Cary, NC – Monday was my first day back after spending most of last week in Augusta, Georgia working at the Masters. Other than getting wind-blasted for 12 hours a day, it was a fantastic tournament and I was blessed to have the opportunity to volunteer for my 38th year.
Monday – Construction
Monday afternoon I attempted to contact council members to hear their questions or concerns about the agenda for Thursday’s regularly scheduled council meeting. There were very few questions and most of them were about the Land Development Ordinance amendments being proposed by staff. Later Monday I met with management, administration, public information, legal, and finance to go over the agenda. After our meeting I predicted the council meeting would take about an hour.
After the agenda meeting I met with the Interim Town Manager and Assistant Town Managers to go over items. They pointed out that a parking lot that will be built on Cedar Street near the new Bond Brothers Brewery is anticipated to be much less than expected. Savings could exceed $100,000. We also talked about several other issues including the Academy Street construction which remains a major concern to many people. Staff assured me that we are “leaning” on the construction firm as much as possible.
Following the meetings with the town manager’s office I participated in a meeting about a potential diving facility in Cary. This has been in the news recently. At this meeting we were given a presentation and discussion followed about next steps. The diving facility is a long way off from becoming a reality but I am hopeful.
Tuesday – City Agenda
Tuesday morning I received information about Deutsche Bank’s decision to delay their expansion efforts in Cary due to HB2 commonly referred to as the bathroom law. After a couple of hours passed I was contacted by several members of the media including ABC, CBS, the Cary News, and PBS. I talked with all of them except PBS who wanted to talk next week.
Tuesday all of the council members except Robinson were present as we presented our agenda to the Cary delegation of the NC legislature. In attendance from the Cary delegation were Senator Barringer, Representatives Adcock, Avila, and Hall. Downtown manager Ted Boyd presented the legislators a summary of changes in the downtown. I followed him by going over our legislative agenda. First I talked about our advocacy principles and followed that with requests for this upcoming short session which included:
- Seek a local bill to amend the town’s charter to:
- Allow the town to sell property subject to covenants or restrictions
- Allow the town council to delegate authority to the town manager to execute utility easements or agreements on town-owned property
- Clarify the town’s authority to condition site plan approval
- Seek a local bill to authorize the town to donate service animals to their handlers
- Support legislation to protect Jordan Lake as a drinking water supply
- Support legislation to amend the Iran Divestment Act of 2015 to eliminate the requirement for local governments to require contractors to document their exclusion from the Iran Divestment List.
To read the principles presented to the delegates see http://www.townofcary.org/Departments/townmanagersoffice/Legislative_Program/2016_NC_Legislative_Agenda.htm?PageMode=Print. Our meeting concluded after about two hours.
Following the meeting I did an interview with ABC11 on the Deutsche Bank announcement and HB2. My comments were similar to what I had said earlier in the day.
Wednesday – Graduation
Wednesday I had a phone interview with Bloomberg News. Their initial interest was HB2 but then we discussed the legislative majority and how their actions have harmed metropolitan areas. We talked for about half an hour.
Wednesday night I joined council members Bush, Smith, and George at the graduation ceremony for the town’s School of Government class. The School of Government is basically a “citizen’s college” designed to increase understanding of how and when the public is involved in Town processes and decisions. A major goal of the class is to spur greater community involvement. The course has been offered annually since 2003. This last class session focused on the Imagine Cary planning process. After the session, I, along with the council members, handed out graduation certificates. Then we adjourned and talked with class graduates. All comments were positive and one graduate told me that all Cary residents should take this class. I agree.
Thursday – Downtown
Thursday was a busy day for me. First the council held a work session on Imagine Cary. We spent most of the time discussing downtown subareas: East Chatham Gateway, North Academy, Central Chatham, South Academy, West Chatham Gateway, and Supporting Neighborhoods. In general the council agreed with recommendations. We also spent ten minutes reviewing the Eastern Gateway. We confirmed that we wanted this to move forward ahead of the Imagine Cary process since there is so much interest in this area.
After the work session I met with culinary exchange students from our sister city Le Touquet, France. I introduced myself and tried to pronounce their names. Then we posed for pictures together.
Thursday night the council held their first regularly scheduled council meeting of the month. There were three public hearings and four discussion items. The public hearing for the Carpenter Village PDD rezoning had several speakers mostly opposed to the proposal. The discussion items did not generate much discussion from council and were all passed unanimously. Our meeting concluded after about one and a half hours.
Friday – HB2
Friday I issued a statement on behalf of the entire Cary Town Council on HB2 which was as follows:
“The Town of Cary is a warm, friendly, and thriving community with a flourishing economy and a strong job market. As the 7th largest municipality in the state, we embrace the gifts, talents, and experiences that each of us has to offer. It is through mutual respect and understanding that we can reach our full potential.
“While we and our staff work to understand the legal and practical effects of HB2, we want to take this opportunity to assure our citizens and others that Cary is a welcoming community that is dedicated to the principles of non-discrimination and equal protection for all.
“The Town of Cary continues to be a great place to live, work, play, raise a family and do business.”
The Cary Town Council usually stays out of state and federal political matters and does not pass resolutions on such things. We would prefer to focus on local issues. However, since this matter directly impacted our citizens we made the statement. While the council was not unanimous on whether to voice opposition or support HB2 we were unanimous in supporting our statement which embraces diversity. The statement was agreed on by all council members. They were each contacted and read the statement before it was released.
Here are my personal thoughts on HB2:
“Based on comments I have read, most people don’t seem to understand the definition of a transgender person. Basically, a person who is transgender identifies themselves as the opposite sex from the sex they were born. They usually appear as the opposite sex and may still have genitalia of their birth sex; and that is nobody’s business but their own as that does not constitute a threat to anyone. With the new HB2 law you may now see what appear to be males in the women’s bathroom and what appear to be females in the men’s bathroom.
I believe this whole ordeal was purely political and citizens across the state are and will continue to suffer as a result of this political gamesmanship. It started with Charlotte making a political statement by passing an ordinance. Then that was followed by the legislative majority passing HB2. Rather than addressing the issue directly with Charlotte the legislative majority once again passed a one-size-fits-all law that is having negative impacts on everyone in the state. Political leaders are elected to SERVE citizens not play political games. Too bad the legislative majority doesn’t understand that. Shame on all of those involved (on both sides) for generating this issue!”
Saturday – Town Manager
Saturday the council spent nine hours interviewing town manager candidates. We were all pleased with the candidates we interviewed and I believe we are on schedule to appoint a new town manager in the coming weeks.
Emails from Citizens
Emails this week included:
- A complaint about fiber installation.
- A complaint about the lack of a scooter race track.
- A concern about cut through traffic as a result on the Morrisville Parkway closing.
- A complaint about the town’s public information release that included a quote from Ringo Starr on why he cancelled his concert in Cary.
- Several complaints on not wanting a rezoning to be approved in Carpenter Village.
- A comment about median plantings.
- A complaint about water leaking in the Cary Senior center garden.
- A complaint about AT&T’s lost service and our lack of making them fix it sooner (we have no authority to make AT&T do anything about service).
Next week will continue to be busy for me. Activities include a meeting of Wake County Mayors, an interview with PBS, a quasi-judicial meeting of council, a meeting of the executive board of CAMPO, a meeting with artists who are doing integrated art in our parking deck, and speaking at the American Turkish Children’s Day festival.
Get in Touch
Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, April 24th. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
From the blog of Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht. Photo by Hal Goodtree.