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Harold’s Blog – Chatham Street Development and More

Cary, NC – This week was another long week with three long nights and a Saturday work session.

Monday – Planning for the Week

Monday I called around to all council members to hear their concerns and questions about Thursday’s regularly scheduled council meeting. I was only able to contact Yerha, Frantz, and Smith. There were no major concerns expressed about the items on the agenda. Later Monday I met with management, administration, finance, legal, planning, and engineering to go over the agenda. I predicted that our council meeting would last about 3 hours.

After the agenda meeting I met with the Deputy Town Manager and the two assistant town managers to go over current issues in town. We discussed the Jordan project coming up at a work session, downtown construction, issues with construction around the Mayton Inn, and a few other items.

Monday night my wife and I joined Mayor Pro-Tem Yerha for a VIP dinner at the Pre-Opening night of Hickory Tavern in Parkside Commons. They are ranked one of the top sports bars and I thought the experience was great. The food was fantastic and the management and wait staff outstanding. I am looking forward to my next visit.

Tuesday – Chatham Street Development

Tuesday I met with the Cary Chamber’s Leadership class to talk about my duties as mayor. After explaining my role I answered a few questions mostly about western Cary not feeling connected to the rest of Cary.

Tuesday night the council held a work session on Imagine Cary and a downtown proposal. The council approved staff recommendations for the Imagine Cary Chapters on Shop, Engage, and Serve. The only significant change to the documents was that art should be integrated in town infrastructure and buildings rather than just incorporated.

The council also approved a staff recommendation to partner with Northwoods Associates on a $46 million dollar private investment. The proposal has 55,000 to 75,000 square feet of office and retail, 188 multi-family units, a parking deck of 466 spaces (222 public spaces), and the movement and restoration of the Ivey Ellington House. The First Baptist Church is also a  partner in this development proposal.

The town’s investment would be $4.1 million which the council voted to use out of the $33 million available in fund balance. The council also agreed to move the Ivey-Ellington House to allow an entrance to the development off Chatham Street. This was after a passionate plea by Mayor Pro-Tem Yerha to keep the house at its current location. The council asked that staff work with the State Historic Preservation to determine the best location for the Ivey Ellington House. Council also agreed that the parking deck should be screened from view especially from Academy Street. The work session concluded after about two and a half hours.

Wednesday – Chamber Reception

Wednesday I attended the Cary Chamber of Commerce Elected Officials reception at MacGregor Downs Country Club. There were about 100 people in attendance. I gave welcoming remarks and introduced the council who were all in attendance. Almost half of the attendees were elected officials or running for elected office. There were representatives from the US Senate, US Congress, State offices, NC Senate, NC House, Wake County Commissioners, Wake County School Board, and judges. Council members left the event after about an hour and a half for a closed session meeting.

The council then went to the Mayton Inn to a conference room to go into closed session to discuss the town manager’s position. We met for about three hours and are still on schedule to make an appointment.

Thursday – Council Meeting

Thursday the council held their last regularly scheduled meeting of the month. There were five public hearings, four discussion items, and a closed session. The public hearing that had the most comments was the Hanna public hearing which proposed to build a house looking structure to hold a medical office, allow some retail sales, and be the residence for Dr. Hanna. Nearby neighbors voiced concerns about potential multi-family housing and traffic. The four discussion items were noncontroversial and were approved unanimously. Once returning from closed session the council adjourned. The meeting lasted three hours.

Friday – Mayors Meeting

Friday I participated in the NC Metro Mayors Coalition meeting. The purpose of the meeting was to give a legislative update of the first week in session. Discussed topics included visiting the legislators, economic development, the light rail cap, House Bill 2, the governor’s budget, and a few other bills. The meeting lasted a little over half an hour.

Saturday – Imagine Cary

Saturday the council, staff, and consultants met for three hours to finishing reviewing the Imagine Cary draft that will be presented to the public. First the council reviewed the LIVE chapter which is about fostering strong and sustainable neighborhoods. Next the council reviewed the MOVE chapter which is about an efficient transportation system. This was followed by the SHAPE chapter which was about managing future land use including redevelopment and infill. Finally the council reviewed the ACT chapter which is about moving the vision to reality. Council will review examples of how the plan works in the July timeframe. The public will have two separate weeks in the July-August time frame to review and provide their suggestions. The plan is expected to be completed by year’s end.

News from Staff

Emails from staff this week included a public service announcement about construction at the intersection of Academy Street and Chatham Street. Beginning May 16th crews will close the intersection nightly Monday through Friday at 7 p.m. and all day Saturday. They will re-open the intersection to traffic at 7 a.m. Monday through Friday and Sundays. Concurrently, crews will be working to re-open the Kildaire Farm Road and Walnut Street intersection in all directions from Kildaire Farm Road to Facility Avenue. With that intersection re-opening, Academy Street traffic flow will change to one-way northbound between Dry Avenue and Chatham Street. Work is expected to be completed this fall.

Another email from staff included the first quarter report from 2016. Here are some notable items from the report:

  • Cary’s population as of April 1st is 156,531 which is a 2.44% increase in the last 12 months.
  • Cary’s incorporated limits include 58.84 square miles.
  • 14% of Wake County’s new single family homes were in Cary during this period.
  • AT&T, Google, and Time Warner are installing fiber in Cary. The town is not involved but helping citizens resolve concerns and complaints.
  • The town purchased its first automated leaf collection truck which uses one person instead of three.
  • First quarter water demand averaged 15.9 million gallons. This is a 0.6 million gallons more than last year at this time.
  • There was a 72% increase in violent crime over the last year. Those were mostly robberies and aggravated assaults (robbery from 5 to 12 and assaults from 10 to 15). Property crimes and other crimes were down for the last 12 months.
  • Fire/rescue calls increased 34.48% during the last year.
  • Participation in environmental events increased 9% in the first quarter of this year.
  • The town’s SPRUCE program and Adopt-A-Spot had 141 events that collected 5,592 pounds of litter and 42 trees.
  • The town refinanced GO Bonds that will save Cary taxpayers $980,000.

To view the entire report, go to http://townofcary.uberflip.com/i/673033-2016-1st-quarter-report.

Emails from Citizens

Emails from citizens this week included:

  • Comments about Chesterfield Drive and Chapel Hill Road.
  • More Carpenter Village emails against a developer proposed rezoning.
  • A complaint about the way I listed Carpenter Village emails in last week’s blog.
  • A complaint about getting tickets for the amphitheater.
  • Comments about a proposed Publix in Amberly.
  • Comments about a newly proposed downtown development.
  • Comments against a proposed rezoning on Kildaire Farm Road.

Coming Plans

Next week will continue to be busy for me. Activities include a budget preview meeting, a meeting on the town manager search, and a talk at the Heart of Cary Association meeting.

Get in Touch

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, May 8th.  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.