Author: Harold
• Sunday, April 13th, 2014

harold2011_small21This week was my week to work at the Augusta National during the Masters Golf tournament so my post will be short.

At the beginning of the year the council sets meeting dates and times for the entire year. In the past we have scheduled around my trip to Augusta so I could be present at all meetings. This year the council decided not to do that and instead hold the meeting with Mayor Pro-Tem Adcock. That being the case, on Monday it was her duty to contact council members for questions and concerns about the upcoming agenda. Fortunately, there were only two public hearings and two topics for discussion. At the meeting with staff she went over each of the items and there were very few questions. I predicted that meeting, along with the closed session, would last until about 8 PM.

The local newspaper [Cary News] had a couple of articles this week that were disappointing. In the article titled “Cary OKs day care expansion, despite neighbors’ concerns”. It was not made clear that this was a quasi-judicial hearing which is very different from other council meetings. As I said in my blog last week:

During a quasi-judicial hearing, the council must hold an evidentiary hearing and make its decision based on the written and oral evidence presented.  Unlike legislative decisions (like rezonings), a quasi-judicial decision must be based solely on the evidence presented and cannot be based on opinions of members of the council.  Put differently, a quasi-judicial decision is one that requires the council to find facts and exercise discretion when applying the standards of an ordinance to a specific situation.

This case was about the expansion of a small home day care from 6 children to 12. Adjacent residents claimed traffic issues and that the applicant didn’t live at the residence which is required. However, there was no legal evidence presented to prove that the day care caused traffic issues and no evidence to prove that the owner did not live at the address. It was only observations and opinions. In fact the applicant presented evidence to the contrary. Therefore, it was a unanimous decision for the council. What was not unanimous was the applicant’s offer to only expand to 10 children instead of 12. Unfortunately, the newspaper wrote the story in a way to imply that council members ignored residents’ comments which is absolutely false.

In the article titled “Cary OKs townhomes near Park West Village” it was implied that Cary is favoring townhomes and multi-family over all types of development. Two letters to the editor asked council not to approve dense development as if this is the council’s initiative. What is important to understand is that council considers every proposal on its merits and many are changed and denied. The council does not have a desire, nor does it champion, multi-family development. The development mentioned in the article was on a site not suitable for office, commercial, or single family because of its topography. So there was not really a better use for this property. The article also talked about the number of townhomes being built in Cary. It failed to mention that most of the townhome proposals follow the land use plan. Some were already approved before this council took office. It also failed to mention that Cary, for the last several months, has issued more single family permits that any municipality in the council including Raleigh. So the implication that the town and council is favoring multi-family over all other development is simply false. Unfortunately, our local newspaper abandoned fair and balanced years ago. And their editor has said it is OK for reporters to form an opinion and write from that opinion. Personally, I think that is shameful.

My time in Augusta this week was great. The weather was perfect and everyone, including myself, seemed to have a good time. The golf scores were about average until Friday with no one making a big move with a great score. Bubba Watson, a crowd favorite, finally made a move on Friday and had a great finish with the 20 year old Speith. As usual it was another great Masters. From a work standpoint my days were long starting early in the morning and finishing after 8 pm.

Next week I will be back to a normal schedule with several meetings.

Well that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, April 20th. 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 augustanat@mindspring.com.

Category: 2010 Blogs  | Comments off
Author: Harold
• Sunday, April 06th, 2014

harold2011_small2This week kept me busy once again with meetings and events almost every day.

Monday I talked with the town manager about a few issues at our regularly scheduled time. These issues included a potential tenant at the Cary Theater Annex, concerns about a future fire station location, and good news about a development deal in downtown Cary that could bring residential, business, and structured parking.

Tuesday I had the pleasure of attending the ribbon cutting for TrialCard’s call center which is offering launching new services and expanding. TrialCard provides a portfolio of solutions at Point of Care, Patient Access Management, and Point of Sale for the life-cycle of pharmaceutical brands. Since opening their doors in 2001, TrialCard has been processing over $1 billion in patient benefits per year to help brand manufactures achieve their goals with prescribers, patients, and pharmacists. Before we cut the ribbon I gave a few remarks about how TrialCard’s mission of excellence in customer care is very similar to the town’s mission.

Wednesday I joined council members Bush and Yerha in a meeting with several Cary EMS representatives. They explained their roles in the organization and some of the issues they face. We talked about the cooperation between the town and the Cary EMS especially in collocating EMS units in fire stations. We also talked about the $60 Cary EMS membership fee to offset expensive ambulance rides. This is a service that many people should consider.

Later in the day I met with a young man from the Peace Corp who was evacuated from the Ukraine. His mission in the Ukraine was to help stop bullying, create confidence in kids, and get instructors involved with those kids needing help. We talked about several public and private opportunities for him to continue his mission locally. I committed to providing contact information.

Thursday the council met to hear three quasi-judicial matters. Quasi-judicial decisions arise in a variety of local government settings.  In Cary, the Town Council holds quasi-judicial hearings for special use permits, certain subdivision and site plan applications and for certain other applications. During a quasi-judicial hearing, the council must hold an evidentiary hearing and make its decision based on the written and oral evidence presented.  Unlike legislative decisions (like rezonings), a quasi-judicial decision must be based solely on the evidence presented and cannot be based on opinions of members of the council.  Put differently, a quasi-judicial decision is one that requires the council to find facts and exercise discretion when applying the standards of an ordinance to a specific situation. Personally I believe quasi-judicial are very difficult meetings and are very confusing to the general public.

Our first hearing lasted almost two hours and was a request by property owner for special use permit to expand an existing small day care home to allow 7 to 12 children at any given time. This hearing pitted neighbor against neighbor and was a very difficult decision. The applicant offered to make a condition to only allow 10 children at a time. However this was not included in the motion and so I voted against it. The motion passed 4 to 3 to allow the expansion to 12.

Our second hearing was much easier and much shorter. It was a request by the property owner for site plan approval to develop a 165,000-square-foot office building in Centregreen Park at Weston. We discussed several potential traffic improvements and the applicant agreed to put up money for a traffic signal at one of the intersections if criteria warrant the signal.

Our last hearing was a request by the property owner for site plan approval to develop 152 townhouses and revisions to the Evans Farm recreational space. This hearing was continued until May 1st so I am not allowed to talk about it.

Friday I had the pleasure of hosting and talking with several students, staff, and the principal of Triangle Math and Science Academy. Triangle Math and Science Academy charter school is in their first year in Cary. I talked about my duties as mayor and as a council member and then answered questions, signed autographs, and took pictures. Their questions covered a wide variety of topics include signalization of intersections and what we are doing to protect the environment. I had a great time and hope they invite me to visit their school.

Saturday I had the joy of proclaiming the opening of the downtown farmers market for the season. During my time there I visited some of the vendors and even visited Lucky Pie Gallery. It is filled with fascinating art from local artists. If you haven’t been there it is worth the visit. The farmers market was wonderful as always but it was a bit early for some of the vendors (like those that sell strawberries). So I will have to be sure to check them out again.

In emails this week staff sent an update regarding the HUD Loan Application. Here are excerpts from the email:

1. As a necessary requirement of HUD, a public notice was posted March 20 on the Town Hall bulletin board.  Additionally, the notice will be posted on the Town’s website indicating an environmental review has been completed and it is available for review by the public.  Included in this notice will be a request for HUD to release the funds.  All of these are normal protocol from HUD…

2. Additionally, associated with the notice for the environmental review, there is a required 30 day comment period at the Town level, followed by a 15 day comment period by HUD for anyone who may object to the environmental review or the release of funds.   During these two comment periods no construction activity using HUD, Town or developer funds may occur.   While we can move forward with taking final documents to council (at a yet to be determined council meeting), prepare closing documents and selecting contractors, we may not use funds for any of the pre-development construction elements (demolition, etc).

This loan will be used for the Mayton Inn.

Emails from citizens this week included a complaint about a sink hole, a concern about greenway safety, a concern about connectivity requirements, a complaint about density and the Bradford development at Davis Drive and High House (approved before my time), a concern about our leash law, and a thank you from a customer who was helped when Aquastar found a leak.

Next week will be a short week for me since I will be heading down to Augusta for my 36th year to work on Hole 17 as a scorer. Our council meeting next week will be run by Mayor Pro-Tem Adcock.

Well that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, April 13th. 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 augustanat@mindspring.com.

Category: 2010 Blogs  | Comments off
Author: Harold
• Sunday, March 30th, 2014

harold2011_small24This week was full of events and meetings and included a work session and council meeting.

Since this was a week that included a regularly scheduled council meeting, I started Monday by calling council members for concerns or questions about Thursday’s agenda. I was able to contact five out of the six council members and they had no issues. This was not surprising since the agenda only had one public hearing and three items for discussion. Later Monday I met with management, legal, administration, and others to go over the agenda. There were no issues that came up so I predicted our Thursday meeting would last about an hour and a half.

My regularly weekly scheduled meeting with the town manager was cancelled since we had no new issues to discuss.

I started Tuesday by talking to the 2014 Cary Chamber Youth Leadership Group made up of a group of high school students from various schools. I spent about ten minutes talking about the council manager form of government, authority given to council by the legislature, and my duties. I then answered questions for about ten minutes. I was stumped by a one question asking if there was a movie about my life what actor would I want playing me. Gosh, that thought had never entered my mind before and so I said Tom Hanks who is one of my favorite actors. Most of the other questions were more related to my function as mayor.

Tuesday evening the council held a work session on two topics: the downtown park fountain and the Academy Street streetscape. The downtown park is about 25% designed and the decisions for the fountain are needed before design can be completed. The council went through a charrette to determine characteristics of the fountain that included water effects, lighting, interactiveness, structure and aesthetics. This began with an exercise of putting different colored stickies on pictures that were submitted by council in the past few weeks. Afterwards council members made comments about their selections. The descriptive comments had “lots of water”, “lights”, “a wow factor”, “not a look of bird baths stacked”, and “traditional”. The staff and consultants will take this information along with the pictures we selected and will present three concepts at a future date.

The next work session was on the Academy Street streetscape. In this work session staff presented information about phasing on construction, traffic routes, detours, and access to businesses. Council also decided on acceptable tree grates and honestly, most council members didn’t have an opinion. The next step for the streetscape will be a public meeting which is scheduled for Monday, May 12 in the Herb Young Center. Construction on the Academy Street streetscape will begin in the spring of 2015 and last about a year.

Tuesday night six council members, staff, and the town’s lobbyist hosted the Wake County legislative delegation. Attending were Representatives Avila, Dollar, Hall, Reives, and Senator Stein. Staff gave a presentation on Jordan Lake and the Western Wake Regional Wastewater Facility. Afterwards, I briefly touched on the town’s advocacy principles and then talked about our 2014 agenda which was unanimously approved by council. I emphasized that changes to the privilege license tax should be revenue neutral, a strong regulatory framework for shale gas development should be in place to protect citizens, we strongly oppose House Bill 150 on limiting the town’s zoning and aesthetic controls, and support and maintain legislation that would protect Jordan Lake. Afterwards the legislators in attendance made a few comments. Representative Dollar talked about House Bill 150 and mentioned that he sponsored it. He also mentioned that he worked with all of the delegation on issues to help Cary. Representative Avila briefly commented that she was glad to be representing a small part of Cary. Senator Stein talked about a variety of issues and mentioned that he would oppose legislation like House Bill 150. Representative Hall talked about how he appreciated the information and how he would like to get involved more in Cary issues. Representative Reives, from Chatham County, mentioned that he was new at this and he would do what he could to help. Our meeting ended after about an hour and a half.

Wednesday I taped the April episode of Cary Matters with Gale Adcock. Each month the Cary Matters script is written by me or council member Robinson. It is turned in to the Public Information Office for fact checking and then usually taped on the last Wednesday of the month. April’s episode will include issues related to spring and answers to a few questions. Our taping session lasted about 30 minutes.

Thursday I visited the Chamber of Commerce and talked to their leadership group for about 30 minutes. In my remarks I talked about my duties, economic development, and how the strong partnership between the Chamber, council, and staff has been beneficial to Cary. It was very informal and included a lot of interesting questions. One fun question I received was from the owner of the Dairy Queen who asked what kind of Blizzard would I order. Since I am a vanilla loving guy I said vanilla with Oreos.

Thursday night the council met for a regularly scheduled council meeting. The meeting included a public hearing on the Consolidated Housing and Community Development Plan and the FY2015 Community Development Block Grant Annual Action Plan. There were also three items for discussion that included a rezoning, a facilities naming policy, and a request to extend a developer agreement. The extension was unanimously denied and the rezoning and naming policy were unanimously approved. Our council meeting lasted just 45 minutes.

Friday I attended the retirement ceremony for Deputy Police Chief Barry Nickalson. Deputy Chief Nickalson has served the Cary citizens for 25 years and was Deputy Chief for six years. His personnel file is filled with letters and accolades from Cary citizens. He leaves behind a foundation for the Police Department to grow and prosper in the future. We will miss him. God bless him and his family.

Saturday I had the honor in participating in the Eagle Scout ceremony for Jack Henry and Bhavik Modi. Bhavik joined the scouts at the age of 15 and earned his Eagle in just 2 ½ years which is astounding. I have known Jack all his life since he goes to my church. And I was his mentor when he was in conformation class. So it was very special for me to participate in his ceremony.

Sunday I gave remarks at the Hope Connection International Grand Opening. Their mission is to operate a multi-faceted recovery and prevention center that connects with non-profits worldwide to provide support, healing, services, and resources to hurting people, specializing in reaching youths and individuals in crisis. I am glad they are here in Cary and they will change lots of lives. God bless them.

Emails this week included a building permit summary from the homebuilders association. Cary pulled 97 single family permits in the last month which was more than any municipality in Wake County including Raleigh. Our permits are up 9% from last year.

I also received an email from council member Bush that Cary was ranked as the #3best place to retire to according to Forbes magazine. Cary is turning older with 4000 residents turning 65 each year.

Emails from citizens included a criticism about a proposal that hasn’t reached council yet, several emails for and against various rezonings, and another round of complaints about the Mayton Inn from the same people that have complained numerous times.

Next week is filled mostly with events and ribbon cuttings. There is a quasi-judicial council meeting to hear several issues in a court type setting.

Well that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, April 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 augustanat@mindspring.com.

Category: 2010 Blogs  | Comments off
Author: Harold
• Sunday, March 23rd, 2014

harold2011_small23This was another busy week for the mayor’s office.

Monday started with a Mayor’s Association reception for the Wake County legislative delegation. In attendance from the delegation were Representatives Gill, Holley, Jackson, Stam, Barefoot, Hall, Murry and Dollar. Senator Stein was planning on attending but was unable due to an illness. Our conversations covered a variety of topics including the Jordan Lake Rules, restructuring taxes and how that impacts municipalities, and bills that reduce local authority.

After the reception nine out of twelve Wake County mayors met for about two hours. Mayors in attendance included Killen, Williams, Stohlman, Burn, Jones, Matheny, Eagles, McFarlane, and me. In our discussion we decided that more frequent gatherings and meetings with the legislators would be beneficial. In addition, we decided to try and meet with the Wake County commissioners at least a couple of times a year.

Tuesday started with an interview by an NC State Student on Leadership. Some of the questions included greatest accomplishments, biggest disappointments, leadership lessons learned, and leadership style. It was a fun interview and I hope I didn’t ramble too much.

Later Tuesday I met with the town manager and the assistant to the town manager to go over several issues. Some of the issues we discussed were the Oxford house, downtown development, staff/council communications, and an economic development issue.

Tuesday night I joined Jack Smith in answering questions after an annual homeowners’ association meeting. It is always interesting to hear some of the biggest questions concerning citizens. Some of the questions included what the town was doing about Google fiber, if there was a plan to widen Holly Springs Road, and a question about the Cary Parkway extension. We answered questions for about fifteen minutes. If you think it would be beneficial for a council member to attend your homeowners’ association meeting please don’t hesitate to ask.

Wednesday I represented Cary at the monthly meeting of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO) meeting. There were two items on the agenda of interest to Cary. CAMPO unanimously approved additional projects including the right of way acquisition of a portion of Green Level West Road. In addition, CAMPO approved the Locally Administered Projects Program for fiscal year 2015 that included $3 million for the Morrisville Parkway extension, $668,000 for Lake Pine Drive improvements, and $2,715,000 for the White Oak Greenway. CAMPO members also heard updates from NCDOT representatives. Those reports included information about the Morrisville Parkway grade separation project that will impact many Cary residents. The project will go under the railroad tracks. The CAMPO meeting concluded after about an hour.

The Cary/Apex Water Treatment Plant Committee (drinking water) met Thursday to approve two new water contracts.  We approved the contract for the Cary/Apex Water Treatment Facility Phase III Expansion. This expansion will allow the town to produce 56 million gallons a day instead of the current 40 million gallons a day. That capacity should serve Apex, Morrisville, and Cary for several years. This contract will now be presented to the Apex and Cary council’s for approval. Once approved construction can begin. It is estimated that construction will take about two years. In a separate action the committee also approved a contract for the construction of the Cary/Apex Raw Water Pumping Station Phase III expansion.  Our meeting only lasted a few minutes and consisted of a presentation, discussion and a vote.

Later Thursday the Western Wake Partners Policy Advisory Committee (sewage) met to approve the operating budget for the next fiscal year (2015). Action taken at the meeting included naming me as chair of the committee, approval of the budget, and information about the beginning of the new plant operations. It is anticipated that the plant will come on line this summer and will be fully operational later in the year. A ribbon cutting is being planned for the fall.

In emails from staff this week there was a summary of the Morrisville Parkway grade separation project that included the following information:

  • NCDOT has awarded the contract and the contractor may begin work in April 2014.
  • Federal stimulus funds are being used for the project, so the project construction, close-out documents, and all other federal reporting, must be completed by May 2017; however, they are expecting actual physical construction to be completed by the end of 2016.
  • The project anticipates leaving Morrisville Parkway open to two-way traffic for majority of project; however, there will come a time when the rail road bridge must be erected and an off-site detour must be put in place. The detour will be NC54 (Chapel Hill Road) to Cary Parkway to Davis Drive. The contractor has been given no more than 180-days in the construction agreement for a detour time frame and the detour is generally to begin the spring of 2015. NCDOT believes that a more realistic time frame for beginning of the detour will be sometime around February 2016. The state will be providing periodic updates on anticipated detour schedules as the project progresses.
  • Early in the project, there will be a short-term detour lasting no more than seven days (contractually) where they must close Morrisville Parkway at the rail road to install new crossing gates and detour tracks.
  • Early in the project, the contractor will be making some improvements to three intersections that are located along the detour route. The intersections are Town Hall Drive at Morrisville-Carpenter Road, Weston Parkway at NC54 (Chapel Hill Road), and Davis Drive at Morrisville Parkway. The improvements mainly consist of extending turn lane storage lengths to facilitate larger volumes of turning traffic and adjustments to signal timing.
  • Early on in the project a new traffic signal will be installed at the intersection of Crabtree Crossing Parkway at Morrisville Parkway.

NCDOT will continue to provide Cary routine construction updates.

The town staff also summarized other projects in the area such as the Bradford Development and the Town’s intersection project at Cary Parkway & High House Road, the following is information about potential timing:

  • Bradford Development: it appears that the exterior road widening along Davis Drive and High House Road is substantially complete, with just a few remaining punch list items. Traffic signals at the development’s site entrances are substantially installed and will soon be operational. Internal to the site, there still remains significant amounts of building construction to take place; however, construction traffic will have safe ingress and egress to the site using the newly installed traffic signals. We don’t believe that the Bradford project will have any impact to detour traffic once initiated by the closure of Morrisville Parkway.
  • Cary Parkway / High House Road Intersection Project: The town is currently working through contractual agreements with our selected design consultant and is expected to begin design in early April. Design and Environmental Document process is expected to take approximately 9-12 months. Once completed, the town will initiate right-of-way purchases, which may take between 6-12 months. Actual timing of construction has not been formally set, but it will follow completion of right-of-way purchases. In addition, staff will need to monitor the progress of the state’s Morrisville Parkway Grade Separation Project to determine if there will be an overlap; however, we believe the state’s project will most likely be substantial complete before the town’s project begins.

Information from Cary’s Biennial Survey was provided to council members in a notebook (about two inches thick) this week. A total of 405 residents were surveyed resulting in a margin of error of plus or minus 5%. Here are some of the findings:

  • The town government staff continued to receive high marks: courteous A-, professionalism B+, promptness of response B+, helpful B+, knowledgeable B, and overall customer service B. While some of these showed declines none were significantly significant.
  • The town’s rating for maintenance of streets remained at a C. Streets mentioned the most were Maynard, Cary Parkway, High House, Chatham, Kildaire Farm, and Walnut. The key issues were potholes and rough pavement. It should be noted that these are NCDOT maintained roads.
  • Respondents were positive in their rating of Cary as a great place to live. The mean was 8.23 out of 9 giving a grade of A-.
  • Respondents felt very safe overall in Cary. The mean was 8.15 of 9 with 96.8% answering on the safe side of the scale.
  • Cary’s municipal tax rate was perceived as “about right” by 66.9% of respondents. It should be noted that Cary has the lowest tax rate in Wake County.
  • The town council focus areas earned good ratings with a decline in mean from 2012 which was an exceptional year for ratings. The mean decrease was not statistically significant.
  • In conclusion 1 grade improved, 16 grades remained unchanged, and 10 declined for service dimensions. Only 4 of the declines reached statistical significance. The ratings were not up to the exceptional 2012 results and coincide more with previous years.

The council should receive a survey briefing soon in a work session.

Emails from citizens this week include a complaint about a house that may have drug dealers, a complaint about fees for Bond Park, a complaint about possible rezoning violations, a complaint that the police department was encrypting their communications, a complaint about a group home on Maynard, a complaint about a rezoning proposal, and a request for council to support freespeechforpeople.com.

Next week will be another full calendar for me and will include a council meeting, a work session, a taping of Cary Matters, several events and ceremonies.

Well that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, March 30th. 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 augustanat@mindspring.com.

Category: 2010 Blogs  | Comments off
Author: Harold
• Sunday, March 16th, 2014

harold2011_small22As is typical at this time of year this was another long week with long nights and events on all seven days.

On Monday of weeks with regularly scheduled council meetings I start with calls to council members to hear their concerns or questions about Thursday’s agenda. I make these calls so that I can discuss their issues to help staff better prepare for Thursday’s meeting. I was able to contact council members Bush, Yerha, and Frantz this week. Since there was no scheduled public hearings and only three items for discussion, there were very few concerns expressed by council members. Later in the day I met with Mayor Pro-Tem Adcock, management, directors, administration, and legal to go over the agenda items. There were very few items of discussion but I did ask how many properties were impacted by the proposed change to allow painting on old brick structures in downtown. At the end of this meeting I estimated that Thursday’s meeting would last about an hour.

Monday night I met with the committee to review the final two candidates interviewing for the Vice President of Economic Development formerly held by Sandy Jordan. The interviews went well and afterwards the committee narrowed down our choices to the final two candidates. Our interviewing and deliberation lasted about three hours.

Tuesday I participated in McTeacher’s night at McDonalds in Crossroads. This is a program designed to help schools raise money and to allow McDonalds to give back to the community. From my understanding a percentage over the normal sales on the day of the event is given to the schools. This usually amounts to several hundred dollars. This particular event was for Farmington Woods elementary. They packed the place and everyone had a lot of fun. One of the main events was my competition against Principal Pierce in a Big Mac building contest. It was close contest but she edged me out by the time it took to place two pickles. The event was a blast and I hope a lot of money was raised for Farmington Woods.

Wednesday started with a meeting of the selection committee to find the next Vice President of Economic Development. We spent about 15 minutes getting updates on reference checks on the final two candidates. We ended up making a selection later in the week and an offer was extended and accepted Friday. An  official announcement will be made during this week.

Wednesday evening the Economic Development Committee held their quarterly meeting. Here are some of the highlights. Under existing businesses:

  • DB Global plans to add 400 employees taking their staff to over 700
  • A local company is looking to expand its business by hiring a1000 additional employees
  • Dude Solutions plans to add over 400 jobs in the next 5 years and invest $100 million
  • Bass Pro Shops has opened but will reschedule their Grand Opening for April
  • Biologics is having a 75,000 square foot building built for them by Highwoods

Under business recruitment there is a sports related business looking for 35,000 to 100,000 square feet and hire between 250 and 750 employees. This is a federal government entity. We are also working with the Department of Commerce on a project that could bring 100 new jobs to Cary with a $36 million investment. Other miscellaneous notes include:

  • Our class A office vacancy rate is about 8%
  • As of December Cary’s unemployment rate was 3.9% with 2.5% to 2.8% considered full employment
  • The Chamber and a few council members will travel to Nashville for an intercity visit from May 14th through May 16th. The focus will be on regionalism, economic development including downtown and redevelopment, planning, transportation, and the arts.

The meeting ended after about an hour.

Thursday’s first meeting was my quarterly meeting with the town attorney. We went over current and recently resolved legal cases. Our attorney’s office handles not only external legal matters but internal legal matters. Some of the current external issues are related to council actions taken over a decade ago. It is impressive how much our legal department handles for the town.

Thursday night was a regularly scheduled council meeting. There were no public hearings which was very unusual and three discussion items. The first item was the Reduce Congestion through Intersection Improvements project. This included improvements to intersections at Kildaire Farm and Cary Parkway, Cary Parkway and Evans, NW Maynard and Chapel Hill Road, NW Maynard and High House Road, and Cary Parkway at US 1 ramp. Council decided to approve all but the Kildaire Farm and Cary Parkway intersection. They were not comfortable with the massive changes to the intersection which included removal of medians and trees. Staff will come back in the future with additional information on itemized changes to the intersection.

Council also decided to amend architectural standards to allow painting on masonry material on structures constructed and occupied before 1970 which are not deemed historic. There are over 200 non-residential structures that fit this time category but it is not known how many of them have masonry.

Our last discussion item was our NC Legislative Agenda. Council approved staff’s recommendation with one change. The item related to fracking now reads “Support for the preservation of local land use interest and decision-making in the creation and adoption of a strong regulatory framework for shale gas development that protects the health, safety and welfare of the citizens and environment and water quality.”

The council meeting lasted about one and a half hours.

Saturday morning I gave remarks at Cary’s Arbor Day event. There were about a hundred people in attendance. Here are excerpts from my comments:

… I want to welcome you to Town Hall campus to commemorate Arbor Day. Thank you for celebrating the importance of trees today. I speak for the rest of the Council when I say just how appreciative we all are to see you doing your part to keep our community “clean and forever green.”

I am deeply honored to accept on behalf of our citizens the Tree City USA designation. This marked our 31th year receiving the award-something only about a dozen other municipalities in our state have earned.

The National Arbor Day Foundation awards this certification to communities of all sizes that meet strict criteria. One of these is the observation of Arbor Day like we’re doing today. Another is the investment in trees based on your community’s population, which I’m proud to report we went well above and beyond.  Another reason is because of the countless hours donated by our Spruce volunteers. Over 7,000 people have volunteered at one or more Spruce events since its inception just a few years ago. Together, they’ve removed over 83,000 pounds of litter from our parks, streams and streets. They’ve also planted over 13,000 plants and trees in our community. …

Many of you will leave here today holding a tree of your own with the goal of improving the look of your yard. I want to challenge you find a few hours in your schedule to help improve our community by joining friends and family and volunteering with Spruce. Twice a year, we offer litter sweeps that can be held in any neighborhood in Cary. Or, consider helping us spruce up a park this season. From what I understand, a green thumb is not required!

Tree-lined streets define our community, and we know our citizens care deeply about tree preservation. I am proud to live in a community where planting and nurturing trees is a priority. We made great strides this year in protecting our community forests, and I’m so grateful that so many of you got involved when it came time to review our champion tree ordinance. …

Two trees were planted during different ceremonies. One ceremony was to honor Kay Struffolino who has been a huge volunteer for the town for years. My time at the event was about an hour.

Sunday I had the pleasure of making remarks at the 5th running of the Tobacco Road Marathon. This has become a big race with over 4000 participants and 10% of those qualifying for the Boston marathon. This year there were 400 runners and 200 volunteers from Fr. Bragg. Witnessing the runners cross the starting line is always a treat for me. It took almost 7 minutes for all the runners to cross the starting line.

Emails from staff this week included the current plans under review. These plans entered since the first of February include:

  • 16 townhomes on Edinburgh Drive.
  • 6,162 square foot field house for Cary Academy
  • 195 foot monopole cell tower on Quade Drive
  • 68 single family homes in the Montvale Subdivision on Wrong Way
  • 64 townhomes in Townes at Mills Park on Green Level Church Road
  • 1900 square foot clubhouse in Green Hope Crossing on Green Hope School Road
  • 44 single family homes in the Montvale Subdivision on E. Ferrell Road
  • 14,760 square foot retail in Park Corner on Carpenter Fire Station Road
  • 90,000 square foot assisted living facility in Spring Arbor on Kildaire Farm Road
  • 6793 square foot bank for State Employee’s Credit Union on Walnut Street
  • 75,000 square foot office building in Weston on Weston Parkway
  • 20 single family homes in Bailey Park on Bailey Park Lane
  • 5500 square foot expansion at Cornerstone Presbyterian on High House

Emails from citizens this week included a complaint about road conditions on Forest Green Drive, requests not to do improvements at Kildaire Farm and Cary Parkway, a question about the dedication of the Veterans Freedom Park, and a concern about a property owner not maintaining his yard which is creating a hazard.

Next week includes a Mayors Association meeting, a meeting of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, and a meeting of the Western Wake Policy Advisory Committee.

Well that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, March 23rd. 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 augustanat@mindspring.com.

Category: 2010 Blogs  | Comments off
Author: Harold
• Sunday, March 09th, 2014

harold2011_small21This week was a busy week and included another round of inclement weather.

Monday I participated in Read Across America at Cary Elementary. The book I picked from the library was called “The Three Questions” by Muth, which I had not read before. I first read to a fourth grade class and even had time to answer about a dozen or so questions and take a few pictures. Afterwards I read to a third grade class, answered a few questions, and took pictures again. It was a lot of fun and I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Cary Elementary.

Later Monday we had another round of inclement weather consisting of mostly sleet. While driving conditions were OK during the evening they quickly became dangerous when the temperatures reached the low 20s. Since this started off as rain the Cary crews could not put down the brine because it would have washed away. Instead Mother Nature took care of most of it Tuesday morning and the Cary crews added a little salt and sand as needed in problem areas. Hopefully we are done with winter weather.

Tuesday I was supposed to do a ribbon cutting for TrialCard Customer Experience Center which is healthcare related and located in Weston. They will be launching new services and expanding their 200 person call center. They have rescheduled this event for April 1st.

Tuesday night I was given a tour of the Searstone clubhouse. It has been a while since I was on the property and it was the first time in the clubhouse. Searstone, which is still being built, already has many residents. I was honored to meet several of them including the HOA president and his wife. I am looking forward to having new Searstone residents in Cary.

Wednesday morning I was scheduled to give remarks to the Cary Chambers Youth Leadership group which was postponed until March 25th.

Wednesday evening I joined that town manager, council member Smith, and others as we interviewed two of the final four candidates for the position of Vice President of Economic Development in Cary. This position will be important in recruiting new businesses to Cary.

Thursday’s first meeting was with a twelve year old girl and her parents about a recent rezoning in her neighborhood and my duties as mayor. It is so nice to have someone interested in their local government. Our meeting lasted around 15 minutes.

The council held a short work session on Thursday to finalize the wording for the position of town clerk. As I have mentioned before, our long time town clerk Sue Rowland will be retiring as of August 1st. We will be posting this job soon and expect hundreds of applications from all over the nation.

Thursday night the council held its first regularly scheduled quasi-judicial council meeting of the year. There were four quasi-judicial public hearings. The first two were to allow the First United Methodist Church to build a columbarium. The only concern expressed by a council member was that this would be on valuable land in the center of downtown. The council approved the request unanimously. The next request was by SAS for minor modification requests for reductions in required parking, connectivity to the adjacent office building, and removal/replacement of champion trees. This was also approved by council unanimously. The final request was to allow Patel Brothers Grocery to modify their site plan for a different service and delivery access. The proposal also included minor modifications to the Town’s connectivity and streetscape requirements. This was also approved unanimously. Our four hearings lasted about two hours.

The local newspaper wrote an article about this meeting and the approval of another SAS building. In it they stated the Mayor Pro-Tem and I, who both work at SAS, “didn’t recuse themselves from the vote. They said they wouldn’t directly benefit from the plan.” This statement can be construed as our choice. It is important for people to understand that, by General Statues, we HAVE to vote unless we have a reason (listed by General Statute) not to vote. Here is a statement I read when a case like this comes up:

GS 160A-75 states that no member shall be excused from voting except upon matters involving the consideration of the member’s own financial interest or official conduct or on matters on which the member is prohibited from voting [under certain other statutes]. In all other cases, a failure to vote by a member who is physically present in the council chamber, or who has withdrawn without being excused by a majority vote of the remaining members present, shall be recorded as an affirmative vote.

Under other statutes, a council member may not vote if the outcome of the matter is reasonably likely to have a direct, substantial and readily identifiable financial impact on the member.

The Town Attorney has advised us that merely being an employee of an applicant does not trigger the prohibition.

IMHO, the comment in the paper was uncalled for and disingenuous.

Sunday I had the pleasure of giving opening remarks at the Basant Bahar event at the Cary Arts Center. We are fortunate to host events like this in Cary. Cary not only celebrates diversity but embraces it. It is diverse events like this that help us enrich our community and make it the best place to live, work, and raise a family. The event featured fantastic performances to a full house. A good time was had by all.

Emails this week included a building permit newsletter from the homebuilders. In January 2014 Cary had 121 new residential permits pulled compared to Raleigh which was the second highest with 86. Cary has seen a 9% increase in new residential permits during the last twelve months.

Emails from citizens this week included a concern about fire hazards on the outside of homes and several more requests to support Google Fiber (which we are doing).

Next week will be another busy week and will consist of interviews for the Vice President of Economic Development, a meeting of the Economic Development Committee, a regularly scheduled council meeting, and an Arbor Day event.

Well that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, March 17th. 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 augustanat@mindspring.com.

Category: 2010 Blogs  | Comments off
Author: Harold
• Sunday, March 02nd, 2014

harold2011_small2This week was a busy week including long nights with little family time.

Monday I had lunch with several people about a past economic development opportunity that did not come to fruition. The focus of our time was what was done well and what we could do better. Our lunch lasted about an hour and a half.

Later Monday, as I do on all weeks with regularly scheduled council meetings, I called council members for questions or concerns related to the agenda. I was only able to get in touch with council member Yerha. In our conversation we discussed a consent item, the Stitt public hearing on their rezoning proposal, and the Chapel Hill Townes rezoning proposal. Later that day I met with Mayor Pro-Tem Adcock, management, legal, and administration go through the agenda. The agenda items were straight forward even though there were a lot of them. With the long agenda I predicted that we would not be finished before 11 PM.

Tuesday afternoon I joined council member Bush for the ribbon cutting for Fortnight Brewery. This is Cary’s first brewery. The owners’ original focus will be on English style beers. Remarks were given by the owners, chamber representatives, council member Bush, and me. Then we cut the ribbon. WRAL was present and did a nice story on the event. Unfortunately, I was not able to stay since I had the PRCR (Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Resources) awards banquet shortly after the ribbon cutting. I vowed to come back later in the evening for a tour of the facility.

Tuesday night I joined council members Bush, Smith, Yerha, and Frantz at the annual PRCR awards banquet which was held at the Herb Young center. There were about 400 in attendance. I gave a few remarks and was followed by the guest speaker. Our speaker was a national spokesperson for Special Olympics and was joined by her mother. Together they gave a wonderful talk on the importance of volunteering and how it impacts lives. Their theme was Volunteering is a Work of Heart. After dinner and remarks nine awards were presented to volunteers. Congratulations to all our award winners and to all the nominees. God bless them for giving their time and talents to make Cary a better place.

After the award banquet I headed back to Fortnight Brewery for a quick tour before heading home. They are positioned for expansion and it is my hope that they thrive and prosper.

Wednesday I met with financial people to sign bond documents related to our bond referendum. These included the actual bonds that were sold. Required signatures for these bond documents were needed from the town manager, the director of finance, the town clerk, and me. The entire process lasted less than 30 minutes.

Wednesday night the council held a work session with three items. The first item was to receive guidance on process to replace our long time town clerk, Sue Rowland, who is retiring as of August 1st. Ms. Rowland will be sorely missed and has been a role model for many. She not only does an exemplary job but provides excellent experienced advice to those that ask (including me).  The council decided to use the Human Resource office to handle the search for a new town clerk which should draw applications from all over the country. A sub-committee was created by the council to narrow down the search. That committee will include Mayor Pro-Tem Adcock, council member Smith, and council member Frantz. These council members have many years of experience in hiring through their professional careers. Once the list is narrowed down then the full council will participate in the interview process. At the March 6th meeting the council will decide on the job description from information provided by the Human Resources director.

Our second topic on the work session was the Academy Street streetscape. Council approved benches, trash receptacles, tree grates, bike racks, and street furniture that included art with a music theme. Council also approved several outdoor “rooms” for gathering places. Council decided not to approve a room at the Jones House and tree guards due to cost.

Our last topic for the evening was the downtown park. Council members provided feedback on the overall concept of the park and location of various components. Several weeks ago the council was presented with a water feature that was a piece of art. At that time the council requested a more traditional fountain. The park’s fountain was once again a big topic of discussion at this work session. This time the council was presented with traditional options without art. Council expressed the desire to have a fountain that is unique. As a result the council asked staff and the consultants to bring more options. In addition, the council will send ideas to the consultant to consider. While the fountain remains unresolved the rest of the park will go to the public for comment.

Thursday I headed to the Chamber of Commerce to give remarks at Sandy Jordan’s retirement ceremony. Sandy Jordan has been the lead person in Economic Development recruitment for the Town of Cary since 2006. He was significant in bringing major corporations and major expansions even during the height of the recession. Some of the corporations brought in since I have been mayor include MetLife, Deutsche Bank, ABB, Siemens, Lord Corporation. In addition, to being excellent at his job, Sandy was a great person and will be sorely missed by me and many others as we continue to do the town’s work.

On a related note, we have narrowed our search for Sandy’s replacement and should be doing final interviews soon.

Thursday night was a regularly scheduled council meeting. This meeting included the agenda items from our scheduled meeting two weeks earlier which was cancelled because of the snow. Although we had a very long agenda our meeting only lasted about two and a half hours. There were 20 items on the consent agenda, seven public hearings, and six items for discussion. The budget public hearing had the most speakers. The speakers were supporters of the SK8 Park and wanted the town to include a new high ramp in the upcoming budget. Their claim is that it would be unique and draw people from other states to the area. I know this was considered in the past and liability/insurance was a concern. In other action council approved an agreement with Parkside Commons, approved a rezoning for single family homes in Indian Wells, approved Walnut Street pedestrian improvements, and directed staff to review the Walnut Street corridor plan.

Saturday I gave welcoming remarks at a political event being held in Cary. I was there less than an hour. Regardless of party affiliation, I hope that everyone votes in the upcoming elections. They are crucial to our town, our county, our state, and our country.

Sunday I gave welcoming remarks at the Cary Stars of Tomorrow performances at The Cary Theater. Cary is blessed to have a lot of great teen talent. My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed the entertainment.

In the news this week was an article about art for the new firestation #2. It should be pointed out that this will be an additional option to consider and that council had asked for integrated art similar to what was installed in firestation #8. I am not sure there is support on council for this additional option.

In the letters to the editor this week it was pointed out that citizens were not thanked in the opening of The Cary Theater. Everything we do is because of the citizens and so thanks are implicit. But the point is a good one in that we should recognize it is the citizens that make everything possible. Thank you citizens for your trust and for the newest of venues.

Emails from citizens this week include a continued barrage of Google fiber supporters. Council has had well over 100 emails on this topic to date. Other emails included a complaint about potholes and a claim that the opening of The Cary Theater was not a success.

In regards to the potholes there are several factors that come into play. First Cary does not fix potholes on state roads unless it is a hazard. Then only a “cold patch” can be applied in the cold temperatures. A more permanent fix can be applied in warmer temperatures. Cary does notify the state of potholes on their road but as you might guess the response is slow if that.

I regards to the opening of the Cary Theater, I think I reported last week that they had to turn people away. IMHO, that is a huge success. Sorry to disappoint the naysayers.

Next week will be another busy week with nights away from home. It includes a Read Across America event, a ribbon cutting, a tour of Searstone, a presentation of an update of the State of the Town address, interviews with Economic Development candidates, a quasi-judicial hearing, and the Basant Bahar event.

Well that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, March 9th. 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 augustanat@mindspring.com.

Category: 2010 Blogs  | Comments off
Author: Harold
• Sunday, February 23rd, 2014

harold2011_small22This week was a busy week with the highlight being the opening of The Cary theater.

Monday I met briefly with the town manager, deputy town manager, and assistant to the town manager. We only had a couple of items to review, one related to an ongoing issue related to an ordinance.

Monday night I met with the mayors of Wake County. Those in attendance included the mayors of Cary, Garner, Holly Springs, Knightdale, Raleigh, Rolesville, and Wendell. One topic discussed was Duke Energy’s policy of tree trimming and tree removal around power lines. It was expressed that Duke Energy’s pruning is much more severe so that they don’t have to prune so often. As a result, trees are damaged to a point where they remain unsightly. Trees listed for removal include Bradford Pears, Leyland Cypress, Red and Silver Maples, Locust, and Poplar trees. The mayors unanimously decided to write a resolution opposing this practice. The mayors also decided to write a resolution opposing the Wake County Commissioners desire to use bond money designated for parks for unincorporated areas only. It was pointed out by several mayors that the majority of taxes collected by the county are from municipalities. Our meeting lasted about two hours.

Tuesday Cary was honored by having one of its congressional members tour the town. Representative Holding toured several places including SAS Institute. He was very impressed with the town and talked about how it had changed since he was a child. He mentioned that his family used to own what is now Regency Park and he had played on that land as a child. It was a good visit and he committed to helping Cary in any way he could.

Later Tuesday I met with a couple interested in starting new initiatives to help youth within Cary. They plan to meet with the town staff to go over existing programs before presenting a proposal of ideas. Our meeting lasted about half an hour.

Wednesday I attended the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organizational meeting in Raleigh. There were several items of interest for Cary. Funding for the Green Level West Road widening from NC 540 to NC 55 was approved. In addition, Morrisville Parkway Extension from Highcroft Drive to Mills Park Drive was awarded $3 million for construction, the Lake Pine Drive improvements project was awarded $668,000 for construction, and the White Oak Greenway from Green Level Church Road to the American Tobacco Trail was awarded $2.7 million for construction. In other action the organization approved a submittal list to NCDOT that included from Cary: 2 roadway projects, 2 pedestrian/bike projects, 1 transit project, and two grade separated rail projects. The organization also approved Chris Lukasina to replace Ed Johnson as the new CAMPO director. CAMPO staff presented items to be considered in the next fiscal year that included a corridor safety and mobility study that contains the rail crossing at Maynard Road. Our meeting lasted about an hour.

Wednesday a public announcement was made about Google’s interest in bringing fiber to Cary. This resulted in council email boxes being filled with people wanting us to bring Google to Cary. Some went so far as to say they would not vote for me in the future if Google didn’t come to Cary. Wow! I wish it were my decision. If so, Google would have already been here.

On Thursday the frequency of the Google emails increased. In addition, it appeared that there was a lot of misinformation about Cary’s involvement. After conferring with management and public information we decided it was best for me to release an open letter to the public about the matter. Here is that letter:

Google recently announced that Cary is one of several Triangle towns and cities being considered for future installation of its fiber optic network. This announcement generated a tremendous response from our citizens, including the demand that we actively pursue this opportunity and questions about the effect it will have on our participation in the region’s North Carolina Next Generation Network project.

First, let me say that the Cary Town Council and Town staff are all very excited about Google’s announcement and we’re doing all we can to bring fiber to Cary. In 2010, Cary joined more than 1,000 communities across the country in applying to be among the first to test Google’s new service; although that honor went to Kansas City, we are fortunate to be considered now as the company adds 34 new locations to its expansion plan. Citizens can trust that we will fully participate in Google’s selection process and provide them with the information they need in a timely manner.  This evaluation is extensive and will include analyzing everything from Cary’s topography to our permitting process; Google is hoping to choose which locations will receive fiber by the end of the year. Town staff is prepared to meet the challenge and make it easy for Google to choose Cary.

I also want to make it clear that the Town is still committed to the NC Next Generation Network initiative, referred to in the past as GIG U. In fact, Google’s announcement is in line with the work we’ve been doing as a member of the NCNGN project to address our community’s need for faster Internet speeds at competitive prices. This regional effort, which includes five other Triangle municipalities and three universities, will continue to encourage companies to provide next generation broadband service at gigabit Internet speeds, which are 100 times faster than today’s basic speeds. Currently, the NCNGN steering committee is reviewing proposals for a regional network that would provide this ultra-fast service.

Here in Cary, we value innovation and we’re committed to bringing the best services and economic development opportunities to our community. Citizens can count on their Town Council and Town staff to make decisions that keep Cary one of the best places in the nation to live, work, and raise a family.

At the time of writing this post I am still receiving dozens of emails a day about Google.

Friday night was the dedication of The Cary theater. The opening of this venue was big event for Cary. The evening started with the town crier (all the way from Markham, Canada). This was followed by a short film clip provided by the North Carolina Film Office. Afterwards I made remarks in which I talked about downtown revitalization, the programming of the theater, and the appreciation for the staff, consultants, and artists that worked on the project. Before leaving the stage I was joined by council members and special guest Randy Chandler, son of the original owner, as we made handprints to be sealed in concrete leading to the theater. Live entertainment followed in the theater and on the third floor of the new adjoining building.

Saturday morning was the ribbon cutting of The Cary. There was a good crowd including media from ABC11 and NBC17. I estimated the crowd to be well over 100 people. The Chandler family, whose father Paul Chandler opened this theater in 1946, was also in attendance. Joining me to cut the ribbon were all of the council and council member Robinson’s daughter. Instead of a countdown we used “lights, camera, action…”. Once the ribbon was cut the public entered and the programming began. It was a lot of fun and there theater was still full when I left a couple of hours later.

Emails from staff this week included a response about why we were studying the possibility of a bridge over the rail tracks. Here is an excerpt from that email:

The impetus for the study is the continued work and planning by other entities that project increased rail activity in the corridor - including freight, Amtrak, high?speed, commuter, and light rail traffic.  Based on current projections for freight & Amtrak, rail traffic through downtown Cary will double to 32 trains daily by 2030.  With the additions of high-speed, commuter, and light rail that estimates rises to 250+ trains daily through downtown.  The purpose of the feasibility study is to:

    • help the Town understand the impacts of the increased rail traffic,
    • decide if a grade separation on Harrison Avenue is feasible and,
    • if so, when and which options are viable alternatives.

    There is no funding at this time for construction of improvements at the local, state, or federal level.  We are looking at the options, their viability, and projected costs to decide if and how to move forward.

    I think it is important to reiterate that there is no funding and we continue to look at options.

    Staff also sent out a response to criticism that improvements to the Kildaire Farm and Cary Parkway intersection will be a detriment to pedestrian safety. The town’s response is very detailed and includes the following:

    Cary Parkway and Kildaire Farm Road is one of five intersections listed in the bond referendum for improvements, which rates among the top intersections in Cary with the highest traffic volumes.  The Town continues to use engineering techniques to maximize capacity and improve safety of the existing intersections with methods such as coordination of signal timing along the corridor, monitoring the intersection signal timing from the traffic camera and making real-time adjustments, and the use of flashing left yellow arrows.  However, without making physical improvements to the infrastructure, the intersections will continue to become more congested over time since the signal timing adjustments can no longer provide realized benefits.  To keep pace with our infrastructure needs, the town is proposing these minor improvements to reduce congestion, increase capacity, and increase safety. …

    The Town makes a strong effort to ensure that adequate accommodations are provided within the project designs for all modes of transportation, including pedestrians.  Cary has been honored as both a Walk Friendly and Bike Friendly Community and it is the Town’s commitment to always improve designs to help achieve this distinction.  Many improvements have been made to Town standards and practices that create a safe and accommodating environment for pedestrians.  For example, all signalized intersections where sidewalks are present are required to provide pedestrian signals, crosswalks and pushbuttons and make sure that those pedestrian devices are ADA compliant.

    All of the pedestrian signals at the Cary Parkway and Kildaire Farm Road intersection currently use countdown signal heads so pedestrians know how much time they have left to cross.  In addition, the Town uses a slower walking speed now to calculate just how long that crossing time needs to be for those pedestrians that need a little more time to cross - which include older pedestrians, people pushing strollers, children, and those with disabilities.  Since the existing intersection already provides these pedestrian accommodations, only minor improvements are considered as a part of the project scope.  These improvements include upgrading wheel chair ramps to current ADA standards and making sure they are in an optimal location to line up with the cross walks; straightening out the “bent” cross walks, which will provide a shorter, more direct crossing distance for pedestrians; and providing enhanced high visibility cross walk pavement markings.  Town staff continues to research and review other methods to help improve safety for all road users.

    The major roadway improvements that are under consideration are to build an exclusive right turn lane on southbound Kildaire Farm Road, an exclusive right turn lane on eastbound Cary Parkway, widen into the median on Cary Parkway to build dual left turn lanes on the eastbound and westbound approaches, and upgrade the signal to metal pole mast arms.  With the improvements considered at Cary Parkway and Kildaire Farm Road, the pedestrian crossing distance could increase by an additional 12′ of pavement on the northern and western legs of the intersection.  However, the Town will make sure that there will be adequate crossing time for all users and that the crossing is as safe as possible.  Keep in mind that improved flow for vehicles usually translates into safer operations for pedestrians.

    Pedestrian refuges in the median allow pedestrians to wait in the center of the road for the next walk phase to finish crossing.  While this treatment is located at a couple of intersections in Town, this is not a scenario that is encouraged and is not recommended as a part of this project.  As one can imagine, having pedestrians wait in the middle of a busy road is not ideal and many of those that have a hard time crossing will find this situation a little frightening - especially children.  Also, it is difficult for the Town to enforce or encourage people to only cross half way.  Usually people do not stop in the middle and simply continue walking during the Don’t Walk light, which results in a safety concern and added delay for the vehicles.

    The Town of Cary is committed to preserving and protecting our finite natural resources, environment, and attractive community.  The proposed improvements may require the removal of ornamental trees and bushes in the medians and several red oak and holly trees on the southwest leg of the intersection.  A landscaping plan to re-vegetate the removed landscaping is planned to be implemented at the completion of the project, and a decorative stamped concrete median is anticipated where landscaping is not feasible.  The Town will make a strong effort to minimize impacts to trees and landscaping.

    Town staff will continue to address concerns as we move forward with this and other bond projects for intersections. If you have questions don’t hesitate to ask.

    Emails from citizens this week included mostly comments about Google fiber. Other emails included kudos for the town’s snow removal effort, a concern about the Cary Parkway and Kildaire Farm intersection improvements, a concern about our tethering ordinance, and several invitations to participate and speak at events.

    Next week will be a busy week. It will include several meetings, a ribbon cutting, a speaking engagement at a banquet, a work session, and a long council meeting.

    Well that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, March 2nd. 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 augustanat@mindspring.com.

    Category: 2010 Blogs  | Comments off
    Author: Harold
    • Sunday, February 16th, 2014

    harold2011_small21A week that was supposed to consist mostly of events and meetings was instead dominated by the second snow storm of the winter.

    Monday began with calls to council members to understand their concerns and questions about Thursday’s regularly scheduled council meeting agenda. The issues mentioned by council members included the Parkside Commons agreement, the Herndon Burt proposal, and the Walnut Street Pedestrian improvements. Later in the day I met with Mayor Pro-Tem Adcock, management, administration, and legal to go over the agenda items. Our meeting lasted approximately 30 minutes.

    Monday evening I met with the town manager, deputy town manager, and assistant to the town manager. Although several topics were discussed, the most pressing issue in our meeting was the pending snow storm. During this time we believed it to be a Tuesday through Thursday event with three to six inches of snow followed by ice and power outages. Our estimates weren’t far off.

    Tuesday I was supposed to participate in McTeacher’s night at the McDonalds in Crossroads. Scheduled to join me were the principal and teachers from Dillard Drive Elementary. There was even going to be a Big Mac building contest between me and the principal. Unfortunately, the forecast caused this event to be cancelled even though the snow did not come until the following day. It is my hope it will be rescheduled and I will be invited again.

    The winter storm finally hit on Wednesday around noon. Within about half an hour the roads went from dry to half an inch and more of snow. At that point most of the major employers closed for the day creating a traffic mess. Several people told stories of taking two to four hours to get home. The good news is that this was not a repeat of 2005 and these folks did eventually get home.

    Cary’s snow team was once again outstanding. The brine worked as planned keeping ice from adhering to the asphalt. As a result Cary’s streets were cleared in a little over a day while other communities continued to struggle to get back to normal. This was another example of exemplary service from the great men and women who dedicate their lives to public service in Cary. Great Job!

    Wednesday night I was scheduled to participate in the Grand Opening of Bass Pro Shops in Cary. This event was predicted to draw thousands. While it is sad the opening had to be cancelled, I am glad we didn’t have to deal with the traffic nightmare. Bass Pro Shops did open later in the week and they are drawing large numbers of people to the store.

    Thursday afternoon I participated in a phone call with business leaders interested in bringing their business to Cary. They will make an announcement next week.

    Thursday night was a scheduled council meeting. Usually, in a winter storm council members are picked up and hold an abbreviated meeting to continue public hearings. This happened in the 20 inches of snow in the early 2000s. Fortunately, our legal department found that General Statutes allow us to cancel a meeting and move items to the next scheduled meeting. So the February 27th meeting will be a LONG one.

    Friday afternoon I participated in a phone interview with WPTF. We talked about Cary’s response to the winter storm and about the Imagine Cary planning process. This interview will air either on Monday, February 17th or Monday, February 24th. It is part of their interviews with regional mayors.

    In the news this week Business Insider listed Cary as the #4 Happiest Mid-Sized City in America. Their measurements included stress factors such has unemployment, long commutes, and cost of living. Other factors included personal safety, married residents, home ownership, residents making over $25,000 annually, residents with a bachelor’s degree or higher, and convenience of amenities.

    Emails sent from staff this week included the current plans under review. Plans entered since the beginning of the year include:

    • 20 single family units on Bailey Park Lane off Evans Road
    • 38 single family units on Pittard Sears Road
    • 5500 square foot expansion of Cornerstone Presbyterian Church
    • 10,400 square foot day care center on McCrimmon Parkway
    • 71,656 square foot hotel on Ledsome Lane in the Crossroads area

    For the complete list of plans under review go to http://www.townofcary.org/Assets/Planning+Department/Planning+Department+PDFs/planreview/Active+Projects+in+the+Review+Process+%28sorted+by+date%29.pdf.

    Staff emails also included the 4th quarter report from 2013. Highlights include:

    • As of January 1, 2014, the Town of Cary’s population is estimated at 147,561, an increase of 3,832 or 2.67% since January 1st of 2013.
    • The average new family housing unit was 3884 square feet.
    • There were 361 Multi-family permits issued down 46% from last year.
    • 4th quarter non-residential permits included Harris Teeter at 56,294 square feet, MetLife 450,680 square feet + 586,566 square foot parking
    • The Cary/Apex Water Treatment Facility Phase III Expansion which will expand the facility’s treatment capacity from 40 to 56 million gallons per day, is scheduled for construction bidding over the next two months. Construction duration is expected to be approximately 24 to 30 months with substantial completion scheduled for late spring 2016.
    • Over the past seven years as population increased, garbage disposal per person decreased.
    • Crime in Cary showed a 6% decrease through December 2013 over the same period in 2012.
    • There were 46 crimes reported in Cary Schools in the 4th quarter which was a 58% decrease.
    • Animal Control received 20 calls related to chickens in Cary. This resulted in over 10 hours of staff time.
    • CTran ridership increased 7.2% from the 4th quarter of 2012.
    • In November a Fleet Efficiency Standard Procedure was finalized that will result in right-sized vehicles, fleet utilization reviews, efficient driving training, and more.

    To read the entire fourth quarter report go to http://www.townofcary.org/Assets/Town+Manager$!27s+Office/Quarterly+Report+Documents/4th+Qtr+2013.pdf.

    Emails from citizens this week included a lot of emails thanking the town staff for a great job in snow removal. However, I did receive one complaint upset that we plowed their street: “I absolutely DO NOT appreciate y’all plowing the streets in my subdivision, Summerwinds III, last night. Obviously any chance of sledding is now destroyed, as well as the enjoyment of walking around the neighborhood. … Keep your plows out.” Wow I didn’t expect that one! Since I am a strong believer in safety as a priority, I guess we will have to agree to disagree.

    Other emails from citizens included several concerns about proposed rezonings, a concern that the town was studying a bridge over the railroad tracks at Harrison, a complaint that we are putting too much emphasis on downtown, and several requests to participate in events.

    Next week’s calendar includes a meeting with Wake County Mayors, a meeting with Congressman Holding, a meeting with the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, and events related to the opening of The Cary.

    Well that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, February 23rd. 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 augustanat@mindspring.com.

    Category: 2010 Blogs  | Comments off
    Author: Harold
    • Sunday, February 09th, 2014

    This week was a lighter work load than most weeks.

    Monday I met with representatives from Warriors for Epilepsy interested in increasing awareness of epilepsy, reducing bullying, and reducing youth involvement in gangs. We talked about options and programs available. I suggested several people they could contact and offered to help in my capacity. They presented me with two small books of poetry which was fantastic.

    Tuesday was a scheduled meeting with the town manager but due to unexpected circumstances the meeting was cancelled.

    Wednesday I had the joy of speaking and answering questions from the entire third grade class at Carpenter Elementary. This visit resulted from questions I had received in the mail from a few of the students. The questions I received in the mail were:

    • Could I lower prices in stores?
    • Could I make more hotels and houses?
    • Could I give them more time to play at the playground?
    • Could I stop the hunting of deer?
    • Could I help get the school a walkie-talkie?

    In my talk with them I explained the different levels of government and what I did at the local level. I spent most of the time answering questions. Questions ranged from my favorite movie to what zoning was. Afterwards I took pictures with all of the classes and their teachers. It was a great time and one of the reasons I love being mayor.

    Thursday I met with the general manager, assistant general manager, and the public relations person for the new Bass Pro Shops on Harrison Avenue. We talked about the new store and its impact on our community. They expressed their desire to become an integral part of the community and are committed to being involved. Cary is blessed to have such an excellent corporate citizen. We will do what we can to help them thrive and prosper.

    Thursday night the council held a work session on Imagine Cary multi-year planning process. The purpose of this work session was to review the process to date and to close out the first phase which is the values and vision phase. Based on the vision and values statements the following assumptions have been made:

    • Cary will maintain its predominantly suburban character.
    • There is a limited supply of developable land. 89% of Cary and 71% of the Land Planning area is built out as of early 2012.
    • Development is expected to continue but at a slower rate.
    • The town’s population is becoming more racially and economically diverse.
    • The fastest growing segment of Cary’s population is at or nearing retirement age.
    • Regional models project our population to increase by 50,000 by 2040.
    • Existing neighborhoods will be maintained in their current suburban pattern.
    • Infrastructure will keep pace with growth but resources will be needed for maintaining aging infrastructure.
    • Driving will continue to be the predominant form of transportation.
    • The town will maintain its conservative fiscal practices through balanced budgeting and prudent financial management.

    The second phase of Imagine Cary will be to identify, evaluate, and test key policy choices facing Cary. This will involve engaging the community in a discussion to explore preferred policy options and then determining the future policy directions the town should take. Eight topics were identified for further exploration in phase two due to conflicting input. The first three are concerns of town wide interest and the last five concern geography special land use and development. These topics include:

    • Housing
    • Activity Centers
    • Transportation
    • Older Thoroughfare Corridors
    • The edges of town
    • Infill and redevelopment
    • Employment areas
    • Downtown

    In the explorative discussions on these topics, critical issues will be identified along with current policy. Then alternative policies will be suggested.

    The local newspaper on Sunday printed a story, with letters to the editor, about a study to consider building a bridge over the railroad tracks on Harrison Avenue. Some citizens are questioning why we are studying this. As we plan for the future of Cary, especially downtown, we need to know and understand if the town will be divided or impeded by railroad tracks. If so, then planning will be different than if not. That is the reason for the study. It should be pointed out that there is no funding for design or construction of such a bridge. This is a study to review concepts of how a bridge might look and work as we if and when it was built. It should be noted that a tunnel under the railroad tracks at Walker Street already has already been designed. If I remember correctly the cost of constructing that tunnel would be fifteen to twenty million dollars. I believe the bridge over Harrison would be less costly but still expensive. Both are cost prohibitive at this point and would require state and/or federal funding.

    In emails from staff this week there was question about the Haw River sewer spill and how that impacted our drinking water. Staff responded by letting them know that the Haw River did not feed into the New Hope arm of Jordan Lake. In addition, staff said that even if the spill had been in the New Hope arm of the lake, our water would have been safe.  The Cary/Apex Water Treatment Facility utilizes a multi-barrier approach with advanced water treatment technologies such as ozone and activated carbon adsorption, and a multi-stepped disinfection process that is capable of handling such events. Our water quality report last year illustrates the multi-barrier system in the treatment process.  If you are interested in the full report, you can view it at http://waterreport.townofcary.org/AnnualWQReport2012.pdf.  Obviously, we hope that events like sewer spills don’t happen, but it is nice to know that there is a plan for them just in case.

    Emails from citizens this week included invitations to participate in several events, requests to meet about various topics, a concern about studying a bridge over railroad tracks on Harrison, a concern about Green Level West road modifications, and a concern about a rezoning proposal.

    Next week will be a busy week and will include a regularly scheduled council meeting, the opening of Bass Pro Shops, and a McTeacher event at the Green McDonalds in Crossroads. BTW don’t forget to send you love a Valentine!

    Well that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, February 16th. 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 augustanat@mindspring.com.

    Category: 2010 Blogs  | Comments off