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Harold’s Blog: May 5, 2014

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Cary, NC — This week was a busy one and included the selection of a new town clerk.

Monday  – Town Clerk Interviews

On Monday the council met for several hours and interviewed the final three candidates for town clerk to replace Sue Rowland who is retiring August 1st. This was the second interview for each candidate. All the candidates were very good candidates and the choice was a very difficult one. We should be making the selection known in the near future.

Tuesday in Morrisville

Tuesday I joined Mayor Pro-Tem Adcock, council member Robinson, town manager Shivar, and several staff members in Morrisville for a joint issues subcommittee meeting. Here is some of the information that came from that meeting:

  • Morrisville has taken the Crabtree Crossing extension off the transportation plan. It would have connected to the Triangle Parkway which would have connected to I540. Their fear is that it would turn into a freeway. I agree.
  • Staffs presented boundary properties that have one owner. That is, properties that is both in Cary and Morrisville with one owner. There were only a few couple of cases and most properties have already been built.
  • There are three significant greenway connections between the towns.
  • Black Creek greenway will go south of Crabtree Lake and then to Evans. Then it will be picked up by the Morrisville Greenway. The entire stretch will be finished in 2017.
  • Grace Park Greenway was completed in January of this year.
  • Cary completed 450 feet of the Downing Village Greenway near Twin Lakes.
  • Cary also completed a connection across Indian Creek
  • There is an ongoing study of the NC 54 corridor from Maynard to I540. There should be an information session later this year.
  • We decided to investigate applying for CAMPO LAPP funding to add a sidewalk from Cary to Park West.

The meeting lasted about an hour and a half. Our next meeting will be sometime in September.

Staff was asked several questions at the joint committee meeting. Here is their response to those questions:

  • McCrimmon Parkway Extension: this roadway east of Highway 55 to Louis Stephens Dr. is currently planned to be a grade separated, four lane, median divided facility as shown on the Cary Thoroughfare Plan. The project currently does not have a funding priority from the Town or NCDOT but the project has been submitted for SPOT 3.0 consideration. However, staff is not confident the project will achieve a high ranking.
  • Old Reedy Creek Rd.: This is a Town of Cary maintained street and, currently, there are no plans to have it paved.
  • NC 54 in Cary, from Cary Parkway to Maynard: This facility is designated as six lanes and median divided on the Cary Thoroughfare Plan as was indicated last night.
  • Little Drive and O’Kelly Chapel Rd.: The information that was shared with the Committee was correct. With the construction of Carpenter Fire Station Rd. – a grade separated crossing over the CSX Railroad and NC 55 – two rail crossings will be eliminated. Once the project is completed, we would expect Little Dr. and O’Kelly Chapel Rd. to be connected since two previously existing crossings will have been closed.

Wednesday

Cary Citizens Police Academy

Wednesday I joined council member Smith for the 34th graduating class of the Cary Citizens Police Academy. This is a twelve week program that explores topics like criminal and constitutional law, patrol, criminal investigations, youth services, DWI detection, and domestic violence. I, along with council member Smith, gave a few congratulatory comments before having to leave for our next event.

Cary School of Government

Next I headed over to The Cary Theater for the 2014 graduation of The School of Government. Cary’s School of Government provides the community with an opportunity to learn how municipal government functions, what services are provided, and how citizens can become involved. Students get a behind-the-scenes look at Town government structure, culture and decision-making. After a tour of the facility and a presentation on downtown I gave a few comments to the graduating class asking them to be more involved in the town and become advocates. We then handed out diplomas, took pictures, and attended a reception.

Thursday

Thursday the council held three meetings. Our first meeting was a special meeting to go into closed session. Our closed session was to get information about an economic development opportunity.

Evans Farm Townhomes

Our second meeting on Thursday was a quasi-judicial hearing on the subdivision and site plan for Evans Farm townhomes which would be on the south side of O’Kelly Chapel Road between Green Level Church Road and Alston Avenue.

I was the dissenting vote on this proposal. I believed it did not meet approval criteria #3 that states “the plan provides harmony and unity with the development of nearby properties”. In my opinion, 147 townhomes is not in harmony adjacent to single family homes.

Imagine Cary, Phase 2

Our third meeting Thursday was a work session on phase 2 of Imagine Cary which is a multi-year effort to prepare a new community plan. Find out more about Imagine Cary at http://www.imaginecary.org/.

Our work session included presentations on reframing policy choice topics by staff, consultants, and co-chairs of the Committee For the Future. The committee had taken eight points for discussion in information stage and presented it to council in five simpler questions. These questions or areas of conversation will be presented to the public with many options (including none of the above). The downtown and transportation will have a delay so that feedback and decisions on more land use issues can be resolved. The first stage of public engagement phase of information will be this summer and fall. Our work session lasted about an hour and fifteen minutes.

Saturday – Purple Cloth 5K

Saturday I had the pleasure of giving welcoming comments to the Purple Cloth 5K for Dorcas ministries supported by Genesis United Methodist Church. All of the proceeds from this race went to Dorcas ministries. In my comments I challenged people to not only provide funding but to offer time, old clothing, and other items.

Sunday

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sigma Tau Omega

Sunday I had the honor of attending the book release of the first 20 years of the Alpha Kappa Alpha’s Sigma Tau Omega chapter in Cary. This chapter serves our community through their many actions and initiatives throughout the year. We are blessed to have them in our community.

Historic Preservation in Cary

Later Sunday I attended the Capital Area Preservation and Wake County Historic Preservation in Cary. In the ceremony there were four plaques given for historic landmarks. Two sites were recognized in Morrisville, one in Garner, and one in Cary. The Cary historic site was Hillcrest cemetery. This historic site has graves from the 1800s and includes 11 past mayors. We are very glad to have it recognized.

Staff Emails

Development Activity

Staff emails from this week included reports about current development in the pipeline. Here is an excerpt from that email:

The 1st report is Active Single Family (SF) developments & percent complete.  This report indicates that there is some level of construction activity on the approved site/subdivision.  What makes it ‘active’ is that the developer has started land disturbing activities, including things like grading, installing infrastructure (water/sewer/streets) and/or pulling building permits.  The total approved number of lots in this grouping totals 5,702, with 3,464 Certificates of Occupancies (CO’s) issued and another 569 with active building permits meaning that there are 1,669 available lots to be built upon, although 1,318 have yet to be platted, and ordinances do not allow building permits to be issued until after plats are approved, so technically there 315 that are ready to build upon, as of the March 31st report date.

The 2nd report is Active Multi-Family developments, which indicates 2,155 units, the majority of which are either actively under construction, close to going to construction, complete, or nearing completion.

The 3rd report is more indicative of the current ‘pipeline’ projects that Mr. Yerha may have been referring, indicating projects approved (but not yet ‘active’, as described above) and projects currently in review.  This indicates 723 approved multi-family units and 590 approved single family lots.  (Again these are projects that have site/subdivision plan approval but no construction activity, of any kind, has begun.)  There are currently 197 multi-family units in review and 985 single family lots in review.

The reason for this council question was that there is a lot of development occurring all at once which can create issues with traffic and schools. Cary requires developers to pay fees to mitigate some of the traffic impact their developments on road systems. But these fees are less than 100% of the impact and are limited by our authority. No municipality in North Carolina has authority to have school adequacy requirements before development. So in cases of rapid development this can cause issues. And we are seeing this not just in Cary but all over Wake County.

Limiting “Local Acts”

In other staff emails we were notified that there is draft legislation that would prohibit any ordinances regulating removal/replacement/preservation of trees on private property and removes an existing provision of the statute that exempted local acts from its purview. Thus, it may essentially “overrule” Cary’s local act on this topic. Once again our state legislature is attacking local municipalities’ authority to govern its citizens to the detriment of our environment and the benefit of unscrupulous developers. PLEASE call your representatives and ask that they allow us to protect trees otherwise future developments will have massive clear cutting and there will be nothing we can do about it.

Cary Quarterly Report

The first quarterly report was sent out by staff this week. Here are some of the highlights:

  • As of April 1, 2014, the Town of Cary’s population is estimated at 148,855, an increase of 4,539 people (+3.05%) since the April 1, 2013 estimate.
  • Since the last quarterly report, the Town grew by 55.2 acres, bringing the size of Cary to 36,690 acres (57.32 square miles).
  • During the first quarter of 2014, 352 new single-family dwelling (SFD) permits were issued- an increase of 22.6 percent from the same quarter last year.
  • The average unit size in Q1 2014 was 3,858 square feet.
  • Cary issued 22.7 percent of all new single-family dwelling permits in Wake County during Q1 2014. This was the most of any other jurisdiction in Wake County.
  • “Bartley” Park (Bond Funded) was placed out for bids. Project is located on Penny Road and proposed facilities include a dog park, playground, spray ground, trails, lawn area, public art, shelter and restrooms along with parking, utilities and an entrance road. Construction should begin in summer 2014 and conclude in summer 2015.
  • “Carpenter” Neighborhood Park (Bond Funded) – Staff and Consultant are finalizing plans which include a pond for the new neighborhood park located at corner of Louis Stephens Dive and Morrisville Carpenter Road. Construction is planned to begin summer 2015.
  • Downtown Park (Bond Funded) -Staff and the consultants held work sessions with Council in February and March regarding the fountain. Overall project design is 25% complete.
  • Morrisville Connecting Trails – This project includes making connections to three trails that will connect with Morrisville greenway system. Construction began in August and two of the three segments are open to the public.
  • New Hope Church Road Trailhead (Federal Grant) – Project was bid but all bids came in over estimate. All bids were rejected and staff plans to rebid after making minor changes to the bid package. Project includes developing a 100 car parking lot and restroom adjacent to the American Tobacco Trail.
  • Symphony Lake Bridge Replacement – Construction began in November and opened to the public for the Cary Road Race. Project included replacing the existing greenway bridge at the eastern edge of Symphony Lake widening it from 6′ to 12′.
  • Fire Station 2 (Bond Funded) -Building design of the facility that will be located at 601 E. Chatham Street, is in the final stages. Construction should begin later this year and conclude in late 2015.

Staff is completing designs for 10 sections of new sidewalk to complete gaps within the Town’s sidewalk network. Bid Advertisement is scheduled for summer 2014 with construction beginning in the fall and being completed in late 2015. Projects include:

  • Southeast Cary Parkway – From existing sidewalk opposite Hampton Valley Road to existing Sidewalk opposite Seabrook Avenue
  • Southeast Cary Parkway – Install new sidewalk at existing sidewalk gaps opposite Coorsdale Drive and at Waltonwood Senior Living, US 1/64 Ramps and gap South of US 1/64 and opposite Thurston Drive
  • Queensferry Road (Phase IV) from Govan Lane to Edinburgh Dr. to Glasgow Road
  • McCrimmon Parkway from Existing Sidewalk at Twin Lakes PUD at Lake Grove Blvd. to existing sidewalk in Town of Morrisville
  • Felspar Way – Install new sidewalk to complete gap from existing sidewalk to Autumngate Drive.
  • 1500 Piney Plains Road – Install new sidewalk to complete gap in existing sidewalk network
  • SW Cary Pkwy – From existing sidewalk opposite Cork Harbor to existing sidewalk west of Kilarney Drive
  • C-Tran still averaged an overall 1.5% increase in ridership or 831 additional one-way trips compared to same time period in 2013.
  • Average water per capital is 53 gallons which is the lowest since measurements started in 1995.
  • Crime Statistics: Overall, reported offenses show a 9% decrease through March 2014 over the same time period in 2013.

To read the entire report see http://www.townofcary.org/Assets/Town+Manager$!27s+Office/Quarterly+Report+Documents/1st+Qtr+2014.pdf.

Emails from Citizens

Emails from citizens included concerns about outdoor music, several concerns about school overcrowding in west Cary, a concern about mail delivery, a concern about the data on recycling in our biennial survey, concerns about traffic at the Bond park entrance, a question about tennis for seniors, and complaints about Amberwood apartment’s clearing of their tree buffer.

Get in Touch

Next week looks like another busy week. It includes a meeting with a school board member, a tennis exhibition, a work session, a council meeting, and other meetings.

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

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From the blog of Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht. Photo by Hal Goodtree.