Harold’s Blog: Cary’s Statement on RDU Quarry, Case Numbers and More

Cary, NC — This week included more activities than the previous two weeks.

Monday – Preparing for Council, Wake County Mayors

Monday I contacted council members about questions or concerns they may have had with Thursday’s council meeting agenda. Council members had questions on a cemetery relocation, an amendment to the Cary Park PDD, and the Wake Transit Western Wake Corridor.

Later Monday I met with staff members and the Mayor Pro-Tem to go over the agenda. I joined the town manager, town clerk, town attorney, and chief strategy officer at town hall while all others joined remotely. Our review of the agenda lasted about fifteen minutes.

The agenda meeting was followed by my weekly one-on-one meeting with the town manager. We discussed a variety of things including environmental issues.

Monday night I chaired a meeting of the Wake County Mayors Association. Mayors from Zebulon, Holly Springs, Fuquay Varina, Garner, Wake Forest, and Rolesville were in attendance. In addition to discussing the association’s business matters, we discussed the face mask mandate from the state. Our next meeting will be on August 17th in Cary.

Tuesday – Interview with an Auditor

Tuesday I had a tele-meeting with an auditor from the Cherry Bekaert firm. As part of their auditing process, they annually interview an elected official. This is the first time I have been chosen in about five years.

They ask the obvious questions about whether I have seen any mismanagement or fraud. Then they ask interesting questions like “Can you think of ways where someone might commit fraud.” Cary is lucky to have one of the best finance departments in the nation and our processes are very strong. I can’t imagine anyone committing fraud in Cary. So it was very difficult for me to think of any scenarios.

Thursday – Council Meeting Discusses Bus Transit, Open Space vs. Development

The Western Corridor for Bus Rapid Transit was proposed to and endorsed by the Cary Town Council on Thursday, July 23. The route will create access between downtown Raleigh and downtown Cary with access to several developments like Fenton and the Cary Town Center site. For more on this and the timeline of the project, read the meeting recap.

Thursday the council held its last regularly scheduled meeting of July. The agenda had 13 consent items, 4 public hearings, and 1 discussion item. A Public Hearing on the Cary Park PDD proposal requests to change open space to single housing development drew numerous complaints from residents nearby. Council members were also unhappy with this proposal with one saying, “I would never vote for this project.” All council members expressed serious concerns about a proposal to flip open space to development.

The closure of Old White Oak Church Road was approved after its public hearing.

The Wake Bus Rapid Transit Western Corridor recommended Locally Preferred Alternative was unanimously endorsed by council. It starts from downtown Raleigh, continues on Western Boulevard to Cary Town Boulevard, right turns on SE Maynard, left turns on Chatham, and then terminates at the downtown Cary Depot.

The council meeting adjourned after a closed session.

Town Manager’s Report – July 17, 2020

Cary Town Manager, Sean Stegall

I failed to include the town manager’s report from last week. Here is that report:

Manager’s Message to Council

“It’s hard to believe we are closing out the 18th week of the pandemic. In consultation with Public Safety Director Allan Cain, I decided to extend our current working arrangements through Sunday, October 4th which means:

  • Town Hall, along with most Town buildings, remains closed.
  • Those working from Town facilities (or vehicles) should continue to do so; those working remotely should also continue as they are.

This was a very difficult decision but knowing conditions are worsening in Cary and throughout our state, it’s in the best interest of our staff and community.

I look forward to seeing you all at Thursday’s council meeting.

Sean”

Emergency Operations Center (EOC) Weekly Report

Covid-19 Weekly Metrics in Cary

Cases in Cary (July 16, 2020): 658, representing a 12% increase from Friday, July 10, 2020, and
PD Compliance Calls and 311 COVID Cases remain steady with no more than a handful each day this week.

Cary continues to see an increase in positive cases again this week. Sadly, Wake County also saw a significant increase in the number of COVID-related deaths. However, the number of deaths reported in each of Cary’s four primary zip codes remains the same:

27511: 215 cases, 2 deaths

27513: 183 cases, 1 death

27518: 78 cases, 0 deaths

27519: 195 cases, 2 deaths

From Wake County

Testing dominated the conversation at the county level this week:

  • Percent positive test results hover around 9%
  • Testing sites are serving about 250-300 people per day
  • Exploring permanent testing location site to operate 12-18 months.

From the State

A pair of large announcements came this week from Gov. Roy Cooper. Due to expire this week, the state’s Phase 2/Safer at Home order will continue through August 7. This decision was made as Governor Cooper reaffirmed the plan to reopen public schools with Plan B, or a mix of virtual and in-person learning. Districts are also granted the flexibility to operate fully remote this school year.

In terms of data and metrics, Dr. Mandy Cohen shared the following metaphor: we are simmering but not losing to boiling over.

Special Order of Consent – Limiting Chemicals in Local Water Source

Earlier this month Council members and staff were notified of a Special Order of Consent (SOC) negotiated between Greensboro and the NC Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ) to limit and reduce downstream release of a chemical called 1,4 Dioxane, which is an unregulated contaminate.

Greensboro is in the Haw River basin, which conveys into the downstream portion of Jordan Lake. Cary’s water intake is approximately 6 miles upstream of the Haw River confluence and in a different part of Jordan Lake. Utilities Director, Jamie Revels and his team are currently monitoring the SOC and Greensboro’s efforts and plan to stay engaged with them to offer any assistance we can provide.

We support and encourage continued efforts to remove unregulated contaminants at the source, and Cary’s staff are dedicated to proactively monitoring, testing, and removing these substances from our water.  And while contaminates like 1,4 Dioxane are currently unregulated, Cary staff conducts monitoring and testing for this and many other regulated and unregulated contaminants as part of our water treatment process to mitigate these substances within established health advisory levels. Be assured that from all indications, Cary’s drinking water remains safe and has a very high-quality. ​

Operational Framework & Update

A turbulence of emotions seemed to be a common theme among employees this week. Many are embracing summertime activities, while others are down regarding the public-school remote learning announcements over the last few weeks. The organization as a whole continues to impress me with the support of each other during this time, in spite of the need for social distancing.

The weekly operational report brings a close to the week’s activities outside of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC). Please take a moment to review the weekly operational report.

Weekly Operational Report

Departmental Updates

Included below is a summary-level overview of the operational activities continuing to take place during this health emergency.

  • New Hope Disc Golf construction nears completion, with work remaining to complete tee pads and install baskets. The goal is to open the course in August before the school year begins.
  • The Cary Tennis Park is open and providing limited services.
  • USA Baseball plans on resuming their season at the National Training Complex on July 24th.
  • NCFC is preparing for the men’s first home game on August 1st at WakeMed Soccer Park (with no attendance), and the Courage remain undefeated and the #1 seed in the Women’s Soccer League’s Challenge Cup in Utah.
  • Work is underway to implement virtual ZBOA meetings. Most board members are available on August 3rd for a check-in meeting and to act on the resolution for Fifth Third at Amberly. Members are also available for a business meeting with two QJ cases on August 17th.

There are currently 40 Development Plans under review. Two projects of note are:

Cary Towne Center

Preliminary Development Plan for the Cary Towne Center site, illustrating predominant uses by development block.

Third round comments were provided for the Belk parking lot improvements. This project is part of the initial phase of redevelopment for the Cary Towne Center. Staff met with the development team this week to discuss architecture and review comments. We anticipate their next submittal sometime next week.

Glenaire Expansion

Third round review comments will be completed this week. Staff recently met with the project engineer to discuss initial work needing to be completed by AT&T in advance of the development plan approval in order to maintain Glenaire’s construction schedule.

New Water System Connection with Holly Springs

Water system interconnections with our regional partners are utilized occasionally to supplement the Town’s water supply during emergency response or planned construction and maintenance. Typically, it is Cary that is providing the occasional water supply to support our neighbors. These mutual aid agreements are an efficient way to increase our citizens’ water security and resilience, without the cost of constructing additional facilities or pipeline infrastructure.

Utility staff has been coordinating the design of a new water system interconnection with the Town of Holly Springs and has drafted an Interlocal Agreement for mutual aid water supply. The interlocal agreement will be ready for both town councils’ consideration in the coming weeks.

Intersection Improvements Coming this Fall

T&F are working to make improvements to several intersections in Cary. We have recently advertised a construction bid package to make improvements to the following intersections:

  • SW Cary Parkway and Waldo Rood Boulevard: Turn lane extensions and additions
  • Waldo Rood Boulevard and MacArthur Drive: Installation of a new traffic signal
  • Kildaire Farm Road and Advent Court: Turn lane extensions and additions
  • High House Road from Carpenter Upchurch Road to Widdington Lane, including Jenks Carpenter Road: Signal installation, left-turn lane addition into Whittington Lane, turn lane extension on northbound Jenks Carpenter Road and various pedestrian improvements.

Bids are due in late July and construction is scheduled to begin this fall.

Cary’s Private Streets

Several existing / legacy neighborhoods in Cary include privately maintained streets. We have recently updated our standards to no longer allow private streets in new single-family and townhome neighborhoods. However, many of our legacy neighborhoods with private streets are aging and several have reached out to us with maintenance concerns.

This is a complex issue with each neighborhood being unique and we are working to develop a holistic path forward with a multi-disciplinary team while including lessons learned from the Streets Task Force. Additional highlights are included below:

  • Over the past 6 months, nearly a dozen communities have reached out to us and inquired about converting private streets over to Cary maintenance.
  • During preliminary reviews of their HOA covenants, we have learned the requirements for the HOAs or property owners to legally transfer property to the Cary may be one of our biggest challenges.
  • A Request for Qualifications for professional services to provide a “windshield” survey of existing private streets in Cary is being developed with issuance planned in August. We will use the data from this survey as a baseline of the overall street condition and to help guide our decision making moving forward.

Personal Delivery Devices

Beginning December 1, 2020, businesses may operate personal delivery devices (PDDs) in pedestrian areas (sidewalks, crosswalks, school crossing zones, or safety zones) or on streets or highways, subject to certain conditions.

Local governments with jurisdiction over public streets, sidewalks and other ways of public passage may, to assure the safety of people using such streets and sidewalks, regulate the time and place for operation of PDDs. A local government may not, however, prohibit the operation of PDDs in its jurisdiction until on or after December 1, 2022. Click here to read more about the conditions of use.

“Class of 21”

The Maynard Tank traditionally receives its change in year paint around the second week of July each year. On Friday, July 10, painters were able to make the change to “Class of 21” to celebrate the next class of rising seniors in Cary.

Cary Graduates Together

Week two has begun for the “Cary Graduates Together” event that celebrates Cary high school graduates. This week features graduates of Cary High School. The event is featured in CaryCitizen.

First Virtual Neighborhood Meeting

On Wednesday, we held our first virtual rezoning neighborhood meeting for 20-REZ-03 Twin Lakes PDD Amendment. The applicant, represented by Jamie Schwedler, proposed 230 multi-family units.

The virtual meeting was a tremendous success thanks to many hours of preparation.

Public Safety Tower

Construction of the new Public Safety Tower located at Western Wake Regional Water Reclamation Facility has been completed. While construction is complete, work remains underway to complete the radio programming for the tower, which is owned and managed by Wake County.

Additional Information of Interest

I’ve found the following articles to be particularly interesting this week and wanted to share with you for your reading pleasure:

There’s a Chance to Tell a New American Story. Biden Should Seize — The New York Times
A Detailed Map of Who Is Wearing Masks in the U.S. — The New York Times

Town Comments on Wake Stone Mining Permit

Earlier today we sent our comments on the pending Wake Stone Corporation Mining Permit Modification for consideration by the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ):

July 17, 2020

Judy Wehner

Assistant State Mining Specialist

N.C. Department of Environmental Quality

Division of Energy, Mineral and Land Resources

1612 Mail Service Center

Raleigh, NC 27699-1612

ncminingprogram@ncdenr.gov

Subject: Public Comments on Pending Wake Stone Corporation Mining Permit Modification No. 92-10

Dear Ms. Wehner:

We understand and appreciate how important stakeholder engagement is to achieving the best overall outcomes in decision making. As a local government, that issues permits and administers our own public comment processes, the Town of Cary values NCDEQ’s dedicated service in managing these important processes, and we respectfully submit the following written comments on pending mining permit modification, number 92-10 for your consideration.

The proposed Wake Stone Quarry is in the heart of the Triangle region and is surrounded by the Raleigh Durham International Airport, the towns of Cary and Morrisville, the City of Raleigh, Umstead Park, and Lake Crabtree. Cary owns, operates, and maintains a range of public infrastructure near the proposed quarry expansion area that are highlighted within our comments below. We seek to ensure that our public infrastructure investments are kept safe and trust that you will consider what is in the overall best interest of the region’s current and future economy, environment, and health as you make your decision on this quarry proposal.

The North Cary Water Reclamation Facility, located just south of this proposed quarry and adjacent to I-40 (photo above), treats approximately 7 million gallons per day and serves a population of greater than 80,000 citizens, businesses, schools, and non-profit agencies. This critical facility depends upon the long-term integrity and vitality of Crabtree Creek, which is the receiving stream for highly treated wastewater.

As the holder of the relevant state operating permits, Cary is tasked with and committed to the long-term protection of Crabtree Creek and our sustained capacity to safely operate Cary’s North Water Reclamation Facility in compliance with all regulatory permits. We appreciate your consideration of and attention to the long-range benefits of stream protections for maintaining our essential wastewater treatment services both now and in the future.

Cary also owns and operates the Old Reedy Creek Trailhead, a road, bridge, and several greenways located just south of this proposed quarry and adjacent to I-40 (photos above) that provide connectivity with Umstead Park. With the sizable investment in public infrastructure, we ask that you please consider and keep safe these public investments along with those who maintain and enjoy them.

Based on the blasting analysis provided in the mining permit modification application, we have questions regarding the proposed quarry’s impact on Cary’s infrastructure including the Old Reedy Creek Bridge and the North Cary Water Reclamation Facility that the application may not fully address, and we ask that you please ensure that adequate provisions for blasting monitoring are provided during quarry construction and operations to protect Cary’s infrastructure as well as the surrounding environment.

Finally, we note that concerns with impacts to the environment, public health and safety, and recreation have been raised by citizens during the public comment period as described by the provisions of the Mining Act of 1971, Section 74-51 (D). We want to thank you for holding this public input period and accepting public comments, including ours, so that all concerns can be heard and reviewed as part of your decision process.

Should you decide to expand your review to include either the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and/or State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA), we will continue to follow and participate as we feel is warranted and helpful. In conclusion, we respectfully submit these comments for your review and consideration. If we can provide additional information or answer any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Sincerely,

Russ Overton, P.E.

Deputy Town Manager

Town of Cary

Town Manager’s Report – July 24, 2020

This week’s report from the town manager included:

Manager’s Message to Council

In a pre-COVID-19 meeting, Sean Stegall addresses the Cary Town Council.

“Not sure how this even happened but this week our family celebrated our daughter, Emma’s 14th birthday. For me, birthdays are an opportunity to reflect on all life’s adventures. During this week’s celebrations I had time to reflect again about how fortunate our family is to be in Cary, and work with such an extraordinary Council to chart the course of Cary’s future.

It was great to see each of you last night. Between the Council meeting and our one-on-one conversations, I feel like you all are caught up on the issues of the week, and as a result this week’s report is short.

I wish you all a relaxing weekend and look forward to the week to come.

Sean”

Emergency Operations Center (EOC) Weekly Report

Click here for the EOC/COVID-19 weekly update. If you have any questions, please let me know.

Covid-19 Weekly Metrics in Cary

Cases in Cary: 765, up from 658 or 16% from July 17.

Cary has the third-fewest COVID-19 cases, 4.45 per 1000 population in Wake County.

Cases by zip code:

27511: 241 cases, 3 deaths
27513: 204 cases, 1 death
27518: 78 cases, 0 deaths
27519: 234 cases, 2 deaths

The county has seen a significant increase in the number of new COVID-19 cases within the 25 to 34 age range and noted that this may be attributed to this demographic’s participation in parties or other large gatherings.

The county is switching testing vendors to try to receive results faster. They had been partnering with LabCorp but are switching to Mako. Mako says they can turnaround test results in about 48 hours. This transition should be complete by the end of next week.

Weekly Operational Report

Cary Town Hall

Our staff has done a remarkable job reflecting on the current work of the organization to develop a plan that will propel us into the future. This week departmental teams continued conversations and work around our organization’s service level expectations, and how the work is getting done in the field or remotely. In addition, the department directors are starting to prepare for the next quarterly meeting with Council on August 13th. I am excited for you to see what our employees have been able to accomplish during the pandemic.

The weekly operational report brings a close to the week’s activities outside of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC). Please take a moment to review the weekly operational report:

Departmental Updates

Included below is a summary-level overview of the operational activities continuing to take place during this health emergency.

  • The Boards, Commission, and Committee Advisory Recruitment will be open for another week, closing on July 31.
  • The Planning & Zoning Board will hold their first virtual meeting on July 27 at 6:30 PM. In preparation for the meeting, we hosted two social meetings and one-on-one training with board members and applicants.
  • Planning received seven responses to their Parking RFP to study parking requirements for multi-family developments. Staff will begin reviewing and ranking the proposals next week.
  • One Walker One Walnut is planning to take down trees that will be impacted during construction along Walker Street starting July 24th. They will be closing a lane to do so using flagmen. The developer is planning to re-purpose the wood from the trees for the mixed-use project (cabinets and countertops).
  • Another exciting aspect of the One Walker One Walnut development is the beginning of the Downtown stormwater pond and the groundwork of the Downtown Park. The stormwater pond will improve and treat stormwater runoff from the entire block and improve the water quality and flooding to the citizens downstream. To accomplish this, some dirt will be moved, some trees will go away, the current park block will be an active construction site. Once the development and park are complete, we will have 400 trees which is 5 to 6 times more than what is currently there.
  • The Cary/Apex Water Treatment Facility achieved a season high milestone on Wednesday with a finished water production total of 30.37 million gallons. The CAWTF, which is permitted at an overall capacity of 56-MGD, supplies finished drinking water to Cary, Apex, Morrisville, RTP South and RDU Airport. As temperatures remain hot, we expect to see several additional days above 30-MGD production this summer.
  • On Thursday, three professional BMX freestyle riders visited the skatepark for the purpose of filming themselves to participate in a digital contest. This is a new event put on by FISE. Riders are asked to submit a 60 second video of their best stuff to be judged 50% by a UCI judging panel and 50% by public votes. FISE has a PRO purse of $47,000 dollars up for grabs and they are accepting public donations to increase the overall cash prize. All videos are due by August 4th. The riders included a Swiss/American Nikita Ducarroz, who is currently ranked 3rd overall female freestyle BMX rider worldwide and American Freestyle BMX rider Hannah Roberts the current reigning world champion who is favored to bring home Gold during the next Olympic Games.

Chapel Hill Road Study

The Steering Committee for the Chapel Hill Road Mobility Study held its first internal meeting with the consultant (Stantec) on Wednesday.

The Steering Committee is comprised of an inter-departmental group of Planning, Public Works, T&F, Utilities and Manager’s Office staff. This group will help guide the study’s process, identify key issues and stakeholders, and inform public engagement given our need to rely on virtual tools. The Steering Committee described Chapel Hill Road as “ripe for a facelift” and envisioned a vibrant area that would look and function like a gateway to the downtown.

Steering Committee members commented that today the street prioritizes cars with little consideration for pedestrians, cyclists and transit. The Mobility Study will examine Chapel Hill Road inside the Maynard Road loop and develop a future vision for the corridor. This vision will provide certainty to property owners, help plan future utility needs, and guide the design for future street improvements. The study will take approximately 18 months.

USA Baseball Clubhouse

This project hit a key milestone this month when plans for the new clubhouse ta USA Baseball were submitted to the Development Review Committee. Staff is working towards bidding in early 2021 for anticipated completion by 2023. The new clubhouse will provide space for locker rooms, a covered infield for training, and office space for USA Baseball and Cary staff.

Penny Road Elementary School Park

Staff is partnering with WCPSS and Wake County on the necessary quotes and agreements needed for the proposed improvements for this 2019 Shaping Cary’s Tomorrow Bond Project. A joint-use agreement will need to be submitted for Council approval and that should be coming in the next few months.

Holt Road Water Line Project

Cary has contracted with Garney Companies to install the Holt Road Water Line Project. This project will close a gap between large diameter water transmission mains at Westhigh Street near Davis Drive and along Holt Road near the Tatton Place subdivision. It is the penultimate project to provide a major secondary feed into the central pressure zone from the water treatment facility. This week, a 36” steel casing was successfully bored under and the CSX railroad and Davis Drive near Farm Pond Road. The auger bore was 180 feet in length and completed by Razorback Boring Company, a subcontractor to Garney. CSX flaggers and inspectors were onsite as well as Cary’s inspection team to monitor the installation of this important first component.

Academy Street Water Line

Substantial completion was reached on the water main replacement work along Academy Street. On Wednesday, the trench was patched, and the standard sidewalk and curb was poured. There is one decorative pebble sidewalk panel to be replaced and fresh pavement markings will be painted soon. Crews will return in the fall to overlay this segment of Academy Street (curb to curb).

Additional Information of Interest

I have found the following articles to be particularly interesting this week and wanted to share with you for your reading pleasure:

HBR Readers on Juggling Work and Kids…in a Pandemic — Harvard Business Review
The Upside of Virtual Board Meetings — Harvard Business Review
Europe said it was pandemic-ready. Pride was its downfall. — The New York Times

Get in Touch

A Cary citizen, Nick Borisow speaks directly with the Town Council in a February 2020 meeting.

Emails from citizens this week included:

  • A concern about plants dying along Cary Parkway
  • Several statements of encouragement and thanks from people concerned about the negativity I am receiving (Thank You!)
  • A complaint about a gym that was allowing indoor use via medical exemptions as an excuse (This has been investigated and turned over to the District Attorney)
  • Requests to approve Environmental Protections (we have been and will continue to work on that)
  • A request to support a candidate (I am not supporting any candidates outside of Cary)
  • A request to pay reparations to African American citizens
  • A request to stop 100% clear cutting (That is not allowed in Cary. Cary has several tree protection ordinances which are constantly under attack by the legislature. We still have the largest buffers allowed and the Champion tree ordinance.)
  • Requests to write letters to South Korea about religious persecution.
  • A question about the town’s position on the Booker/AFFH policy.
  • A concern about inspections preventing a trailer from being used by a homeless family.
  • A complaint about children playing in the downtown fountain.
  • A request for more affordable housing.

Next week’s activities will be light with just staff meetings.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, August 2nd.  Although I have Facebook and Twitter accounts those are not the best means of communicatig with me. Please send all Town of Cary questions or comments to Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org and email personal comments to augustanat@mindspring.com.


From the blog of Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht.

Aerial image of Triangle Quarry in Cary by Wake Stone Corporation. Bus transit route photo, TOC COVID update image, Cary Towne Center development plan images, Academy Street waterline photo and USA baseball clubhouse photo courtesy of the Town of Cary. Cary Town Hall photo by Hal Goodtree. Remaining images by Ashley Kairis.

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