Cary Mayor

Harold’s Blog: Downtown Development, Ordinance Changes and More

Cary, NC – This was a busy week for me with meetings and events.

Monday – Downtown Development

Monday I contacted council members to hear of questions or concerns about Thursday’s upcoming meeting. Since there were no scheduled public hearings or discussion items on the agenda there were very few questions. However one council member did have a question about a street renaming.

Monday afternoon I met with the owner of TAC (Triangle Aquatic Center) and the deputy town manager. The owner gave us an update of the expansion project and wanted to meet again to talk about partnering with the town on future expansions.

My last meeting Monday was with several town staff, Mayor Pro-Tem Bush, council member Frantz, and developers interested in building next to the Baptist Church on Academy Street. The negotiations for this project have been ongoing for almost a decade. The purpose of this meeting was to talk about what council members had heard from the Baptist Church committee members. The church committee members were to meet with staff and developers the following day. It was agreed that council member Frantz would represent the council since it is his district. My understanding was that the meeting on the next day went very well. So there is hope that this development actually happens.

Tuesday – Police Dogs

Tuesday I took a photo to promote Good Dog Month which is the month of April. Since I have granddogs instead of dogs of my own I chose to have my picture taken with Cary K-9 Brakeen. He was excited and full of energy and it was hard to get him to sit for a photo. Cary is so blessed to have K-9 officers.

Cary Mayor

Thursday – Town Council Meeting and Ordinances

Thursday the council held its last regularly scheduled meeting for March. On the agenda were 2 presentations, 11 consent items, no public hearings, and no discussion items.

The first presentation was the Greater Triangle Stewardship Development Award. This award is given to those whose land development goes beyond compliance in site design and construction. Award winners are recognized for using building techniques in order to protect water quality, preserve natural habitats and open space, and enhance the fabric of the community.

Cary Mayor

The Greater Triangle Stewardship Development Award

The second presentation was by the Cary CAP (Citizens Assisting Police) team. CAP team members provide a valuable service to the community by donating thousands of volunteer hours per year. They provide assistance at public events, child safety seat installations, perform clerical duties and staff service centers, and promote Community Watch programs. This year their volunteer hours saved the town close to $147,000. Thank you CAP team!

Cary Mayor

Citizens Assisting Police presentation

After the presentations the council approved the consent agenda unanimously. No one came forward to speak at the Public Speaks Out portion of the meeting. Council went in to closed session to talk about one issue. The entire meeting lasted about 20 minutes.

After the council meeting we began a work session on the LDO (Land Development Ordinance). The Cary Community Plan and the LDO have some “gaps” and this was the first of four phases of amendments to address these gaps:

Phase 1

  • Building Height
  • Setbacks/Build-to-Line
  • Density
  • Parking
  • Approval Process
  • Initial Adjustments to Community Appearance Manual (CAM)

Phase 2

  • Initiate Quasi-Judicial (QJ) Changes. The initial conversation regarding these changes will be during the May 9th Quarterly meeting
  • Adaptive Stormwater Amendments
  • Continued downtown updates including Streetscapes and Sign standards
  • Transportation Updates
  • Additional changes to address Downtown
  • Minor Amendments and Corrections

Phase 3

  • Updates to Community Appearance Manual
  • Finalize QJ Changes
  • Minor Amendments and  Corrections

Phase 4

  • LDO Structure

In this phase one work session staff started by presenting photos of some things we were trying to prevent like parking lots next to the street.  They also presented some things that we are trying to encourage. Then staff proposed building height changes for discussion of high density mixed use zones in the downtown area. The areas included Academy Street, Chatham Street, Harrison Avenue, and Walker Street. This presentation was based on what they interpreted the council said at the annual retreat. Currently there are 65, 75, or 90 feet allowed in various places with a minimum height of 20 feet. The proposal had the following changes which would allow:

  • 65 feet within 100 feet of South Academy Street (same as today)
  • 65 feet within 100 feet of Chatham Street between Harrison Avenue and Walker Street (same as today)
  • 90 feet elsewhere
  • 35 feet minimum

There was a LOT of discussion on the “90 feet elsewhere” and no consensus. Council expressed serious concerns and questions about this change so staff agreed to bring back more information with pictures. It was agreed that the work session should be stopped at this point until this issue was resolved.

Friday – North Carolina Mayors

Friday I joined a meeting of the North Carolina Metro Mayors. Here was the Executive Director’s summary of the meeting:

Opening Remarks

Much of the work in the General Assembly is focused on basic appropriations hearings and the process of developing the state budget.  Two major areas of state responsibility – healthcare and education policy have also been dominant issues.  The House anticipates their version of the budget to be completed by the end of April.

Transportation

The Joint Senate and House Appropriations Subcommittee have completed their combined meetings and will each begin individual budget meetings.

H77, Electric Standup Scooters

  • Scooter definition bill
  • Moved through House Regulatory Reform Committee on Thursday with no opposition
  • Scheduled to be heard in House Rules on Monday

Local Revenues/ Local Control

2018-145 Technical Correction, Stormwater provision from 2018 Session Law – Section 26b (page 18)

(Discussion with Sarah Collins, NC League of Municipalities) 

  • Deals with stormwater controls for redevelopment projects
  • Was passed in December 2018 during a special session of the General Assembly without any opportunity to assess and debate the impact on local governments and their ratepayers/taxpayers.
  • Legislation state that, “When a preexisting development is redeveloped, either in whole or in part, increased stormwater controls shall only be required for the amount of impervious surface being created that exceeds the amount of impervious surface that existed before the redevelopment.”
  • Applies to all local governments regardless of the source of their regulatory program.  Impacts a number of cities that have stormwater programs and takes away an important tool that can be used to help cover the cost of stormwater management – potentially shifting costs to ratepayers/taxpayers.
  • PLEASE SHARE with relevant staff to determine impact on current – or future plans – related to your stormwater management operations – INCLUDING LOSS OF FUNDS to your current or future stormwater operations

S367, Clarify Property Owners’ Rights – TREE BILL

  • “Tree Bill” – Restricts local ordinances from regulating the removal of trees from private property without the express authorization of the General Assembly
  • Filed late this week
  • Similar legislation in 2014 came from a study and did not move – but this year may be different
  • It is not clear whether this legislation will get a hearing, but we should take it seriously
  • Please review and see how this bill could impact your City (determine whether your tree ordinance has specific authorization from the General Assembly).

S355, Land Use Regulatory Changes

  • A broad and complex bill that has a good possibility of hearings and serious consideration
  • Still under review, PLEASE share with your city staff to determine impact on your city

S406, Limit Conditional Zoning

  • “A city may not impose upon a petitioner, through ordinance, regulation, or permit requirements, any conditions for a use that is permitted by the zoning classification of the subject parcel unless the city would otherwise be able to impose those conditions by authority granted in the General Statutes.”
  • Please share with staff to review to determine impact on your city

Public Safety

H278/S179, Parity for First Responders – Fire Fighter Early Separation Allowance

  • Will continue to track and update on any progress
  • Please review and send any cost estimates for firefighter special separation allowance to Beau.  SEE ATTACHED IMPACT and STATEMENT from Durham.

Economic Development 

Nothing new to report

Other Updates/Topics 

Metro Mayors Affordable Housing Project – staff level steering committee meeting in Greensboro today. A bipartisan House Caucus has formed around affordable housing and they will likely have a study bill.

It is clear that this legislative session is much like the others with constant assaults on local rights. The tree bill, stormwater management and other bills would definitely impact Cary and harm our efforts to protect our environment. My understanding is that many are proposed and supported by the Homebuilders Association which is unfortunate. At least most of the homebuilders in our area appreciate the environment and work with us on projects to make it a win-win for everyone.

Saturday – Community Preparedness and Cary Tennis

Saturday I had the pleasure of making remarks at the CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) annual event. Cary CERT was founded in 2007 and is sponsored by the Cary Fire Department. Members are expected to complete the required FEMA’s Basic Training Course consisting of disaster preparedness, disaster fire suppression, disaster medical operations, light search and rescue operations, disaster psychology and team organization. They are not intended to replace a community’s response capability, but rather, to serve as an important support service. Fire Chief Cooper also provided remarks at the event.

Cary Mayor

Later Saturday I attended a wheelchair tennis event at the Cary Tennis Park. Cary is trying to revive the wheelchair tennis program now that we have covered courts. The event was well attended including players that play national events. I had the pleasure of trying to play tennis in the wheelchair with some of those that compete. It is very difficult to move the chair into position before the ball gets there. I was so impressed by the players, coaches, and others. I hope this program becomes very successful in Cary.

Cary Mayor

Sunday – Cary Business

Sunday I joined Mayor Pro-Tem Bush and council member Frantz at a client appreciation event held by a Chinese Realtor. Most of their clients are Chinese immigrants who have started businesses in the area or are teaching at one of the universities.

Town Manager’s Report

The town manager’s report for this week included the following:

First Baptist Church and George Jordan Team

Council member Don Frantz and I, along with staff members Ted Boyd, Susan Moran and Chris Simpson, met with members of Cary First Baptist Church and the development team of George Jordan to continue discussions about the proposed development at the corner of Harrison Avenue and Chatham Street. Council member Frantz reiterated the Town’s support of this project and all parties agreed we had three remaining items to work through. Our time was spent in very productive conversation. I appreciate the thoughtful consideration the Cary First Baptist Church Committee is giving to this development and the willingness of all parties to work together toward shared goals. The meeting concluded with resolution on the three items, and we collectively worked through our next steps to move this project forward. Again, I appreciate the time and commitment everyone has given to this project.

Fenton

In preparation for sale and closing of the state property associated with the Fenton mixed-use development, we have reviewed and will be signing numerous documents needed for the closing and required by the Development Agreement. We have been told that closing is scheduled for Monday, April 1. Once closing takes place and all associated documents have been recorded, the approved MXD zoning will take effect and development can begin to move forward, starting with clearing and grading in accordance with approved erosion control plans. Staff will continue to update the Fenton page on Cary’s website as milestones are reached.

Recycling

Recycling will continue without a gap in service thanks to incredible strategy and execution by a small team from Finance, Public Works, Legal, and the Town Manager’s Office who have been meeting nearly every weekday since the February retreat. Beginning on April 1, we will begin a four-month process to fully transition our recycling processing services from Sonoco to Waste Management. The contract with Waste Management is for two years with renewal options. The cost per ton is climbing from about $75 to around $100; we will discuss the financial implications and options in May during budget development. With the emergency behind us, we can now turn our attention to a comprehensive community conversation on the future of recycling in Cary.

Rezoning Neighborhood Meetings

Neighborhood meetings provide an opportunity for applicants to present information on new rezoning requests and receive feedback from property owners prior to the public hearing. The next session is scheduled on Wednesday, April 3 at 6:30pm at Town Hall. There are three cases the agenda:

Southerland Gooch Property (19-REZ-03) – request to rezone 61 acres at 9648, 9708 and 9716 Morrisville Parkway to allow detached dwellings (age-restricted) and townhouses at up to 2.8 units per acre

Piney Plains Multi-family PDP (19-REZ-04) – request to rezone 31 acres at 1900 and 2006 Piney Plains Road and 0 Stephens Road to allow up to 360 multi-family dwellings

Searstone Phase II PDD Amendment (19-REZ-05) – request to amend a 29-acre portion of the Searstone PDD at 17001 Searstone Drive to allow realignment of the road network and reconfiguration of building locations and footprints

For information about these cases, visit the Rezoning Cases webpage.

Smart Cities

Chief Information Officer Nicole Raimundo presented the keynote address at a Smart and Connected Communities event for a Smarter RTP Region. This event brought together North Carolina municipalities, academia and industry leaders to discuss what a “smart city” looks like and why it’s important. It also provided a view of how emerging transportation technologies are transforming communities, a forum to discuss regional ideas and efforts around smart city initiatives and a workshop about using smart city strategies as an economic development tool.

NPDES Workshop

Cary partnered with the State of NC Dept of Energy, Mineral and Land Resources (NCDEMLR) to discuss stormwater permitting with the local communities. Seventy participants representing over 40 communities throughout central North Carolina participated in the workshop. NCDEMLR staff gave presentations on the six minimum measures that NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) Phase 2 permits cover. Charles Brown, Cary’s Stormwater Program Analyst, provided a perspective on our approach to addressing illegal discharges. Communities from across the region gained useful information on how to meet federal and state regulations and make their local programs more sustainable.

NCDOT Road Work at I-40/NC54

NCDOT reached out to let us know that their contractors will be working on a new project at the border of Cary and Raleigh. They are overlaying the bridge on NC 54 over I-40 and widening some ramps at this interchange. The bridge work is anticipated to start next week and take a couple of weeks to complete. The work will require detours. Sometime after the bridge work is complete, there will be another detour for the ramp work.

East Coast Greenway

USA Today published an article on the East Coast Greenway. The Triangle region of North Carolina has the most complete stretch (97%) of off-road, shared-use trails (70 miles) of all the metropolitan areas included in the Maine-to-Florida route. About 16 of those miles are Cary Greenways – Black Creek Greenway, White Oak Creek Greenway and the 4‑mile Chatham section of the American Tobacco Trail. To highlight this section, Cary is co-hosting a 40-mile Cross-Triangle Greenway Ride on June 8. The ride will begin in Durham (near Southpoint) and end at Transfer Food Hall in Raleigh. A 25-mile option will start at Bond Park. Stay tuned to ECG website for additional details.

Drone Technology

Cary staff participated in a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant finalist review session at North Carolina State University (NCSU). The session focused on a $24 million AERPAW grant proposal submitted in partnership with NCSU, the Wireless Research Center of NC, Mississippi State University, University of South Carolina, New York University, Purdue University and the City of Raleigh. AERPAW, Aerial Experimentation and Research Platform for Advanced Wireless, is centered around drone technology. Grant partners provide infrastructure such as towers and testing grounds in exchange for participation in experimental research and data collection. A final award is expected later this year. More information and several videos about this effort can be found at AERPAW’s website.

Awards

Cary’s recent Cary/Apex Raw Water Pump Station and Intake Improvements Project was recognized as “Best Utility Project” by the Carolinas Associated General Contractors for construction excellence. This project, in conjunction with the related expansion of the Cary/ Apex Water Treatment Facility, increased resiliency and capacity to provide high quality drinking water for years to come. Our contractor for the project, Crowder Construction Company, recently shared the award with Cary staff who worked on the project.

The police department hosted its third annual Officer Awards and Recognition Ceremony in the Council Chambers. This ceremony is unique because the nominations and awards are given by their peers.

Officers Austin Hermen and William Brownell received Merit Awards.

Officers Matt Berl, Brian Austin and Chris MacDonald received the Team Merit Award.

Detective Jim Young received the Distinguished Service Award.

Officer Tom Vibert and Corporal Bradley Evans received Lifesaving Awards.

Police Chaplain Norm Peart received the Police Star, a citizen award for valuable contributions to the department and community.

Director of Public Safety Allan Cain applauded the great work of the men and woman of the police department.

In another ceremony, Officer Steve Rogers was named Cary’s Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Officer of the Year and was also selected by the Alliance Behavioral Healthcare Board as the Wake County Veteran CIT Officer of the Year based on his interactions with a veteran suffering from PTSD. Steve joins Tom Vibert in winning this award, which has now been won by Cary officers for two consecutive years. Alliance Behavioral Healthcare is a managed care organization for publicly-funded behavioral health care for people in Durham, Wake, Cumberland and Johnston counties.​

Recognition

The Cary Page Rotary Club provided an Appreciation Breakfast for Cary’s Solid Waste personnel to express their sincere appreciation and gratitude for the exceptional and dedicated service that our SWM staff provides for Cary’s more than 165,000 residents on a weekly basis. Thanks to the Rotary members for reaching out, and thanks to our solid waste staff for the work they do every day. They make us all look good!

Advisory Board Meetings

PRCR Advisory Board

Mon, 4/1, 5:15 pm

Town Hall, Conf Rm 11130

Tree Advisory Committee

Mon, 4/1, 5:30 pm

Town Hall, Conf Rm 21275

Information Services Advisory Board

Mon, 4/1, 6 pm

Town Hall, Conf Rm 10035

Emails from Citizens

Emails from citizens this week included:

  • A request to connect greenways with Raleigh and other neighboring municipalities (This is an ongoing task that Cary has been working on. Once the last section of the White Oak Greenway is finished, in about a year and a half, there will be a continuous section of the East Coast Greenway of 80 miles going through Cary)
  • A request to meet to help get access to a ball field (It is important to understand that council and the mayor are not, and should not be, involved in town operations. That is the job of the town manager and his staff. I refer all of these requests to staff)
  • A complaint about noise from Waste Industries emptying dumpsters (this has been referred to enforcement)
  • A notification of support for a hotel on Weston (this proposal has been tabled indefinitely while the applicant works with residents)
  • A compliment on the Cary Parkway High House intersection

Next week the council will travel to the Dallas Fort Worth area with the Cary Chamber’s Intercity Visit.

Get In Touch

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, April 7th.  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.

5 replies
  1. George McDowell
    George McDowell says:

    Projects should be height-limited to an elevation equal to that of the tallest tree its developer planted and that still grows on one of her previous projects.

    Reply
    • Owen Evans
      Owen Evans says:

      I admire the sentiment but you’re going about it all wrong.

      Answer this: Which one does more to spoil the environment: A 200 unit townhome development on 20 acres, where 18 of those acres are clearcut – or a 200 unit 10 story building on 1 acre?

      Fighting against taller buildings means more trees get cut down, not less. You may not notice the trees that get cut down, since they’ll be way out in West Cary or Holly Springs, but trust me – they definitely do get cut down.

      If you care about trees, build tall and dense. If you want to spoil the environment, restrict heights and density. Build as may single family homes as you can. These days, developers scrape the ground clean of vegetation and level it out before building neighborhoods.

      I’ll allow that there are some situations where the existing built environment would be negatively affected by tall buildings, and that South Academy is definitely one of those situations. Chatham Street – the part closest to the intersection with Academy, maybe. Certainly north of the tracks there is no risk of such.

      Reply
      • George McDowell
        George McDowell says:

        @Owen – I do have a passing interest in trees. The suggestion was meant as a tongue-in-cheek qualifier for the right to bid and build, and perhaps overly esoteric, for which I apologize.

        Reply
  2. Brent
    Brent says:

    I don’t “hope” for the Jordan development to proceed unless the historic Ivey-Ellington house is preserved intact at its current site, and that isn’t what I understand the plan to be.

    Why would anyone hope for a development that ignores a precious historic resource?

    Reply
  3. Owen Evans
    Owen Evans says:

    I agree with the height restrictions of 65 feet near South Academy and Chatham. 5-6 stories is just right.

    But I think you should go taller north of the railroad tracks. While I would be okay with unlimited, if that is too extreme, go with something like 120 or 150. There is really not a lot of historical anything to be contextual with north of the tracks so why limit things?

    Reply

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