harold-weinbrecht-mar04

Harold’s Blog: Schools, Development, Recyclebank and the Media

Story and photo by Harold Weinbrecht.

Cary, NC – This week was filled with meetings and school visits.

School Visits

Monday I had a dinner meeting with a former candidate for town council. We talked about several issues in town including chickens and bees. BTW, he was not seeking appointment to the upcoming council seat but was just catching up on what I and the rest of the council was thinking.

Tuesday morning I had the pleasure of visiting Ms. Kuykendall’s kindergarten class at Mills Park Elementary. This group of students took time to draw pictures of me and ask questions which were sent to me by their teacher. We talked a little; I answered a few questions, took a few pictures, and finished the visit with high fives to everyone. It was a lot of fun and I hope to be invited back one day.

Tuesday evening the town manager and I went over issues in our weekly meeting. Not a lot of pressing issues so it was a short meeting.

Wednesday I, along with Mayor Holcombe, visited The Manor Village at Preston retirement community. They asked that Mayor Holcombe and I be on the cover of their brochure about the community so we took several photos. Afterwards we made a quick visit to the dining room to talk to a few residents. It was a very nice and impressive place.

Thursday I met with council member Bush to go over several issues. She is still trying to educate herself on several items. We spent a great deal of time talking about technology, which is one of her favorite topics. I am very impressed by her thoroughness and commitment. We are so lucky to have her on Cary’s council.

Friday was Celebrity Reader Day for area elementary schools. I started the morning at Cary Elementary with Ms. Baker’s third grade class. I read a Dr. Suess book called “Hurray for Diffendoofer Day” and then handed out reader awards. Then the class surprised me with a poem and a beautiful booklet containing pictures, names, and their comments on how I am doing in my job (very complimentary). The poem that was read was:

Mayor Mayor
You watch over our town
Bet you don’t do it with a frown.
Up in your office you operate
Mayor you are really great!
You wear neat suits and ties
Going around town doing Cary business
Making sure people follow laws.
Hope kids get an education
Ruling over our Cary nation.

I had a fantastic time and the booklet will definitely be one of my keepsakes.

Next I headed over to Reedy Creek Elementary to read “Yertle the Turtle” to a third grade class. The book wasn’t that long so I had time to answer a few questions. There were great questions especially since they had been studying branches of government. They were a very kind and complimentary group and even asked me to run for governor, twice. One student, Hailee Taylor presented me with a picture of The Wizard of Oz. What a very sweet class. I had a wonderful time and asked that they invite me back next time.

Criticism for Trip to D.C.

I received an email from the News and Observer reporter wanting my feedback on their story about my trip to Washington. One of the main points in their story was that Raleigh and Apex both get federal funding without federal lobbyist. Here was my feedback:

You wanted my feedback to your story. The implications are that we are wasting time and money. And of course the John Locke Foundation jumped all over that:

“Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht and staff spent two days in Washington, D.C. looking for federal cash for local projects. Read further into this story and you find that Cary spends $100,000 per year on a lobbyist whose job is to seek federal money. Neither Raleigh nor Apex do this. I continue to wonder why anyone thinks it’s appropriate to spend federal dollars on local projects. Why should taxpayers in Tennessee help pay for a project in Cary, or vice versa? They shouldn’t.”

What you left out… Raleigh gets federal funding on things we can’t qualify for because of the size of our town such as their transit system. Who knows how/why Apex gets funding and what it is for (I would like to know that), but I guarantee it is not for project types that we have. We have gotten funding for road projects, police officers, police and fire equipment, sustainability projects, etc. How much did Raleigh and Apex get for those? I bet you it is almost zip. So if the implication is to say we are wasting taxpayer dollars then you were successful. If your intention was to provide the truth you missed the target.

Too often the News and Observer reporters seem be inflammatory at best. I think it would be in everyone’s best interest if they present all sides of an issue.

Staff Communications

Email from staff this week included more information about the developments at Davis Drive and High House. Staff and I had a contradiction of information which I posed last week in my blog. Staff explained the difference:

“I think we (Planning) probably misspoke about signal warrants at that overview meeting.  As we dug deeper to prepare this detailed summary sheet, we verified all the improvements & their timing in conjunction with phasing and C.O.’s with engineering staff.”

Bradford

Here is the latest information on the Bradford development:

Zoning:

  • The property is currently zoned Residential 40 (R-40) within the Mixed Use Overlay district (Cornerstone Community Mixed Use Center).
  • A Mixed Use Sketch Plan (MUSP) for the northeastern quadrant of the mixed use center (06-MU-07) was approved by Town Council for the property on July 26, 2007 under the process in place at that time.
  • The approval was for 100,000 to 200,000 square feet of Commercial and 7,500 to 100,000 square feet of Office Use.
  • In addition, between 300 and 340 residential units were approved consisting of 20 to 40 townhomes and the remainder being multi?family dwelling units.
  • This MUSP approval is good in perpetuity as long as the associated development plans (e.g., site and/or subdivision plans) are generally consistent with the overall intent of the MUSP.
  • If the applicant were to propose significant changes, then a rezoning following the current MXD zoning process would be required.

Development Plan Approvals (administrative and not council approved):

  • The original development plan for Bradford included footprints for all of the buildings on?site except the six outparcels and was approved in May of 2008.
  • The approval, handled administratively by staff in accordance with the LDO, included approximately 118,000 square feet of commercial and 7,500 square feet of office floor space.
  • The applicant also chose to take advantage of a provision in the MUSP that allowed them to increase the residential unit count by 50 units in return for reducing the maximum commercial square footage by 50,000 square feet.
  • This resulted in a total unit count of 390, with 20 of those units being townhomes.
  • The maximum amount of square footage was consequently reduced to150,000 square feet.
  • Subsequent to the original approval, the development plan has been revised twice (once in 2008 and once in 2012). This has resulted in the same number of residential dwellings, an increase in office square footage to approximately 58,000 and a decrease in the commercial square footage to approximately 53,000.
  • In addition, the building footprints have been revised to accommodate the smaller square footages and to provide a terminating vista at the eastern end of the central plaza instead of the open view of the existing cell tower on the adjacent property.

The Comprehensive Transportation Plan (CTP) improvements indicated along the property’s frontage are required to be complete prior to the issuance of the first Certificate of Occupancy (CO) for the development. These improvements include:

  • Widening of Davis Drive to meet the four?lane median divided cross section identified in the CTP
  • Installation of a 450-foot westbound right?turn lane on Davis Drive at High House Road
  • Installation of a 100-foot northbound right?turn lane and signal at the intersection of Davis Drive and Riggsbee Farm Road
  • Installation of a 100-foot northbound right?turn lane, a 150-foot southbound left-turn lane, and a signal at the intersection of Davis Drive and Valleystone Drive
  • Installation of a 100-foot westbound right-turn lane at the right-in/right?out entrance on High House Road
  • Installation of a 100-foot westbound right-turn lane, a 150-foot eastbound left-turn lane, and a signal at the intersection of High House Road and Magness Drive. This signal is also identified in the Searstone plans and the timing of and responsibility for installation is dependent on the relative construction schedules for both developments.

The required off-site improvements identified for the Cary Parkway and High House intersection (installation of a 300-foot southbound right-turn lane on SW Cary Parkway) are tied to the issuance of a CO for the buildings facing High House Road (currently buildings 13 and 14) or prior to the build-out of 80% (170,000) square feet of non-residential floor space.

It should be noted that the timing of the transportation improvements has not changed in either of the subsequent revisions.

The Permit Extension Act froze the ‘shot clock’ on the current approvals until January 1, 2012. Consequently, the developer has until January 1, 2014 to make significant progress (grading of and installation of roads and infrastructure) on the plans.

Once the developer has made significant progress, the development plan would be valid until January 1, 2017.

Once a development plan expires, the zoning approval remains in effect; however, a new development plan would need to be submitted and reviewed again for any un-permitted portions of the development.

Searstone

Here is the latest information on the Searstone development:

As a corollary to the Comprehensive Transportation Plan (CTP) and Adequate Public Facilities (APF) requirements for Bradford, the following improvements are tied to the Searstone development:

  • Improvements already completed as part of Searstone Retail
  • Installation of a 150-foot northbound right-deceleration/turn lane on Davis Drive at Searstone Drive
  • Installation of a 100-foot northbound right deceleration/turn lane on Davis Drive at right-in/right out entrance
  • Installation of a 100-foot eastbound right deceleration/turn on High House Road at the right-in/right out entrance
  • Installation of a 100 foot eastbound right deceleration/turn lane on High House Road at the full service entrance into Searstone
  • Installation of a 100 foot eastbound right turn lane on High House Road at the intersection with Davis Drive
  • Installation of a signal on Davis Drive at Searstone Drive
  • Widening of High House Road to meet ½ of the four lane, median divided section identified in the CTP for the retail frontage Improvements required of Seartone Retail
  • Installation of a signal on High House Road at the full?service access (aligned with Magness Drive in Bradford). A signal warrant analysis is required with each building approval. Once the signal warrants are met, the signal shall be installed prior to the issuance of a Certificate of Occupancy (CO) for that building.
  • Improvements required of Searstone CCRC Phase 1 (w/o Building O [Calais Multi-Family building])
  • Installation of the portion of multi-use trail/greenway that lies within the Phase 1 boundary
  • Improvements required of Searstone CCRC Phase 1 (w/ Building O)
  • Installation of a 300-foot eastbound right-turn lane on High House Road at the intersection with SW Cary Parkway
  • Installation of a 250-foot eastbound left-turn lane on High House Road at the intersection with NW Cary Parkway
  • Installation of the portion of multi-use trail/greenway that lies within the Phase 1 boundary
  • Installation of a signal on High House Road at the full-service access (aligned with Magness Drive in Bradford). Required to be installed prior to the final CO in Phase 1.
  • Improvements required of Searstone CCRC Phase 2
  • Installation of a 100-foot eastbound right-deceleration/turn lane on High House at the second right?in/right?out entrance (Walker Stone Drive) and of a left-over at the same entrance.
  • Installation of a 300 foot eastbound right-turn lane on High House Road at the intersection with SW Cary Parkway
  • Installation of a 250 foot eastbound left-turn lane on High House Road at the intersection with NW Cary Parkway
  • Widening of High House Road to meet ½ of the four lane, median-divided section identified in the CTP for the CCRC frontage
  • Installation of the portion of multi-use trail/greenway that lies within the Phase 1 boundary
  • Installation of a signal on High House Road at the full?service access (aligned with Magness Drive in Bradford). Required to be installed prior to the final CO in Phase 1.

Note: this information represents the most up-to-date scheduling included in a Minor Alteration currently in review to modify the mitigation scheduling for the CCRC. This information may change as that application makes its way through the process.

Recyclebank

There was also an email response from staff to an inquiry by a citizen on the “Recyclebank” initiative which I found informative:

Last year Town staff met and discussed opportunities with a Recyclebank representative. We learned that their program is geared toward new recycling programs or those with low participation rates. In addition, Recyclebank charges participating communities a monthly household fee.  In Cary we are proud that our longstanding recycling program has an approximate 75% participation rate, as well as achieving a 47.6% diversion rate.  Accordingly, Recyclebank is not a cost-effective option for us at this time.

We continually evaluate our recycling program to provide this cost-effective service to our community. We appreciate your suggestion and will keep it in mind for future reference.  Thank you for all that you do to recycle in Cary.  Should you have further questions, please feel free to call or email me directly.

Cary is one of the leaders in recycling and we actually make our citizens money with the recycling materials.

Emails from citizens this week included a lot of requests for council to do something about the North Carolina High School Athletic Association’s proposal to move Panther Creek and Green Hope into another athletic conference. At the last council meeting the council directed staff to create a resolution opposing the move, to come back at our council meeting for March 7th. Unfortunately, we found out that this would miss North Carolina High School Athletic Association’s deadline. So this week I sent a letter stating the council’s opposition.

Other emails included several about the joint land use plan proposed with Chatham County. Unfortunately, a group of people have been misinforming others that this is a development proposal which it is not. So I spent a lot of time answering and correcting this misinformation.

The remainder of emails from citizens included a complaint about Cary potentially allowing chickens, a concern about a development on Highcroft Drive, and several invitations to attend or participate in events.

Next week will be a busy week with meetings, events, and a regularly scheduled council meeting.

Well that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, March 11th. 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.

 

3 replies
  1. Gary
    Gary says:

    Wow, all that planned and approved development at one intersection and so much planned for cars!

    Imagine, a nice Panera develops over in Bradford, and all the healthy Searsstone seniors want to walk across the street and meet-up at a Panera etc., for AM coffee before they walk back to Boj for lunch!

    Needed: a developer paid for, Cary-approved low-cost bicycle/pedestrian-friendly bridge (or tunnel) over/under High House road!

    I invite any town staff to try to walk across the current intersection at rush-hour at senior walking speed, etc.
    It is scary.
    Lots of right-on-red turners talking on cell phones that don’t stop before turning, even after pedestrian has pushed the button and waited!

  2. Harold Weinbrecht
    Harold Weinbrecht says:

    I share your concerns about traffic and walk ability.

    Just an FYI, I met with Mr. Sears a few years ago and he said that he proposed a pedestrian bridge to the shopping center across the street and they refused.

    It is also important to note that the decisions on Bradford and Searstone were made years ago and these are no longer council decisions. I believe these current proposals would have a difficult time being approved by today’s council.

  3. Karl Thor
    Karl Thor says:

    Dear Mayor,
    While I agree that federal money should not be used for local projects, it is! As long as the federal government is giving money for local uses, the Mayor would be neglectign his duties if he did NOT retrieve Cary residents’ federal tax money and bring some value back. Why let other local governments…for example in Tennessee… take Cary residents’ federal tax dollars? Thanks Mayor for going to Washington!
    Karl Thor

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