From the blog of Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht.
Cary, NC – The week was filled with the hustle and bustle of a typical holiday week. Unfortunately it was marred in tragedy which has put our nation in a state of mourning.
Monday – Council Prep and Hanukkah
Monday started with calls to council members to see if they had concerns or questions about items Thursday’s regularly scheduled council meeting agenda. I was able to talk with three out of five council members. Later in the day I was joined by Mayor Pro-Tem Adcock as we met with management, directors, and administration. We went over the agenda and there didn’t appear to be any controversial issues. My prediction of the meeting end time was 8 PM including the closed session.
Monday night, my wife and I had the privilege of joining council member Bush’s family as they celebrated Hanukkah. We had a blast and it was quite an honor to be a part of another family’s holiday celebration. We are so lucky to live in a community that is so diverse where our differences are celebrated with each other.
Tuesday – Storm Water
Tuesday started with a brief conversation with the town manager. We discussed only one issue which involved an issue with Chatham County.
Later Tuesday the council held a work session on the Storm Water Master Plan. The purpose of the master plan is to explore the history of the stormwater management for the town, investigate key components of stormwater as it relates to the town, identify potential enhancements and tools to advance the stormwater program, and provide a foundation for the future. Some points of interest included in the conversation:
- One of the highest points in downtown is the Cary Arts Center. Water flows away from this point.
- Cary has over 850 BMPs (Best Management Practices) for stormwater in Cary. These include rip rap, grass swales, or irrigation from a pond or lake.
- Cary has seven watersheds. Five are in the Neuse River Basin and two are in the Cape Fear Basin. Our drinking supply comes from Jordan Lake which is in the Cape Fear Basin.
The presentation and discussion lasted about an hour and a half. Council agreed with the draft and calendar of events. Some suggestions by council included re-evaluating citizen perception of various BMPs and putting more emphasis on water quality in the Neuse River Basin part of Cary, and more emphasis on water quantity (flooding) in the Cape Fear Basin.
The council also held a closed session on three topics. One was announced at Thursday’s council meeting and will change how we review proposals. This was an extremely intense and important closed session which will have a significant impact on Cary. The closed session on all topics lasted about two hours.
Wednesday – Economic Development Committee
Wednesday was the quarterly meeting of the Economic Development Committee. The committee is made up of me, council members Robinson and Smith, the town manager and director of finance, three chamber members, and three citizen members.
Our meeting covered the economic development environment, updates, a report on the technology task force, an update on the economic branding campaign, and a report about the Triangle J Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy. Here are some points of interest from the meeting:
- As of October Cary’s unemployment rate was 5.2%, Wake County 6.8%, North Carolina 8.8%, and the United States 7.5%.
- The housing market continues to pick up and prices have stabilized.
- The largest contiguous class A office space is now 40,000 square feet which is a concern.
- Garmin’s local software group is expanding to add 50 new employees.
- Lord Corporation is expanding with a $20 million investment that will add 117 jobs.
- A lease is being finalized with a company that will add 150 to 200 jobs. The formal announcement is soon.
- Recruiting is hoping to get a corporate headquarters from California and two businesses from New York.
- Publix is opening a store on Harrison Avenue.
- A new restaurant, Taziki’s, opened in Waverly with Mediterranean cuisine.
- NCAA has awarded Cary the Division II championships through 2015 which will make 7 straight years. This championship creates 2000 hotel room nights and $700,000 in visitor spending.
- The retail vacancy rate is below 8 percent for the first time since late 2008.
- North Carolina was ranked 5th for the top states to do business according to the Area Development publication.
The committee also heard a summary of the Technology Task Force meetings. The full report from the Technology Task Force is over 200 pages and can be viewed at http://www.townofcary.org/Assets/Staff+Reports/AD13-006+Technology+Task+Force+Report.pdf.
The committee concluded the meeting after about one and a half hours. Our next meeting will be on March 30th.
Thursday – Council Meeting
Thursday the council held it’s only regularly scheduled council meeting for December. The meeting started with recognizing outgoing NC representative Weiss and NC Senator Stevens. They each served Cary citizens over a decade in the legislature.
The technology task force then gave their recommendations to the town after months of study. This group did an outstanding job of thoroughly reviewing where we are as a town in regards to technology. At the end of their presentation the council asked that staff come back with recommendations on cost, time, and legal challenges in the form of large-medium-small.
Later in the meeting the council asked staff to bring back recommendations on the possibility of reducing the speed limit on Morrisville Parkway from 45 mph to 35 mph.
Roads & Development
Following the presentations I gave a lengthy statement on the town’s Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance for Roads (Roads APF). More on what this means later. To read the statements go to http://www.townofcary.org/Departments/Administration/pio/facts-apforoads/callforpublichearing.htm. Here is an excerpt from my statement:
“As many of you know, in 1998 the Town of Cary adopted our Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance for Roads to work along with the Town’s local transportation development fee authority to help reduce traffic congestion, provide roads, and maintain Cary’s level of service.
I for one have and continue to whole-heartedly endorse our ordinance and believe it has served our town and citizens well. I know many of you share this opinion.
So, I regret to say that it appears that we may now be forced by the courts to repeal our Roads APF. …”
The council voted unanimously to hold a public hearing on the repeal of the Roads at the council’s first meeting in January. We also unanimously voted to ask the staff to work on recommendations for interim steps we can take to protect our citizens from the burden of paying for road improvements due to development.
We were not unanimous in the suggestion retain a consultant to conduct a study of our transportation fees. As we move forward in what will likely be a Transportation Fee increase, it is extremely important to get the very best advice and expertise to avoid any future challenges and misinterpretations. Therefore, while hiring a consultant is expensive I believe it will save money in the long term.
The Roads APF ordinance was designed to protect Cary citizens. It basically said that if a developer wants to build and the proposed development has an impact on roads then they have three choices: wait for improvements in the Comprehensive Transportation Plan to be implemented by the town, make the improvements yourself, or provide funds so that improvements can be made. As I stated at the council meeting the courts have now interpreted this authority another way, to the detriment of our citizens leaving the council little choice but to repeal our Roads APF ordinance. However, the council does have authority to charge transportation development fees (TDFs). I believe there is a strong possibility that TDFs will increase and other actions will be taken to help protect our citizens and maintain our high quality of life.
Saturday at the Ballet
Saturday I had the joy and pleasure of attending not one but two performances by local ballet companies. First my wife and I went to the Cary Art Center to the performance of “A Very Cary Christmas” by the Cary Ballet Company. This great show included two parts. The first was interpretive dance that featured some of my favorite Christmas songs like Rockin’ around the Christmas tree, up on the Housetop, and Most Wonderful Time of the Year. After intermission we were treated to a version of the Nutcracker called “Vision of Sugarplums” which was absolutely delightful. And the end of the show I had the pleasure of meeting the very talented cast and choreographers. It was a great way to spend an afternoon during the holiday season.
Later Saturday night my wife and I went to the auditorium at Cary Academy to see “Holiday Suite” by the International Ballet Company. Some of their dancers will be competing in the Youth America Grand Prix for over $250,000 in scholarships. The semi-finals will be in Tampa on January 4th-6th and Atlanta March 8th – 10th. This show started with the “Winter Gala” ballet performances by all the dancers in upcoming competitions. What a talented group of dancers. After a short intermission I we enjoyed a beautifully done version of the Nutcracker which included outstanding performances. Both the Cary Ballet Company and the International Ballet Company have excellent dancers and I am proud they are in Cary.
Emails from Staff
Emails from staff this week included the current plans under review. Some of the developments submitted in November and late October included:
- 109 townhomes on Waldo Rood
- 59 single family lots in the Carpenter Hyde subdivision
- 8600 office medical office building on Ridgeview Drive
- 35,000 square foot building for the Waltonwood retirement community
- 16,500 medical office building on Carpenter Fire Station Road
To see the complete list of plans under review go to http://www.townofcary.org/Assets/Planning+Department/Planning+Department+PDFs/planreview/Active+Projects+in+the+Review+Process+(sorted+by+date).pdf.
Emails from Citizens
Emails from citizens this week included a complaint about the noise ordinance in Apex, a complaint about the traffic lights and Kilmayne Drive, a complaint about a C-Tran driver, a complaint about how the town is handling the BB Gun issue, and a complaint about the Morrisville Parkway speed limit. On the positive side I received several invitations and pictures from the Christmas parade.
As I write this journal entry, the tragedy of Friday’s killings weighs heavy on my heart as it does many others, in a time of year that should be joyful. Please join me with thoughts and pray for the families that lost and that suffer, for Newtown, and for America.
Get in Touch
Well that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday December 223rd. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.