Harold’s Blog: Greenways, Taxes, Bowden Case and Saturday’s Tornado

From the blog of Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht, covering the week through April 17, 2011. Photo of Sanford, NC tornado damage by RapidEye via Flickr.

Cary, North Carolina – This week I had a full schedule. When I go on vacation, the work doesn’t stop, it just stacks up. So I spent the week catching up.

Greenway Resistance

Monday I called council members to get their input, concerns, and questions about the agenda for Thursday’s council meetings. I was able to contact all council members but Robinson. The concerns from council members centered on the Pamlico Drive flood mitigation, stream restoration, and Higgins Greenway Trail improvements. Council members have heard from residents that they do not want the greenway improvements.

Later Monday I met with key staff members to go over the agenda. We discussed the issues including Pamlico Drive and believed residents would show up to speak at public speaks out.

No Tax Increase

Tuesday I met with the town manager for preliminary discussions on the upcoming budget. I believe that this year’s budget will be much like last years. I don’t think there is any support or need for a tax increase and we will probably not see any new capital projects.

Saving Page-Walker

Tuesday night I was present at the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution meeting. They presented the Historic Preservation Medal to Ms. Anne Kratzer which is a national award and a great honor. This remarkable lady led the fight to save and restore the Page-Walker building. Without her efforts this important piece of town history would have surely been lost. To find out more about the restoration visit the Friends of the Paige-Walker Hotel at http://www.friendsofpagewalker.org.

Later Tuesday night I met with town staff to go over a variety of issues. We finally adjourned around 9 PM.

Wednesday I was scheduled to meet a representative from the Wake County Council on Fitness and Health. We decided to reschedule this meeting so that more members of their organization could attend. I am looking forward to the meeting so that I can hear their ideas on how to help Cary become a fitter and healthier community.

Later Wednesday I was supposed to attend a training class on Microsoft Outlook but decided to eat dinner with my family instead since it will be my last chance to do that for a week or so. The Town of Cary is in the process of switching from Lotus notes to Outlook. This is good for me since I have been using Outlook for years. The migration is ongoing and the switch will be this weekend (16th and 17th). So if for some reason I am late responding to emails it is because I haven’t gotten things up and running.

Sustainable Development, Pamlico Greenway Decisions, Bowden Case Appeal

Thursday the council held a work session on Sustainable Site Design Standards. Sustainability in this context means a site that is well designed and has well organized spaces as uses change. This work session focused on four new site design standards that will help achieve the existing design guidelines. The existing guidelines include: 1) create human scale, 2) create a sense of place, 3) connect uses, 4) provide transitions, 5) reduce parking impacts, 6) plan for pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit, and 7) provide for open spaces. The four new standards are 1) vehicular circulation, 2) building placement, 3) pedestrian circulation, and 4) open space amenities. The objective of these new standards and guidelines is to create higher quality developments that will assist council with the goal of creating remarkable places.

Thursday night’s council meeting lasted about 2 hours in open session. The two main topics were on a force main along Holly Springs Road and a greenway in the Pamlico Drive neighborhood. The council heard complaints from residents along Holly Springs Road about a force main that will take a lot of their property and remove a large amount of trees. The council decided to delay the decision two weeks to allow staff to meet with the residents to answer questions. The council also heard from residents in the Pamlico Drive neighborhood that asked that the proposed greenway stub and sidewalk be removed from the plans that will mitigate flooding problems. The council agreed to this unanimously. The council went into closed session to talk about the Bowden case. While information about what was said in closed session cannot be revealed, I can tell you that the council has decided to appeal Judge Flannigan’s decision on our sign ordinance.

Friday morning I did an interview with Mix 101.5 about the Bowden case. They asked a few generic questions along with a few off topic questions. The interview lasted about ten minutes. They will edit this interview and broadcast it sometime next week.

Friday night I attended an event in Orange County related to my job at SAS.

Lions International Club Annual Meeting Here in Cary

Saturday morning I was supposed to participate in the Spring Litter sweep. Due to the weather predictions we decided to postpone it until another Saturday. I hope that I will have that Saturday free so I can participate.

Saturday night I attended a dinner for the Lions International. The Lions Club has one of the largest service organizations in the world with over 1.4 million volunteers. Their mission was originally to prevent blindness but now covers all area of service. Currently there are Lions working in Japan and other places around the world. Cary has two Lions clubs. I was a charter member of the Cary Community Lions. The Lions International board is made up of members from around the world. Their current president is Sid Scruggs from the Pinehurst area. He decided to have their annual meeting and dinner here in Cary. What a great event for Cary. I welcomed the crowd before dinner and watched as they danced and partied to wonderful music throughout the night.

Saturday’s Tornado

Saturday afternoon the region experienced a series of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes. Cary’s fire chief reported roofs off of two businesses and 15 reports of trees down. Other than that, Cary escaped most of the damage. Unfortunately, Raleigh, Sanford, and other municipalities were not so lucky. I feel for the victims and my thoughts and prayers go out to them.

Western Wake Wastewater Authorization

Announcements this week included authorization for the Western Wake Partners to begin construction on the Western Wake Wastewater Regional facility. Cary, Apex, and Morrisville have been working for this approval for years so this was good news. From what I understand, construction should take about 3 years.

Bowden Appeal

Cary decided also to appeal the Bowden case. Part of the process of the appeal was to ask Judge Flanagan to reconsider her judgment against the town. Of course she didn’t so now we are in the position to appeal. This case has received a lot of media attention. The media has portrayed this as a 1st amendment violation which I strongly disagree with. Mr. Bowden is allowed at any time to display his message on a sign in his yard. In addition, the media has focused on legal costs. It should be pointed out that legal costs are necessary in municipalities as large as Cary. Cary’s legal staff has two attorneys as compared to Raleigh that has 15.

Greenhouse Gas Reductions

It was also announced this week that Cary will receive $500,000 for an innovative program focusing on greenhouse gas reductions in fire and police departments. The town will create a “Climate Showcase Firehouse” and work with interns to summarize the sustainability data and efforts from municipal fire and police departments. This information will be used to create a Fire Chiefs’ Climate Challenge that will promote sustainability action in fire departments in the state, region, and nation. Cary is only 1 of 22 communities to receive funding from the EPA to improve local health and reduce GHG (Green House Gas) emissions.

Emails: Geese, Development Complaints, Cary Volunteers After Storm

Emails this week included a complaint about geese, comments on too many apartments in Cary, a complaint about Preston HOA maintaining medians, and a complaint about Cary’s sign ordinance.

Positive comments were sent in emails to thank staff at the Booth Amphitheater for their work as the storms approached Saturday. Also a citizen emailed to volunteer his services to help after the storms. God bless him and people like him.

Next week the schedule will ease a little. The week will include a meeting of the mayors association, a meeting of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, and a few dinners.

Well that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, April 24th. Please feel free to email me with a comment. Email all Town of Cary questions or comments to Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org. Email personal comments to augustanat@mindspring.com.

 

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