Cary Mayor

Harold’s Blog: Town Council Meeting, Morrisville Community and More

Cary, NC – This week was relatively short in comparison to typical weeks this time of year.

Monday – Planning for the Week

Monday I called council members to hear of concerns or questions they may have had about the upcoming council meeting on Thursday. Since the discussion part of that meeting was quasi-judicial I was not allowed to discuss those topics with council members.

Later Monday I joined Mayor Pro-Tem Bush and management staff for a very short meeting to go over the agenda. I then met briefly with the Deputy town manager and the Public Information Officer.

Thursday – Town Council Meeting

Thursday the council held the only regularly scheduled meeting of the month. The reason this is the only meeting is because next Thursday is Valentines and the following Thursday will be the annual council-staff working retreat. The agenda included seven consent items, three public hearings, and two quasi-judicial hearings. A public hearing to amend the Weston PDD (18-REZ-27) to allow more parking drew speakers in opposition with concerns of noise, light, and buffering. Hopefully the neighbors and the applicant will work out differences before we have to vote on this matter in a few months. The public hearings were following by a closed session that lasted about twenty minutes.

The first quasi-judicial hearing was for a reduction in the width of the Highway Corridor Buffer along I-40 to facilitate development of a new 32,000-square-foot office and warehouse facility in Gateway Center for Bitting Electric. Testimony showed that this encroachment would not be visible and would blend with like uses around them. This was approved by council 6 – 1.

The second quasi-judicial hearing was a special use permit to develop an 81,500-square-foot mini-storage facility near the intersection of Airport Boulevard and Davis Drive. After testimony council members expressed several concerns in a lengthy deliberation. A motion to deny was defeated 4 – 3. However a follow-up motion to approve was also defeated 4 – 3. So I then asked the council member that changed his mind to make a motion. His motion was to deny. In the discussion part of the motion there was additional deliberation. Eventually the council approved the motion to deny by a 5 to 2 vote with council members Frantz and Yerha voting against. The council meeting concluded after about three hours and forty-five minutes.

Friday – North Carolina General Assembly

Friday I participated in the year’s first meeting of the North Carolina Metro Mayors. Here is a summary of that meeting provided by the Executive Director:

The North Carolina General Assembly convened last Wednesday, January 30, to begin their work for the 2019 “long” session. We expect the start to this year’s session to be fairly slow. On the first day of session, both Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore said that General Assembly action would be minimal the first couple of weeks. The House held several committee meetings this week and most meetings were strictly informational. The main floor work this week included adoption of the House permanent rules, revision of the Senate rules, and appointments to the State Ethics Commission.

The 2019-20 Biennial session ushers in a new framework for the General Assembly and there are already indications that it will operate differently given the new makeup of the body. The Democrats in both chambers and Governor’s interests are more relevant since the Republicans no longer have a “supermajority.” Also noteworthy, there are a large number of “newer” legislators on both sides of the aisle, with many first-term freshmen and second-term sophomores in both chambers.  Additionally, it has been noted by many experts (NCFREE election analysis) that there is a growing trend in elections for Democrats to represent “urban counties,” while Republicans increasingly dominate legislative elections in “rural counties.”

NCGA Partisan Makeup

Senate 29 R – 21 D (30% freshmen, 16% sophomores)

House 65 R – 55 D (23% freshmen, 18% sophomores)

Little more Sunshine in the OPERATION

The Senate revised its operating rules to require that the minority leader be given 24 hours’ notice that a vetoed bill may be considered by the Senate. Additionally, the new rules require that proposed committee substitutes must be distributed to committee members by 6:00 p.m. the day before a vote is held.

The House announced a new approach to their weekly schedule to provide more predictability and allow more time for bills to be thoroughly vetted in committees. The new House committee schedule will include Rules Committee meetings on Monday nights followed by a 7:00 p.m. session that often will not include recorded votes unless necessary. Each committee has a scheduled time slot, an hour for lunch is accounted for Tuesday through Thursday, and each day includes a set time for session.

Top Leadership remains.

Key Committees have new leadership in most Committees relevant to cities:

Below are links to resources on the North Carolina Legislative Website that you may find helpful.

House and Senate Committee Assignments – Related to House Committee Assignments, the Speaker Pro Tempore, Rules Chairman, House Majority Leader, and Deputy House Majority Leader will serve as ex officio voting members on all House standing committees.

Legislative Representation Look up which legislators represent a certain area.  You can search by a specific address, district, or county.

House Member Contact Information – Includes room number, office telephone, and e-mail address.

Senate Member Contact Information – Includes room number, office telephone, and e-mail address.

NCGA Audio – All House and Senate floor sessions and most committees have their audio live streamed.

TOPICS Discussed included:

School Construction Bills – As expected, House and Senate Republicans introduced competing legislation to fund school construction.  The House plan proposes a $1.9 billion bond. The Senate plan, SB5, proposes paying for construction using an increased annual allocation to the State Capital Infrastructure Fund. Read more from the News & Observer here

For Metro Mayors Awareness/ON the HORIZON:

Medicaid Expansion – priority issue for the Governor and there is BI-PARTISAN interest in the effort.  We expect it to take up a lot of the time and energy for this session.  Similarly, changes to the State Employees Health Plan will be a priority issue (State Treasurer is leading the charge on that).

ABC Privatization – a perennial issue that seems to have a bit more energy this session.  Metro Mayors will pay close attention.  NCLM has a carefully nuanced legislative position that stresses that ANY change must: 1) NOT reduce local revenues; 2) must maintain local government role in locating establishments, and lastly; 3) maintain funding for treatment programs.  Metro Mayors Coalition may have to weigh in on this topic as it develops.

Economic Development Tier System – a likely issue this session with potentially significant impact on cities.  Still waiting to see which legislators may provide leadership on the topic.

E-Scooters – we WILL see legislation on this topic from Rep. Torbett (Gaston).  Metro Mayors will host a city staff call on the topic to explore the topic further and report back to the Mayors.

The meeting concluded after 30 minutes.

Friday night my wife and I joined a couple hundred people in the celebration of the Sharma’s 70th wedding anniversary. The Sharma’s came to the area over 50 years ago. They started the Hindu Society of North Carolina which is in Morrisville. They are the main reason for the large Indian-American population in Morrisville and Cary. We are blessed to share the Indian rich culture and their desire to serve their community. Congratulations to the Sharmas!

Cary Mayor

Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht and his wife with the Sharmas

Sunday – State of Cary Address

Sunday I spoke at a meeting of Cary Democrats to give them a ten minute version of the State of Cary address. Questions following my talk included the topics of affordable housing, transit, resolutions on national issues, and town’s human resource policies.

Town Manager’s Report

The town manager’s report for this week included:

Reclaimed Water Holiday

On Monday, February 11, the Reclaimed Water System will begin its annual 10-day maintenance shutdown. The shutdown provides the opportunity to perform vital maintenance that is difficult to achieve while the system is in operation. Reclaimed water from the Durham County Waste Water Treatment Plant that is supplied to western Cary’s distribution system will also be suspended. Cary’s reclaimed water distribution network includes 42 miles of distribution lines and 796 metered accounts and supplies an average daily billed consumption of 485,000 gallons per day. Reclaimed water is also used at the water reclamation facilities for cooling water for the biosolids dryer and various process support operations. The Reclaimed Water Holiday is scheduled in February because that is when irrigation needs are at their lowest. Both residential and commercial reclaimed water customers received a written notice of the holiday prior to the shutdown. After maintenance is complete, the system resume operations on Thursday, February 21.

Pickleball

The newest Pickleball offering is happening on the four 36’ courts at the Cary Tennis Park (CTP). These lighted courts are used for tennis for 8 and under children on weekday afternoons. By using blended lines and vibrant colors, these courts are now being used in the morning and late evening hours for Pickleball as well. Court reservations may be made for the CTP courts so players can sign up for a specific time and know their court is waiting for them. Open play is offered on weekends to complement the open play opportunities offered at the Community Centers during the week. A meetup group has been formed called TPE (Triangle Pickleball Enthusiasts), and they are beginning to host level-based social Pickleball meetups. CTP staff is completing instructor training and will be offering lessons, tournaments and other pickleball programming.

USTA and Pickleball Association have been so impressed with this solution, there are discussions to expand these blended lines nationally. Cary is on the cutting edge of this new concept and reflects the creativity and adaptability of Cary’s staff.

Art Exhibit at Senior Center

After receiving complaints from a few citizens, staff moved to storage three paintings from an exhibit by artist Bing Weng at the Cary Senior Center. Based on what I have learned so far, staff felt the works were not consistent with works that had been reviewed for the exhibition, titled “Blooming Life.” It’s possible that language barriers may have contributed to artist’s misunderstanding of the facility’s use for exhibiting art. The artist’s other paintings remain on exhibit until February 15. We are reviewing processes regarding exhibitions, especially in spaces that are open to all and not designated gallery spaces where art is expected to be showcased. We will update you as the situation evolves. Please feel free to send media inquiries to Susan Moran.

Kilmayne Tank

Cary’s newest water tank, the Kilmayne Drive Elevated Water Storage Tank, has officially been placed into service. This new two-million gallon tank provides additional storage capacity in the central pressure zone and plays a key role in maintaining the strength of the water distribution system, not only by providing reliable water service to our citizens, but also providing greater operational flexibility when other storage tanks in the system are offline for maintenance.

Schools Out Registration

Each summer, Cary provides over 500 camps that serve over 10,000 citizens at a variety of locations. Camp programs build community by providing opportunities for participants to create friendships and memories that last a lifetime. Camp sign-up opened on Monday, February 4 with 3,974 citizens registering on the first day. This is a 19.2% increase compared to 2018. Additionally, camp program revenue reached $497,948 on day one, a 19.3% increase compared to last year. Program areas for camps include various arts, sports, STEM, culinary arts, space exploration, outdoor skills, nature, history, skateboarding and much more.

Pressure Zone Feedback

“Thank you for holding this meeting. I better understand what’s happening and why,” said an attendee as he left pressure zone shift information session on February 5. A common comment about the evening, staff gave each citizen as much time as needed to feel more comfortable with the project and how residents can help ensure a safe and smooth transition to their increase in water pressure on April 9.

Recognition

Juliet Andes was elected Chair of CAMPO’s Technical Coordinating Committee (TCC). The TCC is comprised of staff from 30 local jurisdictions and transportation agencies who provide general review, guidance and coordination of comprehensive transportation planning process in the Capital Urban Area. The TCC regularly makes technical recommendations to CAMPO’s Executive Board, the decision making body of the MPO, which is chaired by Mayor Weinbrecht.

Advisory Board Meetings

The Environmental Advisory Board will meet on Tuesday. Mayor Weinbrecht will be present the “The Year of the Monarch Butterfly” proclamation.

The Historic Preservation Commission will meet on Wednesday. Staff will provide an update on the Town-Owned Historic Properties Assessment.

Emails from Citizens

Emails from citizens this week included:

  • Several emails complaining about the Weldon Ridge proposal (Many of those emails contained misinformation and I encouraged them to contact Katie Drye of our staff. The proposal has had a public hearing and will next go to the Planning and Zoning board for their review. Council will vote on this in a few months)
  • An email anxious about the start of Reedy Creek Road widening (My information says construction will begin in the fall).
  • A complaint about the lack of dog waste stations (Staff’s response: “Your suggestion has been a hot topic discussion for several years. The start-up costs for each station is approximately $150/station; however, our primary reason for deciding not to provide this level of service is due to the on-going costs to servicing the stations. Keeping bags stocked and emptying the dispensers would become and everyday task. Given that we have 80 miles of greenways you can see that if we placed one waste station per mile it would take one employee most of a day to service all the stations. The waste station structure, like signs and trash cans, along greenways is subject to vandalism, which would be an additional cost. … If you believe Dog Stations are a priority for Cary, you can submit input into the FY20 budget process. I have provided a link below as to ways the Town receives budget input. https://www.townofcary.org/services-pulications/plans-publications-reports/budget/budget-development)
  • Kudos for replacing stone steps at the historic smokehouse at the Anne B. Kratzer Educational Herb Garden
  • Kudos for resolving a buffer violation in the Weston area
  • Concerns about a proposal to expand parking at a business site in the Weston Office Park (Neighbors behind the site are concerned about noise, light, and buffering)
  • Kudos for developers George Jordan and Jordan Gussenhoven for landscaping to screen the new development on Urban Drive.
  • The following comment sent to me about art work at the community center since January 25th: “You are a disgrace. Censoring free speech because if might offend the most evil murderous regime (BY FAR!) in the history of humanity!! Learn history! Learn facts! DISGRACEFUL! COWARDLY! UNAMERICAN… <vulgar comments>” (The decision to accept art or not is not a council decision nor are we involved in the decision making process. As mentioned in the town manager’s report this was work that was not consistent with work that had been reviewed for the exhibition. The remainder of the exhibit will be on display until February 15th.)
  • A comment for council to find a police chief that takes white collar crime seriously (Council is not involved in the search of a police chief. That is the job of the town’s manager)

Next week’s activities will remain light as we approach the council-staff working retreat the following week. Activities include a meeting with someone from Cameron Pond about traffic concerns, reading a proclamation at the Environmental Advisory Board, and a meeting of the North Carolina Metro Mayors Association.

Get In Touch

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, February 17th.  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.


From the blog of Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht. Photos courtesy of Harold Weinbrecht.

17 replies
  1. George McDowell
    George McDowell says:

    Dear Friends,

    It is critically important that we make the distinction between [on the one hand] reducing the rate of increase of pollution and [on the other hand] reducing pollution.

    A simple example for illustration: Each Town of Cary vehicle puts four to five tons of pollution into the air each year. If that rate is decreased through improved efficiency by (say) 20%, that means that each vehicle would then emit 3.2 to four tons into the air each year.

    That is NOT a “reduction” in pollution. Nor is it “sustainable” in a meaningful definition of the word.

    The ONLY way to “reduce” pollution in the atmosphere is to properly plant and correctly nurture trees.

    The CO2 concentration in the atmosphere for February 12 is 411.80 parts per million. This will continue to rise until our oceans are barren, the polar icecaps melt, and our lungs become rotten and fail – or until we plant enough trees to absorb the pollution we pump daily into our air.

    Reply
  2. Harold Weinbrecht
    Harold Weinbrecht says:

    Brent,

    I think we have exhausted this topic. You have said nothing that changes my mind and I have said nothing that changes yours. I only seem to invite insults. So I guess it is time to stop. I will say that Cary is anything but beige and we will continue to strive to be the best place in the nation to live, work, play, and raise a family. We are not interested in doing something because another municipality did it. We are not followers that complain but leaders that make a difference. We do something because it has a positive impact. And THAT is one of the main reasons why we remain the best community in the country!

    Thanks,
    Harold

    Reply
    • johnny jones
      johnny jones says:

      You are right, Cary is not a beige city, it’s an awesome city & a well run city. I don’t agree with you some of the political views but have nothing but praise & appreciation for managerial skills & love the the city.

      Reply
  3. Brent
    Brent says:

    I think it’s pathetic that the Cary Town Council won’t consider a resolution supporting climate change actions and the Paris Accord, like virtually every other Triangle municipality has done.

    The Mayor’s protestations about not considering “partisan” issues ring hollow. Climate change is existential for our planet; it isn’t partisan.

    So what if the vote is divided? Cary needs to step up for our kids and grandkids.

    Do the right thing!

    Reply
    • Harold Weinbrecht
      Harold Weinbrecht says:

      Hi Brent,

      Sorry but I will have to disagree with you on this one.

      I took an oath to do what is best for all Cary citizens. If I take a position on a national partisan issue then I make half the citizens feel good and half the citizens mad, half the council feel good and half the council angry. While climate change is a threat to our world this issue has been politicized. If we pass a resolution on this issue it would set precedent for all other state and national issues that have been politicized. So how does that help accomplish our goals as a community? It doesn’t. Instead it is divisive. I believe that is what is wrong with our state and national leaders. They are caught up in partisan divisive issues.

      The Cary council is so strong because it doesn’t get caught up in partisan divisive issues. I think it is extremely important that this council focuses on decisions within our authority. The council has to weigh all its decisions on what is best for Cary and where we can be most impactful. Are we the decision makers on climate agreements and is it within our authority? No.

      I have strong personal feelings about climate change. But the issue is not about climate change but how it has been politicized. If we are to reach our potential as a community we must respect each others opinions, embrace our differences, and work together.

      Sorry if my words “ring hollow” to you. According to most sources, “ring hollow” means untruthful or insincere. I am certainly not doing either of those nor have I ever on any issue. I am sorry if you have that perception.

      I respect your opinion but we will have to agree to disagree on this matter.

      Thanks,
      Harold

      Reply
      • George McDowell
        George McDowell says:

        Strongly support Mayor Weinbrecht on the question of the politicization of climate change. As unbelievable as it is in this 21st-century, a matter of fact has been pulled from the realm of scientific inquiry and thrown squarely into the political arena.

        Nevertheless, although the Council may be divided on whether there is in fact climate change, there can be NO QUESTION that there are now over 410 parts per million of carbon in the atmosphere, NOR A QUESTION that for the first time ever the Town had four days last year when the ozone and particulate-pollution levels in the air were such that healthy adults were “warned against outdoor activity.”

        I’ve made the suggestion before and respectfully make it again: the Town should immediately begin correctly planting and properly nurturing one million trees of Old-Growth species that grew here before Europeans arrived and started cutting.

        This would be the Town’s first venture into reducing pollution, and would have the additional benefit of reducing a large volume of stormwater runoff.

        Reply
      • Brent
        Brent says:

        Yes, we disagree. It’s not about politics, it is about climate change.

        If the Cary Town Council can’t take a stand on the future existence of humanity because they’re worried about upsetting a few ignorant people, they’re not doing their jobs.

        The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good [people] to do nothing.

        Reply
        • Harold
          Harold says:

          Brent,

          Pretty much every decision we make results in someone happy and someone unhappy. So I guess by your measures we are doing our jobs.

          A resolution is a non-binding decision by a political body, in this case the council. The positive impact of making such a resolution only makes those, who are against the political decision by the President, feel good. The negative impact would be the emphasis that people who side with the President are in the minority which everyone already knows. In addition, it would set a precedent to make non-binding decisions on any and all issues in the nation and world. And that is pretty much it. It would take focus away from issues where we are the decision makers. Resolutions like that don’t help the town move forward. Resolutions like that don’t help us realize the Cary Community Plan. Resolutions like that don’t build a community where we all work together toward a common goal despite our differences. The only outcome is that they make someone feel good. While some communities choose to focus on issues where they are not the decision makers, Cary is focused on making the best community in existence.

          So while you think I might be doing nothing I believe I am doing just the opposite. I am continuing to build a strong community and council that is willing to work on issues that we control.

          Thanks,
          Harold

          Reply
          • johnny jones
            johnny jones says:

            Keep in mind, unlike a liberal, a conservative may vote for a liberal in local elections. Insult, condescend to us & we may very well think again.

          • Brent
            Brent says:

            I don’t believe it’s about making people feel good, nor is it about the president .

            It’s about Cary adding our voice to a drumbeat of communities and people who support science for the future of our planet.

            I’m deeply disappointed that Cary has no voice.

            Cary is a party to the Triangle J initiative to do something about climate change. I don’t understand why we’re so averse to taking a stand on the future of our planet.

            I don’t think my kids will accept that we did nothing because we were too concerned with “being beige”.

          • Nancy
            Nancy says:

            Brent, if you think the town is ‘doing nothing’ because it won’t sign on to empty promises just because “all the other cities are doing it”, then you really don’t know anything about the town. Spend just a few minutes looking at the town’s sustainability page and you’ll find ‘doing nothing’ is certainly not Cary’s way. https://www.townofcary.org/projects-initiatives/sustainability. Also, Cary was committed to reducing greenhouse emissions ‘before it was cool’ https://www.alecexposed.org/w/images/a/aa/Resolution_on_U.S._Conference_of_Mayors_Climate_Protection_Agreement_Accountability.pdf

          • Brent
            Brent says:

            @nancy I’m quite aware of Cary’s sustainability initiatives—I cited one.

            That makes it all more incomprehensible that Cary won’t take a stand on the most important issue facing humanity.

  4. johnny jones
    johnny jones says:

    One of the censored art pieces the mayor alludes in his e-mail from citizens was of Xi standing on the shoulders of late supreme leader Mao Zedong, surrounded by numerous skulls. certainly don’t approve of the language & tone of the email, but not a big fan of the persecution of an entire culture either.

    Reply

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