Cary Mayor

Harold’s Blog: Cary Town Council, Meeting with Governor and More

This was a slow week which is typical for this time of year.

Monday – Preparing for the Week

Monday I attempted to contact all council members to hear concerns or questions about the upcoming meeting that I could discuss with staff. I contacted each of them except one. There were no concerns but based on my conversations it seemed that support for the Roberts Road rezoning was doubtful.

Later in the day I met with staff to go over the agenda. We talked about staff presentations especially the parks master plan presentation. We wanted to make sure the presentation pointed out that this was a master plan. Design and construction would depend on the passage of the bond referendum in the fall.

My final meeting on Monday was with the town manager and the Mayor Pro-Tem. Items discussed included the future Hotel Occupancy and Meals Tax, the Fenton development, the mall redevelopment, and Epic Games. Our meeting concluded after about thirty minutes.

Tuesday – Diwali Preparation

Tuesday was another dance practice day for Diwali which will be in October. We completed going through the first song’s dance steps. I still have a long way to go to learn these. We are about one fourth of the way through learning all the steps.

Thursday – Town Council Meeting

Thursday started with a reception for Police Chief Toni Dezomits. I had a chance to have my picture made with her and talk with her briefly before leaving to prepare for the council meeting. I look forward to her leadership.

The council meeting was the last one for June and for fiscal year 2019. The agenda included three presentations, six consent agenda items, two public hearings, five discussion items, and a closed session. The controversial Roberts Road rezoning was pulled from the agenda at the request of the applicant. The presentation portion of the meeting included the public swearing-in and pinning of our new police chief. Not surprisingly, she received a standing ovation. We also passed a resolution on opioids called More Powerful NC.

The public speaks out portion of the meeting had a speaker with concerns about the Roberts Road rezoning and a speaker concerned about the loss of trees in Cary. The public hearings only had the applicant speaking on behalf of the rezoning. In the discussion portion of the meeting the council unanimously approved the fiscal year 2020 budget, the bond orders for this fall, and the master plans for the Carpenter Fire Station Road park and the McCrimmon Parkway park. The meeting concluded after two hours when we returned from a closed session.

Friday – Mayors Meeting

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

Opening Remarks

Thanks to everyone who was able to join us in Raleigh Wednesday- feedback has been very positive. The conversations around affordable housing were extremely helpful as well as the luncheon with Governor Cooper. As Mayor Vaughan stated, one of the greatest values is sharing information amongst yourselves.

The session is in a high gear as the end of session is on the horizon. The budget was sent to the Governor and we expect a veto soon.

Following a veto from the Governor, there are three possible scenarios from the legislature.

The legislature can hold a veto override vote. The majority needs 7 Democrats in the House and 1 Democrat in the Senate to override the veto. (1 House Democrat and 4 Senate Democrats voted for the budget).
If the legislature is unable to override the veto, the legislature may consider passing “mini” budgets that are sent to the Governor one at a time dealing with specific subject matters (individual budgets for transportation, education, etc.).
The legislature could adjourn without passing a budget since there is a continuing resolution in place that keeps state government in a basic operational mode. If nothing is passed and signed, state government would be funded at the same level as the previous year for recurring funds. Since the continuing resolution does NOT ALLOW use of non-recurring funds or expansion/increases in funds, HHS and Transportation federal funds may be jeopardized in some circumstances.

TOPICS WILL INCLUDE:

Transportation

H966, Budget Conference Report BUDGET – H966
Includes complete restoration of SMAP transit funds (roughly $8.5 million)
Continued historic investment in commercial airports – $75 million in recurring funds divided amongst the ten commercial airports (Total in the last 3 years has been $190M)
Powell Bill – final compromise is a 5% increase for municipalities with a population of less than 200,000 – BEGINNING in 2021. We will continue to work on this next year to get the increase allocated to all cities.
Overall, municipalities did quite well in the budget – many folks say better than we have in recent years. This speaks highly to the work our cities have done with their delegations and efforts to reach out broadly while representing our priorities on important municipal issues such as transportation and job creation – as well as the partnerships we have created around these topics.

S68 – Relocation of Water/Sewer
Would amend the percentage of non-betterment cost paid by municipalities for the relocation of water and sewer lines from 100% to 50% for a municipality with a population less than 100,000.
Received a favorable report from House Transportation Committee this week, referred to the House State and Local Committee
This is on a good track for passage.

Public Safety

Various ABC Bills
S344 – Allow Common Area Entertainment ABC Permit
Would establish a “Common Area Entertainment Permit” to allow brick and mortar stores in a mall to sell alcohol during special events at the mall and be consumed in a designated common area.
Received a favorable report from the Senate Commerce and Insurance Committee, referred to Senate Finance.
S290 – Distiller Regulatory Reform Bill
Would remove the limitation on the amount of bottles a visitor could buy from the distillery production (currently you can only purchase 5 bottles per year).
It would also allow for liquor tastings at ABC stores, when approved by the local ABC board.
Received a favorable report from the House ABC Committee this week, referred to House Rules.
H389 – ABC/University Athletic Facility
Would allow for the sale of beer and wine at university athletic facilities if approved by the University’s Board of Trustees.
Signed by the Governor on Wednesday.
Now Session Law 2019-52
H536 – ABC Omnibus Regulatory Reform
The proposed committee substitute is a combination of the original bill and H91, ABC Laws Modernization/PED Study.
The bill does not include any provisions related to the sale of alcohol on Sundays, ABC privatization, or consolidation of ABC Boards.
Would restrict the creation of new ABC boards by prohibiting any jurisdiction located in a county that already has an ABC board from holding an ABC store election unless they negotiate a merger with an existing ABC board and make those details available to the public prior to the election. In a county where there is currently no ABC board in the county, only a county election could be held.
The bill passed the committee with a vote of 12-9. It has been referred to the House Rules Committee.

Economic Development

Historic Preservation Tax Credit
Basic extension was included in the budget – extends sunset to 2024.
H399 – House bill passed a few weeks ago – waiting for action in the Senate. May need to move this bill if the budget doesn’t get resolved

Local Revenues/ Local Control

S553, Regulatory Reform Act of 2019
Section 18 includes the electric scooter bill definition.
Identical to H77 that was passed by the House earlier this year.
H645 – Revisions to Outdoor Advertising Laws
The latest version of the bill now includes two provisions allowing the movement of a billboard. (2 miles in the event of condemnation and 250 ft. every ten years to a willing property owner’s land)
Provisions were added that addressed some of the concerns related to scenic corridors. Mayor Vaughan met with the Executive Director of the Outdoor Advertising Association last week regarding those concerns.
Passed the Senate Transportation, Judiciary, and Rules Committees this week.
Expected to be heard on the Senate floor next week.
Short Term Rentals (STR)/Airbnb Legislation
There was concern that a proposed committee substitute for S483 would include short term rental provisions that would have been damaging to local control.
THIS did not come to fruition in Committee – THANKS to the advocacy from our members who called their legislators before the committee meeting, we were able to keep any language related to short term rentals at bay.
We will continue to monitor this issue and let you know if we hear of the potential for the language appearing elsewhere.
Please stay vigilant and continue to reach out to your legislators regarding the risk of a last-minute effort to slip legislation through that would restrict a city’s ability to manage STR
There is a general understanding that there will be a stakeholder process on this topic for a future session of the General Assembly.

Town Manager’s Report

The town manager’s report for this week included:

NC Metro Mayors Coalition

Mayor Pro-Tem Lori Bush, Lana Hygh and Morgan Mansa attended the NC Metropolitan Mayors Coalition’s summer meeting in Raleigh. Following the morning’s discussion focused on affordable housing, elected officials had lunch with Governor Cooper (Metro Mayor Chair/Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughn is shown above with Governor Cooper). After lunch, participants returned for a roundtable discussion and remarks and Q&A with Rep. Jon Hardister from Guilford County.

Transit Field Trip

Ken George and David Spencer joined the Regional Transportation Alliance (RTA) and regional business leaders on the 2019 Leadership Briefing and Tour to Richmond and northern Virginia to visit two bus rapid transit systems – the Richmond Pulse and the Metroway (serving Alexandria and Arlington). They also had the opportunity to board the Virginia Railway Express, a commuter rail service in northern Virginia. As part of the program, they received a presentation about the Flash BRT system, currently under construction in suburban Maryland, and visited Kanawha Plaza, an urban park built over the Downtown Expressway (a “freeway cap”). Matt Welbes, executive director of the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), spoke to the group in an evening session.

This was a great opportunity to learn from multiple agencies about efforts to bring BRT and commuter rail systems to their communities and envision how such systems will work in Cary. The group also learned about actions those communities were taking to make transit successful, such as promoting Transit Oriented Developments, partnering with private and public institutions to open up more opportunities to use transit, and using technology to ensure transit was as efficient and predictable as possible. An interesting part of the Pulse system is what is known as a BRT Totem. The series of green lights indicates the anticipated arrival of the next bus – as the bus gets closer, more lights come on.

Sharing Knowledge: Pavement Maintenance

Amir Nezarati and colleagues from AECOM Engineering spoke at the annual North Carolina American Public Works Association Conference. The discussion focused on the evolution of Cary’s pavement maintenance program, development of our paving groups, and our approach to preventative maintenance. Following the presentation, several municipalities expressed interest in learning more about Cary’s program. The conference also offered a valuable opportunity to discover new and innovative pavement maintenance techniques to add to our maintenance toolbox, which is especially important as we focus on maintaining what we have and keeping Cary great.

Transit Planning

Furthering our regional efforts in western Wake County, Cary’s transit staff will support the Town of Apex in preparing an Apex Circulator Study in FY2020. The proposed Apex Circulator would be operated by GoCary using funds from the Community Funding Area (CFA) Program of the Wake Transit Plan. The CFA Program allows the smaller Wake County municipalities to obtain matching funds to improve transit service in their communities. The study will include a capital and operating plan for the proposed circulator with service starting as early as FY 2021. Cary and Apex see this circulator as an important component of transit service in western Wake County, allowing for connections between multiple GoCary and GoTriangle routes, including the GoCary Holly Springs Express (HSX) route, also funded through the Wake Transit Plan, which is scheduled to begin in January 2020.

Specialized Recreation

Participants and family members enjoyed an evening of lawn games on Town Hall campus, kicking off a summer of social gatherings.

Project PHOENIX

Officer Dustin Wright partners with residents and management staff of the Woodcreek apartment community to become involved in community affairs and tailor services to the unique characteristics and needs of the community. According to Woodcreek Manager Hope Joyner, “Project PHOENIX has offered our community a unique opportunity to create a partnership with Cary PD that not only benefits the business but also the people. Through Project PHOENIX, the officers we have worked with have become not only a resource, but friends.”

Recognition

Mary Beerman successfully created and deployed five change sets in June. Anyone familiar with Salesforce deployment and change sets knows that this is no small feat. Especially inspiring is that she is working on this approximately two months before her retirement. Mary embodies the visions of elevating capacity and living The Cary Way. Mary has taken a career of knowledge, rethought all of it, and transitioned that into an array of Salesforce Lightning Components and Applications.

LeAnn Nease Brown, who has a long and distinguished history representing Cary in real estate acquisitions including those that involve eminent domain, was named the 125th president of the North Carolina Bar Association (NCBA) at the annual meeting in Asheville. LeAnn’s oath of office was administered by Chief Justice Cheri Beasley of the NC Supreme Court. We are proud to be associated with such a distinguished attorney.

Advisory Board Meetings

Information Services Advisory Board

Mon, 7/1, 6pm

Town Hall Conf Room 10035

Emails from Citizens

Emails from citizens this week included:

  • A concern about utility companies and coal ash (state and federal issue)
  • A complaint about handicap accessibility to the American Tobacco Trail (staff has responded and pointed out that we meet or exceed standards)
  • A complaint about billboard legislation in the Senate (It is my understanding that the latest version of the bill protects Cary from having to allow billboards)
  • A concern that developers are cutting down every tree in the triangle (Cary has some of the most stringent tree buffer rules in the state. In addition, we a Champion tree ordinance. We are also continuously looking for ways to be greener with our sustainability manager and our environmental board. It should be pointed out that this region’s population will double within the next two decades. We are seeing double digit growth in about every municipality in Wake County except Raleigh, Cary, and Morrisville. Cary’s growth rate has been around 2% the last eleven years).
  • Several complaints and concerns about the Roberts Road rezoning

Next week will be very light since it is the 4th of July holiday week. My activities include a tour of Vibe, a taping of Cary Matters, and the Independence Day celebration at Booth amphitheater.

Get In Touch

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

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