From the blog of Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht, covering the week through November 21, 2010.
There were several meetings this week as my mayoral duties picked up a little.
Permit Extensions Opt Out
Monday I called council members for their questions and concerns about Thursday’s council meeting. I was able to get in touch with everyone except council member Smith. The concerns and questions centered on the issue of whether or not Cary would select to Opt Out of extending the Permit Extension Act of 2009.
What does the Opt Out mean for Cary? All projects have a time limit once they are approved to ensure they are built and meet current code or at least “newer” code. By giving projects more time there is a potential that they will not meet current code. Some of the projects that are eligible for a time extension may be excluded from several ordinances that have been passed in the last few years including:
•Stormwater peak flow detention
•Water quality requirements
•Street and sidewalk connectivity requirements
•Fire code requirements
Monday afternoon I met with staff and management to go over the agenda. We talked about the Hometown Spirit Award presentation, public hearings, and the Opt Out questions and concerns.
Monday night I attended the Mayors Association meeting. This meeting marked the completion of my term as President. The President set the agenda and guests for the meetings. One accomplishment I am proud of in my term was the first meeting of the Wake County School Board and the Wake County Mayors. I hope there will be more of these meetings in the future. I am also proud of the fact that mayors are now presenting legislative agendas.
The new President will be Mayor Killen of Knightdale. Mayor Killen is a great guy and I am sure he will do a great job. Other meeting business included setting our Legislative Agenda for the 2011 session. The items we unanimously agreed upon were:
1.Protect our local government revenue stream including sales tax.
2.We do not support takeover of road maintenance from the state.
3.Lift cap on Charter Schools.
4.Do not increase any tax rates.
5.Eliminate the quasi-judicial process but all municipalities to maintain the ability to attach conditions of special use permits
6.Give all Wake municipalities the same authority to collect impact fees. We are all growing municipalities and face many of the same growing issues.
7.Support Dix as a state park but give financial support for a mental facility in Wake County. Allow some of Dix property to be used for mental health.
8.Allow Wake municipalities to join Raleigh, Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Asheville and Winston-Salem to enter into leases for the siting and operation of a renewable energy facility for 20 years instead of 10 years.
9.Allow farmland to be taken into municipalities to not have permitting requirements for changes (contact Mayor Killen for details).
10.Allow liens to be placed on properties if stormwater fees are not paid. (contact Mayor Matheny for details)
11.Give all Wake municipalities the authority for enterprise fees. See chapter 608 house bill 840, Session Law 2005-441 House Bill 1029. (Contact Mayor Matheny for details).
Tuesday afternoon I attended the first of two work sessions. The first work session was on Cary’s sign ordinance. A task force of citizens and business leaders met with staff for almost two years on our current sign ordinance. Their recommendations were presented to the council and we voted on them electronically (little remote controls). Items the task force recommended changing included:
- Sign characteristics
- Ground signs
- Building signs
- Flags and Flagpoles
- Subdivision signs
- Real Estate signs
- Multi-Family residential signs
- Temporary signs
Staff will take the recommendations the council agreed with and will create a proposal. The proposal will be presented to the public at a public hearing. Then the recommendations will be sent to our Planning and Zoning board for their recommendations and comments. Afterward, the council will vote on changes to the sign ordinance. So it appears we still have a ways to go before any changes are made.
I had to leave before the second work session (on transit) started to make a presentation to the Apex Town Council. I will have to catch up on what I missed at the work session by listening to the recording and reading the minutes. Here are excerpts from my presentation to the Apex council on the Western Wake Regional Wastewater Management Facilities:
…On behalf of the PAC and the communities we represent, I want to thank you for this opportunity to open our presentation by speaking in favor of the site plan for the Western Wake Regional Wastewater Management Facilities, which will ultimately serve about 370,000 businesses and residents in western Wake and eastern Chatham Counties.
The State of North Carolina is requiring the Partner communities to return water to the Cape Fear River basin. This requirement is a primary driver of the plant site location
As you’ll see from our site plan presentation and based on the exhaustive analysis the Partners have done in cooperation with the US Army Corps of Engineers and the state, we’re confident that the site as planned will not significantly impact adjacent property owners. In fact, the project will provide dozens plant site neighbors with access to safe, reliable, and affordable water and sewer service.
Thursday the town held a reception for the eight Hometown Spirit Award nominees. Cary is blessed to have so many people that give of themselves to make this town great. God Bless them! These nominees were the best of the best. The reception had hotdogs provided by Ashworth’s and other goodies supplied by the town. The council members introduced each nominee and then we all headed inside the council chambers for the council meeting.
At the council meeting I was joined by Alisa Wright-Colopy, the first Hometown Spirit Award winner, and together we announced this year’s winner Kay Struffolino. What a great lady. I have had the pleasure to get to know her as mayor. She volunteers so much of her time at so many events. A well deserved award winner for sure.
The council meeting lasted roughly 3 hours and included a closed session. There was intense discussion on the Comprehensive Annexation Program and especially the Opt Out of extending the Permit Extension Act of 200. The council voted not to extend the Comprehensive Annexation Program by a 4 to 3 vote. I voted not to extend the annexation program for several reasons. The main reason is that I want to see what the new majority in the Legislature will do with the annexation issue. The council also voted not to Opt Out of extending the Permit Extension Act by a 4 to 3 vote. This is a little confusing due to the double negative. Basically, the town decided to do nothing which allows an extension of a year to currently approved projects. I voted against this because I am concerned that projects approved years ago will be built and be immediately out of compliance with town code. In addition, they can use bad practices such as clear cutting and poor stormwater management which is not environmentally sound. Hopefully, the developments that go forward with this extension will do the right thing and build according to current standards.
The Opt Out vote was the last item on the agenda before the council went into closed session. That being the case I announced to the audience, as I normally do, that when we return from closed session we will adjourn. Coming out of closed session council member Robinson asked to be recognized. At this point she made a motion to reconsider the Opt Out vote. That vote passed 5 to 2. One council member was very upset about me telling the public we would adjourn and then we come back and reconsider a motion that was passed with an empty chamber, and rightfully so. So the council voted to table the Opt Out vote until the next council meeting in December. A lesson learned for me. In the future I will announce to the public that we will go into closed session and when we return we plan to adjourn.
Hemlock Bluffs Art
Saturday I attended a Community Design Charrette for the new public art gates for the Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve. What is a Charrette? Here is staff’s definition:
It’s an opportunity to meet the artist, listen and talk about the desired outcomes for the project. Charrettes are a collaborative hands-on drawing and designing effort. While it is understood that the artist leads the artwork design, The Charrette process recognizes that all individuals present are a part of the larger project and thereby setting the stage for a true collaborative effort. And finally it’s a good way to gain an understanding of citizens and stakeholders desires and concerns about a project.
While I was there I took the opportunity to talk with the artist and a few in attendance. I also provided a sketch of what I would like to see. We’ll see what the artist comes up with.
Emails this week were light comparatively speaking. They included complaints about the Weldon Ridge Road alignment, complaints about the proposed apartments at Tryon and Cary Parkway, a claim that our renaissance fair left someone homeless, a request for speed limits on the Hinshaw Greenway, a complaint about the Motiva proposal in Apex, and several for and against the Opt Out issue.
Next week is a holiday week so there will be very few meetings for a change. The highlight of the week will be the taping of Cary Matters with co-host Don Frantz.
I plan to have Thanksgiving at home with all my family, my brother, my mother in-law, my aunt Fellas (Bond), her grandson, and her youngest daughter. I am really looking forward to seeing everyone.
Well that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, November 28th. Please feel free to email me with a comment.
Personal comments please send to firstname.lastname@example.org.
All Town of Cary business – please email me at Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org
Cover picture by Hal Goodtree.