Cary Town Council: 5/11/17

Cary, NC – The latest Cary Town Council meeting saw Town Council vote on new authorities for the Town Manager, approve funding for water infrastructure in town and more.

New Delegations of Authority

There were no Public Hearings on the agenda but five Discussion Items were in front of Town Council, starting with new delegations of authority to the town manager and related town staff. These changes in authority are connected to the amended town operating budget ordinance.

Some of these new authorities include declaring easements, awarding design-build and design-build bridging contracts, call for Public Hearings, manage town funds, appoint deputy finance officers and increased authority to add positions and adjust existing authorized positions.

Mike Bajorek, deputy town manager, said these changes would keep staff “nimble” and be able to act faster and in a streamlined fashion. Bajorek also said the ability to adjust and add positions to the town would allow Cary to remain competitive for jobs in the Triangle.

Councilmember Jack Smith asked Bajorek how the powers of the town manager would still be kept appropriate with this new authority.

“How do we assure checks and balances?” Smith said. “What keeps us on the straight-and-narrow?”

Bajorek said all changes would be connected to each operating budget ordinance. Also, if new positions are created by the town manager, they are required to inform Town Council ahead of time in a written notification.

Town Council voted for the changes to the delegation of the town manager’s authority unanimously.

Carpenter Fire Station Road Realignment

A project in the works for several years, Town Council heard about the memorandum of agreement for Carpenter Fire Station Road’s realignment. This road lays in Cary’s Carpenter National Register Historic District so both Town Council and town staff said the process has been careful to not negatively impact the historic area. Among those policies are 50-foot streetscape buffers and historic signage. Also, the town has offered to relocate historic barns in the area, or if the owners do not particularly want them intact, they will be broken down and the lumber will be used to repair other historic buildings in the area.

This realignment would extend Carpenter Fire Station Road out to NC-55, connecting with Morrisville Carpenter Road. This would be a four-lane road with a separating median. It would also require closing part of the smaller Carpenter Fire Station Road.

Councilmember-At-Large Lori Bush asked town staff what the plans were for renaming the new roads that would be going in and where the name “Carpenter Fire Station Road” would take effect on the map. Town staff did not have set plans on names yet.

Councilmember Jennifer Robinson also asked about the dividing wall used to insulate sound along the new road. Town staff said it will be poured concrete to not stand out too much but Robinson said there may be a “missed opportunity” to create the wall from more historically congruous materials, such as a stone wall. Regardless, Town Council voted for the memorandum unanimously.

Water in Cary

Two projects related to securing Cary’s water came before Town Council. More than a month ago, the Town Council voted on one water storage tank and here was a second one, this time in West Cary. This tank, known as the Good Hope Tank, would hold two million gallons and would include a pump station.

Town staff explained that not only would this store more water for that area, but it would help control water pressure across West Cary. West Cary in general is at a lower elevation, which results in strong pressure that can cause leaks and damage pipes. An elevated water tank relieves that pressure and allows it to be better managed.

Also, this new water tank will help establish a new water pressure zone for much of West Cary. Projects in the past in this area have dropped water pressure across the area and now, this water pressure zone will be pressure increases by 40 psi, with no other homes seeing a drop in pressure. This would take effect around Summer 2019.

Town Council voted unanimously for the water tank and pump station.

Town Council also voted unanimously to award a bid for the Holly Brook water and sewer extension project. This would secure both treatment of waste water and bring in potable water to the area. The project was expected start this Summer and be completed in Fall of 2018.

Wake County Transit Plan

Last November, Wake County voters weighed in on the Wake County Transit Plan and passed it, which entails new bus routes and future possibilities for commuter rail. Town Council now had to vote on the master participation agreement, outlying the standards for participation in the plan and guides how money for transit is invested.

Councilmember Don Frantz had criticized parts of the plan before, most recently voting against the added fees for vehicle registration that is part of the plan’s funding, and brought up how he was skeptical of commuter rail.

“I’ll believe it when I see it,” Frantz said.

But he also said he liked the majority of the plan and even said he was curious to see how the progress of commuter rail would go. Town Council voted for the agreement unanimously.

FY18 Budget and Public Speaks Out

Town Manager Sean Stegall unveiled the proposed 2018 budget for the Town of Cary, totaling $311 million/ There will be two (possibly three) work sessions before the budget’s adoption on Thursday, June 22, 2017. Anyone interested in speaking on the budget can speak at a Public Hearing on Thursday, May 25, 2017.

There were three speakers for Public Speaks Out, two of whom were there to thank the Town of Cary for its work in earning the Wildlife Habitat Community designation and for putting on last week’s West Cary Information Meeting.

The other speaker was a resident and member of Wake Up Wake County, who pushed for the transit plan that passed last election. The speaker also urged the town to focus on affordable housing and adding more high-density development to Cary.

Story by Michael Papich. Photos by the Town of Cary and Hal Goodtree.