Cary, NC – This was a busy week that included a quarterly meeting and a trip to New York.
Monday – Preparing for Weekly Meeting
Monday I met with the town manager for our one-on-one meeting. We spent our time going over quarterly retreat topics. Specifically, how to address concerns with the mall redevelopment proposal.
Tuesday – Performance Review
Tuesday the council met in closed session for the annual performance evaluation of one of our employees. There are three direct employees that report to the council. Those are the town manager, town attorney, and town clerk. Everyone else reports to the town manager. The staff of town attorney and town clerk are supervised by the people in those positions even though they work for the town manager.
Wednesday – Homebuilders Association
Wednesday I met with representatives of the Homebuilders Association. We had a great conversation that lasted about 45 minutes. There was a concern expressed about the length of time that it takes to go through the permitting process. Another takeaway is that they want to be treated fairly and have better communications.
Thursday – Quarterly Meeting
Thursday the council held its 2019 fourth quarter meeting and covered several topics including six main areas on interest.
The meeting started with key budget outcomes. Revenues were at 95% of budget and expenditures were at 89% of budget. It should be pointed out that we are not allowed to go over budget. One significant note was that utility fund was down by 3%.
Council approved two actions recommended by staff. First we approved $1.5 million for a utility line relocation at I40 and Harrison. This is required from us since NCDOT is making intersection improvements there. Next the council approved $75,000 for a pedestrian hybrid beacon at McCrimmon and Highcroft. Quarterly expenditures are part of our annual budget.
Recycling was the next topic. Staff informed council that we renewed our contract with Waste Management. Council expressed interest in being the community that helps solve the recycling problem. That problem is that it is very expensive to collect, collate, and process recyclable materials. Once they are processed then there is interest. We would like to create a committee of experts such as NC State professors. Stay tuned for future updates.
Our third topic was the proposal for the redevelopment of the Cary Towne Center. Council heard from both the staff and developer representatives about dozens of questions submitted before the meeting. Addressing these questions and concerns were summarized by: Appearance will be covered by an already approved guidebook which is a zoning condition. The guidebook covers architecture, landscaping/hardscapes, gathering spaces, and signage. Environmental concerns will be addressed with rainwater management, heat island reduction, indoor water use reduction, transit, and conservation designs. The goal is to meet LEED standards even though it might not be LEED certified. Internal mobility included plans for traffic, pedestrian, and bikes. Offsite mobility was still a concern for council with pedestrians coming from the high school and the Fenton; and traffic from the Fenton. These issues will continue to be worked on.
Road improvements are substantial at intersections with the Fenton and this proposal. As the process continues, traffic studies will provide information about the impact on roads around the Fenton and the mall redevelopment. The proposed uses for this site had maximum and minimum densities. Comparing the proposal with the Fenton, there will be a maximum of the same office, less commercial, 450 hotel rooms, and 1800 units of residential. Basically, that comes to about 3.5 times the units at Weston Corners and equivalent to 5 MetLife buildings. There is still a long way to go with this proposal. Hopefully, the proposal will get better as we continue the process and provide feedback.
The next topic was an update on the downtown park which on the bond referendum this fall. The current schedule has the bid being awarded in winter of 2021 with construction beginning later that summer. The park is expected to be dedicated in the summer of 2023.
The new library and adjacent park are essentially done. The dedication ceremony for the new library will be on November 3rd. The old library site, located on 3 acres, will close on October 19th. Before demolition can begin asbestos will need to be removed. This will begin sometime in December. Demolition will likely be earlier next year. An RFP to redevelop the site is already getting a lot of interest from potential developers. We will likely have an RFP later this year.
Two major developments in downtown are moving forward. A proposal which will wrap the new parking deck with a mix of uses and include office, retail, and residential will come before council soon. Another major development at the corner of Harrison and Chatham has finally been agreed on by the Baptist church elders and the developer. It will go before the congregation for final approval soon. Before that council will likely have a work session to get an update on the latest proposal.
Staff also presented information on a housing study. The purpose is to build a consensus on housing goals which will prepare us to meet the needs of the future. It will closely follow the Cary Community Plan. Some of the interesting findings in the study showed an 82% increase in residents over 65 from 2010 to 2017, 41% of new residents last year were between the ages of 18 and 34, and 75% of our new residents have college degrees or higher education.
Staff provided an update on our new 311 center which will handle informational inquiries from citizens. Training is currently ongoing with a goal of going live sometime between now and November.
A new application will soon be available for Cary residents. This is currently being called myCary until a name has been decided on. It is an Amazon type application that will allow residents to have a personal dashboard and obtain any information pertaining to the town from parks and rec, to trash and recycling pickup, and much more. It will go live in the December-January time frame starting with parks and rec reservations.
The quarterly meeting concluded after about four hours.
Friday – Legislature Update
On Friday there was a meeting of the North Carolina Metro Mayors. Here is the Executive Director’s summary of that meeting:
Brief OPENING remarks – Activity seems designed to push the process forward as they begin the expected – and unprecedented strategy of passing a series of “mini-budgets.” It is unclear whether this process will change the current dynamic between the General Assembly and the Governor, but, is noteworthy that the appropriation for state employee pay raises passed 114-0 in the House.
Legislative Schedule and BUDGET H966 / New “Mini” Budgets”
- The legislature is now sending Governor Cooper pieces of the budget since they were unable to secure the votes needed to override the full budget.
- The timeline for any type of adjournment is still up in the air. The legislature is taking next week off so that puts us into mid-September at the earliest.
- Members are getting antsy to return to their home districts, so we expect work on the remaining mini-budgets to move quickly when they return on September 9.
- It is still unclear what other types of budget provisions they will consider as they prepare the mini-budgets or whether they lift directly from the previously passed conference bills they sent the Governor, including the transportation portion of the budget. It is possible that they take one or two provisions from the transportation budget or they could include the entire transportation section, which would include SMAP/transit, Powell Bill and airport funding that our cities fought so hard to get included.
- While it is unclear which route the legislature will take, we are pushing to have our items of interest included.
- Nothing New to Report Legislatively
- The NC FIRST Commission is meeting today. This is the Secretary of Transportation’s Commission that is evaluating NC’s current and future transportation investment needs.
- Metro Mayor representative Mayor Nancy McFarlane, Raleigh is also Co-Chair of the Commission
- If anyone would like a presentation on long-term financing of transportation, please reach out to Beau and he will be happy to help arrange that.
- H283 Conner’s Law
- The bill increases penalties for assault on first responders.
- It also provides an additional death benefit of $100,000 for a first responder killed in the line of duty – retroactively to 2016.
- The bill passed the Senate unanimously on second reading this week.
Nothing new to report
Local Revenues/ Local Control
Update on Short Term Rentals/Airbnb Legislation
This has been a last minute/end of session effort that would infringe on local authority and there is still no draft language linked on the NCGA website to view.
The issue was discussed in the House majority caucus this week and we have told that there is no plan to move forward with a separate bill – in the near term. However, we must remain vigilant as there is a possibility that this could still emerge in a larger piece of local regulatory or local ordinance legislation instead of a stand-alone bill.
It is important to note that there may have been some miscommunication surrounding this issue – legislators were told there was a recent superior court case decision related to Wilmington’s STR ordinance. Wilmington staff on our call report that is inaccurate, there has been no superior court decision that impacts short term rental ordinances in NC.
We will continue to monitor the issue closely. Please continue to be on the lookout for any action alerts related to short term rentals.
Friday night I attended a function for council member George held by one of the local Indian-American PACs. I was there about an hour and a half.
Saturday – Cary Tennis
Saturday I traveled to New York, thanks to the generosity of the United States Tennis Association, to receive an award on behalf of the town. They paid for our travel and rooms and provided tickets to the US Open. At their awards breakfast on Monday I accepted the “Outstanding Featured Facilities” award for the Cary Tennis Park.
The park was created 18 years ago and thanks to the incredible staff and groups like Western Wake Tennis Association, tennis has grown in the area. To have this park recognized nationally by the USTA is a great honor for Cary. At the breakfast I joined the Parks Director, Doug McRainey, in accepting the award. I then provided remarks for about 60 seconds. Two other North Carolinians received awards and we had our pictures made with them.
Town Manager’s Report
The town manager’s report for this week included:
Annual Wastewater Report
The 2018/2019 Annual Wastewater Report is now available on the Town’s website, and printed copies are located at Town Hall, community centers and public libraries in Cary and Morrisville. We are happy to report that the water reclamation facilities performed exceptionally well and consistently treated wastewater to high standards of water quality. There were no regulatory compliance violations during the reporting period. Each year, Cary updates citizens and other customers on the activities and compliance of the wastewater collection system and water reclamation facilities. The annual report is a regulatory requirement of Cary’s wastewater discharge permits.
Rezoning Neighborhood Meetings will be held in Town Hall at 6:30pm on Wed, Sept 4. Neighborhood meetings provide an opportunity for applicants to present information on new rezoning requests and receive feedback from nearby property owners prior to the public hearing. Three rezoning cases are on Wednesday’s agenda:
- 19-REZ-16 Silverton PDD Amendment Parcel G PDP – request to rezone approximately 2.24 acres at the northeast intersection of Evans Road and NW Cary Parkway to allow up to 60 multi-family residential units
- 19-REZ-18 Young Property – request to rezone approximately 92 acres at 10209 and 10201 Morrisville Parkway and unaddressed property on Lewter Shop Road to allow up to 190 detached dwelling units
- 19-REZ-19 Ferrell Property – request to rezone approximately 8 acres at 1033 Ferson Road to allow detached dwellings at up to one unit per acre
For information about these cases, visit the Rezoning Cases webpage.
Demolition at 226 Rose Street
The house located at 226 Rose Street was voluntarily demolished by the property owner. As you may recall, this was the site of an animal cruelty investigation and rescue operation that took place in early July. Due to the extensive damage, Minimum Housing Officer Darrell Parnell worked with the property owner to prepare the home for demolition, including educating the owner on Town regulations; assisting him in coordinating pest control efforts and lining up a demolition contractor; helping him acquire the appropriate permits; and coordinating the shut-off of utility services. His hard work and the property owner’s willingness to voluntarily demolish the home gives the property a new beginning and saves the Town valuable time and resources. Removing the house was one of the last items remaining from the animal cruelty case. Our meeting with neighborhood members earlier this month over breakfast at Rose Street Park uncovered other issues of importance to the community, and staff will continue to address their concerns through regular communication and efforts such as the upcoming bond referendum.
For the third year in a row, Cary hosted the Stormwater Association of North Carolina (SWANC) quarterly meeting at the Herb Young Community Center. Over 80 representatives from municipalities, engineering firms and environmental groups across the state gathered to learn about and discuss current legislative and policy trends affecting stormwater on the local level. Staff from the NC Department of Water Resources provided guidance on the NPDES Phase 2 audit process, and the NC League of Municipalities discussed potential legislative issues that may affect local governments. Charles Brown, Cary Stormwater Program Analyst and current Vice President of SWANC, gave a presentation highlighting how Cary is maintaining the health of waterways by connecting GIS with Salesforce and 311.
Officer Jeff Morgan partners with residents and staff to become involved in community affairs and tailor services to the unique characteristics and needs of the residents of The Lofts at Weston Lakeside. Manager Brandi Richmond said, “It has been an absolute pleasure to work with Officer Jeff Morgan of the Cary Police Department. Project PHOENIX is extremely beneficial not only to the Police Department in helping to build a sense of community, but also very vital in the role of letting residents know that we are a part of a solid team and have relationships with the Police Department. Project PHOENIX helps bridge the gap between community and police – which I absolutely love! I can’t say thank you enough for the open lines of communication! I look forward to continuing to be a part of such an amazing concept!”
For the third year in a row Cary was recognized as being in the elite “top 50” greenest fleets in the nation by The 100 Best Fleets in the Americas for its integration of sustainability principals in its operations. Additionally, Cary has been recognized as a 2019 Smart Fleet Champion by NC State’s Clean Energy Technology Center for demonstrated excellence in fleet efficiency, fuel diversity, and conservation by reducing petroleum fuel use. Congratulations to Fleet Manager Brandon Pasinski and his staff who keep our fleet of cars, trucks, and motorized equipment running clean and green.
Congratulations to Cary Police Officers Dillon Dunn and Joel Pyland on their recent completion of Basic Police Motorcycle School with the North Carolina Highway Patrol. This 80-hour course includes rigorous skills testing in precision maneuvers, curve negotiation, crash avoidance, and emergency response. Motorcycles were first put into police service in 1908 by the Detroit, Michigan Police Department. Detroit’s Harley Davidson machines produced four horsepower and a top speed of 40 mph. The Cary Police Department began its motorcycle program in 1995 with Officers Joe Clifton and Kathy Long and their 67-horsepower Harley Davidson Road Kings. Dillon and Joel now find their place in Cary’s police motorcycle history piloting the 125 horsepower BMW R1200RTP. These officers were selected for motor officer training based on their record of exemplary performance. We appreciate their ongoing commitment to highway safety and their dedicated service to Cary citizens.
Advisory Board Meetings
Wed, 9/4, 5:15pm
Town Hall Conf Room 10035
Emails from Citizens
Emails from Cary citizens this week included:
- Several chain emails complaining about 5G networks (council usually doesn’t respond to chain emails. In addition, we have no authority when it comes to 5G networks. The decision makers are at the state and national level).
- A complaint about on street parking in the western part of Cary.
- A complaint about road patching (Unfortunately major roads are the responsibility of NCDOT and their standards are much lower than Cary. So you will likely see nice roads in neighborhoods and not as nice major thoroughfares).
- A question about a requirement by an HOA (requirements can exceed Cary standards in HOA neighborhoods but cannot be lower than Cary standards in HOA neighborhoods).
- A complaint about net height in the Carpenter Park (staff resolved this issue).
- A complaint about a tree removed on Whitehall Way (staff responded to this issue).
- A question about what the town is doing for the environment (I provided information and directed them to contact our sustainability manager and members of our Environmental Advisory Board).
- A question about the orange cables being buried (these are conduits to handle multiple cables).
Next week’s activities include staff meetings, a meeting of the Economic Development board, an annual review of one of our staff members (the town manager, town attorney, and town clerk report to the council), and a meeting of the North Carolina Metro Mayors.
Get In Touch
Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, September 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
From the blog of Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht. Photos courtesy of Harold Weinbrecht.