Cary, NC – This week was much busier than last week with intergovernmental meetings and events.
Monday – Mayors Association
Monday I contacted council members about any questions or concerns they may have had about Thursday’s upcoming agenda. The agenda was fairly straight forward so there were no questions. However, more than one council member expressed concerns about the number of apartment proposals we are getting. Later in the day I met with staff to go over the agenda. After the agenda meeting, I met with the town manager for my weekly one-on-one. We discussed several topics including the mall proposal and the potential community center that could go on the site.
Monday night I attended a meeting of the Wake County Mayors Association. Six of twelve mayors were in attendance. Attending were the mayors of Cary, Fuquay, Morrisville, Rolesville, Wake Forest, and Zebulon. Our first order of business was the election of officers. Mayor Cawley of Morrisville was elected from Vice Chair to Chair. I was elected to Vice Chair. I last served in this position about ten years ago. In the roundtable discussions each mayor talked about their upcoming council makeups as a result of the elections. Cary, by far, has the most experienced council in Wake County with over 90 years of experience. Our meeting concluded after about two hours.
Wednesday – Commuter Rail
Wednesday I chaired a meeting of the executive board of CAMPO (Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization). The agenda included two consent items, one public hearing, and seven discussion items. One of the discussion items was an analysis update of the Greater Triangle Commuter Rail Alternatives. Commuter rail will likely run on the Norfolk Southern line which is the east-west line that runs across the state. The north-south line which goes through Apex is the CSX line. Analysis showed that the Norfolk Southern line has a lot of current traffic so double tracking will be needed. This is a huge cost. The study will continue so that capital costs can be provided to the decision makers in the January-February timeframe.
The executive board was also presented an update on the Federal Rescission on LAPP (locally administered projects program). Current projects will be delayed unless the municipality decides to move forward on their own and agree to be reimbursed later. It should be pointed out that Federal Rescission will be dependent on the Federal budget. Once the budget or a continuing resolution is passed then the threat of rescission is less. The CAMPO meeting concluded after about two hours and fifteen minutes.
Thursday – Town Council Meeting and Hometown Spirit Award
Thursday started with a reception for three Hometown Spirit Award nominees. These incredible people are Sharon Lake-Gargano, Frank Yarborough, and Anthony Blackman.
Sharon was described by her nominators as a woman with a warm-hearted soul and was always ready to help those in need. She has spent countless hours volunteering to help people in need. If she knows of someone who is sick or may be alone on a holiday, she is quick to comfort them or invite them into her home.
Frank was described as someone who has never met a stranger. He regularly engages and welcomes people from his Academy Street front yard as citizens attend festivals or stroll along the Downtown Park. He has been known to spontaneously buy breakfast for police officers or complete strangers. He and his wife Jan regularly host holiday family gatherings that include newcomers to Cary. He also hosts special needs children in his home and provides several families respite care. He enthusiastically participates in local activities to promote the unique way of life in Cary and is very passionate about loving and serving this community.
Anthony was described as someone one of the warmest, kindest residents that Cary has ever known. He is quick to greet everyone with a smile and handshake and treats new people like old friends. His commitment to excellence is not reserved to his business but extends to every aspect of his life as a servant and resident of Cary’s great community. He has been an advocate for local prosperity through his service on the Cary and Morrisville Chambers of Commerce as well as the NC Department of Commerce’s Economic Invest Committee.
The reception concluded about half an hour before the council meeting.
Thursday night the council held its last regularly scheduled meeting of the month. The agenda included two presentations, eleven consent items, three public hearings, and one discussion item.
The first presentation was the announcement of the Hometown Spirit Award winner. The 2018 winner, Guy Mendenhall, announced that Anthony Blackmond was this year’s winner. Anthony is a great guy and has done so much for Cary. Congrats to Anthony and all the nominees.
For the second presentation I presented a proclamation to the Executive Director of NC Commission of Indian Affairs and the President of the Triangle Native American Society. Many people don’t realize that North Carolina and Cary are home to many Native Americans. I was glad to proclaim this month for our Native Americans.
Public Speaks out had several speakers criticizing clear cutting in town. It should be pointed out that the legislature has a HUGE impact on what we can and can’t do locally. Cary has some of the strongest tree protection ordinances in the state. In addition, Cary has just set aside $150,000 to increase the tree canopy across town (and this is just a start).
The public hearing with the most speakers was the Green Level Church Road rezoning. Many of the residents did not like the townhome proposal and preferred single family residential. In addition, they complained about the traffic and asked for a traffic signal. The decision to install a traffic signal is under the authority of NCDOT. However, we do advocate for our citizens and supply them with data to measure against their criteria.
The only discussion item was to take action to declare the results of the bond referendum which is a legal requirement. This was a unanimous vote. In addition, council appropriated money to move projects forward including fully funding the downtown park phase II, fully funding Penny Road School Park Improvements, fully funding Annie Jones and Dunham Park Tennis Courts Replacement, partially funding playground upgrades, partially funding street improvements, partially funding NCDOT betterments, and fully funding Fenton-Quinard Drive Offsite right-of-way and easements. Remaining voter approved funding for parks is $37.8 million and the remaining funding for transportation is $108.7 million. Those monies will be used as projects become ready over the next few years.
The council meeting concluded after about an hour and a half.
Friday – Waverly Place Tree Lighting
Friday night I had the pleasure of being a part of the tree lighting ceremony for Waverly Place. I was joined by council member Smith on stage as we talked about Waverly Place’s new tenants and existing tenants. Then we welcomed Santa on stage who, after a countdown from ten, threw magic dust to light the tree. The shopping center was jammed with people, mostly families, who seemed to have a great time. Before leaving I took pictures with my wife and council member Smith by the tree.
Town Manager’s Report
The town manager’s report for this week included:
I wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends. Because of the upcoming holiday, there will be no report next week. My next report will be Friday, December 6.
2020 Biennial Survey
Efforts are underway to conduct the 2020 Biennial Citizen Satisfaction Survey in early January. We plan to send the questionnaire to Dr. Baker’s team on December 6. Contact me or Susan Moran with questions.
Past surveys are available on the Town’s website at: https://www.townofcary.org/services-publications/plans-publications-reports/surveys-and-research.
Hometown Spirit Award
Anthony Blackman is the recipient of this year’s Hometown Spirit Award, which recognizes community-minded residents who enhance the quality of life in Cary by preserving, promoting and carrying out positive small-town community values and traits. Town Council honored all of the nominees – Anthony Blackman, Sharon Lake-Gargano and Frank Yarborough – at a reception before last night’s Council meeting for their unique contributions to the community. Blackman received the award and will be recognized on a plaque in Town Hall.
Blackman is the founder and president of Atlantic Tire & Service, which has served the Triangle’s automotive needs since 1988. He understands that homegrown businesses are the fabric of Cary’s vibrant community and has been an advocate for local prosperity through his service on the Cary and Morrisville Chambers of Commerce and the NC Department of Commerce’s Economic Investment Committee. His nominators said that Anthony is one of the warmest, kindest residents Cary has ever known. He is quick to greet everyone with a smile and handshake, and even if he just met you, he treats you like an old friend. His graciousness and hospitality make everyone feel welcome. Anthony’s commitment to excellence is not confined to his business but extends to every aspect of his life as a servant and resident of our community.
Commitment and Accountability Workshop
Mark Robertson, a certified executive coach, hosted a workshop for department directors centered around the idea that powerful conversations can create powerful actions. One premise of this work is that individuals often struggle with being good observers of themselves and thus it’s difficult to change what you don’t observe. To help with observations, inviting and listening to feedback from others is one important tool in creating powerful actions and results. Mark also shared a variety of tools and terminology that can lead to enhanced and effective commitment, accountability and conversations.
Walker Street Improvements
Paving was finished and the intersection of Walker Street and Chatham Street opened to traffic late Wednesday night. North Walker Street also opened, but South Walker Street remains closed to traffic.
First Responders Breakfast
Thanks to the Cary Chamber and the many sponsors for honoring the Police Department, Fire Department, Cary EMS, the Wake County Sheriff’s Office. and American Legion Post 67 at the First Responders Breakfast on November 20. A special thank you to Council members Ken George, Jack Smith, Don Franz, and Ed Yerha who attended the event.
New Police Vehicle
Just as the Town continues to evolve in an ever-changing environment, the Police Department must also innovate and advance to maintain progressive momentum. The Traffic Safety Team is always looking for effective and innovative ways to educate citizens on traffic safety with the goal of ensuring our streets stay safe for motorists in Cary. Adopting up-to-date equipment aids in accomplishing the dual role of being effective with enforcement efforts and in community outreach.
The Spyder enhances officer safety through a three-wheeled design that provides a stable ride that is very difficult to tip over. It is also more easily recognized by the motoring public, reducing the risk of a collision. In addition to traffic safety work, the Spyder will be very useful for special events, greenways, and in any off-road scenario where a car, SUV, or even a traditional motorcycle would have difficulty traveling. [And it looks really cool!]
Staff and Specialized Recreation friends gathered on Thursday for their annual Night of Giving & Service. They participated in the Town’s Cary’s annual Interact Holiday Toy Drive, collecting and donating backpacks, school supplies, art supplies, and games, along with over $400 worth of gift cards. They also made holiday cards for the families that use Interact’ s services, enjoying together an evening filled with the joy of serving others.
Paper Shred Event
Cold, wind and rain didn’t stop citizens from showing up to shred it out! On November 16, citizens brought nearly 23 tons (or twenty-five 1970 VW Beetles worth ) of sensitive documents to be recycled at our tenth annual shred event in celebration of America Recycles Day. During the free, 4-hour event, Town staff along with Green Hope High AP Environmental Science student volunteers greeted and directed 1,052 participants (a 3% increase from 2018) through the process. Three hundred fifty cars snaked their way through the Ops Center parking lot in the first hour alone. Staff spoke with every driver and received only positive feedback, with thanks and expressions of appreciation for offering this service.
Arts & Craft Fair
Over 50 vendors offered a variety of original, one-of-a-kind pieces of art at the annual Holiday Arts & Crafts Fair at the Senior Center last Saturday. With refreshments being sold by the Cary Teen Council, it was a morning of relaxing shopping and sipping hot coffee for about 1,400 patrons, all while finding great gifts and decorations that were made with love and care!
All in a Day’s Work
Animal Services Supervisor Chuck Haggist rescued a hawk that was trapped inside a screened-in porch.
The Cary Police Department received its ninth consecutive accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) at the annual conference last week. Accreditation recognizes Cary’s commitment to meeting the nearly 400 standards for public safety professional excellence. CALEA first accredited the Cary Police Department in 1992.
The Board of CALEA Commissioners makes the final credentialing decision. Each agency being presented for accreditation is assigned to an Agency Review Committee, which consists of CALEA Commissioners. The committee held a public review hearing with Chief Toni Dezomits and Accreditation Manager Kathleen Sanfratello to discuss the findings of the on-site assessment completed in July. This accreditation is valid through 2023.
The applicant’s representative for the proposal to redevelop the mall responded to questions about how stormwater will be handled. Here is an excerpt from that response:
…Early in the rezoning process, we examined the stormwater rules and potential treatment options, and discussed the issue with our team. For months, we have been discussing with Matt Flynn of the Town’s stormwater staff and other local experts how we might best handle stormwater. Following the suggestions made at the public hearing for Low Impact Design techniques, our team met with Bill Hunt from NC State, and members of Cary’s Environmental Advisory Board and NC DEQ on multiple occasions and discussed potential ways to integrate LID in the project.
That months-long process resulted in this stormwater commitment: “The project will reduce the post-development impacts on the adjacent Walnut Creek watershed through a decrease in the overall impervious surface area. The project will utilize low impact development techniques such as bioretention, permeable pavers and rain gardens. Through the combination of both reducing impervious surface and low impact development techniques, both the peak flow discharge and volume of runoff from the site will be reduced by the equivalent of a 10% impervious reduction. These requirements will apply to the project as a whole.” This language has been discussed extensively with Matt Flynn, who reviewed and accepted the final version submitted.
This means that the combined effect of reducing impervious area and including LID measures will have the same impact on runoff as reducing impervious area by 10%. The reason we are looking at the impact in terms of LID and not just impervious area is that reducing impervious area is only one means to the end of better stormwater quality/reduction in quantity. Including the flexibility to use innovative techniques like rain gardens or bioretention will give the project the ability to reach that same end in other ways, while still meeting the densities envisioned for this site in the Cary Community Plan.
Your suggestion of including examples in the Design Guidebook was a good one, and we’ve added a new page to the guidebook to cover this. New page 41 (attached) incorporates several examples of LID techniques and elements. And while it is certainly our hope that we will exceed the 10% commitment, the project has not yet been designed or engineered. These commitments are much easier to pin down at development plan stage, when the project has been designed, as opposed to the zoning stage, where we do not have real building footprints, parking layouts or an understanding of infrastructure constraints yet, but we worked hard to include a meaningful stormwater condition on the PDP.
The Town and your neighborhood have been well-served by your participation during all three zonings proposed on this site. While we were not involved in the Ikea rezoning (17-REZ-06) or the Mall’s phase 2 plans (17-REZ-25), I have reviewed the applications and PDPs for both projects and note that neither of those proposals contained any commitments to reduce impervious area, much less approached the significant stormwater commitment we have made in this proposal. As you noted, due to timing of when the mall was built, we are not required to reduce impervious area at all. While that alone does not justify the level of commitment we’ve made, I do think it worth noting that we are going above and beyond what the Town standards, State standards, and prior zoning approvals required. This, in addition to including community gathering areas 17 times the amount required in the LDO and committing to 1,100 new canopy trees, will improve the overall environmental footprint of the project, and we are proud of the magnitude of these commitments. …
The council is scheduled to vote on this proposal at its December meeting.
Emails From Citizens
Emails from citizens this week included:
- A request for help from an HOA about a fence.
- A question about stormwater concerns for the mall redevelopment proposal.
- A concern about cell service because of removal of cell antennas on the water tower next to Cary High School.
- A concern about several environmental issues and a request to enact rules ban the sale of water bottles (this would require legislative action since we do not have that authority).
- A complaint about the traffic circle in the Reserve.
- Kudos for having the water fountain lit with purple light on World Pancreatic Cancer Day.
Next week is a holiday week and my only scheduled meeting is with the town manager.
Get In Touch
Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, December 8th. 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 email@example.com.
From the blog of Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht. Photos courtesy of Harold Weinbrecht.