Harold’s Blog: Cell Towers, Development and the NHL

From the blog of  Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht, covering the week through December 19, 2010

This week was the last busy week of the year. The week included a work session and a marathon council meeting.

Cell Towers, Development and Ethics

On Monday, I called council members for questions or concerns about our Thursday council meeting. The big items which generated interest included the AT&T monopole tower, the “opt out” of extending time limits for developers, and the ethics policy.

Monday evening I met with management, directors, and administrative staff to go over the agenda. I was joined by Mayor Pro-Tem Robison. Our agenda meeting went over a lot of logistics especially how to run the special use hearing since that is a quasi-judicial hearing. BTW, a quasi-judicial hearing is one where the council acts as a judge. Only factual information is presented and can be considered.

Tuesday the council held a work session to discuss two items. The first was to give staff guidance on our legislative authority to require developers to provide recreation land dedication as a component of new multi-family development which extends the current practice of requiring dedication as a part of a single family development. The council agreed unanimously that staff should pursue a change in the Land Development Ordinance to make single family and multi-family the same.

TIF Bonds – No Sale

The second part of the work session was to hear information about TIFs (Tax Increment Financing). TIFs allow a government to issue non-voted bonds to fund public capital projects that will incent specific new private development. The new incremental property tax revenues from the related development are then pledged to repay the bond debt service.

This type of debt is perceived as a high risk in the financial market resulting in a much higher interest rate. An example of using this type of financing was for the Parton Theater in Roanoke Rapids that was a miserable failure.

No one on Cary’s council showed interest in this type of financing. It should be noted that Cary has the highest bond rating from all rating agencies giving us access to the lowest interest rates possible. So if Cary was interested in financing capital it could do it with typical bonding options and lower interest rates.

Cary Matters Videos – A Little Background

Wednesday I taped the January version of Cary Matters with co-host Gale Adcock. Our main topic for January is recycling. Our taping session was less than a half an hour. We only had one glitch and were able to redo that in a matter of minutes.

A little back ground on who and how these tapings work. These tapings are held in the council chambers. The clock is removed from the wall to prevent a time stamp. But in case you are wondering, they are usually taped at 5 PM. There is a camera person, a teleprompter person, and Susan Moran (the producer) in front of us. Then there are two folks to actually create the show up in the booth out of site. They keep in contact with the camera person who wears headphones.

The first Cary Matters aired in February of 2008. All episodes, except one (I think), have been written by me. The program was originally proposed as a monthly town hall meeting. But the review of that proposal showed that the expense of staff and security would cost much more than expected. In addition, it might have just created an extension of Public Speaks Out which we have at council meetings.

The purpose of my original proposal focused on being responsive to citizens and answering questions on current issues. So, we settled on the current format. The program is produced in a way that is very informal, unrehearsed, and sometimes hokey. So far the program has received two awards. I believe the last one was a gold reward. The name of the program was created by Susan Moran. IMHO, the hardest part of this and any televised program is the writing. So if you have a question or ideas for Cary Matters please send it to me.

The Chamber, Economic Development and the NHL All-Star Game

Thursday started with a meeting of the Economic Development Governing (EDC) board. In attendance was Council member Robinson, the town manager, the budget director, administrative staff, chamber representatives Howard Johnson and Sandy Jordan.

The Chamber representatives gave a review of expenditures from the previous quarter and an overview of the economic development climate in Cary. Highlights from the overview include several company expansions and additions of employees. On Tuesday, December 21st, a major company in Cary will make an announcement about the hiring dozens of high paying jobs in Cary over the next couple of years. This announcement will be given by the governor and I will also be in attendance.

The EDC board meeting also included information about the economic benefit from several events. One upcoming event that will provide a boost for the economy is the NHL all-star game. While the game will be in Raleigh, all 30 NHL owners will be staying at the Umstead in Cary. In addition, the media will be staying at the Embassy Suites in Cary.

Other information presented at the meeting showed Cary’s unemployment rate has dropped to 5.4%. Recent accolades included #3 state for business from the October Forbes and #3 metro area for job growth over the past decade from the November Newsweek.

More on the Proposed Cell Tower

On Thursday night the council held a marathon meeting that lasted from 6:30 until about 12:30. About 4 ½ hours of the meeting was consumed by a special use quasi-judicial hearing on an AT&T cell tower. Eventually the council voted not to approve the tower.

Other items on the agenda included the decision to partially opt out of extending approved developments past their approved time. The main concern was having developments completed that do not meet current code.

Holiday Stuff and the Mailbag

The rest of my week and weekend was made up of dinners, parties, and other events. Tis the season.

Emails this week included an informative correspondence from staff on multifamily development trends. The trends show that we have been and continue to be about 75% single families:

Year                 %Single Family           %MuliFamily

1970                78.84%                        17.10%
1980                75.72%                        24.28%
1990                70.40%                        29.60%
2000                76.03%                        23.97%
2010                76.37%                        23.63%

Other emails included opposition to the apartment proposal at Tryon and Cary Parkway, a complaint about a subdivision in Chatham County, a complaint about Land Development Ordinance changes that may affect Hopewell Academy, a complaint about the convenience center on Dixon Avenue, and kudos for C-Tran management.

Next week I will only have a few events. The most significant being the mayors association Christmas dinner and the taping of the 2011 State of the Town.

Well that is all for this week. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! My next post will be on Sunday, December26th. Please feel free to email me with a comment.

Personal comments please send to augustanat@mindspring.com.
All Town of Cary business – please email me at Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org

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