Cary, NC – This week was eventful and busy.
Monday’s meetings were moved to Tuesday so that I could attend a big event for my wife.
Tuesday – Preparing for Council Change
Tuesday I contacted council members to hear of concerns or questions about Thursday’s agenda. There were some concerns about the Ivey-Ellington house in the Developer agreement for the Harrison Avenue and Chatham proposal. Later in the day I met with managers and directors to go over the agenda. We talked about the sequence of events for the oaths and the business meeting. I believed at the time the meeting would last until 9:30.
Later Tuesday I met with the town manager for our weekly one-on-one. We talked about many of the ongoing development proposals and about the new council makeup. I told him that several years ago I was told that there is a repositioning phase after every election even if the council remains the same. That has been true in every election I have been involved in as mayor. However, Cary is blessed to always have great elected people that have our citizens as the highest priority; so we always work out our issues.
Wednesday – Soccer College Cup
Wednesday I joined council members Smith and George in a reception to welcome the NCAA committee members in town for the men’s College Cup. The College Cup is the NCAA Division I Championship for soccer. This is the 13th time Cary has hosted the championship and the 5th time for the men. We have created a reputation for the perfect pitch (field), a state-of-the-art venue, an electric atmosphere, and tremendous fan support. While the pouring rain on Friday night’s matches severely limited the crowd, we had a good crowd for Sunday. What a great event to showcase Cary. It not only provides the best college soccer in the country but gives our region a significant economic boost. This championship, along with NCFC Youth’s tournament, generated millions for our businesses. Thanks to the Great Raleigh Visitors and Convention Bureau, Campbell University, and NCFC Youth for partnering with Cary to put on this event.
Thursday – Town Council Meeting
Thursday started with a portrait session for each council members. The photographer took about two dozen photos of me in about four or five positions. One of these photos will hang on the wall at town hall and be displayed on our website. After all individual photos were completed, the council had a group photo made in the council chambers. These photos always include one silly photo which has become our tradition. I hope to share these photos in the future.
Photos were followed by a reception for the council in the lobby outside the council chambers. Attending were not only family and friends but members from the legislature, judges, Wake County Commission, Apex town council, and Morrisville town council.
Before the meeting started each of us took time to do photo ops of our swearing in; that is, pictures of a fake swearing in.
The council meeting started with parting comments from outgoing council member Ken George. What a class act! Council members also provided comments to Ken. In my comments I mentioned how he was one of the hardest working council members I have known and that I enjoyed getting to know him as a friend.
In the swearing in portion of the meeting, I was sworn in by N.C. Representative and former Cary Mayor Pro-Tem Gale Adcock. My wife held the Bible while I took the oath. I am truly humbled to know that I am now serving my fourth term as mayor. To my knowledge no Cary mayor has ever been elected to four terms. I pledge to continue serving Cary citizens to the best of my ability during these next four years.
Next council member Don Frantz took the oath given by Cary Town Clerk Ginny Johnson. Lori Bush also had Gale Adcock administer her oath of office.
Our newest council member, Ya Liu, was sworn in by the 29th Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court Cheri Beasley, who was the first African American women to serve as Chief Justice. This was especially fitting since Ya Liu is our first Asian women to serve on the Cary Town Council. One note of interest, Ya was Chief Justice Beasley’s professor in school. Ya had a lot of supporters in the audience, which is typical for newly elected officials. After she was seated, I welcomed her to the “family”. I told we act like a family. We are different, we agree, disagree, and fight but we always respect each other. I am confident Ya will do a great job in her new role.
The business portion of thee meeting started with the election of the Mayor Pro-Tem. As has become our tradition, the outgoing Mayor Pro-Tem makes the motion for the new Mayor Pro-Tem. A very sincere thank-you to Lori Bush for serving as Cary’s Mayor Pro-Tem the last two years. And congratulations to Don Frantz who was unanimously elected as our new Mayor Pro-Tem.
Under recognitions and reports the town manager recognized the employee of the year and we heard from our auditor that our finances were, once again, flawless. We also passed a resolution stating our intent for the Ivey-Ellington house:
RESOLUTION OF THE CARY TOWN COUNCIL FOR THE IVEY-ELLINGTON HOUSE
WHEREAS, the Town of Cary holds fee simple title to the Ivey-Ellington-Waddell House (the “House”), a one-and-one-half-story, single family dwelling of approximately 2,000 square feet of board-and-batten construction from the Gothic Revival movement c.1870 and located at 135 W. Chatham Street, Cary; and
WHEREAS, the Town acquired the House for preservation purposes and took steps to have its historic significance recognized; and
WHEREAS, The Town intends to maintain ownership of the House to insure it is preserved for future generations; and
WHEREAS, the House is presently listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Ivey-Ellington House; and
WHEREAS, House is located on a parcel of land that, together with other properties, may be developed with a mixed-use development pursuant to a Development Agreement between First Baptist Church, Cary, Northwoods Jordan Building Company and the Town of Cary (“Agreement”); and
WHEREAS, Agreement would require the relocation of the House; and
WHEREAS, the Town Council recognizes the historic importance of the House, desires that it play a role in the future of downtown Cary and is committed to exercising its best efforts toward preserving the House and its National Register status.
NOW THEREFORE, the Town Council of the Town of Cary resolves: In the event the Agreement is entered into by the parties to the Agreement, the Town Manager and Town staff are directed to use their best efforts to work with the Cary Historic Preservation Commission, the Friends of the Page Walker Hotel, and the State Historic Preservation Office to identify a suitable location for the relocation of the House in a manner that preserves its national designation and that best practices will be applied in relocating the House to assure the structural integrity of the House is maintained. Adopted this the 12thday of December2019.
Resolutions are a formal expression of will, opinion, or intent. It is very rare for the Cary council to pass a resolution. Cary has a practice of not doing resolutions on matters outside our authority/jurisdiction. And we have a practice of not doing resolutions of protest. This resolution was neither and was to assure our citizens of our intent of an historic property in a development in which we are partners.
Our agenda for the meeting had eleven consent items, five public hearings, and two discussion items.
The public hearing that had the most interest was the Project Development Agreement for an Economic Development and Downtown Development Project. This project will be at the corner of Harrison and Chatham and stretch to Academy Street. Partners include Cary, Northwoods Building, and the First Baptist Church. This project has been in the works for many years. In the early 2000’s Town Council set the vision for downtown redevelopment with the Town Center Area Plan. This was followed by the establishment of a Downtown Business Improvement District (“BID”) in 2012, and the adoption of the Imagine Cary 2040 Community Plan (ICCP) on January 24, 2017. The council believes this is the right fit for Cary’s vision and approved it unanimously. The agreement provides for a 120-day Inspection Period in which the parties will conduct their due diligence and address conditions that must be met before a closing on the purchase or exchange of property will take place. The closing is proposed for 23 months from the Effective Date. It looks as though there will be another two years before anything happens at that site.
Under discussion the town unanimously approved the rezoning for the redevelopment of the mall. This 87-acre site, located at 858 SE Maynard Road and 1105 Walnut Street, includes a Preliminary Development Plan (PDP) proposing up to 1,200,000 square feet of office use, 360,000 square feet of commercial use, 450-hotel rooms and 1,800 multi-family and townhouse dwelling units. The existing Mixed-Use Overlay District (MUOD) will remain. Extensive work was done by the applicant and council to address many concerns including the environment, traffic, and aesthetics. I would invite you to review the staff report at http://carync.iqm2.com/Citizens/Detail_LegiFile.aspx?Frame=&MeetingID=4430&MediaPosition=&ID=3923&CssClass= to get a complete picture.
In our last discussion item, the council asked the staff to investigate the creation of a new board to address transportation and mobility problems. Staff will report back to council in the future. Out meeting concluded after about three hours.
Saturday – Cary Christmas Parade
Saturday I was honored to attend the Wreaths Across America ceremony in Cary’s Hillcrest Cemetery. This was one of over 1600 ceremonies held simultaneously across the United States. Here is an excerpt from my remarks:
… This mission of Wreath Across America is to remember, honor, and teach. Today we are taking the time to remember, honor, and teach like over 1,600 other places are having the same ceremony as us.
The wreaths that will lay today have significant meaning. Its circular shape represents eternity, for it has no beginning and no end. I encourage each out you to think of that significance as you lay the wreath on the veteran’s grave. Their lives, their service, their commitment will live with us forever, and we will forever be grateful.
Today, let us reflect on the meaning of those we are honoring today. Citizens who chose to serve and fight for a better future for us all. And let us continue to build on this act of service and set aside time over the next year to get involved and help serve our brothers and sisters in need. …
The ceremony was only a few minutes long and included placing a wreath for every branch of service and the POWs and MIAs. Afterwards all attendees were invited to place a wreath on the grave of a veteran. Those graves were marked by a flag which we were invited to take with us. It was a special time of reflection and what our service men and women sacrifice for all of us.
Saturday afternoon I had the joy of being in the Cary Jaycees Christmas parade. I was in the parade twice, once as mayor with a top hat and once as George Washington on the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) float. The parade was delayed for about half an hour due to a gas leak on the parade route. The gas company turned off the gas in that location and fire trucks were stationed at the site to monitor the situation. This was the biggest crowd I can remember at the parade, and everyone seemed to be having a great time. A special thanks to WTVD for covering the Cary parade.
Town Manager’s Report
The weekly town manager’s report included:
Cary Council Swearing-In
On Thursday, Cary welcomed its newest Council Member, Ya Liu, and celebrated the return of Mayor Weinbrecht and Council Members Bush and Frantz. During the organizational component of the meeting, Council appointed Don Frantz as Mayor Pro Tem. On behalf of my colleagues, we’re honored to serve such a dedicated group of elected officials who work to keep Cary great.
Dedeugd Property Closed
Today we closed on the Dedeugd property. This is the first complete acquisition along the Walnut Creek basin.
Higgins Greenway Public Meeting
On Monday, we held a second public meeting on Higgins Greenway Phase 3. Over 50 interested citizens participated and viewed plans and examples of what the future greenway. Over a dozen staff were in attendance to answer questions on Hillcrest Cemetery, traffic and public safety, public art, historic preservation and greenways. Staff are now reviewing the comment cards and then will begin to stake easements, which leads to property and easement acquisition during 2020 in order to meet the LAPP funding deadlines.
Tree Planting Initiatives
There will be approximately 30 new trees planted within the Western Wake Regional Water Reclamation Facility. The area chosen provides an opportunity to reintroduce trees that complement future facility expansion plans. Town arborist, Kevin Steed, is working on developing an aesthetically pleasing design for upper, intermediate and understory trees. These trees will have the unique benefit of using onsite reclaimed water and BioGems, a fertilizer produced at the plant. The first of many more Town plantings, our tree web page is being modified so planting details can be followed site by site. Staff will continue to look for planting opportunities on Town and private owned properties located within Town boundaries.
Building Smarter Communities Opioid Wastewater Monitoring
NC Currents Magazine, distributed by the NC American Water Works Association – Water Environment Association (NC AWWA-WEA) recently published an article entitled, “Building Smarter Healthier Communities through Opioid Wastewater Monitoring.” The article profiles Cary’s efforts beginning with the 2018 Bloomberg Mayor’s Challenge, in which Cary was named a Champion City, to develop smart data solutions by tapping the value of wastewater collection systems as an anonymous way to assist public health agencies with building baseline data for long term public health solutions. The article highlights the key components of the project and includes some early results. The monitoring work is ongoing through 2020 and remains engaged with exploring the potential of sewer system analysis as a tool in fighting the opioid epidemic.
NCSU Solid Waste & Recycling Partnership
As a result of recent conversations about recycling including conversations at the November Quarterly Meeting, earlier this week Council Member Robinson along with Russ Overton, Scott Hecht and Nicole Raimundo met with Leah Burton, Director of Partnerships Office & Industry Alliances at NC State to discuss opportunities to work together in our Solid Waste and Recycling programs. Leah and her team at NC State connect their researchers with corporate and governmental partners on collaborative projects. Since recycling is not only a Cary challenge but a regional and national challenge, it seems like a great opportunity to partner together with NC State and others to see how we can think differently about programs in the future. Leah and her team are going to shop ideas and grant opportunities through their network at NC State and plan on getting back together with staff in January to explore partnerships.
Traffic Light Partnerships Expanding
Fiber network connectivity was established between the Town of Cary and Holly Springs last Friday. Cary, Morrisville and Holly Springs are now inter-connected via municipal-owned fiber. We will be connecting to Apex in the early part of 2020.
The new fiber connection was the first step in connecting a new traffic signal at the intersection of S. Main St. and Ballentine St. in downtown Holly Springs. The light is in flashing operation as it prepares for full activation on Tuesday, December 17 after the morning peak hour. This is the first Cary owned traffic signal for Holly Springs, and Cary is providing maintenance and operational services through a mutual service agreement between the municipalities, similar to the current agreement Cary has with Morrisville for two of their own traffic signals.
Drones Assist Search & Rescue Teams During Joint Training
Members of Cary Police and Fire, Apex and Morrisville participated in joint training related to Search and Rescue (SAR), utilizing drones. Mike Chapman of FLIR Systems demonstrated real-time visual information and data via the Drone Sense OpsCenter Platform as drones can provide situational awareness over a large area, reducing the time and number of searchers required to locate an injured or lost person.
Empower You at Vibe Cary
On Thursday, a group of 26 employees gathered off-site at a co-working space in Cary Towne Center called Vibe to enjoy a morning of inspiration and motivation. The “Empower You” event created a dedicated time and space for this special group of employees who don’t normally take time out of their workdays for team building. Designed around the themes of Connection, Communication and Confidence, attendees enjoyed a powerful keynote address by Paula Henderson, SAS Senior Vice President, US and Commercial Public Sector, along with a fun ice-breaker activity where their ingenuity turned straws, tape and paperclips into diverse creations! Chief Human Resources Officer Renee Poole sent the group on its way with closing remarks around how valuable the group’s contributions are to our organization and how important each one is as an individual who brings their whole self to work each day to share their talents and contributions.
Nicole Raimundo recorded a podcast this week onsite with iHeartRadio for a series called “The Restless Ones”. Every other week “The Restless Ones” interviews the most dynamic leaders in tech today, from the CIOs and CTOs on the cutting edge to other professionals who have spearheaded remarkable innovations in their industries. Hosted by Jonathan Strickland, creator of popular podcast “TechStuff,” this show digs into technology’s far-reaching impact and highlights how those on the frontlines of decision-making use it to break through business obstacles.
Congratulations to Emergency Communications Supervisor, Karen Smith, and Fire Engineer, Michael Weese, for receiving the Hometown Hero Award on behalf of NCADA (North Carolina Automobile Dealers Association). This program recognizes first responders who go above and beyond the call of duty. Karen and Michael were among 30 first responders in the state recognized for their work at the luncheon.
Cary staff and two council members attended the 2019 Apex Nativity Community Leader Luncheon at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints on December 12. While receiving the 2019 Community Bridge Builder Award for the Togetherhood Community Garden Initiative, the Northwest Cary YMCA thanked the Town of Cary for financial ($5,000 Neighborhood Improvement Grant) and staff (Meredith Gruber is a member of the Northwest Cary YMCA Togetherhood Leadership Team) support for a now award-winning project! The Y’s Togetherhood Program connects people from all backgrounds to plan and carry out volunteer projects that address a real need in their community.
Advisory Board Meetings
Tues. 12/17. 6:15 p.m.
Town Hall Conf Room 10035
Wed, 12/18, 6 p.m.
Page-Walker Arts & History Center
Emails From Citizens
Emails this week included an exchange from a citizen and the mall redevelopment applicant. Here are the questions and the responses:
Citizen comment: “Rather than “1100 canopy trees…more than 150% of the existing tree count” (the official statement as recently as 11/18), a more accurate description of what we will get is 1100 small compact decorative trees which in the urban core will be upright and provide little shade and in the circulation corridors would be just large enough when they’re mature in 30 years to shade a 6’ sidewalk.”
Response: We have committed to planting a minimum of 1,100 trees within the project that will reach a MINIMUM diameter enough to shade the pedestrian corridors within the project. Based on the calculations below, the following is a conservative estimate of the canopy cover on the site at maturity:
Canopy Cover Estimate:
- Total Minimum Canopy area within Circulation Corridors – 10.64 AC (869 trees)
- Total Estimated Canopy remainder of site – 231 trees with average canopy diameter of 30 feet or 706 SF =
- 163,086 SF or 3.74 AC
- Existing Canopy in Ivy Lane Buffer – 4.99 AC
Citizen comment: “…the paltry 2% green space allowance and this minimally-beneficial planting plan fall short of the kind of environmental improvement — in creating both an environment warmed and softened by nature and sensible green infrastructure — that I believe Cary citizens would value.”
Response: It is not clear where this number came from? While the site is not designed yet, I can extrapolate the following as a conservative estimate of the amount of “green space”:
Ivy Lane Buffer and Perimeter Street Yards – 6.6 AC
Internal Circulation Corridors (7’ soil zone) – 4.4 AC
Community Gathering Areas – 2 AC Min.
Private Recreational Areas – 1-3 AC
Total Estimated Minimum Green Space – 14 – 16 AC
Total Estimated Minimum Green Space Percentage- 16-18%
Council has also been asked by several Cary citizens to get involved in the RDU Airport Authority’s lawsuit filed by the Umstead Coalition. Here is an excerpt from our attorney’s response:
You have been asked to have the Town file an amicus brief supporting the Plaintiffs’ appeal and against the Lease. Amicus is short for amicus curiae or ‘friend of the court.’ According to Black’s Law Dictionary, an amicus is ‘a person with strong interest in or views on the subject matter of an action, but not a party to the action.’ An amicus may petition the court for permission to file its own brief in a matter, providing an avenue to get the amicus’ own views before the court. You might see such a brief in a matter with broad public interest. I don’t recall the Town having filed, or joining in the filing of, an amicus brief though the Town has asked others to file amicus briefs in Town cases, most recently in the Town’s appeal to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in the Bowden sign case.
I recommend that the Town not seek to file an amicus brief in this action for several reasons, including:
This is a very technical appeal concerning the legal authority of the RDUAA under its Charter granted by the General Assembly. There is no adverse legal effect on the Town or its authority that results from Judge Shirley’s decision.
The leased land in question is not within Cary’s jurisdiction, and based on research by staff, has never been part of Cary.
It appears the local governments most affected by the action and decision, Raleigh, Durham and the two Counties, have not intervened in the action.
The effect and consequences of taking a strong position, as is requested, against the authority of another creature of the legislature should be thoroughly evaluated. A position taken here could have later adverse impact the Town, particularly when the Town makes assertions about its own authority to act in various situations.
Preparing and filing an amicus brief will require a substantial amount of research and writing time and airport law is an area in which we do not have much familiarity.
Currently, I am not aware on further action on this matter.
Emails from citizens this week included:
- Complaints about the Rock Quarry and the fence blocking the trail
- A concern about the Wake Med Cross Country course being destroyed by development (While this may happen in the future it is years away)
- A complaint about traffic backing up on Old Apex Road in the morning commute (staff is working with the citizen on this)
- A complaint about pedestrian safety crossing Maynard near West Cary Middle School.
- Kudos for the Wall of Honor ceremony
- Concerns about the potential move of the Ivey-Ellington house.
- Kudos for stormwater management planned for the mall redevelopment.
- Concern about cell phone coverage near Cary High.
- A complaint about the lack of leaf pickup in a subdivision before Thanksgiving and Christmas asking for a rotation the schedules.
Next week will be my last busy week of the year. Activities include the Mayors Association Holiday dinner, the Trolley Christmas Light tour, a special presentation of a photograph of the downtown Cary fountain, and several holiday parties and events.
Get In Touch
Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, December 22nd. 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.