Harold’s Blog: Billboards, Transit Plan and More

Cary, NC – This week was a bit slower than last week as we approach the end of the fiscal year. Once our budget is approved by the end of June things will slow down for a few days.

Monday – Wake County Mayors

Monday I participated in a meeting of the Wake County Mayors Association. Of the twelve Wake County mayors only three were absent. Those were the mayors of Apex, Raleigh, and Wendell. We were hosted by the mayor of Fuquay Varina with a catered dinner from Garibaldi in their new Performing Arts Center.

In our roundtable discussion we talked about how public investment and public/private partnerships spurs private investment especially in downtown areas. We also talked about growth within the county. With the exception of Raleigh, Cary, and Morrisville, most of the municipalities in Wake County are experiencing double digit growth and they are taking turns being the fastest growing municipality in the state. Currently Rolesville is the fastest growing. After our dinner we toured the facility and then adjourned after about two and a half hours.

Tuesday – Diwali Preparation

Tuesday I joined Mayor Pro-Tem Bush and several others in our Diwali dance practice. We have now been shown about 45 seconds of steps of our 5 minute dance routine. I continue to try and keep up learning the new steps.

Wednesday – Transit Plan

Wednesday I chaired the June meeting of CAMPO’s (Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s) Executive Board. The meeting included 3 consent agenda items, one public hearing, and eight discussion items.

The Public Hearing was on the 2020 Wake Transit Work Plan. The committee unanimously adopted the TPAC-recommended FY 2020 Wake Transit Work Plan, with the updates requested by project sponsors in response to CAMPO’s 30-day public comment period, and approval of the corresponding project agreement structure.

The first discussion item was on Federal Rescission of funding. Staff reported that out of millions only about $300,000 was at risk for rescission. The committee decided to leave that money exposed to give existing CMAQ (Community Multi-scale Air Quality Model) projects opportunity to draw down funds. The committee also approved the Greater Triangle Commuter Rail Project Management Structure and the Complete Streets Policy Implementation. Information was presented to the committee on the FY2021 LAPP (Locally Administered Projects program), a Wake Transit Implementation update, a Public Participation Plan update, the Triangle Strategic Tolling Study, and the Southwest Area Study. To get more information about items from this meeting go to https://campo.legistar.com/Calendar.aspx and select the Executive Board’s agenda. Our meeting concluded after a little over an hour and a half. Our next meeting will be on August 21st.

Thursday – 2019 Election

Thursday I met with a potential candidate for office. I talked with them about why they wanted to serve and their platform. Our meeting concluded after about 30 minutes.

Friday – General Assembly Update

Friday I participated in a meeting of the North Carolina Metro Mayors. Here is the summary from the Executive Director:

Legislative Call

Brief OPENING remarks – It has been another generally quiet week on issues of interest to cities.  Most of the work has been behind closed doors as the House and Senate work to wrap up their consensus budget.  The legislature has been attempting to work with the Governor to find a compromise that does not include Medicaid expansion.  The budget was sent to the House Speaker and Senate President Pro Tem yesterday, which is a signal that a final compromise is near.  We expect to see a final budget early next week, with floor votes to follow at the end of the week.

Transportation

  • There is nothing new to report in terms of stand-alone legislation and committee activity.
  • We have heard rumors that SMAP funding will be in the final budget.  There have also been rumors that Powell Bill funds may be not be increased (House budget proposed an across the board 5% increase), but no cuts anticipated for any cities either.  We will not know for sure until the final budget is released early next week.

Public Safety

  • H370 – Require Sheriff Cooperation with ICE
    • This was a big topic of discussion in the House in April.  It is now being considered by the Senate.
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    • The Sheriffs’ Association originally opposed the House version of the bill, but 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 latest iteration of 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 that designed to garner sheriffs to support the bill.
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    • The bill passed the Senate Judiciary and the Senate Rules Committee this week.
    • We expect it to be heard on the Senate floor as early as Monday night.
    • Predictions are that the Governor will veto the bill.
  • S11 – ABC Reform Bill
    • 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.
    • There were some minor differences between the original Senate version and House version, so it had to be sent back to the Senate for a concurrence vote.
    • The Senate voted unanimously to concur with the House changes on Wednesday and the bill has been sent to the Governor.
  • H389 – ABC/Univ Athletic Facilities
    • This bill would authorize public colleges and universities to allow alcohol sales at stadiums, athletic facilities, and arenas located on school property.  The college or university Board of Trustees would have to approve the sale of alcoholic beverages at facilities.
    • The House concurred on Wednesday (88-25).  It has been sent to the Governor.

Economic Development 

Nothing new to report

Local Revenues/ Local Control  

  • S483 – Vacation Rental Act Changes – THIS IS NOT THE ACTUAL BILL LANGUAGE –a proposed committee substitute will only be available the day of the committee meeting when the bill is taken up – projected for THIS COMING MONDAY
    • The bill has been calendared for the House Rules Committee on Monday afternoon.
    • We believe AirBnB’s short-term rental local preemption language will be inserted into this bill, but we have not seen the language.
    • Please reach out to your House delegation members and let them know this issue needs to have thorough stakeholder process and not pushed through at the last minute without public input.
    • Attached is a one-page document from NCLM on this issue
  • Billboards
    • There have been meetings this week between the Town of Cary and the Senate sponsors of the billboard bill, as well as, Mayor Vaughan, Beau, and leadership from the Outdoor Advertising Association.
    • In both meetings, it was indicated that it is not the Association’s intent to be antagonistic or undermine municipal authority.
    • We have not seen any new legislative language and are told it is a work in progress.
    • If anyone sees any language to the contrary, please contact Beau – NCLM and City Attorney from Winston-Salem have been leading the effort on specific language to protect municipally designated view corridors.

Our meeting concluded after about twenty minutes.

Town Manager’s Report

The town manager’s report for this week includes:

Cary Mayor

All Hands Meeting

At our All Hands meeting on Thursday, I shared highlights of the recommended FY2020 budget and details about the upcoming bond referendum on the horizon. I was very pleased to share the floor with Russ Overton and Kimberly Branch. Russ Overton shared his perspectives and takeaways from Dr. Alec Horniman’s presentation at the Council/Staff retreat. The all-important message of “what you say and do matters” was a powerful reminder that we all have choices in our words and actions. I especially enjoyed Russ’s interactive portion demonstrating how easy it is to put yourself, and others, in figurative boxes and the danger of “I’m just a…” thinking. Kimberly Branch displayed vulnerability and courage in sharing her story about the Finance Department’s journey to look at the accounts payable process through an adaptive lens.

Cary Mayor

Juneteenth

Cary hosted its inaugural Juneteenth Celebration on Saturday. On June 19, 1865, the Union Army delivered the news to the African American slaves in Galveston, TX that slavery had been abolished by the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. Communities across the country hold festivals and other events to commemorate this day. Cary’s celebration kicked off on Friday with the “Run on Water” performance, a family story of emancipation and reunion. It examined the black experience in coastal North Carolina during the Civil War, as a father searched for his wife and son. The Celebration continued at the Downtown Park on Saturday with reflection, rejoicing and celebration of the end of slavery. The celebration started with a procession and performance by the African American Dance Ensemble and continued with performances by vocalists, gospel choirs, storytellers and much more. Citizens had the opportunity to engage with US Colored Troop Reenactors and speak with representatives from the NC Museum of History and the Friends of the Page-Walker as they discussed the road from slavery to freedom, both regionally and in Cary. The event started off as an idea from a group of citizens and blossomed into a memorable weekend that exceeded the expectations of the community.

Early Voting

At its June 13 meeting, the Wake County Board of Elections approved the time and dates for early voting at Herb Young Community Center. Early voting will begin on September 18 at 10 a.m.

Maynard Road Grade Separation

The NC Congress of Latino Organizations hosted a June 14 meeting to better reach the primarily Spanish-speaking residents of the Mobile Estates Community about NCDOT’s Maynard Road Grade Separation Project (P-5718). The meeting consisted of 1) introductions and presentation of the project concepts, 2) large group Q&A, and 3) small group/one on one questions and map review. Six interpreters were available to facilitate communication among the approximately 120 participants. The majority of questions and concerns voiced at the meeting were related to direct impacts to the community and any relocation assistance available associated with Design Option #2, which relocates Maynard Road to the east and bridges over the existing railroad and Chatham Street. The group was encouraged to provide written comments at the meeting to ensure their opinions are heard and accounted for in the decision-making process. Approximately 70 comments were received at the meeting. NCDOT continues to work on finalizing an informational packet to facilitate alternative selection later this summer. The packet will include a summary of all public comments, estimated impacts (relocations, wetlands, streams, etc.) and estimated costs for each alternative. The packets will be provided to Cary staff as soon as all information is available, and an alternative selection meeting will be coordinated at that time.

Cary Mayor

Water Main Replacement

Construction of the 2019 Water Main Replacement Project is currently underway. Included in this year’s scope of work are four areas of central Cary  where aging water pipes in well-established areas of Town will be replaced with approximately 16,000 linear feet of new ductile iron pipe, which has an estimated service life of about 100 years. The first area of work includes S. Walker Street and Byrum Street. Garney Construction has installed traffic control signs in the area and Garney staff continuously monitor and direct traffic flow as needed. Construction along the S. Walker/Byrum corridor is estimated to be completed by September, at which point Garney will move onto the remaining three neighborhoods included in this year’s project.

Sewer Line Replacement

Our proactive sewer cleaning and inspection program has paid off by locating a failing 30-inch sewer line at the Prestonwood Country Club before the sewer collapsed and caused a serious spill. Beginning next week and continuing for six to eight weeks, work will commence to replace approximately 160 feet of sewer line, followed by installation of cured-in-place lining to strengthen and reinforce an additional 1,200 feet of existing 30-inch sewer. This project involves an extensive system of temporary pumps and above-ground piping to maintain sewer flows during the project, as well as ground protection matting to protect the golf course. We have been coordinating with Prestonwood Country Club to minimize impacts to the extent possible, and their support has been very helpful in moving this project forward.

Mayton Inn

Check out this cool marketing video for the Mayton Inn. In addition to The Mayton Inn, the video highlights the future downtown park as well as other downtown businesses.

Jordan Lake Tour

On June 15, Council Members Jack Smith and Jennifer Robinson, Environmental Advisory Board Chair Rick Savage and staff members Jamie Revels and Jeff Adkins, took an environmental awareness boat tour of Jordan Lake. The tour was hosted by Clean Jordan Lakeco-founder, Dr. Francis DiGiano, who led the tour. Clean Jordan Lake is a non-profit, community-driven organization that exists to remove trash and debris from the shoreline of Jordan Lake. The boat tour began near the Jordan Lake dam and included an upstream tour along the New Hope arm of the lake to just beyond US64 where Cary’s water intake is located. The tour also included a portion of the Haw River arm of the lake. Jordan Lake’s watershed extends upstream to areas including Burlington and Greensboro, and trash removed from the shoreline originates as far away as Greensboro. The Clean Jordan Lake team inspires volunteers to support cleanup efforts, and they have done some amazing work protecting the lake. In one cleanup event, they removed 600 tires. To date, their efforts have removed more than 4,632 tires and over 15,000 bags of trash from Jordan Lake. We are very thankful and appreciative of the efforts of Dr. Francis DiGiano and his team of dedicated volunteers.

Continuous Learning – Drones

Cary staff met with Duke University’s Dr. Missy Cummings and her team of students to discuss beta testing of a UAS detection system that gives end users a low-cost solution to detect unwanted drones. The goal is to increase situational awareness in North Carolina Prisons and local communities to detect nefarious drone flights. The study is funded through the National Science Foundation; other participants are North Carolina Department of Public Safety and Clemson University. Cary staff will help test the system as part of our drone training program.

Film Festival

The Cary Theater’s 2nd annual Film Festival started on Wednesday, June 19. Based on the theme of “Heroes,” this festival welcomed films from across the world, including Burkina Faso, Australia and Spain. We partnered with Teen Cancer America to screen the documentary film, Cancer Rebellion (executive produced by Roger Daltrey of The Who) and hosted filmmaker Hernan Barangan. Four filmmaking workshops provided educational sessions for all experience levels. Special guests included Janet Scott Batchler and Lee Batchler, screenwriters of Batman Forever, to help with the workshops and discuss the process of writing the film after the screening. Partnerships with downtown businesses provided several social opportunities for networking and meeting filmmakers and guests. Check out The Cary for movies and related events all weekend.

Small Business Outreach

The Cary Police Department met with Parkside Commons businesses to discuss crime trends and to hear their concerns. Ken Caudle, Cary’s Business Liaison was the guest speaker. Ken spoke about how the Town can help small businesses and his role in working with the business community.

Employee Rap Session

On Wednesday, staff gathered for our monthly rap session to have a conversation about the LGBTQ+ community. Folks were able to openly share their diverse perspectives, personal experiences, challenges, and ways forward. It was a courageous and crucial conversation and an opportunity to continue to build relationships with our fellow colleagues. Staff members were asked to submit action steps to the Rap Session Committee that will help the Town create a healthier, stronger and more inclusive relationship with the LGBTQ+ community.

Project PHOENIX and Community Outreach

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    • Community safety is directly tied to involved citizens. Project PHOENIX is designed to help residents, owners and rental property managers keep drugs and other illegal activity off their property. This initiative brings Cary police and apartment managers together to share information, review crime trends and develop strategies for solving problems and reducing the fear of crime in and near multifamily housing developments. Officer Kevin Bern partners with residents and management staff at the Tradition at Stonewater Apartment Community to become involved in community affairs and tailor services to the unique characteristics and needs of the community. Stonewater staff report, “Our team and residents appreciate the partnership with Project Phoenix. Officer Bern dedicates his time, and we value the peace of mind throughout the community! We look forward to continuing with Project PHOENIX.”
    • In partnership with the Wake County Western Human Services Center, PHOENIX, and the Arbors at Cary apartment community, the Summer Meals Program was kicked off on June 18.  The Summer Meals Program was established to ensure that children continue to receive nutritious meals even when school is not in session.
  • Cary partnered with Headliners Barbershop, TRUACCESS and K.I.N.G for a Father and Son Hair Cut Day on Saturday, June 15. Great food, basketball, face painting, a bounce house, a fire truck display and games were also part of the fun.

Fire Investigations Vehicle

The Fire Department has been working with Wake County Fire Services on the conveyance of a fire investigation truck that Wake County no longer uses. Wake County Commissioners approved the conveyance of the truck, a 1999 Ford F-550, which will replace a unit that was scheduled to be replaced in the FY20 budget. The new truck will provide the Fire Department with additional capabilities during fire investigations with features such as scene lighting, a pump and water tank, generator and stored breathing air.

Awards

Cary won big last week in Denver at the 2019 American Water Works Association Conference, picking up three awards for our outstanding water and wastewater treatment facilities. For the fifteenth year running, the Cary-Apex Water Treatment Facility received the Partnership for Safe Water Director’s Award for Water Treatment. This award is given to recognize a facility’s demonstrated commitment to providing drinking water of superior quality, going above and beyond regulatory requirements. The Partnership for Safe Water is an alliance of six prestigious drinking water organizations with a mission to improve the quality of water delivered to customers by optimizing water system operations.

The Partnership for Clean Water is a parallel program committed to recognizing wastewater treatment facilities that operate with the highest efficiency while protecting the environment and preserving the quality of water resources. Both the North Cary and Western Wake Regional Water Reclamation Facilities were part of the inaugural class of elite wastewater treatment facilities to receive the Partnership for Clean Water Director’s Award. The North Cary facility was the first wastewater treatment plant in the country to receive this award. JD Arnold from the Cary-Apex Water Treatment Facility and Jonathan Bulla from the North Cary Water Reclamation Facility accepted the awards on behalf of the Town during the conference awards ceremony.

Advisory Board Meetings

Planning and Zoning Board Work Session

Mon, 6/24, 6:30pm

Town Hall Conf Room 11130

Festivals and Events Committee of Cary150 Task Force

Purpose: work on assignment tasked by the Cary150 Task Force

Mon, 6/24, 6:30pm

Admin Fire Department

Cultural Arts Committee

Wed, 6/26, 6pm

Koka Booth Amphitheater

Billboard Update

This week I received multiple email complaints about legislation that would allow billboards. Cary has a long history with billboards and spent decades and a lot of effort before the last one was gone. Legislation to allow billboards was passed in the House and now is being discussed in the Senate. The concern from the citizens was that our Senator, Wiley Nickel, was co-sponsoring the legislation in the Senate. I contacted him on our concerns and this is part of his response:

“ I’d encourage you to read the bill once we’ve amended it and speak with Jack Cozort (lobbyist for the Town of Cary) who I’ve met with several times about this bill. I’ve been working with Jack for weeks on this.  He can give you updates about the progress we’ve made to ensure there are no unintended consequences. I’d like to repeat that the final bill we vote on in the Senate will be an improvement from the original bill filed months ago. Also, the House version of the bill recently passed with bi-partisan support and the League of Municipalities is neutral on the bill.”

I copied NC Representative Gale Adcock, who represents Cary and served as Mayor Pro-Tem on the Cary Council and this is her response:

“H645 passed the House 73-43 on May 7.  The vote was not along party lines—there yes and no votes on both sides of the aisle. IMO the bill was bad for municipalities and I was a ‘no’ vote. The League vigorously opposed the House bill.

I have no idea what the Senate is doing with their version. As you know I take all billboard bills seriously because historically they are good for the billboard industry and bad for everyone else. If the Senate Bill makes it over to the House, unless I can be convinced that it does not harm municipalities I will vote against it. Thanks!”

I completely agree with Representative Adcock on this. This billboard legislation will only benefit the special interest of billboard companies and will NOT help the citizens of Cary.

We also heard from our lobbyist on this matter. Here are his comments:

“…As you know, the bill as it passed the House contained language that many legal analysts believe could be used later in court actions to limit the right of local government to regulate billboards. We made those concerns known to Senator Wiley Nickel. Senator Nickel convened a meeting yesterday of several interested parties, including the Town of Cary and representatives of the Outdoor Advertising Association (OAA), to look into that issue further. At that meeting, Senator Nickel reiterated  that he could not support a bill that would permit billboards in Cary or that would prohibit local government from regulating billboards. A representative of the OAA, TJ Bugbee, stated unequivocally that it is not the intent of the OAA in this bill to take away local government authority to regulate billboards. Mr. Bugbee has met with us several times and has been very accommodating of our requests and has worked with us on modifying the bill.  At this meeting, Mr. Bugbee agreed to remove from the bill two sections that were of concern to us and others. There are still a few other sections in the bill that need to be closely examined.  Lawyers from the Legislative Analysis Staff were in the meeting and will be getting back to Senator Nickel on those provisions. …”

I will continue to do what I can to oppose this legislation and have asked our lobbyist to keep me informed. Our municipal lawyers and staff liaison are also heavily involved in this matter.

Emails From Citizens

Other emails from citizens this week included:

  • Concerns about how police body cams are used (All police officers will have these by the end of the summer. Use of the video is very restricted by law and can only be viewed by court order. Police Chief Dezomits responded.)
  • A compliment on the town’s first Juneteenth celebration
  • A compliment on the town’s response to a downed tree in Windsor Oaks that stranded homeowners. (Staff had the road opened within half an hour and completed cutting up the tree and removing debris the next day).

Next week’s activities include staff meetings, Diwali practice, the Police Chief reception, a council meeting, 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 30th. 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.

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