Harold’s Blog: Retreat Week

From the blog of Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht, covering the week through January 15, 2012. Wilmington, NC photo by Hal Goodtree.

Cary, NC – This week was a busy one that included a council meeting and the annual council/staff retreat. Read more

Don’s Blog: Now on CaryCitizen

Editor’s Note:  Cary Town Council Member Don Frantz has been keeping a blog since 2008. It is with great pleasure that we announce that Don has given us permission to republish his posts and see how it goes.

Don Frantz is a great blogger – you can really hear his voice in what he writes. He’s very informed on the issues, but keeps it simple. He follows an informal publishing schedule – when he’s got something to say, he writes a post.

Don speaks his mind, even if it puts him in the opposition on some issues. But he does it in a way that’s principled and without intentionally ruffling anyone’s feathers. That’s why we respect his blog and asked him to let us republish it here. 

This post is from late December. But it gives some good insight into the intellectual conversation happening right now in Town Council.

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Cary, NC, December 18, 2011 – With the holidays, the last couple of weeks have been relatively light in regards to council responsibilities while heavy on the fun and festivities! The only downside is that with so many holiday events, you just can’t make them all. Highlights for me were the Heart of Cary Association’s Ole Time Winter Festival, the town’s Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony and the Cary Jaycees Christmas Parade. Congratulations and Thank You to all the volunteers and town employees who worked so hard to make all of these events a huge success! And thanks to the man upstairs for the great weather!

And while we’ve had a lot of fun, we did have some work to do.

Notable items from our December council meeting included the swearing in ceremonies for newly elected council members, a number of public hearings and annexations, specific council initiated requests and ordinance amendments pertaining to telecommunications towers.

The meeting began with the swearing in ceremonies for Mayor Weinbrecht and Council Members Adcock, Bush and I. After we were sworn into office, the first order of business was to elect a Mayor Pro-Tem. Congratulations to Cary’s new Mayor Pro-Tem Gale Adcock! I am confident she will be a great ambassador and represent Cary’s interests well.

Following the election of Mayor Pro-Tem, Mayor Weinbrecht announced the new committee assignments for council members. The list is long and boring so I will let the Mayor post it on his blog. 😉 I will say that I (finally) get to Chair the Planning and Development Committee and I remain the liaison for the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources (PRCR) advisory board and the Town Center Review Commission (TCRC).

Notable public hearings included:

• C-Tran fare increases and changes. Changes include the elimination of free transfers – this is consistent with both CAT and DATA, modifying the current bus pass structure, and allows for seniors and children to now ride fixed route for free, but remember, ID is required (just not to vote). You can view a complete list of changeshere. The council unanimously approved the amendments.

• Land Development Ordinance Amendments regarding telecommunications towers (cell towers). Proposed amendments provide incentives to telecommunications providers to utilize stealth technology – hopefully resulting in fewer ugly cell towers throughout Cary. The incentive is basically an administrative review and approval process vs. the current costly, time consuming council approval process. If a proposed cell tower is NOT of stealth design, it must still come through the council…and considering previous council decisions…well…good luck with that. The proposed amendments now go to our Planning and Zoning Board for review.

• Site Plan for the old Austin Foods site in Downtown (at the E. Durham Road/E. Chatham Street Intersection) Basically the applicant wants to take an old, ugly, environmentally contaminated site and make improvements that will not only allow for re-use of the existing structures and improve aesthetics downtown, but also better protects our environment and reduce stormwater runoff. The council unanimously approved the request.

Council initiated requests included:

• A request from Councilmember Adcock and Mayor Weinbrecht to direct staff to investigate and report back to council the pros and cons of amending our ordinances to restrict or eliminate the tethering of dogs in Cary. This request passed unanimously.

• A request from Mayor Weinbrecht and I to direct staff to investigate the pros and cons of implementing a trap, neuter and release (TNR) program in Cary to reduce the number of feral cats in Cary. This request also passed unanimously.

• A request from Council member Bush and Mayor Weinbrecht to direct staff to investigate suggested actions the town may take in regards to hydraulic fracturing (AKA fracking) in town limits or Cary’s extra territorial jurisdiction (ETJ). This request passed 5-2. Both I and Councilman Smith voted “no”.

I opposed the request because:

  • Fracking is currently illegal in NC – what problem are we trying to solve?
  • I would prefer to work on real issues facing Cary today and not waste time and resources making a political statement.
  • Would a ban on fracking in Cary – the intent of this request – even address our concerns?

From the discussion at our meeting it is obvious that no one has a clear understanding of what fracking really is, or what the impacts to our community may or may not be; and given the amount of media sensationalism and special interest spin on both sides of this topic, I don’t know that we could ever get the truth.

But the reality is that even if state law is changed to allow fracking, it’s probably not going to occur in Cary (zoning, property values etc..), so trying to ban it really doesn’t do anything to address any concerns we might have. If anything we should be more concerned with what might occur in neighboring jurisdictions – especially those near Jordan Lake – our water source.

If the state legislature is going to allow fracking in NC, then it makes more sense that we work with our law makers to ensure that whatever legislation is passed provides for the highest environmental protections, best management practices and transparency as possible so that regardless of where any drilling/fracking occurs, all of NC is protected.

We cannot ignore the potential economic impact of drilling in North Carolina, nor can we ignore the potential environmental impacts. Fracking has worked well for many communities across America while others have concerns. Let’s learn from the success and failure of others and see if we can find something that works for us.

Following our council meeting we held a closed session to discuss a number of legal matters, none of which I can tell you about. Confidential, sorry.

Our December Planning and Development Committee meeting lasted a whopping three minutes. We had only one agenda item for discussion that was a no-brainer. I also met with Town Manager, Ben Shivar to discuss a few items.

That’s about it for this post. I hope all of you have a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday Season and have a Happy and Safe New Year!

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Photo of Town Hall by Hal Goodtree.

Harold’s Blog: Costco, Fracking & Neon

From the blog of Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht, covering the week through January 8, 2012. Photo by Martin Abeggien.

Cary, NC – This was the first full week of the New Year but included a holiday so things were still a little slower than normal.

On Monday I had dinner with a longtime supporter and talked about the next four years and the new council makeup. Read more

Environment: Fracking & Earthquakes

Opinion by Hal Goodtree. Photo by Brett Coulstock.

Cary, NC – Forget about water pollution. How about earthquakes? Business-friendly Ohio is moving to stop the use of fracking wastewater disposal wells, suspected of causing eleven earthquakes in the state, including a magnitude 4.0 quake last weekend. Read more

Harold’s Blog: State of the Town

 

From the blog of Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht, covering the week through January 1, 2012. Photo of downtown Cary by Hal Goodtree.

Cary, NC – Happy New Year!

This was a holiday week so there is not a lot to report except for the State of the Town Address. Read more

Humorist: Bang a Pan, It’s New Year’s Eve

Cris Cohen is CaryCitizen’s Resident Humorist. Photo by Paul Galipeau.

When I was a kid, New Year’s Eve meant sleeping over at a friend’s house, staying up very late, and physically assaulting cookware. At midnight, whoever was babysitting would send us out onto the driveway and have us hit pots with wooden spoons. Several new years were rung in to the sounds of some sort of saucepan violence. As a result, it is possible that various cooking sets dreamed of one day having a celebration of their own where they beat small children. Read more

Harold’s Blog: Busy Week, Prepping for 2012

From the blog of Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht, covering the week through December 18, 2011. Photo of Gurkan’s holiday-decorated Mercedes by Hal Goodtree.

Cary, NC – This was a busy week with meetings, events, and dinners. Read more

Harold’s Blog: Cary Policeman Employee of the Year, Christmas Fun and Skittles Incident

From the blog of Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht, covering the week through December 11, 2011. Photo by Hal Goodtree.

Cary, NC –  This week was filled with events and meetings.

Since I had no scheduled meetings or events on Monday, I spent time on the State of the Town message. During the rest of the week I reviewed and fact checked the best I could. Tomorrow it goes to the Public Information Office for further fact checking and review. We will tape it the following week for Cary TV and I will give it live for the first time at Glennaire on January 7th.

Tuesday I had a phone meeting with the town manager to catch up on items. There was really nothing new and only status updates which is the reason we decided to use the phone.

Later Tuesday I went over my appointments of council members to inner town committees and external committees. It is important that council members share responsibility and are placed in an environment that they can provide the most benefit to the town. My appointments will be the first order of business after I am sworn in for my second term on December 15th. Read more

Editorial: Just Say No to Fracking in Cary

Editorial by Hal Goodtree. Map from Southern Environmental Law Center.

Cary, NC – Fracking has the potential to make North Carolina a net energy exporter. But serious concerns exist about contamination of water supplies. Until those concerns are laid to rest, Cary needs to ban fracking within our town limits. Read more

Harold’s Blog: Trains and Trees

From the blog of Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht, covering the week through December 4, 2011. Photo of Old Time Winter Festival by Hal Goodtree.

Cary, NC – This week’s activities were comprised mostly of meetings and events. Read more