Now that is a brilliant idea especially since partisan elections are working so well at the state and national levels. NOT! It doesn’t matter if you are a Democrat, Republican, etc. when it comes to keeping people safe, putting out fires, building parks, providing water/sewer, and other municipal services. Why they would want to make local elections partisan is beyond me.
  • H64 Municipal Elections in Even-Numbered Years: This would move local elections to a ballot already crowded with everything else instead of odd years when people can focus on the local issues each candidate presents. Another woefully bad idea.
  • H507 Land-Use Regulatory Changes: Makes zoning enforcement more difficult creating incentives for developers to sue municipalities. Limits local governments from requiring property for transportation improvements that go along with development. Another bill to help developers at the expense of everyone else. At least we know who is contributing to the legislators’ campaigns.
  • S434 Amend Environment Laws 2: Would essentially cut Cary’s stream buffers in half. Keep in mind that stream buffers protect our drinking water supply. Nothing like polluting an already polluted drinking source more. Another unbelievably dumb idea.
  • S296 Road Improvements Near Schools: Limits types of road improvements a municipality may require of a school. NCDOT would be required to make the improvements. Another bad idea since NCDOT can’t come close to keeping up with road demands now.

If any of these bother you PLEASE contact your local legislators. You can find them at http://www.ncleg.net/gascripts/counties/counties.pl?county=Wake.

Tuesday I participated in what I hope will be a regular event, “Yak and Trak”. There were only a small number of people who participated but I believe that is because it was spring break and a week night. The first part of the event was a kayak and canoe trek around Bond Lake. It was a beautiful day and we enjoyed all the wildlife and scenery. Three of us were in kayaks and two were in canoes. Afterwards we walked part of the Black Creek greenway and trails around Bond Park. My Fitbit measured a little over one and a half miles. It was fun doing the exercise and talking with folks about various topics. I hope you consider joining me in the future.

Wednesday I participated in the “topping off” ceremony at SAS. This is a celebration of the last beam being put in place. I was able to sign the beam and have my picture made in front of it before it was hoisted in place. It was a great day for SAS and for Cary with over 200 people in attendance. It will be the tallest building in Cary once completed. This building also signals the health of Cary’s largest employer, SAS, and the health of Cary. We are so fortunate to have such a great company like SAS in Cary providing high paying professional jobs to our citizens and citizens from neighboring municipalities. They are one of the reasons why Cary is such a great place to live, work, and play. SAS’s success is our success and we look forward to many more years of success and our partnership with them.

Wednesday I joined Mayor Pro-Tem Yerha in a meeting with the owner of the Triangle Aquatic Center known as TAC. He shared his plans for the next 10 years which included three phases of expansion. Phase 1 would include parking to replace mall parking. Phase 2 would include additions to the existing TAC structure. Phase 3 would include a new facility with new pools. He said that once these three phases are completed TAC should be the largest swim facility in the country. We look forward to working with TAC to resolve issues to help make their vision a reality. Our meeting lasted about an hour.

Thursday I joined several council members at the Page-Walker to visit with exchange students from our sister city in Le Touquet. They are here for a few weeks working in various restaurants in the area. I will be traveling to Paris and Le Touquet on April 23rd.

Thursday the council held its first regularly scheduled meeting of the month. There were 4 consent agenda items, 1 public hearing, and 2 discussion items. Our public hearing was about the proposed development at two corners of Cary Parkway and Evans Road. Several proposals have come to the council over the last decade and have been withdrawn or denied. This proposal would have a retirement facility next to the neighborhood and apartments across the street. Most of the speakers did not have an issue with the retirement community but council members and speakers had concerns about the apartments. This will now go to the Planning and Zoning board boar their recommendation. Council held a brief discussion on the 2017 fiscal year road improvements before unanimously approving. In the final discussion item council decided to invite people to make wishes and throw money in the new downtown fountain. Money collected from the fountain will be used for our Parks and Recreation youth scholarship fund.

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

April Meeting Combo

Due to a light agenda for the Council meeting on April 27, staff is proposing to move the April 25 work session to the 27th immediately after the regular meeting. As a sneak peak, the April work session will include a Legislative update and discussion around the Downtown Park. Your calendars have been updated accordingly.

GPS Added to Police Radios

GPS Location Services have been added to all police portable radios. This service increases officer safety by allowing the Emergency Communications Center (ECC) and police staff to visually see field unit locations in the Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system when officers are outside their vehicles. Cary is the first agency in North Carolina to implement this technology.

General Assembly Update

Lana and I continue to closely track the bills filled this session. We have updated our website with a listing of legislation of concern for our Town. This list includes the impact fee bill, municipal elections in even-numbered years, and special separation allowance for fire fighters.

Transit Planning Advisory Committee Meeting Update

TPAC met on Wednesday to review public and agency comments received regarding the draft FY18 Work Plan, draft Wake Transit Implementation Financial Policies, and proposed modifications to the FY18 Work Plan based on public comments received. The Town has no proposed modifications to FY18 projects. The most common comments received included:

  • Many existing riders asked that transit agencies consider increasing peak service, midday service, evening service and weekend service on existing routes.
  • Many residents expressed concern over the impact bus rapid transit might have on gentrification and displacement along New Bern Avenue and in other parts of Raleigh.
  • Many comments asked for consideration using alternative fuel buses (most specifically electric buses) in order to lower local emissions and improve public health.

The most common Cary-specific comments included general enthusiasm over existing service, expanding service and adding a park-and-ride facility in West Cary, and requests for routes on NC-55, Cary Parkway and Weston Parkway. Expanding the GoCary service area to include new routes will be part of future Work Plans.

It is anticipated that the TPAC will recommend a final FY18 Work Plan for CAMPO and GoTriangle Executive Board approval at their April 25 TPAC meeting.

Google Introduces New Installation Technology

Google recently proposed using a micro trenching (MT) installation method for their fiber network. MT involves cutting a four-inch deep trench where the asphalt meets the curb, installing the fiber, then back-filling the cut with a sealant material. MT significantly increases fiber installation speed and eliminates the need to dig up yards during installation; both items mitigate installation inconveniences on citizens.  Additionally, MT mitigates the chance of utility strikes. MT was used during Google Fiber installation in Austin, TX. 

The Town of Morrisville approved a pilot neighborhood for Google to use MT for installation. The Town of Cary also used this opportunity as a pilot and did not locate any utilities in the neighborhood. On March 23, Town staff met Google Fiber staff in Morrisville to see the MT installation process. We are happy to report that no utilities in the neighborhood were hit during installation. 

Town staff is working with Google Fiber to determine an area in our Town limits to pilot Google’s micro trenching fiber installation method to see short term impacts, and consider long-term impacts.

Cary Hosts Annual Triangle Bike & Pedestrian Workshop

Last Friday, over 80 bicycle and pedestrian advocates, planners and designers gathered at the Cary Arts Center to talk about recent improvements, plans, experiences, and ideas for improving and increasing bicycling and walking in our Triangle community.

Thanks to Council member Lori Bush for providing the welcome and for setting a great example by riding her Elf to the workshop! After a morning of great speakers and community updates, several attendees participated in a bicycle tour on the Black Creek Greenway and a walking tour of downtown.

Fayetteville v. EMC et al

This week, Cary and Apex jointly filed a response in EMC and DEQ’s appeal of the Administrative Law Judge’s decision in the Fayetteville IBT challenge. Please contact Chris Simpson if you have additional questions.

Project PHOENIX Egg Hunts

The Project PHOENIX team hosted the first Egg Hunt this week. Children of Chatham Forest were invited to decorate bags before being released to search for the prize-filled eggs. Fire fighters were on hand to make the day even more special. Approximately 35 residents were able to participate. Several other Egg Hunts are planned at various PHOENIX communities throughout the month.

WCPSS Cablecast Pause

This week we were contacted by the Wake County Public School System and asked that they be removed from our cable programming while they work on technical improvements. They will notify us again when they are ready to return to our channel’s schedule. In the meantime, citizens can access WCPSS information via their social media channels.

 

Emails from staff this week included the following update on street projects:

Currently we are in the process of acquiring right-of-way for the remainder intersections, which include the following…

  • Cary Parkway at Evans Road
  • NW Maynard Road at High House Road
  • Kildaire Farm Road at Cary Parkway

Construction on these intersections should start in the Fall of 2017.

Emails from citizens this week included:

  • An information request for stormwater control in Hillsdale Forest
  • A complaint about Cary’s downtown not being vibrant (we have been working on this for years and we are getting there)
  • A concern about people running the traffic signal at Walnut and Sturdivant
  • Comments for and against the proposal at Evans and Cary Parkway
  • A concern about signage at the downtown post office

Next week’s activities include a meeting with the state property representatives across from the mall, a meeting of the Wake County Mayors Association, several private meetings, a meeting of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s executive board, a meeting with a homeowners association, and a meeting of the metropolitan mayors.

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

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• Sunday, April 02nd, 2017

This was the first full week after the inter-city visit and it was a busy one.

Monday I called all council members to get any concerns or questions about Thursday’s agenda so that staff can be prepared. There was only one minor clarification needed by a council member. Later in the day I met with key members of staff to go over items on the agenda.

After the agenda meeting I met with staff members about the Cary’s transit plan and how it ties in with the region’s transit plan.

My last meeting of the day was with the owner of Carolina FC, Steve Malik, about their future plans. He is a wonderful guy and easy to talk to. It is his intention to bring MLS soccer to this area and build a stadium. Cary is not out of the running for that stadium. My understanding is that MLS franchises are given every two years. He believes he will get a franchise at least within the next two, four, or six years.

Tuesday I joined a special meeting of Cary’s Economic Development. The meeting was called to talk about a new Cary branding effort. And while most people think that branding is about a logo, Cary will be focusing on the message. This is especially important to change the perception of Cary as a “bedroom community”, “a suburb of Raleigh”, and a “containment area of relocated Yankees”. Add to that all the negativities of HB2 and its discrimination and you have quite a large task. At our meeting the town manager presented an outline of how to proceed with rebranding. Our first tasks will be to set our objects and to answer the questions why. In the upcoming days the town manager will talk with each council member individually and get their ideas about why we should rebrand. Then he will present those findings at a future work session where council will agree on the “why” of the effort. The good news is that a lot of the research from the Cary Community Plan can be used. Our meeting concluded a little over an hour.

Wednesday started with an on camera interview with ABC11 regarding HB2 and the impacts of losing the NCAA. This was prompted by the NCAA deadline that was imposed which would have resulted in North Carolina losing championships for several years. My comments in the interview were that I still had hope that the legislature would do the right thing for North Carolina and repeal HB2. This of course was not what they wanted to hear and thus it did not make the airways.

Later Wednesday I gave opening remarks at the 14th Cary School of Government class. The first class was in 2003 and included council member Lori Bush. This class was designed to increase understanding of how and when the public is involved in Town processes and decisions and spur even greater community involvement. Included topics are how municipal government functions, what services are provided, and how citizens can become involved. Students get a behind the scenes look at the town government structure, culture and decision-making. This class is held once a year and is a must if you want to be civically involved.

Thursday the North Carolina legislature passed action, which was signed by the governor, to repeal HB2 (for the most part). I had several requests for interviews and issued the following statement:

“Today our State government took an important step by coming together to find a way forward from HB 2. On behalf of the entire Cary Town Council and the 160,000 who call Cary home, I want to thank them for putting North Carolina first and bridging what seemed at times to be a vast and insurmountable partisan divide. No compromise is ever perfect, but if we can focus on and learn from the success of actually finding compromise in this case, I believe we can all have increased optimism of what we will be able to accomplish together in our shared future.”

It is my hope that we can all move forward and begin to welcome back businesses, the ACC, and the NCAA.

Thursday’s regularly scheduled council meeting lasted about two and a half hours. It began with recognition of our long time planning director, Jeff Ulma, who retired on Friday. He joined the Town of Cary in 1996, when Cary’s population was about one-half of today’s population of 160,000.  As planning director, he has left his imprint on many of the Town’s plans, development regulations and special initiatives, the latest of which is the new Cary Community Plan. The plan, which looks ahead to the year 2040, sets out a long-term vision, policies, and strategic actions to guide Cary into the future. Unanimously adopted in January by the Town Council, it is the result of several years of work, unprecedented community input, and dozens of meetings and workshops conducted under the Imagine Cary process. Other accomplishments include the preparation of the Town’s current zoning ordinance; the Northwest, Southeast, Town Center and Southwest area plans; the Affordable Housing Plan; Architectural and Site Design Guidelines; the Chatham/Cary Joint Land Use Plan; and even personally drafting food truck and backyard chicken regulations. He is a big reason Cary is so well planned and has such a high quality of life. We will certainly miss him.

The rest of the agenda included 9 consent agenda items, 6 public hearings, 4 discussion items, and a closed hearing. The public hearing on fiscal year 2018 Community Development Block Grant had several speakers thanking the town for past support and asking for future support. What is interesting about that program this year is the new administration which might reduce or eliminate the program. If that happened it would be a significant hit to several non-profits that serve our community. Under the items for discussion the council approved a waiver for a waiting period because the proposal was introduced and withdrawn during the old land use plan. It will come back to us later for a rezoning request. Council also approved items related to the water treatment plan, the new water storage tank on Kilmayne and the upgrade of the water storage tank on Maynard, and naming rights for the stadium at the Wake Med Soccer Park. It will be called the Sahlen stadium named after Sahlen Packing Company, Inc. The town had previously tried to sell the naming rights for there were no takers. This contract will allow the town to collect $100,000 over the next five years.

Friday I participated in a meeting of the North Carolina metro mayors to get a legislative update. Of course the repeal of HB2 was the lead topic. Other topics included the metro mayors’ visit with Transportation Secretary Trogdon, meetings with legislators, bills introduced on tax deductions, a bill that would move tax collected from rental cars to the highway fund from the general fund, a bill for sales tax redistribution, and a bill allowing providers to have total control of putting communication equipment in right-of-ways. Our meeting lasted a little over half an hour.

Saturday I participated in the ribbon cutting for Midtown Square. Here is an excerpt from my remarks that I spoke from:

“… Cutting the ribbon to this project today is a testament of what great redevelopment looks like in our downtown. It is wonderful to see all the active downtown redevelopment projects which is making our downtown more of a destination area. And there is more to come, especially with our downtown park which is now opened and has several activities already planned. Multiple people are already taking in the view of the fountain, the activity center, and just enjoying a day downtown.

While learning about this development, I came across a neat fact about the midtown logo – the locomotive. As we come up on our incorporation date of April 3, 1871, it is important to note that without the train, Cary would not be here. The Midtown logo is a representation of the Cary Train that will be revealed later this year with the year of our incorporation date, 1871, reflected on the locomotive. So stay tuned for another celebration when the Town welcomes the locomotive online.

In closing I would like to thank the Jordan Family, Jordan Gussenhoven and George Jordan, for their commitment to downtown. …”

 

The town manager’s report this week included:

Council/Staff Retreat Report

We have put together the Council/Staff Retreat Report, which is the first step in reporting our process on the issues and ideas discussed at the retreat. The document includes a look back at the retreat sessions, shares Council’s list of priorities, and provides some next steps to guide our future progress. We are interested in finding out if these high level summaries of the different sessions, as well as the list of Council priorities, match what you heard and syncs with your recollection of our conversations.

Town Hall Day

Lana, Allison and I joined Council member Jennifer Robinson at the NC League of Municipalities Town Hall Day at the General Assembly on Wednesday. Town Hall Day hosts elected officials and managers from across the state to speak to legislators about issues important to municipalities. Similar to last year, Lana organized a Wake County delegation luncheon to provide a convenient space for all delegates to meet with their municipal partners. Staff and elected officials from Morrisville, Holly Springs, Knightdale, Wake Forest and Zebulon participated. We were able to interact with Senators Alexander and Chaudhuri, and Representatives Adcock, Holley, John and Williams at the luncheon. Members of our group also had the opportunity to speak with Senator Barringer and Representative Dollar.

School of Government Kick Off

On Wednesday evening, the 14th School of Government class, made up of a diverse group of 26 Cary citizens, convened for the introductory session. The participants first got to hear from almost all Council members about how important it is to have engaged citizens and provided background to the class on how they first got involved with Town government. Then, I had the opportunity to play professor and teach about our Council-Manager form of government and share my views on the role of local government. Chris Simpson provided context from the Town Attorneys Office and facts around topics like open meeting laws. Ginny Johnson closed the evening with prizes and information about the Town Clerk’s role supporting Council and managing the Town’s Hillcrest Cemetery.

Supporting the STOP ACT

Assistant Police Chief Tracy Jernigan accompanied the president of the Association of Police Chiefs, Mike Yaniero (Jacksonville PD) to the Attorney General’s Office on Thursday in support of the STOP Bill that is before the legislature. This bill would be great legislation to begin addressing the opioid issue in North Carolina. The AG, Josh Stein, specifically asked if Cary PD could attend since we had done some media on the issue as well as specifically referenced Cary in his comments.

Google Fiber Install at USA Baseball

On Tuesday, Google’s Gigabit Fiber Service was installed at the USA Baseball National Training Complex at Thomas Brooks Park. This service provides high speed internet connectivity for facility and USA Baseball staff. It also offers video streaming capabilities for events and the foundation for public Wi-Fi service. Cary was selected to be the first municipality to test out this new service offering.

Regional Assistance During Water Main Break Response

Earlier this week, staff responded to two separate water main breaks along Waldo Rood Boulevard. Both breaks occurred along a major water transmission main and temporarily shut down sections of a 30-inch and 36-inch main for repair operations. This resulted in a bottleneck in the water system that substantially reduced our ability to adequately supply water to meet the demands of the Central Pressure Zone.

Cary staff called upon Raleigh to provide water under our mutual aid agreement. Raleigh staff responded within 30 minutes of the call and immediately worked to implement a water transfer to Cary through the Trinity Road Pump Station. During the repair, Raleigh supplied approximately 6.5 million gallons of water to the Central Pressure Zone of Cary.

Cary also called upon assistance from Holly Springs, which has an interconnection with Cary’s Southern Pressure Zone. Cary staff recently tested the Holly Springs interconnection by sending water to Holly Springs. This week, Cary and Holly Springs reversed the flow direction and Holly Springs sent approximately 1.4 million gallons to Cary during the repair operations.

We are very thankful for our interconnections with neighboring utilities and especially grateful to our neighbors who provided both timely and vital assistance to us during these critical water main repair operations.

TCAP Meeting Debrief

At their meeting on Wednesday, the Transit Planning Advisory Committee (TPAC) voted to release the Wake County Transit Plan (WCTP) Master Participation Agreement for local governing board consideration. The Master Participation Agreement is a long-term agreement between all regional partners that documents the high level ground rules for implementation of the Plan and will allow participation in Plan revenues. This action now permits each WCTP partner to bring the Agreement to their governing board for review and this will be a staff report for Council in the near future.

Downtown Park Conditional Certificate of Occupancy

Last Friday, the Town received conditional certificate of occupancy and therefore substantial completion of the Downtown Park. Additional site amenities are at the warehouse and are scheduled for installation by Public Works now that we are at this stage. With the conditional CO in hand and given how many people are out there enjoying it, wanted to let you know that staff will be getting together to plan the celebration event being sure to set it on a day when all Council members are available. Look for information in the next few weeks from Ginny.

Annual Water Disinfection Change Coming to an End

The annual water disinfection change that is conducted each March is coming to an end. The disinfection change to free chlorine combined with extensive water system flushing of the Town’s 1,035 miles of water system pipelines is an important part of the Town’s comprehensive water system maintenance program. The Cary/Apex Water Treatment Facility will resume normal disinfection starting on Monday, April 3.

Recognitions

I’d like to give a pat on the back to everyone involved in this week’s water main break repair operations. We work with amazing professionals who executed a quick response by setting up a command center and mobilizing the technical expertise in the field. It took a coordinated ONECary effort with leadership from Utilities, Public Works, Fire, and PIO. Thanks to everyone’s work, we can say that not a single citizen lost water throughout the break and subsequent repairs. Huge accomplishment!  

And over the past week we experienced a number of notable retirements. We’d like to recognize the career and dedication of Jeff Ulma, Planning Director; Ray Boylston, Transit Services Administrator; Assistant Police Chief Scott Davis, and Houston Hinton, Solid Waste Division.

 

Staff’s February Construction and Activity report, Planning and Development report, and construction activity report included the following interesting notes:

  • The average square footage was 4140 square feet compared to 3903 square feet in 2013.
  • Cary had 14.1% of the county’s single family permits which was 2nd to Raleigh which had 22%.
  • Cary’s permits were up 97% from the previous month
  • 3 development plans were approved and included a storage facility, a church expansion, and a sidewalk connection.

Emails from citizens this week included:

  • An email campaign complaining about smoking in public places.
  • An email campaign complaining about not supporting the Atlantic Coast pipeline (not a town function – we have a policy not to get involved in political matters unless is has a direct impact on us and 100% of the council supports thee action)
  • Compliments on the downtown fountain.
  • A complaint about the bridge at Bond Park Lake (already scheduled for repair).
  • A complaint about the intersection of Yates Store Road and Carpenter Fire Station Road (This is a state intersection and state roads. We are working with them on possible improvements).
  • A request and complaint that we won’t make a public statement against a house bill to cap school size (again not a town function and would take all the council to take such an action).

Well, that is all for this week. I will spend the next week on vacation in Augusta, Georgia. My next post will be on Sunday, April 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.

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