Author: Harold
• Sunday, July 27th, 2014

harold2011_small23This week was a much slower week with a lot of time spent on non-town related issues.

Monday I met with the town manager, the assistant to the town manager, and one of the assistant town managers. We talked about our annual retreat which is held at the beginning of the year. While it might seem a little ridiculous to talk about that now it is important to plan this event to make sure it is effective. The annual retreat is when direction is set for the year. After that topic I talked with the town manager about other minor issues.

Tuesday I was part of a Cary SAS contingent entertaining a group of SAS workers from Japan. We took them to a Durham Bulls game and had a great time in spite of seeing the Bulls lose 4 to 0.

Wednesday I joined council member Frantz for the taping of the August episode of Cary Matters. Our main topic for August will be the US Postal service and the cluster mail boxes which have been causing a lot of problems in Cary. Our taping was done in a record time of just 18 minutes.

Thursday I talked with a representative of the Pritchet rezoning proposal on Holly Springs Road. They have continued to make concessions to try and accommodate the residents adjacent to the property. I, along with these county residents, am looking for a transition from town to county.  It is my hope that the densities will be lower and that residents will support the proposal. The residents will meet Monday night to decide their next step. Council will vote on this Thursday.

Friday’s meeting of the Metro Mayors was cancelled so that staff could attend the NC House meetings that were in session. Later in the day the Metro Mayors staff reported that the Senate will be in skeleton session Monday at 9:30 AM but is planning to come back later it the afternoon for action. And that House Rules Chair Representative Moore said there was not a budget deal. The House held a non-typical session which is probably a sign the end could be near.

Emails from staff this week included a notification that the Town of Cary and regional transportation partners will present the findings of the Harrison Avenue railroad bridge feasibility study. There has been plenty of research and public input leading to this presentation which will be held at the Cary Chamber of Commerce on August 5th from 4 to 7 PM. Staff also sent out a notification that there will be parking lot resurfacing at Godbold and Bond Parks. The resurfacing at Godbold Park will begin July 28th and finish by August 1st. The Bond Park resurfacing will be from July 28th until August 24th.

Next week’s activities will include the swearing in of our new town clerk Sherry Scoggins, a work session, a council meeting, and the dedication of a tribute in honor of 50 years of Rotary in Cary. The Rotary tribute is a five sided granite piece of art. Each side represents one of the five Rotary clubs in Cary.

My next post will be on Sunday, August 3rd. 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, July 20th, 2014

harold2011_small22This week was dominated by a regularly scheduled council meeting and a couple of political meetings.

Monday began with calls to council members to hear of their concerns or questions about the agenda for Thursday’s regularly scheduled council meeting. I was able to contact and have conversations with three members. Most of our discussions centered on the Green Level West Road Widening project, the Howard rezoning on Carpenter Fire Station Road, the public art for Fire Stations #2, and the council initiated school capacity issue. Since the meeting had nine scheduled public hearings and ten discussion items I predicted the meeting would last until 10 PM.

Later Monday I met with the town manager and several staff members to discuss an economic development issue.

Tuesday I had the honor and privilege of meeting and talking with Clay Aiken who is running for the Second Congressional District seat. If you think that Clay is just a singer with a golden ticket then you are sorely mistaken. I was extremely impressed with his knowledge of all the national issues and his district. What I also liked was his eagerness to work with both parties. In fact his logo starts with blue coloring and goes to red symbolizing this bipartisanship. Clay Aiken has a passion for helping people and doing what is right for his district regardless of party affiliation. I think he would represent Cary and his district well and be a breath of fresh air in Washington. I would invite anyone to check out his stance on issues and contact him. His campaign office is in downtown Cary and is staffed by smart, knowledgeable people.

Wednesday I headed down to Pinehurst to give welcoming comments and a mid-year update to the attendees at the Cary Chamber’s Annual Planning Conference. My talk lasted about ten minutes and included about a dozen PowerPoint slides. To see my slides go to http://origin.library.constantcontact.com/download/get/file/1113097892257-242/2014+Mid-Year+Review+-+Chamber.pdf.

Later Wednesday I was scheduled to attend the monthly meeting of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization but that meeting was cancelled. So I headed over to former council member Erv Portman’s residence for a Jessica Holmes fundraiser. Jessica is running for Wake County Commissioner. I had the honor of introducing State School Superintendent June Atkinson who made a few comments. Later we heard from Jessica about her passion for education. She told a great story about how education and teachers changed her life. You can find out more about Jessica Holmes at http://www.jessicaforwake.com/.  Also in attendance were about a dozen or so candidates for other offices.  I stayed and talked with folks for about two hours.

Thursday the council held one of three regularly scheduled monthly council meetings. The nine public hearings did not draw many speakers. However there were a few that spoke of the rezoning proposal for a YMCA on the land next to the Crosspointe Church on Carpenter Fire Station Road. Discussion items took much more time. The Howard rezoning was approved and I was the dissenting vote. My objection was the 6000 square foot lots which I believe is too small for a single family house unless it is a cluster home. The next discussion item was public art on the new fire station that is being built. Council wanted integrated art instead of affixed art so it rejected the proposal. One item that was a no brainer was to refurbish the water tower on Maynard across from Cary High School and build an additional tank near Maynard and Kildaire. Months ago information showed that this would be cost prohibitive but after much work by the staff we were able to save the old tower. Other agenda items included the appointment of the aging issues task force, direction to staff to investigate adding minimum lot sizes to the land use plan, and direction to staff to investigate changing the land development ordinance to further discourage mass grading. Our longest discussion of the evening was about school caps in western Cary schools. Even though we are not the decision makers when it comes to schools, it is a very important topic that significantly impacts the town. The capped schools in western Cary will not allow more students even if you move into a home that already had a student going to that school. School board member Fletcher was on hand to provide data and answer questions. At the conclusion of that discussion, council member Robinson agreed to work with school board staff to come up with additional detailed information about the school caps. After two closed session items our meeting adjourned at 10 PM.

Friday morning I joined Mayor Pro-Tem Adcock to talk with a representative from a major publication. More on this at a future date.

In tweets this week the Raleigh-Durham (including #Cary) was ranked the #3 swim-friendly locales in US bit.ly/1wztvpH @WakeGOV @TriangleBIZJrnl @CaryChamber.

In emails from staff this week council was notified that contractors working on behalf of the Town will enlarge existing multi-purpose slabs at White Oak Park to create three permanent pickleball courts. A combination of tennis, badminton and ping pong, pickleball is among the nation’s fastest growing sports.

Emails from citizens this week included a complaint about cluster mailboxes required by the US Postal Service, a complaint about electrical outages, and several invitations to participate in events.

Next week I will be spending time entertaining visitors from Japan that work for SAS. In addition to those meetings and events I will be attending a few meetings including a meeting of the Wake County Mayors Association. I will also join council member Frantz in the taping of the August episode of Cary Matters.

My next post will be on Sunday, July 27th. 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.

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Author: Harold
• Sunday, July 13th, 2014

harold2011_small21This week was a typical slow post July 4th week.

Monday was open since the town manager was on vacation so my first meeting was on Tuesday. Tuesday I met with Sean Ingram who is the founder and director of the Sean Ingram Creative Arts Academy. Their mission is to cultivate the imagination of youth to find creative freedom without limitations by creating an expressive environment of learning geared towards training them how to progressively analyze, communicate and write effectively for success. In our meeting we discussed his work with the Wake County public schools. We also discussed how to get each community in Wake County to provide support. Out meeting was less than half an hour.

Wednesday I met with a consultant who is doing a study for the Center for Volunteer Caregiving. He is basically trying to find out if people are aware of the center’s mission and how much people know about the center. The Center for Volunteer Caregiving is a private, nonprofit, faith based organization formed in 1992.  Their mission is to provide volunteer services to help Wake County seniors, family caregivers, and adults with disabilities maintain independence, dignity and quality of life. In my talk with the consultant we talked about the town’s awareness of their mission and how we could partner better. I believe this will be a significant service organization as we move forward since it mostly helps seniors and since 4,000 Cary citizens are turning 65 every year. Our conversation lasted about 30 minutes.

Later Wednesday I headed over to see the public information session on options for Maynard Road water storage tank. I was only able to talk with a couple of residents. But staff reported that most people they talked with were pleased at the findings and the recommendation to save the Maynard Road tank. There were also several residents that spoke in favor have the new tank near Kildaire Farm Road and Maynard Road. Council will choose from four options at their July 17th meeting. Staff is recommending the refurbishing of the Maynard Tank and the building of an additional tank at the Kildaire Farm Road and Maynard Road site.

Wednesday afternoon the town did a press release announcing our new town clerk Sherry Scoggins. Although the council interviewed several excellent candidates, we believe that Ms. Scoggins is the best fit for Cary. My comments from the press release were:  “On behalf of the entire Cary Town Council, I want to say how thrilled we are to have Sherry joining us in Cary. Our retiring Town Clerk Sue Rowland has set a tremendously high bar for her successor. The good news is that in addition to being supremely qualified, Sherry’s positive, energetic, and collaborative approach to finding a way to get almost anything done is exactly what we must continue to have in our Town Clerk.  Sherry is truly impressive and certain to be a perfect fit.” Sherry will start July 28th and will hit the ground running. Of course she will have the support of our excellent town clerk staff.

Thursday the council held a quasi-judicial hearing for the Peninsula at Amberly subdivision Plan. This project was originally approved in 2004 with eight phases. The developer and the bank that financed the developer went bankrupt during the recession. As a result only the first four phases were built. Phases five through eight stopped after completing water and sewer lines and some grading. The approval for phases five through eight expired and thus the reason for the quasi-judicial hearing. The new developers were proposing essentially the same site plan as was proposed ten years ago. However, town requirements have changed a little since then and include new water line criteria, new cul-de-sac length limits, and transportation improvements. The developer provided testimony that proved the water lines would be acceptable as is from a certified engineer. In addition, they provided testimony that the cul-de-sac length was necessary because of site boundaries of the American Tobacco Trail and the Corps of Engineers land. The developer also proposed to provide over $55,000 for road improvements since there is no current need for a four lane road in that area. The council agreed with these proposals and the subdivision plan was approved unanimously. The council discussion included the new US Postal Service requirements for cluster mail boxes and the developer has adequately planned for this. Our hearing concluded in a little over half an hour.

Saturday I attended a memorial service for Carroll Ogle at the Methodist Church on Academy Street. Carroll and his wife Sheila are well known in Cary especially for their work in the downtown area. They renovated the “Pink” house on Academy Street which is a town landmark. They also renovated the Matthews House on Chatham Street which is another historic house. Carroll loved Cary and it showed. We are all better off for his love and work in Cary. Rest in Peace Carroll.

In a tweet from the Raleigh Chamber this week the Raleigh-Cary Metro is @NerdWallet’s #8 Best Place for STEM Graduates. Yet another accolade for the great place we call home.

In emails from staff this week council was notified that the town received the signed authorization for the Release of Funds from HUD. This was the last obstacle for the beginning of the Mayton Inn. Demolition of the existing building at 301 S Academy Street is scheduled to start next Thursday, July 17 and will take approximately 7-10 days.

Emails from citizens this week included complaints about the US Postal Service’s cluster mail boxes, a complaint about the town’s email, a concern about safety in refurbishing the water tower on Maynard, a comment about a proposed rezoning on Holly Springs Road at Cary Parkway and comments about other proposed rezonings.

Next week the pace will pick up a little with meetings and events almost every day. They include a regularly scheduled council meeting, staff meetings, a Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization meeting, and a private meeting with Clay Aiken.

My next post will be on Sunday, July 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.

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Author: Harold
• Sunday, July 06th, 2014

harold2011_small2This week was a holiday week and therefore was a much slower week. This is one of the few times during the year where council members to take vacations or be with their families.

Monday the council interviewed candidates for the town clerk position. The town clerk is one of three people that report directly to the town council. The others are the town manager and the town attorney. The Town Clerk is responsible for giving notice of Town Council meetings, preparing the council agenda, recording Council proceedings, serving as custodian of all permanent town records, keeping the Town Seal, attesting all Town documents, maintaining the Town Code, managing the various boards and commissions, the administration of Hillcrest Cemetery, and providing support services to the Town Council. The staff in the Clerk’s office includes the town clerk, the deputy town clerk and two administrative assistants.

The interviews for the new town clerk went very well and council is hopeful that there will be a new town clerk named soon. Our outgoing town clerk is retiring as of August 1st. Without a doubt, she is the best town clerk in the state so it is a difficult task to replace her. Fortunately, she has trained a great staff and I am sure they will keep things running smoothly.

Tuesday I was scheduled to meet with both the town manager and the town attorney in separate meetings. Since council spent time with them giving annual reviews last week there wasn’t much else to talk about. So my meetings with both of them were brief and via the phone.

Friday night was perfect weather wise for the town’s annual Fourth of July celebration with low humidity and mild temperatures. I, along with my entire family, attended the symphony and fireworks at the Booth Amphitheater. I gave a few welcoming remarks before the symphony’s fantastic performance. The fireworks show was amazing as usual. In all, it was a great celebration.

Emails this week included a report from the Homebuilders Association. In their report it showed that Cary had twice as many residential permits pulled than any other municipality including Raleigh for the month of June. We also had more remodeling permits pulled than any other municipality. We continue to show slow steady growth and our challenge of providing adequate infrastructure remains.

We also received notification and staff reports this week regarding the Maynard Road water tower. Initially council was told that saving the old tower would be cost prohibitive and could have other issues. This report, which is coming to council for a decision on July 17th, will have four options with two including refurbishing the Maynard water tower. The option recommended by staff will preserve the Maynard Road water tower across from Cary High School and add an additional water tower off Kildaire Farm Road. I suspect council will support this option.

I also received several emails this week from the NC Metro Mayors Association staff about the state budget. They believe that compromises are being made. Here is how they described it:

“In a highly unusual move, the House and Senate gathered together in a committee room and the two head budget chairs made budget compromise offers to one another in a public meeting.  Senator Brown likened the back and forth to selling a car, to which Representative Dollar responded that the House had not bought the car, but liked some of the features.  The public negotiations were limited to specific revenue estimates on the lottery, Medicaid, and reversions.  Once the two chambers agree on revenue numbers the subcommittees can begin negotiating spending plans.”

I am disappointed that our representatives continue to support bills that will strip away authority at a local level including our ability to protect trees and to protect town aesthetics.

Emails from staff this week include several projects under review. Some of the projects submitted since the beginning of May include:

  • 70 single family homes in the Indian Wells subdivision on Indian Wells Road.
  • A 39,420 square foot medical office building on Cary Glen Boulevard.
  • 43 single family homes on White Oak Church Road.
  • A 2,168 square foot auto repair shop on Tryon Road.
  • A 3,624 square foot bank on O’Kelly Chapel Road.
  • 2 modular classrooms at Laurel Park Elementary.
  • 2 modular classrooms at Mills Park Elementary.
  • 53 townhomes on Waldo Rood Boulevard.
  • A 6,200 medical office building on Davis Drive.
  • 110 townhomes on River Pine Drive.
  • An 8,000 square foot bank on Davis Drive.
  • 73,550 square feet of commercial at NC 540 and NC 55.
  • 100 townhomes on Weston Parkway.

To view the entire list of projects 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.

The town manager also sent an email to council members updating them on several high profile issues:

  • Morrisville Parkway/Triangle Expressway Interchange: staff met with the new Turnpike Authority Director and other staff. They are interested in providing some funding for the interchange from unspent bond proceeds but they did not have specific numbers. It is likely we will need some additional funds to partner on the project. We are working on a revised cost estimate and have a follow up meeting on July 17. Their goal is to present to the Board on September 4. Nothing definitive yet, but staff is hopeful something will work out.
  • Waldo Street Drainage Improvements: staff will begin this stormwater improvement project soon. Some minor traffic impacts and Waldo Street closings will occur during construction. The Methodist Church and Waldo Street has a flooding problem this new pipe installation should relieve. Work is planned to start July 14 and be complete before spring. Notices are being mailed to adjacent property owners.
  • Jones House: We are nearing the completion of the Jones House and the opening of “Belle at the Jones House” which is the name of the farm to table restaurant and bakery of our tenant. We had two additional repairs to the house not originally budgeted as part of the renovations: replacing the roof and repainting the front of the house. After assessing the current state of the roof, it was determined that patching areas of the roof would not be a sufficient solution because the points where the metal was attached to the roof were so warn that wind from a storm would continue creating holes, which would lead to constant patching and continued damage. The roof will need to be replaced and staff believes replacing now rather than in a year or so as to avoid disrupting the operation of the tenant and potentially incurring higher costs. The repainting portion of the house will be focused on the front (porch area of the house). Much of this area is pitted and worn and the repainting will include smoothing those areas and then painting. The funds for additional work will come from the fiscal year 2014 Downtown Budget that has already been approved for capital project work downtown and requires no additional council action. Some have inquired about the wood stacked on the front of the house and I wanted to share that this reclaimed wood is being incorporated into portions of the interior design (bar and cabinet display areas). The wood pile will be gone by the end of next week and you will start to see new landscaping going in around the house. The tenant is working towards an August open date and all the work the town is responsible for will be completed in time to accommodate the tenant’s schedule.
  • Mayton Inn: Staff believes that the HUD Release of Funds for the Mayton Inn project likely will be transmitted around July 10 (that is probably the earliest date). Demolition of the existing Thompson building on the hotel site should commence shortly after that.

The town manager also notified council of a brief vacation which is well deserved.

Emails from citizens this week included a complaint about cluster mail boxes required by the United States Postal Service, a thank you for helping with a burned out street light, and a request to investigate smart benches.

Next week will be another relatively slow week. Activities will include a couple of meetings and a quasi-judicial hearing.

My next post will be on Sunday, July 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, June 29th, 2014

harold2011_small22This was a busy week with a lot of long nights. That makes for a tough week when working full time.

The week started with calls to council members on Monday to hear of concerns or questions about Thursday’s regularly scheduled council meeting agenda. I was able to contact all council members but two. None of them had any major questions or concerns. In my individual calls a couple of council members did relay their thoughts about the Pritchett rezoning on Holly Springs Road at Cary Parkway. Later in the day I met with management, administration, legal, and others to step through the agenda. I was also informed by legal that we will have three items for closed session on Thursday. With 10 public hearings, 7 discussion items, and 3 closed session items I predicted it would be a long meeting and last at least until 11:30.

Later Monday I met with the town manager and the deputy town manager for my weekly one on one session. There weren’t a lot of items to talk about so we discussed the current legislature makeup and their decisions. It is my hope that there is enough change this fall to stop the assault on municipalities. Cary citizens ask more and more from their council yet the legislature continues to strip away our authority to govern ourselves.

Tuesday the council met in closed session for five hours to give annual performance reviews for our three direct reports: the town manager, the town attorney, and the town clerk. First we met with each employee and discussed the past year. After meeting with all employees the council discussed issues, completed the evaluation forms, and determined their change in salary. The salary changes will begin on July 1st with the new budget.

Wednesday I taped the July episode of Cary Matters with council member Lori Bush. We did one take for each of the three segments and completed the taping in about half an hour. The main topic for the July episode is roads and the maintenance of them. Since we have about 670 miles of roads in Cary I think it is an interesting topic and worth a view.

Later Wednesday council member Bush and I joined council members Smith and Yerha for a trip to the newly constructed Western Wake Regional Wastewater Management Facilities. The site is located on over 200 acres and is in Apex’s jurisdiction near New Hill. It will serve Cary, Apex and Morrisville’s waste water needs for decades to come. This project started over ten years ago and was projected to cost about $330 million. I am happy to report that the project will be completed about $30 million under budget and on schedule. This savings is reflected in our utility bills for this upcoming fiscal year. The facility is state of the art in every way. It uses very few chemicals and runs mostly on natural organisms. In addition, biosolids are created from the solids and will be sold as fertilizer generating revenue for the town. A future capital project will allow equipment to be added that will use the biosolids to fuel the biosolids dryer which will also save money. Staff is investigating the return on investment for this feature. The facility will begin taking wastewater in about a week and should be fully operational within a few weeks. The ribbon cutting for the facility is planned for mid-November. During our visit we were presented an overview of the site via a PowerPoint and then walked around to see the various parts of the facility. Our trip to the site concluded after about three hours.

Thursday night was a regularly scheduled council meeting night. The meeting started with recognitions and presentations. I read a proclamation recognizing the robotics team from Green Hope High School. The Public Speaks Out portion of the meeting followed. Most of these speakers talked about the rezoning at Holly Springs Road and Cary Parkway to be voted on later in the meeting.  Ten items were approved on the consent agenda but the Green Level West Road Widening Project was pulled for discussion at the request of a citizen. Our first public hearing was on the purchase and development agreement for the Mayton Inn which is proposed for downtown. The town’s tea party group, which in the past has advocated for things like shutting down all sports venues, was present and spoke against the Mayton Inn and the Cary Theater. The town approved the amendment to the purchase and development agreement and construction should hopefully begin soon. Seven other public hearings were held including rezonings and annexations. Annexations on Penny Road and Carpenter Fire Station Road were approved and the rezonings were sent to the Planning and Zoning Board for their recommendation. The council had eight items for discussion including the $261 million budget which was approved unanimously. We also approved the creation of the Historic Preservation Commission, the creation of the Aging Issues Task Force, and additional funding for the Symphony. The town tabled the rezoning at Holly Springs Road and Cary Parkway to give the developer one last chance to work with residents. The Green Level West Road widening project was tabled so that a citizen could get more information even though staff stated that they had talked with this individual. The council meeting concluded after three closed session items around 10:30.

Friday I participated in meeting of the North Carolina Metro Mayors Coalition. The executive director gave a summary of current actions at the North Carolina legislature. Here are some of the items mentioned:

  • The Senate and the House continue to disagree on the budget. It is believed the Senate will not pass the budget without significant Medicaid changes. The House is focusing now on teacher pay without using the lottery. Both bodies seem to be engaging in a lot of gamesmanship.
  • Provisions are being shoved into bills at the last minute. These include removal of protest petition super majority requirements (developers have been pushing this for years). Design and aesthetic controls which was added by Wake County’s and Cary’s Representative Dollar (also strongly advocated by developers and would allow shacks with one window to be built). Ethics reform which would require all elected officials to fill out a multi-page form about financial holdings (I along with the Mayor Pro-Tem already have to do this because we are voting members of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization).
  • A bill to change political sign rules will allow cities to enforce their rules on all streets regardless if they are state or town maintained.

Our meeting concluded after about half an hour.

Saturday night my wife and I had the pleasure of traveling to Holly Springs to have dinner with the mayor and his wife. Mayor Sears is a good friend and it is great to spend time with him.

Emails from citizens this week included concerns about rezonings, concerns about a potential trail along Chapel Hill Road, a request for additional action on being a bike friendly community, a request for auditory pedestrian crossings, and kudos for the budget.

Next week’s activities include meetings with the town manager and the town attorney, interviews of town clerk candidates, and the July 4th celebration.

My next post will be on Sunday, July 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, June 22nd, 2014

harold2011_small21This week’s activities consisted mostly of meetings and events.

Monday I met with the town manager for our weekly one on one meeting. We discussed and ongoing development issue downtown and an annexation issue.

Monday night I attended the monthly meeting of the Wake County Mayors Association. The mayors unanimously approved a resolution calling for the Wake County Commissioners to add a referendum on the fall ballot that would put a ¼ cent sales tax for teacher salary increases. The mayors also discussed their fiscal year 2015 budgets which go into effect on July 1st. A few mayors stated that their budgets would include a tax increase for this coming fiscal year and some reported plans to increase taxes next year. Based on this information it appears that Cary will remain with the lowest tax rate in Wake County this year and next year even after next year’s increase to cover the 2012 bonds. The General Assembly’s removal of the Privilege License was also discussed at length. Municipalities significantly impacted by this action of the General Assembly include Raleigh, Cary, Morrisville, and Knightdale. Most of the other municipalities reported impacts but it was not significant. Our meeting concluded after about an hour and a half.

Tuesday I presented a mid-year State of the Town address at Searstone to about 100 people in attendance. My address was based on the initial one at the beginning of the year with several updates. Some of the updated information included:

  • The legislative removal of our privilege license will cost the town of Cary and its citizens $1.7 million dollars next year (about 1 ½ cents on the tax rate).
  • The legislature has introduced a bill that would prevent Cary from protecting trees with a tree ordinance.
  • The legislature has introduced a bill that would prevent Cary from aesthetic controls (someone could build a shack with an orange tin roof and paint it with pink and purple polka-dots with one window… just sayin).
  • While our population has increased by 20,000 the last five years our operating budget as not kept up to keep taxes low.
  • Fiscal year 2015 budget has no tax increase with a 3.7% increase in utility bills (to pay for wastewater plant expansion and water plant expansion).
  • Cary’s unemployment rate is at 3.6%
  • The Cary Arts Center has more than 450,000 visitors since it opened and has generated close to $2 million dollars in revenue.
  • Cary’s downtown theater, The Cary, has already had about 6500 visitors and has generated about $60,000 in revenue.

My presentation along with questions and answers lasted about an hour. I look forward to visiting Searstone again someone in the near future.

Wednesday afternoon I attended a meeting of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO). There were only a couple items of significance to Cary. CAMPO approved an amendment to the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) which will allow the Town’s Green Level West Road widening bond project to proceed without delay.  A large part of the CAMPO meeting was focused on looking at the Strategic Prioritization Process (SPOT) scores for future NCDOT projects in the Triangle region.  Last year’s new transportation funding law and an updated scoring process will likely mean that Cary and the Triangle region will see a lot more NCDOT projects to improve interstate, US and NC routes but fewer projects for state and local roads.  Based the preliminary scores, Cary could benefit from regional and local projects in 2015-2025 like new interchanges for US 64 at Laura Duncan Road and Lake Pine Drive, downtown railroad separations at Walker Street and Harrison Avenue, and road widenings along segments of Aviation Parkway, Ten Ten Road, and Jones Franklin Road. The final scores for these projects will be submitted in August.  Any projects that are successful will likely be scheduled after 2020. The meeting concluded in about an hour.

Later Wednesday I attended the Economic Development Committee quarterly meeting. Some of the highlights from this meeting include:

  • The Cary Town Center is working on plans to update and change their facility.
  • There is a potential for expansion of a company in the area that would move their regional headquarters to Cary along with 1237 additional jobs.
  • Cary is under consideration for a major retailer that would bring a $30 million investment and 300 jobs.
  • The Mayton Inn’s HUD loan is approved. Once the release of funds notification is made the construction process will start. This is anticipated to take place by the end of June.
  • A local restaurant and bar is looking to locate in downtown Cary.
  • There are several residential and retail projects that are close to deals in downtown.
  • The town’s class A office space vacancy rate remains about 8%.
  • Cary’s unemployment rate is 3.6% as of the end of April. The County is a 4.7%, the state 6.0%, and the country 5.9%.
  • The Chamber has updated its economic development website at http://www.CaryED.com.
  • There is an application that will allow you to see all development around any part of Cary at http://www.codeforcary.org/dev.html.

Our meeting concluded after about half an hour.

Thursday I had the privilege of reading a proclamation recognizing June 20th as Cary Magazine Day honoring their 10th anniversary. Unlike some of the other printed media, Cary Magazine focuses on capturing the Cary lifestyle and our quality of life. In addition, they do a fantastic job covering our small businesses which they will tell you is the backbone of our town. The event was well attended and a lot of fun.

Friday I participated in a meeting of NC Metropolitan of Mayors. It was reported that the budget differences between the NC Senate and House seem to be getting bigger. Rumors have an adjournment date of July 3rd but others believe that is unlikely. Teacher raises are a big issue and difference between bodies. Most of our meeting was spent discussing regulatory reform bills. Our meeting lasted about half an hour.

Cary received another accolade this week. The Raleigh-Cary metro is No. 7 on list of ‘American Dream’ cities according to information provided by the Cary Chamber.

This week the Town and AT&T announced an agreement that will provide ultra-fast internet to Cary. AT&T will provide their U-verse product over a fiber network to various parts of Cary. This will give speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second. With that kind of speed Cary residents will be able to download 25 songs in one second, or a TV show in three seconds, or a movie in about 36 seconds. Our community is hungry for ultra-high speed internet, and signing the agreement moves us one step closer to ensuring we continue to keep Cary one of the best places in the country to live, work and raise our families. We are still working with Google about their fiber network. Google will make their announcement at the end of the year.

Emails from citizens this week included a complaint about the town’s first food truck event, a complaint about a future closing on Cary Parkway at the railroad tracks at Old Apex Road, opposition against several rezonings, a request for a traffic signal, a complaint that sound at Booth Amphitheater was too low, a concern about fracking, a complaint about an apartment owner, a complaint about a proposed multi-use trail on Chapel Hill Road, and a request to have American Flags on Academy Street.

Next week’s activities include a work session on staff evaluations (town manager, town attorney, and town clerk), a council meeting, a taping of Cary Matters, a tour of the Western Wake Regional Wastewater Facility, and dinner with a Wake County Mayor and his wife.

My next post will be on Sunday, June 29th. 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, June 15th, 2014

harold2011_small2This week was my first week back after a two week vacation.

I started Monday with phone calls to council members to hear their concerns or questions about the agenda for Thursday’s regularly scheduled council meeting. I was able to contact all but two council members. The agenda had 18 consent items, two public hearings, and two discussion items. There was very little that council members had to say about the agenda. Later in the day I met with management, administration, legal, and other staff members to go over the agenda. Our meeting lasted about 15 minutes. I was informed that there were two items for closed session and so I predicted that our meeting would end around 8 PM.

Later Monday I met with the town manager to go over several items. Most of our discussion focused on economic development and downtown projects.

Tuesday I met with members of the Sigma Tau Omega Omega Chapter, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. This great group of ladies spent a lot of time in our community helping others and making it a better place. God bless them! In our meeting we took photos of me presenting a proclamation to them.

Tuesday evening the council held a quasi-judicial meeting to hear a site plan proposal for a Freddy’s Restaurant on the Searstone site. Quasi-judicial hearings are different than regular public hearings in that they resemble a court hearing where testimony is presented. This also means that council is very restricted on what they can consider or not consider in making their decision. While almost all council members expressed disappointment with the way the Searstone corner turned out (with tire store, drug store, fast food, etc) we felt that we had no choice but to approve the site plan because it met all criteria. Our meeting lasted less than an hour.

Thursday started with two work sessions. The first work session was on the 2015 recommended budget. Our only talking point was about the loss of revenues from the Privilege License Tax that is being eliminated by the NC Legislature. It will cost the town $152,000 this year which the budget director believed can be absorbed without changing the budget. However the revenue loss is projected to be a $1.7 million next year which will require significant action from the council to make up the loss.

Our second work session was on tree protection regulations. The town has had a tree protection ordinance for about a decade. There have been complaints by developers that the ordinance prevented development and complaints by others that the ordinance didn’t protect trees. The staff, Planning and Zoning Board, and several stakeholders worked for several months to create changes in regulations for the town’s tree ordinance. These included the definition of a “Champion tree” which was defined as 40 inches or greater for pines, 32 inches for upper story trees, and 12 inches for understory trees. Council agreed to proceed with these definitions. Then a priority list of what to protect was presented. Council stated that streetscapes and prominent locations should be the highest priority. Council also provided recommendations on modifications and reductions of requirements for design flexibility. This list would impact what could be negotiated by staff and what would have to come to council for a decision. Council eliminated several of these staff approval modifications preferring that most come to council for a decision. Staff will now take council’s feedback and create a proposal for council’s review in about a couple of months. Then it will go to the public for feedback.

Thursday night the council held a regularly scheduled council meeting. The council heard from several citizens during the budget public hearing about supporting a vert ramp in the SK8 park. Under the discussion portion of the meeting council discussed a proposed rezoning next on Highway 55 next to I540. What is being proposed is a development similar to Inside Wade. While the product is excellent council will have to decide if it is worth replacing a primary location for future office. Most of our meeting time was spent in closed session going over 7 items. Our meeting lasted until about 10:15.

Friday I participated in the North Carolina Metro Mayors Coalition meeting. The Asheville mayor talked about a recent lawsuit which allowed the city to keep the water plant. The Chapel Hill mayor talked about the recent lawsuit decision which prohibits them from banning cellphone use. The North Carolina Metro Mayors Coalition staff reviewed current legislative bills that could impact all municipalities and the NC House budget.

Saturday I attended a Health Fair put on by the triangle Hindu Temples (SV Temple, HSNC and BAPS). Each year they provide fee medical services for any and all that seek it. This year over 60 doctors donated their time and talents to help over 700 people including blood analysis. This great event gives back to the community and makes us a better place. God bless each and every one that participated.

Saturday afternoon my wife and I were guests of SAS Institute at the US Open. What a treat. Since the SAS tent was close to the NC tent I was able to see the Governor and Secretary of State talking with folks. I was unable to get over to say a few words. The weather was perfect and the golf was great. What a great event for our state to host and what an economic boost. I hope you were able to see some of the tournament.

In emails from the last two weeks the N.C. Department of Transportation will make improvements on 23 miles over 13 Wake County roads. The work for this contract can start as early as July 8, with a portion of the project completed before mid-August, and all roads will be done by the end of June 2015. Among the roads set to be resurfaced are:

  • 3.8 miles of Main Street between the junction with Technology Drive and GB Alford Highway;
  • 0.3 miles of Barefoot Road between W. Academy Street and the county line;
  • 1.7 miles of Blaney Franks Road between Penny Road and Ten-Ten Road;
  • 1.2 miles of Carpenter Upchurch Road between the junction with Cornerstone Drive and the junction with Morrisville Parkway;
  • 0.6 miles of Dillard Drive between Walnut Street and Jones Franklin Road;
  • 3.1 miles of Fanny Brown Road between Ten-Ten Road and Old Stage Road;
  • 0.7 miles of N. Harrison Road between N.E. Maynard Road and Chapel Hill Road;
  • 1.2 miles of Holly Springs-New Hill Road between the junction with Ancient Oaks Drive and 0.2 miles south of Cateswood Court;
  • 0.2 miles of Old Apex Road between the intersection of N.W. and S.W. Maynard Road and the junction with Brentwood Drive;
  • 1.6 miles of Old Holly Springs-Apex Road between Woods Creek Road and New Hill Road;
  • 3.1 miles of Olive Chapel Road between New Hill Olive Chapel Road and Kelly Road;
  • 3.1 miles of Wagstaff Road between S. Main Street and the county line;
  • 0.8 miles of Woodland Road between Old Stage Road and Timber Drive; and
  • 2 miles of Ebenezer Church Road between Westgate Road and 50 ft. into Graylyn Drive.

Because several of these roads are busy commuter and commercial routes, work on those sections will be done at night, with no lane closures or restrictions allowed between 6 a.m. to 9 a.m., and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday.

In emails from staff this week we were notified that the repaving of Walnut Street from Kildaire Farm Road to Cary Town Boulevard will begin this week. This is the section that was previously considered for a median which was strongly opposed by residents in the area.

Emails from citizens this week included support for expanded CTran hours, a concern about a rezoning, a concern about Forest Green Drive, and a concern about the location of a multi-use trail.

Next week’s activities include a mid-year state of the town address at Searstone, a Wake County Mayors Association meeting, a Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization meeting, and the 10th anniversary party for Cary Magazine.

My next post will be on Sunday, June 22nd. 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, May 25th, 2014

harold2011_small23This week was the last week before a long vacation. So I was very busy trying to get things done before my trip.

Monday I attempted to contact each council member about the agenda for Thursday’s council meeting. The purpose of these calls is to hear of any questions or concerns they wanted staff to be prepared to address at the council meeting. I contacted all council members except one. There were a couple of council questions about the decision to put waivers on the consent agenda. There were a lot of comments about the discussion items which, at the time, all had valid protest petitions. Proposals with valid protest petitions require six out of seven council members to approve. Later in the day I addressed these items with staff members. Based on the amount of public hearings and items with protest petitions I anticipated Thursday’s meeting to last until 11 PM.

Monday night I drove to Augusta, Georgia to prepare to play the Augusta National golf course on Tuesday morning. Tuesday I had the pleasure of playing the infamous course. I am not a good golfer but I had a good time. I hit several greens in regulation but only managed one par. I appreciate what the pros experience on those greens. I three putted from six feet twice! After my round I quickly headed to the car and drove back to Cary for the budget work session. I got home in just enough time to shower and change before going to town hall.

The budget work session on Tuesday was the town’s first. We accepted the town manager’s recommendations and gave feedback on four items for clarification. Decisions made on those budget items include:

  • $150,000 for median planting. This year it will cover medians at Tryon Road, Kildaire Farm Road, Morrisville Parkway, McCrimmon Parkway, and High House Road.
  • $120,000 to facilitate business development in downtown’s business improvement district and the town center area plan. This will be in the form of a business incentive loan program.
  • $168,443 to expand CTran by providing evening service hourly from 8 PM until 10 PM. This will also include two new medium-duty buses.
  • Not to include a Vert Ramp for the SK8 park in the FY 2015 budget. The cost was estimated to be in excess of $475,000. That price was based on the slab and ramp, modifications of the pro shop to monitor the new ramp, and additional fencing and lighting. Council also directed staff to investigate public private partnerships.

The work session finishes the creation of the proposed budget. We reserved time for another meeting to incorporate additional changes as a result of the public hearings.

Wednesday I attended the Transportation Advisory Committee meeting of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO). Several items were approved. Those that were of significance to Cary included:

  • Fiscal Year 2015 program awards of one million dollars for C-Tran to acquire the property needed for the Western Wake Operations Center & Maintenance Facility. Town matching funds were approved and are available from the Fiscal Year 2013 Town Budget.
  • Locally Administered Projects Program Project Modifications that included a $200,000 increase in funding for Reedy Creek Road Improvement design study and $305,000 increase in funding for the Old Reedy Creek Trailhead construction.
  • Amendments to the Transportation Improvement Program to include changes for Carpenter Fire Station Road, Walnut St. Bridge improvements, Reedy Creek Road Improvements, and Morrisville Parkway Extension/NC 540 Interchange.
  • CAMPO also drafted a Letter of Support for the Town of Cary’s Federal TIGER VI Grant application for the Walker Street Extension project.

The meeting adjourned after about an hour.

Wednesday evening the council went into closed session to talk about details regarding the selection of a new town clerk. Long time town clerk Sue Rowland will be retiring as of August 1st. After the closed session the town council directed the HR director to perform additional actions. The next meeting regarding the appointment of a new town clerk will be in closed session on June 12th.

Thursday was a regularly scheduled council meeting. The agenda included 14 consent items, 5 public hearings, 6 discussion items, and a closed session on 3 issues. The public speaks portion of our meeting consisted mostly of speakers recommending denial of the rezoning request at Holly Springs Road and Cary Parkway. There were three major discussion issues. The first was a rezoning on Harrison Avenue near Maynard for condos. While I would have voted against this the residents actually preferred this over institutional (a school). So the council unanimously approved. I am confident this would have failed if the residents had not requested we approve. The second discussion issue was the rezoning at Holly Springs Road and Cary Parkway. This had a valid protest petition which means that it would take at least six council members to approve. The proposal had 8,000 square foot lots along Holly Springs Road and 12,000 square foot lots toward Campbell Road. In my statement I said I would vote against this unless the proposal had at least 12,000 square foot lots minimum and bigger lots along Fordland Drive and toward Campbell Road. The rest of the council also expressed objections. The applicant asked for 30 days to make changes so the council tabled this item until our June 26th meeting. Our last discussion item was a proposed rezoning along Stephens Road to allow 8,000 square foot single family homes. Most of the objections were about required connectivity which we are not allowed to consider during a rezoning. In addition, residents stated that their children would not be safe playing in the street if this were built. I felt this matched the rezoning on the other side of the street. I could not consider connectivity or the fact that children are playing in the street to deny this proposal. The council unanimously approved the rezoning. A closed session was held for about thirty minutes and the meeting adjourned a few minutes after 11.

Friday I participated in a meeting of the North Carolina Metro Mayors Coalition. The discussion was a review of current legislation that would hurt municipalities. This included bills on fracking, privilege license, removing local tree ordinances, removing local design ordinances, and more. The mayors also discussed the bi-partisan effort to have a common sense drawing of districts. The meeting lasted about 30 minutes.

Emails this week included comments about rezoning cases, the Amberwood Apartment’s tree removal of part of their buffer, the NC legislators removing local authority to protect trees, the US Postal Service not allowing mailboxes for individual houses.

The next two weeks I will be out of town on vacation so there won’t be a post for a while. My next post will be on Sunday, June15th. 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, May 18th, 2014

harold2011_small22This week my time was mostly dominated by the inter-city visit to Nashville.

Monday I joined council member Smith in attending the Honor a Teacher Awards ceremony held at Koka Booth Amphitheater. This program is held by the Cary Chamber and recognizes teachers that go above and beyond the call of duty. Each honored teacher received a nice glass plaque and a $1000 gift certificate to be spent outside the classroom. This year there were 24 sponsors, including the Town of Cary, for 25 awards. I gave a few remarks at the beginning and later joined council member Smith in presenting the Town of Cary award to a Kingswood Elementary Teacher. In my remarks I disclosed a little known fact that I taught high school math for two years in Augusta, Georgia in 1979 and 1980. And that I was recently contacted by one of my students after 35 years. That proves that teachers have a lifelong impact on people’s lives.

Tuesday I was scheduled to meet with the town manager but we decided to talk while flying to Nashville the next morning. So my only duty Tuesday was to sign town documents. My talk with the town manager on Wednesday morning included mostly economic development opportunities in downtown.

The inter-city trip to Nashville began with a 6 AM flight on Wednesday with 42 participants. We arrived in Nashville and caught a bus to a downtown hotel where we were staying. We had breakfast in a conference room while presentations were given by Nashville city staff.

I had the pleasure of introducing Nashville’s mayor, the honorable Karl Dean, to the audience. Nashville’s mayor is a “strong” mayor. That is, he performs the job of the mayor and what would be the city manager. Nashville is different in another way in that it is consolidated with the county. In short, that means the mayor and council can control the schools. In his remarks to us Mayor Dean said that his top three priorities are Education, Public Safety, and Economic Development. He also talked about mass transit, quality of life, the environment, bike/pedestrian programs, and health. After the mayor we heard from the Nashville Chamber of Commerce. They are also focused on education and together with the elected officials have made great strides in improving the education system. The afternoon was spent touring various neighborhoods in Nashville that have redeveloped. We heard of some success stories and about some things they would have done differently.

Thursday we boarded the bus and headed to Franklin, Tennessee which is south of Nashville. I had the pleasure of meeting and talking with their mayor, the honorable Ken Moore. Franklin is experiencing rapid growth and actually visited Cary a few years ago to talk about issues we had with growth. Like Cary, they renovated their theater in a newly revitalized downtown. Their renovation was $8.5 million and was paid for entirely with private funds. We took a walking tour of their downtown and a riding tour throughout other parts of town. Our conversations focused on redevelopment and planning issues. It was a very informative visit.

Friday we took a tour of Nashville’s arena, the Bridgestone which houses the NHL Predators. We listened to the head of the arena and others talk about downtown economic development. Next we went to the downtown transit station to watch a presentation on transit. One interesting part of the presentation was the BRT (Bus Rapid Transit). It is like rapid transit but uses buses and no rails. The vehicles even look similar to light rail vehicles. One of the advantages is cost which is about half of a light rail system. One of the disadvantages is that they don’t spur economic development along their routes because the routes could change.

We boarded a bus and headed to the airport Friday afternoon. Our flight was delayed about two and a half hours but we finally arrived at good ole RDU. I was glad to get home to Cary.

The trip was a great experience. My expenses, and all council member expenses, were paid for by the chamber. While the visit, presentations, and experiences were very valuable I also gained from three days of interacting with local business leaders.

Saturday I attended the third Cars on Academy show downtown along with Council member Frantz. There were one hundred and forty nine entries. I had the honor and privilege of giving the first Mayors Award to Joe Parsons for his 1963 Studebaker Alanti. What an incredible car. The event was a lot of fun and was well attended.

This week we received an accolade notifying us that the Raleigh/Cary area was ranked #1 for well-being by Gallop.

We also received notification that the new home of American tennis was announced as Orlando, Florida. Why is this significant to Cary? Because we were in the final two for being the new home of American Tennis! Here are some important points about this endeavor:

  • Becoming the official Home of American Tennis was a great opportunity for Cary, the Triangle, and North Carolina.
  • This could have meant millions of dollars in economic impact to Triangle businesses.
  • From WakeMed Soccer Park to the USA Baseball National Training Complex, Cary has an impressive record of participating in public private partnerships to build, operate, maintain, and program unique facilities that raise the quality of life for our citizens as well as attract visitors, businesses, and new residents to our area.
  • Like so many of our economic development successes, being considered as the Home of American Tennis would not have been possible without public and private sector partners, including  the Greater Raleigh Convention & Visitors Bureau, Wake County, the State of North Carolina, RDU, SAS, and Triangle universities.
  • It’s not only Cary but the strength of the region and our state that makes potential economic development projects like this possible, from our varied and reliable transportation system to being a leader in education and healthcare.
  • If the project had moved forward, the Town would have engaged the community in developing plans that involved the site’s neighbors. Cary has a history of taking bold steps, and when we were approached with the opportunity to become the new Home of American Tennis, we knew the chance would only come once, so we decided to pursue it.
  • We are humbled not only to have been approached by the USTA with this opportunity but also by the tremendous support we received from our partners in developing the proposal.
  • We are proud to have been one of only two finalists in the nation for this terrific economic development opportunity and honor.
  • While with our partners we created a strong and compelling proposal, we simply couldn’t overcome a few critical issues specific to this project such as the weather and our proximity to existing tennis hotspots.
  • This opportunity was brought to us months after voters approved the 2012 Cary Community Investment Bonds.

Emails from citizens this week included comments about the Amberwood apartment tree removal, concerns about construction issues, comments about rezonings, a concern about crime in a neighborhood, and a complaint about a July 4th bicycle road race.

Next week includes several work sessions, a council meeting, and a meeting of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Transportation Advisory Committee.

Well that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, May 25th. 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, May 11th, 2014

harold2011_small21It was another busy week being mayor.

Monday I joined Mayor Pro-Tem Adcock, council member Bush, and several staff members in a meeting with School Board Chair Christine Kushner, member Bill Fletcher, and member Susan Evans. Mr. Fletcher presented slides giving the current information on schools and the overcrowding in Wake County. Here are some of the interesting comments made by the school board members:

  • We are predicting 3200 additional students for the next 7 years and that is understated.
  • We are currently building half the schools we need.
  • All available spaces are being repurposed (including teachers lounges, art spaces, etc).
  • Modular classes are taking roughly one year to get in place.
  • Currently there are over 1000 temporary classrooms in Wake County.
  • Once a school is capped the new kids would go to a different school regardless of neighbors. Hopefully these caps would only last one or two years.
  • Converting commercial space does not save money.
  • County wide they estimate 50% of schools are over capacity. In west Cary they estimate 80% are over capacity.
  • The school board members also shared that they base their decisions on four pillars:

o   Stability

o   Proximity

o   Academics

o   Efficient Operations

  • They also spent time going over all the different tools in their toolbox to deal with overcrowding. All of them have pros and cons. These include:

o   Re-purposing spaces within buildings

o   Adding modular classrooms to campuses

o   Targeted Magnet recruitment/preferences

o   Pre-assignments prior to occupancy of new homes

o   Capping enrollment

o   Calendar conversions from single to multi-track

o   Assignment to new or distant schools

o   Adding space more quickly, e.g. modular campuses or commercial space conversions

We also discussed the increasing loss of teachers. I asked if the information I received about new schools opening with 20% temporary or substitutes was accurate and they said yes. I also mentioned that I have talked with a county commissioner about options for funding teacher raises but that is another subject altogether.

The Cary staff in attendance confirmed that Cary provides detailed information including subdivision and site plans to Wake County Schools. This information is plugged into the student prediction model run by NC State. One interesting point made by staff through observations is that that multi-family produces approximately 20 students per 100 units compared to single family housing that produces 100 students per 100 units. This is contrary to what many in the public believe. We also explained the development process and options to the school board.  Specifically, if a property owner wants to build in the current zoning then they can build without a council decision. This surprised the school board members. I also mentioned that the council does not have authority to create a moratorium on building permits or to deny any development due to school capacity (adequacy). We all agreed that information predicted these students for some time but the schools are just not being funded by the county commissioners. School board members stated that we are further behind than we were in 2006 even with the last bond referendum. We agreed that it is important for the public to have all the information we have and to try and get the county commissioners to fund more schools. Our next steps are to create a communication strategy and consider holding town halls.

Tuesday was my regularly scheduled time with the town manager. Our conversation this week was about 20 minutes and focused on an annexation issue and the school situation in western Cary.

Wednesday I had the joy of participating in a tennis exhibition at the Cary Tennis Park. Participants in the exhibition included nationally ranked 16 year old Kaitlyn McKarthy, the President of the Western Wake Tennis Association, a senior doubles player who plays out of Kildaire Farms, and me. It was a 24 point set with each participant serving six points. My partner and I came up short 11-13 but it was a close match which I thoroughly enjoyed. I was particularly impressed by McKarthy’s game and her maturity. She is headed off soon to play in the Junior French Open. I will be watching the draws and wish her the very best.

Wednesday evening I joined guests from our sister city Le Touquet, France for about an hour on the eve of their departure. I hope to be able to visit them sometime within the next year.

Thursday started with a closed session to discuss the position of one of our employees. The town council has three direct employees: the town manager, town attorney, and town clerk.

After the closed session the council held a work session to provide feedback to staff and consultants on two proposed drawings for the town square fountain. The council liked the first option which had a bowl on columns on top of two platforms. The fountain sketch had cascading water as well as jets. Consultants will take this feedback and start designing.

Thursday night’s council meeting lasted until a little past 8:30. There were seven public hearings and 3 items for discussion. One of the council’s decisions included the official economic incentive approval for Novozymes which will bring 100 jobs and $36 million of investments to Cary. Base on the taxes they will pay our incentive will be paid off within three years. It is important to note that they have to deliver on promises before any incentives are given.

Approved in the consent agenda was the Transportation & Facilities Department’s contract award for the fiscal year 2014 Street Improvements.  This is to repair pavement and resurface 196 street segments totaling 21 miles costing $3,610,599.78.

In other decisions the council unanimously agreed to the Google Fiber Hut agreement. This will allow Google to build small structures on town property to house their equipment. Their huts will have to abide by all town guidelines including buffering and screening.

In the public hearings the council heard from two developers that want to build low density single family housing. Hallelujah! Of course you will probably not read about this in the local paper since they are obsessed with convincing the public that the current council is only approving multi-family. BTW, no multi-family was approved at this meeting.

One of our final discussion items had to do with “Central Mailbox Delivery”. Wow, was this a shocker. Basically, the post office is now requiring a central location for neighborhoods to get mail. The days of having a mailbox at your house are apparently gone for new neighborhoods. What is sad is that there are residents in new neighborhoods in Cary that have mailboxes in front of their houses and the US Postal service refuses to deliver the mail. They are requiring the developer to install a Central Mailbox Delivery location. In the meantime the residents have to go to the post office to get any mail and this has been going on for weeks. How ridiculous. Several council members, including myself, have agreed to work with the residents to contact their federal representatives to see if we can make some changes and get these people their mail. I guess this is an early sign of the end of the US Postal service.

An important part of the council meeting was the town manager’s annual budget presentation. He is recommending a $261 million financial plan for the next fiscal year with increases operations of about 4 percent to $209 million. At the same time he is recommending a drop in capital spending by 51 percent to about $51 million. The recommendation keeps Cary’s property tax rate the lowest in Wake County at 35 cents per $100 valuation.  The water and sewer rate recommendation is for an increase of 3.5 percent — about $2.21 more per month for residents using 4,500 gallons of water. Building permit fees will also go up about five percent. Some of the town manager’s recommend projects to address council priorities include:

  • Improve police response time in northwestern Cary by adding a new police beat ($576,940)
  • Acquire land for a future fire station in southwest Cary ($800,000)
  • Resurface over 25 miles of Town streets ($5 million)
  • Construct over five miles of new water and sewer lines ($5.3 million)
  • Rehabilitate aging utility infrastructure ($2.2 million)
  • Improve the visual appeal of city streets with additional median landscaping ($150,000)
  • Enhance roadside maintenance in western Cary ($134,330)
  • Create a small business incentive loan program to facilitate business development in downtown Cary ($120,000)
  • Complete sidewalk repairs and various pedestrian improvements ($600,000)
  • Extend C-Tran service hours from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. ($139,620)
  • Improve the Cary Tennis Park Clubhouse and add covered courts, and renovate existing courts to prevent future damage ($4.35 million, of which $1 million will be provided by Wake County)

To accomplish these and many other initiatives, the town manager is requesting 25.5 positions, which would bring the Town’s total staffing to just 1,222 or about 8.2 staff per 1,000 Cary residents. This is one of the lowest staff-to-citizen ratios in the state and still less than Cary’s FY 2007 ratio, even though over 30,000 people have moved to and required services from Cary since then. The town council will now start working on the proposed budget in work sessions. The first will be on May 20th at 6 PM.

Staff emails this week included current plans under review. Some of the plans submitted since the beginning of April include:

  • 63 single family homes on Arthur Pierce Road
  • 52 single family homes on Stephenson Road
  • 195 foot monopole for AT&T wireless at Old Apex Road
  • 9300 square foot Dollar General Store on East Chatham
  • 41 single family homes at the Enclave at Weldon Ridge
  • 8 modular classrooms at Highcroft Elementary
  • 79,680 storage unit on NW Maynard
  • Expansion of Precision Tune at Waverly Place

To see the complete list of projects under review go to http://www.townofcary.org/Assets/Planning+Department/Planning+Department+PDFs/planreview/Active+Projects+in+the+Review+Process+(sorted+by+date).pdf.

This week I was contacted by a lifelong Cary resident who told me a story about his elderly mother falling at home and badly injuring herself. When she was found it wasn’t clear if she had been attacked or just fell. At the hospital a Cary Police Officer, Tori Sears, talked with the family. The officer performed their normal duties of investigating and answering questions but then went beyond the call of duty by provided sincere, compassionate, loving care. Not only was this care provided to the elderly lady but to the entire family. This had such an impact on the son of the elderly lady that he insisted on talking with me. He was overwhelmed by the compassion of the office and stated that he couldn’t be prouder to be a Cary resident. He stated that wanted to express his gratitude by giving back to the police department. He stated that he would like to purchase a K-9 dog, pay for all training, and additional expenses. His only condition was that his gift remain anonymous (I got permission to blog the story). God bless him and God bless Officer Sears! I true example of a public servant doing their duty and providing exemplary service, and a citizen who loves his town and is giving back to their community. THAT, my friends, is why Cary is one of the greatest places to live!

Other emails from citizens included a complaint about school overcrowding, several thank you messages for requiring Amberwood to repair their buffer, a complaint about townhomes being approved, and a complaint about a single family neighborhood proposal.

Next week will be spent mostly in Nashville for the Cary Chamber’s intercity visit. Before leaving and after coming back I will have a few events.

Well that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, May 18th. 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