Cary, NC – This was a busy week for me highlighted by a big job announcement.
Monday – Preparing for the Week
Monday I attempted to contact council members to hear of any concerns or questions they had about Thursday’s regularly scheduled council meeting. Comments from council members included the mall redevelopment proposal and the Environmental Advisory Board tree recommendations. Later in the day I met with staff and talked about the agenda items. We decided at that time to schedule a work session for the mall redevelopment to make sure all questions and concerns were addressed. I believed that Thursday’s meeting length would be about three hours.
Later Monday I joined Mayor Pro-Tem Bush in a meeting with the town manager and town attorney. After we discussed a legal matter the attorney left, and we talked about a variety of other issues such as open space, the bond referendum, and the mall redevelopment. Our meeting concluded after an hour.
My last meeting on Monday was a campaign meeting via WebEx. We updated each other on items and will be in full campaign mode by September. This meeting also lasted about an hour.
Tuesday – Xerox and Bond Park Algae
Tuesday was a very busy day.
It started with the job announcement from Xerox that they planned on a $18.4 million investment that included 600 jobs with an average salary of $112,000. I joined council member Smith, the town manager, Director of Economic Development, and several key chamber members at the state capital for the announcement. Speakers at the event included the Governor, a representative from Xerox, the Wake County Chair, and me. My comments were:
Hello. I’m Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht.
We’re excited about the opportunity to add Xerox to Cary’s portfolio of exceptional businesses.
We believe we have a great business climate, and we are proud and humbled to have been chosen.
I want to thank everyone inside State government and Wake County for our continuing strong partnership in helping grow our collective economies by bringing good jobs and the high quality of life that comes with those jobs to the people who want to live in this part of North Carolina.
In Cary, we know that successful companies result from great people, and “home” is more than just the place you work.
So, on behalf of 170,000 of your newest neighbors, it is truly my pleasure to say to the Xerox family, “welcome home.”
It was a great economic development day for Cary and I hear there may be more soon.
Tuesday morning there was a LOT of misinformation about algae in Bond Lake from a Facebook post which was propagated quickly by the media. This resulted in the town having to issue the following statement:
Despite inaccurate reports, Cary’s Bond Lake is safe and does not contain toxic algae. There are currently no active blooms at Bond Lake. In May, an algal bloom was noticed in the lake and tests were immediately performed by the North Carolina Department of Environmental and Natural Resources. Tests were negative; no toxins were present. The online map cited in media reports simply shows that tests did occur at Bond Lake.
In response to the inaccurate reports, Algal Ecologist Leigh Stevenson of the North Carolina Department of Environmental and Natural Resources released the following statement Tuesday:
“A cyanobacterial bloom was observed in Bond Lake on May 27, 2019. The bloom was observable as bright green clumps of algae along the shoreline and a green discoloration throughout the waterbody. Algal analysis showed that the algae present was a blue-green alga known to be capable of producing toxins, however toxin testing found toxins were not present at the time of sampling. Signs were posted around the lake warning the public of the possible risk to people and pets and remained onsite until the bloom dissipated.
Bond Lake was resampled for blue-green algae on June 13. No visual indicators of an algal bloom were observed at the time of sampling and algal analysis found cyanobacteria were no longer present. Based on these results, it was determined that there was no longer a significant risk to human and animal health from blue-green algae at Bond Lake and signs were removed. If Bond Lake exhibits visual indications of an active blue-green bloom the lake will be retested by NCDEQ staff.”
Cary Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Director Doug McRainey said staff works with the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources and Department of Health and Human Services to monitor algal blooms. “If a bloom is observed, testing is immediately conducted. If results indicate toxins are present in the bloom, signage will be posted at key points around the lake.”
Citizens should note Bond Lake’s classification is for recreational boating and does not allow for contact activities, such as swimming by dogs or people.
I would urge citizens and the media to contact us about any issues you might hear about or see on social media.
Tuesday afternoon I sent a letter to the Governor urging him to veto the billboard legislation that was on his desk. Here is the content of that letter:
The Honorable Roy Cooper
North Carolina Office of the Governor
20301 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-0301
Dear Governor Cooper:
On behalf of the entire Cary Town Council and the nearly 170,000 people who call Cary home, I am writing to encourage you to veto H645 Revisions to Outdoor Advertising Laws.
While proponents of H645 allege that its intent is to merely allow the relocation of existing billboards because of road widenings or other projects, the bill’s reach is much broader. If this bill becomes law, we believe that any existing billboard can be relocated under this bill. When those billboards are moved, they can be reconstructed and made significantly taller. In addition, swaths of the roadside can be mowed down around them to ensure maximum exposure to motorists from all directions.
Further, the current version of the bill unnecessarily adds and amends definitions and incorporates a decades-old agreement into law. This concerns us since earlier versions of the bill appeared to be written with an eye to overturning established legal precedent and removing all local aesthetic controls of billboards.
Finally, we find the language of H645 to be convoluted and confusing to the point that many say they’re not sure exactly what it means, which is surely an invitation for expensive future litigation.
In closing, we want you to know that Senator Wiley Nickel made heroic efforts to amend the legislation to limit its effects on the Town of Cary, and we are incredibly grateful for his work on our behalf. Even so and despite his and others best efforts, the bill that sits on your desk today is, simply put, bad for North Carolina.
Thank you for your consideration, and please don’t hesitate to contact me if we can be of service in this or other matters.
Harold Weinbrecht, Jr.
While this legislation doesn’t directly impact Cary (we spent years and lots of money to get rid of our billboards), it does take away more local control for communities in North Carolina. Local elected officials are closest to the people and know what is best for their citizens. Cary will continue to oppose any legislation that takes away local control.
Tuesday evening I met with a candidate for Cary Town council. We talked about current issues and I heard about their issues.
Wednesday – Fire Chief M. Wayne House
Wednesday we said goodbye to a former fire chief and a great public servant. Here is an excerpt from his obituary:
Mr. House was born in Wake County a son of the late Willie Macon House and Lorene Nesbitt House. A graduate of Garner High School, he was a veteran of the US Army serving in Vietnam War 1966-1969. A former police officer with Raleigh Police Department and Wake County Sheriff’s Department, he later joined the Cary Fire Department in 1973. He retired with the Cary Fire Department in 2002 as Fire Chief. He was an active member of the American Legion Post 67 in Cary, a member of Cary Imp Club, and was inducted into the Cary Athletics Hall of Fame. Wayne felt that his greatest achievements were his children and his grandchildren.
Chief House touched many lives in Cary, including mine, and Cary is a better place because of his service. Rest in peace chief!
Wednesday evening I joined the entire council at the Cary Chamber Leadership dinner. This is held annually to thank leaders from all levels of Government. Attending were county commissioners, school board members, state house members, and state senators. In my remarks I thanked them for all they have done to make Cary great and for helping us create such an excellent business climate. I followed by talking about the Xerox announcement. I finished by explaining how important the bonds will be to Cary and asked for their support. The chamber dinner lasted about two and a half hours.
Thursday – Cary Town Council
Thursday the council held its first regularly scheduled meeting of the month. The agenda included six consent items, five public hearings, two discussion items, and a closed session.
The public speaks out portion had several speakers lobbying for the council to adopt the tree committee recommendations. Later in the meeting Council directed staff to analyze the tree committee report come back with recommendations.
The public meeting on the mall redevelopment had a lot of interest from the media as well as nearby residents. While the Cary Community Plan, created by citizens over a three-year period, called for density in this area of the gateway, several nearby residents were opposed to what was proposed. Their concerns included traffic, schools, and trees. Council will discuss this project at its quarterly meeting on August 29th and it will go to the Planning and Zoning Board for their review and recommendation in the following month or two.
After a closed session the council meeting concluded after three hours.
Friday – Mayors Meeting
Friday I participated in a meeting of the North Carolina Metro Mayors. Here is a summary of that meeting:
Brief OPENING remarks – Work was light this week and many legislators were absent due to a legislative conference out of state. The General Assembly continues to move at a very tedious pace, with very few bills being heard and multiple bills being sent to conference committees where legislators negotiate the differences behind closed doors. While the House continues to focus on securing votes for a veto override, there is no indication of when adjournment might occur.
Legislative Schedule and BUDGET H966
- Work has been very minimal this week due to a number of House legislators attending ALEC in Austin.
- Budget is still at an impasse with no end in sight.
- The Governor continues to maintain his position and is not willing to negotiate the budget unless Medicaid expansion is included.
- Hopeful to reach some type of resolution soon.
- S68 – Relocation of Water/Sewer Line Costs
- Amends the percentage of non-betterment cost for transportation projects paid by municipalities for relocation of water and sewer lines.
- The bill was signed by the Governor on Wednesday. It is now Session Law 2019-197.
Nothing new to report
Nothing new to report
Local Revenues/ Local Control
S553 – Regulatory Reform Bill
- The conference report was released this week and did not include the scooter definition which was added by the House.
- There is a good chance the language will end up somewhere else before the end of session.
- It was mentioned on the call that some of the fire marshals had concerns with the provision dealing with building code and doorstep garbage and recycling containers. That language is included in Section 3 of the conference report and it is our understanding that this is compromise language.
- Given that this is a conference report, language for this bill cannot be amended and would have to be addressed in another form of legislation in the future.
S118 – PCS (not on the NCLEG website yet Short Term Rentals/Airbnb Legislation)
- There is still no public language available dealing with short term rentals.
- We are consistently hearing rumors that the language will re-surface.
- We are involved in stakeholder discussions and will continue to work diligently to keep anything emerging that would be harmful to our cities.
- Continue to keep an eye out for any action alerts next week.
S681 – Local Sales Tax Flexibility
- This bill was originally sponsored by Sen. Berger and addressed rural health care.
- The House added a provision that would provide counties the flexibility to levy, by referendum, an additional ¼ cent sales tax.
- The Senate did not concur with the House changes and it has been sent to conference committee for the two chambers to negotiate the differences.
The meeting concluded after about 20 minutes.
Saturday – India Independence Day
Saturday I participated in the India Independence Day celebration held at the Hindu Society of North Carolina (HSNC). I have participated in the celebration every year I have been mayor. This year’s chief guest was Elaine Marshall, our Secretary of State. In the flag portion of the ceremony she released the United States flag, I joined Mayor Cawley of Morrisville in releasing the North Carolina flag, and the founder of HSNC, Dr. Sharma, released the India flag. There were several hundreds of people in attendance. The flag ceremony was followed by indoor events and food which lasted several hours.
Town Manager’s Report
The town manager’s report for this week included the following:
RTA Endorses Cary Bond
Friday morning at its annual leadership retreat, the Regional Transportation Alliance (RTA) endorsed Cary’s $113 million transportation bond. Information about the October 8 Shaping Cary’s Tomorrow 2019 Bond Referendum can be found at www.carybonds.org.
Traffic Shift in Historic District
As part of the ongoing Carpenter Fire Station Road Bridge and Intersection Improvements Project, contractors working on behalf of Cary will continue to perform asphalt paving and traffic control along Good Hope Church Road, Saunders Grove Lane and Morrisville Carpenter Road in preparation for the upcoming traffic shift to realign Good Hope Church Road to Saunders Grove Lane. The realignment and shifting of traffic to the new traffic pattern should be complete by Sunday, September 1.
These changes to roads within Historic Carpenter are necessary for the re-construction of Morrisville Carpenter Road along the Good Hope Baptist Church property. This new roadway alignment will connect a new median-divided, four-lane roadway through the CSX Transportation railroad underpass to Carpenter Fire Station Road.
Over a course of a year, the Environmental Advisory Board (EAB) read and discussed Drawdown, edited by Paul Hawken. After reading Drawdown, EAB members developed a set of recommendations regarding the most impactful ways to reduce carbon emissions. At the same time, the EAB initiated a tree subcommittee to make recommendations specific to tree canopy and tree preservation. Trees improve air quality and absorb carbon through natural processes, highlighting their importance. Currently, staff are evaluating the tree recommendations and will soon be evaluating the carbon recommendations. Concurrently, as part of Cary’s Strategic Energy Action Plan, a consultant is creating a baseline estimate of carbon emissions in Cary to inform this work.
Aviation Parkway Road Closure
In coordination with NCDOT’s work at I-40 and Aviation Parkway, Cary staff will be conducting a significant utility operation this weekend that involves temporarily closing Aviation Parkway at Evans Road. The road closure is anticipated to begin around 7pm on Friday and will last until the operation is complete, which is expected to occur by 5pm on Saturday. The road closure will be coordinated by NCDOT to allow contractors to make critical connections to a 16-inch water line that serves customers in the area, including RDU Airport. Cary staff have worked with RDU to activate a backup water feed from the City of Raleigh to serve the airport while construction is underway. The area will also be fed through another Town of Cary 16-inch water line at Airport Blvd to ensure full service while the Aviation water line is out of service.
Median Presentation to EAB
In response to a recommendation from the Environmental Advisory Board (EAB) to encourage planting native trees, staff from Transportation and Facilities and Public Works presented proposed landscaping plans for the median islands on NW Cary Parkway at Kildaire Farm Road to the Board on August 13. The proposed landscaping plan incorporates native trees and plants that are hardy as well as beautiful and appropriate in a median. The presentation included the type of plantings, overall plan, and a rendering. EAB members were impressed by the design and appreciated the emphasis on roadway and median plantings. More importantly, the members were impressed by the collaborative work across departments to create a design that will not only beautify the intersection but also function well. Moving forward, staff will share the design with others in the community. The median will be planted with trees this fall; perennials will be planted in the spring.
Walker Street Improvements
As we live in a time where public opinion is often shaped by a click of a button or the share of a post, in early summer 2019, project managers met to discuss a proactive and robust outreach to adjacent businesses for the upcoming Walker Street Improvements Project.
As part of the ongoing outreach effort, staff worked with Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources, Planning, and Inspections and Permits staff to revise the route of the upcoming Bond Brothers 5K Run. The original course would have traversed the project. Staff worked with business owners to modify the race route to ensure the safety of participants and meet the needs of the business owners.
Outreach included going door-to-door to launch the project kickoff with downtown businesses. To ensure that project information flowed smoothly between technical leads in the field to people affected by the project, managers from both the contractor, Bruce Allen Construction Company, and the Town dedicated occasional mornings specifically to meet and greet the various businesses.
Regular door to door outreach will continue as construction kicks off, weather permitting, on August 19. The Contractor and Town Project Manager will continue to meet with business owners to ensure the exchange of timely information in a meaningful way to establish, educate and empower business owners to provide occasional input and guidance through completion of the project.
Veterans Experience Coming to HYCC
Cary American Legion Post 67 will be hosting the Veterans Experience Action Center, September 12-14, at the Herbert C. Young Community Center. Thirty VA Administrators and 15 Veterans Service Officers will assist veterans with existing or new claims with the VA.
Please share this opportunity with any veterans. While Post 67 cannot guarantee that claims will be resolved since that is up to the VA administrators, previous participants have been very appreciative of the assistance they received. Veteran attendees should bring all health records, their DD-214s and any other records that may be of use in submitting a new claim or updating an existing claim.
The event will begin at 9 am, but Cary staff will open the center at 6 am so that our veteran guests may wait inside. Post 67 and other volunteers, including Teen Council members, will provide refreshments and assistance for the veterans. Public Works staff members provide set-up, breakdown, and cleaning throughout the event, PRCR provides logistical support on facility needs, and Police provide on-site assistance as needed.
We are humbled and grateful to help serve our veterans who have served all of us.
Breweries as Catalysts
NAIOP Raleigh Durham, a Commercial Real Estate Association and the nation’s leading trade organization dedicated to representing industrial, office and related commercial real estate, hosted its August 15 meeting in Downtown Cary at Chatham Station and Bond Brothers on the topic of “Breweries as Catalysts.” The panel was comprised of George Jordan and Jordan Gussenhoven of Chatham Street Commercial, Andy Schnitzer and Jay and Jeremy Bond of Bond Brothers, and Cary Economic Development Director Ted Boyd. The panel retold the story of the ways in which the public and private sector worked together to see real change and placemaking occur and shared many positive changes that have occurred as a result of Bond Brothers getting established in Downtown Cary. The panel discussion concluded with a tour and tasting at Bond Brothers.
Crosswalk Installation Complete
Pedestrian improvements along Dillard Drive near Jones Franklin Road and Corning Road were completed this week. The new mid-block crossing was enhanced with a rectangular rapid flashing beacon. Staff collaborated with NCDOT and Epic Games to provide safe pedestrian accessibility between their buildings. Design and installation were provided by Cary staff as part of the annual street improvements project with spot safety funding.
Utility Installer Training
The first of two training sessions was held this week for nearly 20 utility installers. Training topics included traffic control, landscaping and tree damage, and 811/utility locating requirements. It was a great way to engage in dialogue with our utility partners and raise awareness for our expectations and set requirements while working in the Town of Cary. We are expecting even more attendees, including representatives from AT&T and Google, at the next session on August 20.
On Wednesday, August 14, over a thousand employees participated in a lockdown drill. Collaborative planning involving staff from across various ToC departments introduced a broad perspective that contributed to the drill’s success. Employees at all Town facilities were instructed to enact the lockdown drill procedures that were provided during Police Captain Jerry McCormick’s Lockdown seminar and the area-specific lockdown trainings. Employees were encouraged to think about their personal safety and how to further distance themselves from a potential threat, not only at work, but also in other places they regularly frequent. At a debriefing at the conclusion of the drill, proctors shared employee feedback on deficiencies observed and suggestions for improvement. We will continue to evaluate and strengthen our safety and health program to further empower our employees to live and work safely.
Dual Left Flashing Yellow Arrow
Working with NCDOT and the Regional Transportation Alliance, Cary staff installed the a Dual Left Flashing Yellow Arrow (FYA) at Harrison Ave and Cary Pkwy, a low-cost traffic signal modification to reduce delay during permitted operation. While a dual left turn approach provides additional peak capacity, the “protected-only” operation typically associated with dual lefts increases intersection delays for the majority of the day. The Dual Left FYA avoids some of the down sides associated with a typical dual left turn operation while providing peak period capacity.
Left Flashing Yellow Arrows provide 1) improved coordination as the solid arrow can be displayed any time in the signal cycle, 2) reduced delay as the flashing arrow allows left turns after yielding, and 3) flexible operations since the flashing arrow can be omitted during heavy traffic periods and the solid arrow can be omitted during lighter traffic periods. A new timing plan has been implemented, and staff will evaluate signal operations, making adjustments as needed over the next few weeks.
The Town, through its legal department, is a member of the International Municipal Lawyers Association (IMLA). IMLA is dedicated to advancing the interests and education of local government lawyers. We are proud to announce that Lisa Glover, Senior Assistant Attorney, has been awarded the designation of IMLA Local Government Fellow. “The prestigious IMLA Local Government Fellows Program (Program) was established to recognize attorneys as legal specialists in the field of local government law and to encourage attorney proficiency and competency in the local government legal field. The Program offers local governments a reliable benchmark for determining experienced and knowledgeable practitioners.”
Lisa joins a select group of lawyers the United States and Canada recognized by the IMLA as specialists in the field of local government law. We congratulate Lisa on this significant and noteworthy accomplishment! We thank Council for encouraging legal department participation in the IMLA and our Town colleagues for providing Lisa with the sometimes-complex legal questions that allowed Lisa to hone her local government legal skills and qualify for this honor.
After more than a decade of permitting, design, and construction, the Western Wake Regional Water Reclamation Facility (WWRWRF) started returning highly treated wastewater to the Cape Fear River five years ago, on August 11, 2014. The WWRWRF, affectionately known by staff as the “Greatest Place on Earth,” represents an excellent model of regional cooperation among the Towns of Cary, Apex, and Morrisville to ensure the future of wastewater treatment services to support economic growth and development in Western Wake County. The WWRWRF and associated infrastructure projects remains the largest capital endeavor that Cary has completed with approximately $255 million of jointly owned infrastructure with the Town of Apex.
Designed and permitted as an 18-MGD advanced wastewater treatment facility, WWRWRF represents decades of wastewater treatment experience in Cary that culminated in engineering and design of this state-of-the-art facility. Key features include an 18-MGD facility that can be expanded to 30-MGD within the current structural footprint of the site; a Class A thermal biosolids drying process; site layout and design that protects the environment and buffers the plant from nearby homes; modern technologies to mitigate odor, noise and light; and advanced wastewater process technology that consistently produces high quality treated wastewater that actually meets reclaimed water standards.
Known for being “Good from the First Drop”, the staff at WWRWRF, led by Manager Damon Forney, have strived for excellence from the first day of operations, successfully transitioning from a construction project to a fully operational facility. After five years of operation, the staff at WWRWRF has been recognized with a Gold Award from the National Association of Clean Water Agencies and a Director’s Award from the Partnership for Clean Water.
Congratulations to Damon and the entire team at WWRWRF for five years of service excellence.
Advisory Board Meetings
Mon, 8/19, 6pm
Town Hall Conf Room 11130
Tues, 8/20, 6:15pm
Town Hall Conf Room 10035
Wed, 8/21, 6:15pm
Town Hall Conf Room 11130
Emails From Citizens
Emails from citizens this week included the following:
- A concern about a Crime Stoppers board member.
- Questions about the RDU Authority
- A request to keep Dillard’s open (the town does not own Dillard’s or the mall site so we have no authority. This was a private sale.)
- Questions and complaints about the mall redevelopment proposal.
- A complaint about water quality. (Staff has already visited the site and the water is clear and safe).
- A request to hire an urban forester.
Next week will be busy once again. Activities include staff meetings, a Mayors Association meeting, the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau annual meeting, a meeting of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s executive board, an interview with the Homebuilders Association, a meeting of the North Carolina Metro Mayors, Lazy Daze, and an award ceremony.
Get In Touch
Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, August 25th. 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.