Cary, NC – This was another busy week for me as is typical for this time of year.
Monday – Preparing for the Week
Monday I attempted to contact all council members to hear of questions or concerns about Thursday’s agenda. Questions and concerns were centered around the hotel proposed in the Weston Office park.
Later in the day I met with staff to go over the agenda items. Most of the discussion was about what to put in the staff reports. That meeting lasted about fifteen minutes.
Next I joined Mayor Pro-Tem Bush in a one-on-one meeting with the Deputy Town Manager for a few updates.
Monday night I participated in a candidate’s forum held at Glenaire. It was put on by the League of Women Voters and moderated by Katherine Brown of WRAL. My opponent was a no show and Mr. Frantz and Mrs. Bush were unopposed, so we were seated together. The three District D candidates were on the other side. Questions alternated to each set of candidates. To watch this forum go to https://www.wral.com/cary-council-candidates-discuss-issues/18653655/. It lasted around two hours.
Tuesday – Boards and Commissions Volunteers
Tuesday I met with a WRAL reporter about the bonds. In answering the questions, I explained that the bonds are a question about funding of projects. If they pass, then all projects will likely be implemented within the next ten years, if not they would be delayed for five to ten years. Debt will not be incurred until a project is ready. I also pointed out that the bond question was not a question of prioritizing projects. That prioritization came from many citizen input sources including the Parks Master plan and the Cary Community Plan.
Later Tuesday I joined the entire council and dozens of staff members at the annual Boards and Commissions Volunteer Appreciation dinner. This is a time to give thanks to board and commission members who were leaving the boards and a time to recognize new members to the boards and commissions. There were fun activities such as a photo op in front of a parks screen. In addition to dinner, each chair of the board presented their annual report and plans for the future. The ISAB (Information Services Advisory Board) did a funny video to explain what they were working on which was well received. The event concluded after about two hours.
Wednesday – Environmental Sustainability
Wednesday morning I participated in the Cary Chamber’s Candidates forum. Once again my opponent was a no show. This forum had 1 ½ minutes for opening and closing with 2 minutes to answer questions. The time to answer questions gave candidates the opportunity to explain answers. The forum lasted a little over an hour.
Wednesday evening I, along with most of the council and some staff, attended the sustainability event hosted by MetLife. There were several speakers that spoke to an audience of about a couple of hundred people. In my remarks I talked about Lake Crabtree’s initial purpose of being water retention and recreation. I explained how it became so much more. Today it hosts a variety of wildlife including bees, birds, and butterflies. In fact, MetLife installed beehives on campus to complete a 60 mile connection of bee hives in this region. I also talked about the Cary Garden for Wildlife program. Go to https://www.townofcary.org/recreation-enjoyment/parks-greenways-environment/environmental-outreach/cary-garden-for-wildlife-program for more information. The event lasted about an hour and a half.
Thursday – Cary Town Council Meeting
Thursday the council held its last regularly scheduled council meeting of the month. The agenda included five consent items, three public hearings, and two discussion items.
One discussion item on the Weston hotel was continued until the October 10th meeting to give the developer time to meet with the residents to go over concerns and misinformation that was spread through social media. The council received over four dozen emails against this proposal during the last week with most complaints based on misinformation.
The consent agenda included the Twyla Road rezoning which also created some last minute complaints. The applicant in this case offered many conditions to alleviate many of the concerns. The remaining concerns included capped schools and the need for a traffic signal. I explained that we cannot consider school capacity in our decision because it would, in a sense, be considering an Adequate Public Facilities for schools which is not allowed. The installation of traffic signals is only allowed by permission of NCDOT. The town has and will collect data and information to provide to NCDOT to advocate for traffic signals when necessary. In the end all consent items were approved.
The public hearings included two annexations and one LDO amendment. The two annexations were approved after no one spoke at their public hearings. The LDO amendments, which include increasing storm water retention for the 100-year storm, will now go to the Planning and Zoning board for their review and recommendation
The only discussion item was the Green Level West Office rezoning. The applicant proposed to put a dentist office on the corner of Green Level West and Branton Drive. He offered fourteen conditions to address neighbors’ concerns. For me the question came down to what the best use for the land is and would I be OK living adjacent to this. An example of a similar development would be the medical offices at Tryon and Cary Parkway which happens to be about a mile from my house. This particular medical office is next to homes valued at half a million and up. The traffic they generate is during the week and steady since their business operates on appointments throughout the day. In addition, they are not operating on the weekend. So I believe they are good and desirable neighbors. I viewed this proposal as very similar and supported it. The proposal passed with a 4 to 3 vote. As a result, the neighbors promised to get people to go and vote against me in this election. I always, in this proposal and all proposals, vote on what I think is the best decision given the information presented regardless of threats.
Our meeting concluded after about two hours and fifteen minutes.
Saturday – Bond Brothers 5K
Friday’s meeting of the North Carolina Metro Mayors Association was cancelled due to inactivity in the legislature.
Saturday started with the third annual Bond Brothers 5K. I was fortunate to be the emcee once again this year. Proceeds from the race went to benefit the CAPTRUST Community Foundation which was founded about ten years ago. Their primary beneficiary this year was the Corral Riding Academy. This is a nonprofit that pairs rescued horses with girls in high-risk situations. They provide a healing and transformational life change through a long-term holistic approach. I had a great time and even had my picture made with one of the Bond Brothers. Since they are identical twins, I am not really sure if it was Jay or Jeremy. I left for my next event after about three hours.
Later Saturday I joined the majority of council members at the 6th annual Dragon Boat Festival. Other dignitaries included the Lt. Governor, the Secretary of State, Congressional representatives, state and county leaders, and most of the Morrisville council. In my remarks I introduced the dignitaries and then spoke about how we embrace and celebrate diversity in Cary and the region. After the speakers we toured the facility and talked with vendors. I signed up for the bone marrow registry and had my picture made with the volunteers. I left after about two hours.
Town Manager’s Report
The town manager’s report for this week included:
Sustainability Social at MetLife
The Chamber of Commerce hosted a Corporate Sustainability Social at the Cary MetLife offices on Wednesday. Included speakers were MetLife’s Geoff Lang, Vice President – New Site Operations and MetLife Technical University, Jon Richter, Vice President – Global Sustainability, and Josh Wiener, Assistant Vice President, – Global Sustainability, Town of Cary Sustainability Manager Emily Barrett, Council Member and EAB Liaison Jack Smith and Mayor Harold Weinbrecht. Also in attendance were Council Members Lori Bush, Don Frantz, and Ken George and NC House Representatives Cynthia Ball and Gale Adcock.
It was a beautiful evening to meet, talk, and learn more about MetLife’s leadership in corporate sustainability and what actions the business sector is taking on sustainability. Guests were engaged and encouraged to learn and connect to be inspired to action on sustainability. Many thanks to those providing information at the tables for this event, including Cary’s Environmental Outreach Program Coordinator Sarah Justice, CompostNow, Mellow Marsh Farm, JC Raulston Arboretum, MetLife Green Team, Triangle Land Conservancy, and Bee Downtown. Guests were invited to see MetLife’s beehive installation, the final link in the longest urban bee corridor in the U.S.
Rezoning Neighborhood Meetings
The next neighborhood meetings are scheduled for Wednesday, October 2 at 6:30 pm at Town Hall. These 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. Four cases are on the agenda:
- 19-REZ-20: West Cary Office Building PDP – request to amend rezoning conditions on 3.74 acres at the southwest corner of O’Kelly Chapel Road and Green Level Church Road to allow a medical office building of up to 36,000 square feet
- 19-REZ-21: Green Level Church Road Rezoning – request to rezone 18.76 acres at 11427 Green Level Church Road to allow up to 90 townhouses
- 19-REZ-22: Somerset Park PDD – request to rezone 37.49 acres at the southeast corner of SE Cary Parkway and US 1 to allow up to 280 multi-family dwelling units and 250,000 square feet of nonresidential uses.
- 19-REZ-23: 107 W Park Street – request to rezone 0.28 acres located at 107 W Park Street to be consistent with adjacent Town Center High Intensity Mixed Use (HMXD) zoning.
Additional information about these cases is available on the Rezoning Cases webpage.
Advisory Board Celebration
On Tuesday evening, a reception was held at Chatham Station to celebrate the Town’s advisory volunteers. Each advisory chair presented their board’s annual report to Council. This annual event provides Council the opportunity to welcome new members and recognize outgoing members for their hard work and dedication to Cary. The event concluded with a presentation on the upcoming bond referendum by Deputy Manager Russ Overton. Check out the photos from the Bonds Selfie Station.
GIS Moves Forward
The Town’s R&D group has been facilitating a GIS working group consisting of subject matter experts from various departments to assess and make recommendations for implementation of GIS across the organization. On September 26, the GIS working group conducted two focus groups with staff to share progress and collect input on needed next steps. A key focus of the GIS working group has been the purposeful integration of Cary’s GIS platform to support other platforms such as Cary’s 311 (Salesforce) platform. Staff expressed a need to better visualize, question, analyze and interpret data which can lead to a deeper understanding of relationships, patterns and trends that will aid in better decision making, efficient operations and more effective planning.
Solid Waste Mobile App
The new Cary Collects mobile app is now available for download. We’re hearing a lot of excitement about being able to set collection day reminders and about what folks are learning through the Waste Wizard. The features being accessed online at townofcary.org/collects made this the top public-facing page on the Town’s website (excluding home page) in the first 24 hours after launch with nearly 1,900 page views. We’re excited about how this enhances our connections and communication with our citizens.
ELGL Makes Stop in Cary
As part of a week-long series showcasing the work of local governments nationwide, ELGL (Engaging Local Government Leaders) hosted a session in Cary. Danielle Mahoney and Carolyn Roman led a 90-minute discussion on creating a single source of truth to make data-driven decisions. They spoke to fellow innovators from the public and private sector on what it takes to transform local government through a people-first approach. Using the Catalog, the pair spoke to how this seed of an idea that once was just a list, has led to a transformational shift in the organization. By empowering staff and encouraging the practice of leadership, the Catalog has helped uncover the adaptive issues surrounding transparency, vulnerability and the courage to lead, helping Cary make data-driven decisions on our quest to create the local government that doesn’t exist.
Council member Ken George and over 20 staff members got a first-hand look at Waste Management/Recycle America’s Material Recovery Facility located off Capital Blvd. The mounds of material collected from Cary’s curbside recycling program are turned into salable commodities at this facility.
This Week in Cary Debuts
Next week, the Marketing team will replace the Town’s Weekend Update email with a new product called This Week in Cary. For years, Weekend Update provided a list of recreation-focused events to citizens who subscribed to Town mailing lists. This Week in Cary will expand that focus to include public meetings, general alerts, and road closures.
Cary Academy Outreach
“If you were tasked with building something the community needs and designing measures to mitigate impacts of your development, what would you build and what stormwater control measures would you include?” Such was the assignment Cary Academy eighth graders received last week. To give real-life perspective to the assignment, Cary staff were invited to help support the students as they developed their plans. Stormwater Specialist Lisa Booze and Water Resources Outreach Supervisor Marie Cefalo began the morning with a PowerPoint presentation to all 110 students and then Facilities Planner Sandi Bailey, Water Resources Engineer Sarah Braman, Transportation Engineer Amir Nezarati, and Architect Reid Saunders each attended a different class to answer questions and prod students to think critically and creatively about their development plans and the benefits of the control measures they were considering. Teacher Andrew Chiaraviglio wrote, “I wanted to express my gratitude for the time and care you and your colleagues invested in making this a meaningful time for our students. It was great for them to see the relevance of what they are learning about in the classroom by meeting the people who play a huge role in planning and shaping our infrastructure and surroundings in Cary (and helping us all enjoy a sustainable future). Please extend my thanks to your kind colleagues who made this more real to our students and were available as a wonderful resource as they worked on their projects.”
IT Project Manager Terry Yates, Stormwater Operations Manager Billy Lee and Smart Cities co-presented “Creating Infrastructure Resiliency with Smart and Connected Technology” to federal, state, county and local water professionals at TJCOG. Their presentation highlighted our use of smart cities technologies such as drones and greenstream rain sensors and gauges. These technologies capture images and data that will be fed into multiple, interconnected platforms such as SAS, ESRI, O365, Box, and Salesforce, enhancing our ability to quickly and effectively share accurate information.
Setting International Standards to Enable Innovation
As a member of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) US Technical Advisory Group for International Organization for Standardization (ISO 279), Assistant Town Manager/Chief Innovation Officer Dan Ault joined delegates from around the world in Melbourne, Florida this week to continue to establish standards for innovation. Ault was the single local government professional, and his technical advisory group focused on terminology tools and methods and interactions between relevant parties to enable innovation. The technical advisory group will continue to meet virtually and will reconvene as a whole again next spring.
Reclaimed Water Extension
Staff held an information session at Fire Station 8 for citizens who will soon have access to reclaimed water later this fall when the extension project is complete. In addition to learning about the reclaimed water extension project, in OneCary style, citizens also had the opportunity to talk with other staff members about area parks, Aquastar, the inspections process, the upcoming bond referendum, and irrigation system requirements. Children and parents were treated to tours of the fire truck and introduced to Senior Police Officer Justin Platz and K-9 Lemm.
Good Hope Farm
A kickoff meeting for the Good Hope Farm Master Plan included stakeholders from nonprofit partners, local agriculture experts, key community members, and staff. With the help of consultants, the group provided feedback about the roles Good Hope Farm can play in securing local food, supporting farmers, and providing opportunities for community engagement while interweaving economic development and environmental conservation. Stay tuned for updates regarding the process of creating a plan for marrying Cary’s agricultural past with an innovative future.
Taking Care of Employees
Staff from various departments redesigned the Health & Benefits section of CNET (Cary’s intranet) and developed the Town’s first Health & Benefits Handbook. Both tools were a result of a new hire survey indicating our employee’s dependence on the Town’s internal site for information and their desire for a handbook, which is interactive and available electronically, but can also be printed and easily shared with family members. These two products are the initial steps to enhancing our communication tools for employees, making health and wellness information more clear, concise and accessible.
Public Safety Engagement
The kindergarten class from Cary Christian School visited the police department. Officer Cotten gave them insight about his role as a police officer and let them tour his mobile office. A lot of great questions from a great group of kids!
The Cary Police Department was recognized for their work with Young Men 4 Christ as part of the Unity Walk festivities.
Thanks to The Forge Initiative for giving Project PHOENIX a tour of their facility. The Forge Initiative will join us at our Nottingham Drive Unity in Community event in October.
Officer Kevin Bern partners with residents and management staff at Brook Arbor Apartments, providing services that meet the unique characteristics and needs of the residents. Property Manager Cameron Faile said, “I enjoy having the partnership with Project PHOENIX because of the added support of Cary PD. If I have any questions or concerns, I know who to call.”
Advisory Board Meetings
Mon, 9/30, 6pm
Town Hall Conf Room 11130
Tues, 10/1, 6pm
Town Hall Conf Room 10035
Wed, 10/2, 6pm
The Cary Theater – Upstairs Lobby
Emails From Citizens
Emails from citizens this week included:
- Complaints against rezoning proposals
- A complaint about speeding in a neighborhood (police department is addressing concerns)
- Kudos for my acting as George Washington
- Questions about the bonds
- A complaint about a traffic circle
Next week will be another busy week. Activities include SAS Championships Media Day, a walk to school event, a meeting with a college student, a campaign kickoff for a judge, a meeting with a homebuilder’s representative, a SAS teambuilding event, the Cary Chamber Member appreciation party, 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, October 6th. 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.