Cary, NC – This week was my first week back from vacation. As expected it was a busy week.
Monday – Planning for the Week
Monday morning, after conferring with staff, we decided to cancel the agenda meeting since our council meeting agenda for Thursday was a short one. I sent an email to council and asked them to send questions or concerns about the agenda and heard back from none of them.
Later in the day I met with the town clerk for about forty-five minutes to discuss her staff duties in her planned absence. Our clerk staff is a very talented group and does a great job of covering for each other. We are blessed to have one of the best town clerk’s and clerk staffs in the state.
My final meeting Monday was with the town manager and the chief strategy officer. We talked about a variety of issues including projects currently under review. We also discussed the new police chief, Toni Dezomits. What an outstanding choice. She is a great lady and a great leader and I am sure will do a fantastic job. Our meeting lasted a little over half an hour.
Tuesday – Updated State of Cary Address
Tuesday morning I gave an updated version of the State of Cary address to the Fonville Morrisey realty group. There were a few dozen attendees. The version I gave was based on the January 23rd version but included updates to downtown projects, transportation projects, recycling, and our new police chief.
Tuesday evening I joined Mayor Pro-Tem Bush and several others in a dance practice for this year’s Diwali celebration in October. We are just starting out and I will need a LOT of practice.
Wednesday – High School Graduation
Wednesday I joined Mayor Pro-Tem Bush and council member George at the graduation ceremony for Panther Creek High School in Cary. Other dignitaries included the school system superintendent, administration, and school board members. In addition, the entire Morrisville town council was present with the exception of Schlink. In the staging area we were all pinned with carnations before heading to the stage for the graduation ceremony. On stage, all were on the front row except for the Cary delegation and a couple of staff members.
The ceremony took 52 minutes and included 663 graduates. It should be noted that Cary’s Panther Creek High School has the most diverse population of all the schools in the Wake County Public School System. We are so very proud of these graduates and all the graduates in Wake County.
Thursday – Town Council Meeting
Thursday the council held its first regularly scheduled meeting of the month. The agenda was very short and included 4 consent items, 2 public hearings, and 2 quasi-judicial hearings. In the public speaks out portion of the meeting one speaker praised the town’s event staff for all they do day in and day out.
The only other speaker was upset about a proposed rezoning 18-REZ-22 Green Level West Office which would be at the northeast quadrant of Green Level West Rd and Branton Drive intersection. If approved it would allow an office building with a maximum size 15,000 square feet. The speaker said the council is “spineless” and “in the pocket of developers”. While we are used to criticism it hurts when it is false and baseless criticism. I urge any citizen to watch our council meetings and contact us before you pass judgment on anything we do. I can assure all our citizens that the dedicated men and women on this council put their hearts into each and every decision we make. And the comment about developer’s pockets is absolute nonsense. That couldn’t be further from the truth.
The first quasi-judicial hearing was to reapprove a one-story office building on Kildaire Farm Road, just south of Glasgow Road. The applicant removed a row of Leyland Cypress trees along the northern property line prior to approval of a development plan for the property; therefore, the Land Development Ordinances required Town Council approval of the development plan in a quasi-judicial hearing. Since there was no evidence provided against the applicant the council had no choice in the matter and approved. IMHO it was a no-brainer since the developer will replant the buffer and make it bigger.
The second quasi-judicial hearing was to re-establish an automotive sales use in the former Crossroads Ford truck center at 1300 Buck Jones Road across from South Hills mall. Again, there was no evidence present against the proposal so council had no choice in the matter but to approve.
These were the last to council quasi-judicial cases. In the future they will be done in the Board of Adjustment. Why? Because by law we can only consider expert witnesses and since the public rarely has an expert witness there is usually no opposition evidence presented which ties our hands and makes us vote for a proposal whether we like it or not. So we basically have no decision.
Friday – Statewide Updates
Friday morning I participated in a meeting of the North Carolina Metro Mayors. Here is a summary of that meeting from the Executive Director:
It has been another generally quiet week on issues of interest to cities. Negotiations on the compromise budget bill are ongoing. We originally thought a compromise might be reached as early as next week, but the timeline continues to get pushed back. Now it is more likely we will see something in the next two weeks.
- SMAP and Powell Bill
- We continue to push the House budget position on public transit (SMAP) and Powell Bill funding
- We are on the right track and have partnered with the statewide public transportation association on this as well as rural transit folks that are represented by Senate Transportation Chairs
- Unlike other budget subcommittees, transportation is not funded by the general fund and is supported by the gas tax and highway tax, so negotiations on the Transportation budget compromise have started earlier than other subcommittees
- NC GO!
- Metro Mayors are an active participant in NC GO! and helped organize a future of transportation presentation at the Goldsboro Chamber of Commerce
- Worked with Mayor Allen to host a luncheon specific to transportation
- If anyone is interested in working with their local chambers of commerce to do similar sessions or presentations, please reach out to Beau.
- H370 –Require Sheriff Cooperation with ICE
- In March and April this was a hot topic in the House
- Speaker Moore took a forward stance on requiring full cooperation by sheriffs and local law enforcement with ICE cooperation and detention
- After passing the House, the issue laid dormant, but it has reemerged and received a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee this week for discussion only
- The Sheriffs’ Association has changed their position and is now satisfied with the legislation due to changes in the new version of the bill (though there are still individual sheriffs that still oppose)
- The bill now directs sheriffs that have individuals detained to bring them before a magistrate before making decisions about a detainee’s release or complying with an ICE request. Since the determination now falls to the judicial system, it was a middle ground for sheriffs to support.
- The bill is scheduled to be heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee for a vote next Tuesday.
- We know some of our members such as Carrboro and Chapel Hill are still opposed to the bill and encourage those Mayors to communicate with each other on engagement.
- We will continue to track and share information.
- H929 – Gaming Commission
- The original bill changed the lottery commission to the gaming commission and added bingo, raffles, and boxing under the Commission’s purview, added regulations for fantasy sports, and directed the newly created Gaming Commission to study sports betting, steeplechases, and video lottery terminals (VLTs)
- The new version of the bill removes the fantasy sports regulations
- An amendment was offered in committee to remove the study of video lottery terminals, but did not pass (video lottery terminals are not the same as sweepstakes and would be operated and regulated by the State)
- Passed the House Judiciary Committee this week
- S11 – ABC Regulation and Reform Bill
- Passed on the House floor Thursday (105-2)
- The bill mainly deals with strengthening the permitting enforcement authority of the ABC Commission and increases some fines for certain violations
- The bill does not address privatization or include any provisions related to consolidation of local ABC Boards. We have not seen legislation addressing either of these issues moving through the legislature recently.
- H399 – Historic Preservation Act 2019, sponsored by Rep. Steve Ross, former active Metro Mayor member from Burlington
- Passed with a wide margin in the House earlier this month.
- While the tax credit extension was included in both versions of the budget, due to the lack of clarity on the budget process, Mayors need to reach out to their Senate delegation to encourage the movement of this stand-alone bill.
Local Revenues/ Local Control
- Short Term Rentals – (Airbnb) further indication that we could see legislation.
- ALERT YOUR DELEGATION to be vigilant on the possibility of a pre-emption of local programs to protect neighborhoods.
- We were told that this would not be an issue that would be taken up in the long session, but the Realtors Association and others have been pushing back against other cities regarding regulation and are asking the legislature to intervene with a statewide framework
- Please be proactive in sharing thoughts and concerns on regulation and emphasize that this is an issue that needs robust stakeholder input
- If any members have scenic view corridors please let Beau know
- Working with NCLM and others to ensure if billboard legislation moves forward that any designated areas of transportation networks such as scenic corridors are not under threat.
Friday afternoon I attended the Green Hope High School Graduation. This was one of the largest, if not the largest, graduating classes in Wake County with 735 students. It took a little over an hour for the entire ceremony. Dignitaries included WCPSS superintendent, WCPSS chair, WCPSS members, WCPSS staff, Morrisville mayor, two Morrisville council members, Cary Council member George, and me.
Like Panther Creek, this was a very diverse class with numerous honor students. Congratulations to the Green Hope graduates and all Wake County graduates.
Town Manager’s Report
The town manager’s report for this week included:
This is a kudo that never gets old. SafeAtLast named Cary the safest city in America. Other cities in the Top Ten? Irvine, CA; Naperville, IL; Port St. Lucie, FL; Allen, TX; Gilbert, AZ; Murrieta, CA; Thousand Oaks, CA; Frisco, TX; and League City, TX
Four ornamental trees along Chatham Street in the downtown core are in serious decline with such advanced decay that we have no other option but to remove them. The independent arborist’s recommendation stated, “The dead limbs pose an immediate hazard. It is very likely the trees will continue to decline and die. It is only a matter of time before these limbs fall. For that reason, removal is recommended.” We anticipate removal next week. Once the trees are removed, we will explore options for enhancing this area. Given the very narrow of the planting strip, we will need to be strategic about the aesthetic improvements.
NE Maynard Grade Separation
Staff received word this week that NCDOT will be holding a meeting tonight (June 14) with the Hispanic Community of Mobile Estates from 6:30 to 8:30 at St. Michael’s Catholic Church. The meeting will be held in the Conference Center at 830 High House Road. NCDOT has been working with the NC Congress of Latino Organizations to schedule a meeting with local residents as a follow-up to the public meeting held last October.
NCDOT is planning a grade-separated railroad crossing at Maynard Road and E Chatham Street near downtown Cary and is currently gathering data, updating concepts and analyzing alternatives.
Beginning July 1, GoCary is reducing fixed route bus fares. Tier 1 Door to Door fares are dropping from $3.00 to $2.50 per trip.
And what’s better than that? Dump the Pump and ride for free on Thursday, June 20. Visit www.GoCary.org for more information.
As staff continues to process the unexpected loss of Captain Kevin Merritt, I wanted you to know that we have two specially trained Public Safety Peer Support Teams within our Police and Fire departments that have joined with the NC Peer Support Association in helping Kevin’s colleagues through this difficult time; special recognition goes to Teia Poulin and Scott Benninghoff for their leadership, empathy, and resiliency in this important effort. Also helping with our response is our Employee Assistance Program, which provides counseling services for all employees.
Advisory Boards Recruitment
As part of our outreach efforts, the advisory board application has been shared with the following organizations to recruit for specialty positions.
- Cary Chamber of Commerce
- American Institute for Architecture (Triangle Section)
- Friend of the Page-Walker
- 10th Judicial District Bar Association
We have received 116 applications so far and are well on our way to receiving a record number. The most applications have been submitted for the Economic Development Committee and the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Advisory Board.
- Economic Development Committee: 30
- Environmental Advisory Board: 13
- Historic Preservation Commission: 5
- Information Services Advisory Board: 12
- Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Resources Advisory Board: 29
- Planning & Zoning Board: 16
- Public Art Advisory Board: 5
- Zoning Board of Adjustment: 6
Cary and NCDOT have worked together to identify locations to include in NCDOT’s American Disability Act (ADA) improvement project. The ADA requires that state and local governments ensure that people with disabilities have access to pedestrian routes within the public right-of-way (ROW). This state project will construct new curb ramps and bring deficient ramps up to current standards. This county-wide project includes improvements in Cary at 45 locations along eight streets: Harrison Avenue, High House Road, Kildaire Farm Road, Maynard Road, NC 55, Old Apex Road, Penny Road and Walnut Street. Construction will begin in 2020.
White Oak Greenway in Bond Park will close for repairs on June 20-21, weather permitting.
Cary Hosts Regional Partnership
The Utilities Department hosted the June 7 meeting of the Triangle Water Supply Partnership (TWSP) at the North Cary Water Reclamation Facility. Utility Director Jamie Revels led the Cary staff delegation at the meeting. TWSP, which Cary helped found in 2009, is an important part of the Town’s long-range strategy to ensure a safe, reliable and high-quality water supply for our citizens while supporting continued growth. The Partnership includes representatives from the Triangle region’s other major water systems, including Raleigh, Durham, Chatham County and the Orange Water and Sewer Authority.
Chief Toni Dezomits
Department Directors took great pleasure in congratulating newly-appointed Police Chief Toni Dezomits to her new position and pinning her new insignia.
Cary’s safety program provides employees the opportunity to participate in Heartsaver, a First Aid, CPR and AED (automated external defibrillator) training program approved by the American Heart Association. This all-day training offers hands-on demonstrations on how to administer quality chest compressions, give breaths effectively and use an AED; educates on the difference between a heart attack and a sudden cardiac arrest; and provides guidance on how to respond to and manage an emergency until emergency medical services arrive. Thirty-five PRCR employees were certified (or re-certified) in the last week – and over 100 employees have been certified in the last year.
Thanks to Karen Mills, Stacey Teachey, Mary Beth Huber and Kim Branch for representing Cary so well when meeting with the bond raters in advance of our next bond sale, providing updated information and trends and connecting our projects and services to our fiscal sustainability. The agencies will provide updated ratings in a few weeks.
Advisory Board Meetings
Tues, 6/18, 6:00pm
Town Hall Conf Room 10035
Wed, 6/19, 6:15pm
Town Hall Conf Room 11130
Emails From Citizens
Emails from citizens the last two weeks include:
- Praise for staff at Koka Booth Amphitheater
- A concern about pedestrian safety on Walker Street (pedestrian projects are ongoing)
- A complaint that there isn’t a lot in Cary’s downtown (we’re working on it)
- A request to support the Twyla Road project
- A claim of racism in Cary’s bus depot (Cary does not tolerate racism of any kind)
- A complaint about recycling collection (staff has responded to the complaint)
- Thanks for support of Gigi’s playhouse
- A complaint about solicitors
- A complaint about a repositioning of a staff member
- A complaint about wheelchair access on sidewalks near Waverly Place (staff has responded)
- Support for the Cary Town Center rezoning
- A complaint about bicycle lanes and sharrows (staff has responded with work that is being proposed with NCDOT)
- A request for lighted pickle ball courts (staff responded about future plans which include lighted pickle ball courts)
Next week’s activities include a Wake County Mayors Association meeting, Diwali dance practice, staff meetings, a CAMPO executive board meeting, a meeting with a political candidate, and a meeting of the North Carolina Metro Mayors.
Get In Touch
Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, June 23rd. 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. Photos courtesy of Harold Weinbrecht.