Harold’s Blog: Council Meeting, Veterans Day, Fenton and More

Cary, NC — This week was a holiday week that included staff meetings and a regularly scheduled council meeting.

Council Meeting Prep

As is typical with all weeks that have council meetings, I attempted to contact council members to learn of concerns or questions they might have on Thursday’s agenda. I was only able to contact one council member who expressed concerns about a proposed rezoning for multi-family off Piney Plains Road.

After the Agenda meeting, I met with the town manager for my weekly one-on-one. We spent most of the time going over the agenda for the Quarterly Meeting which will be on November 19th. Topics scheduled for discussion include public safety, financials, development, imagining Cary’s environmental future and transportation.

Town Attorney Retires, Rezoning Draws Criticism

Thursday the council held its first regularly scheduled meeting of the month. The agenda included four consent items, two public hearings, and two discussion items. The discussion item for the creation of a Transportation Advisory board was postponed until the Quarterly meeting which will be held on November 19th.

Chris Simpson Honored for 21 Years with the Town

At the beginning of the meeting we recognized our long-time attorney, Chris Simpson, who is retiring after 21 years of service. She has been amazing in helping Cary not only win and resolve lawsuits, but to keep us out of lawsuits.

Her partnership with the staff’s leadership and council, I am certain, saved the town millions of dollars. While we will certainly miss her in a legal capacity, we will miss her more as a friend. There isn’t a kinder and gentler person than Chris Simpson. I wish her joy and happiness in her retirement days.

Concerns Raised Over Additional Multi Family Density

The Dellinger public hearing drew a lot of criticism from citizens before the meeting and several concerns from council members during the meeting. The citizens had many concerns including the connection of Tryon Manor Road from Tryon Road to Piney Plains. But this connection is required and has been planned for years.

My biggest concern is changing a use to include multi-family in an area saturated by multi-family. There are over 3000 multi-family units within a one-mile radius of this site. So far, I am struggling to see a compelling reason for this rezoning. I am hoping the applicant can do more to satisfy concerns of residents and the council.

Our only discussion item was an annexation petition at 1629 Petty Farm Road. This is near the NC55 Highway and Mahal Avenue intersection. Staff recommended denial due to uncertainties regarding the future roadway network in this area. The council unanimously agreed and denied the petition with little discussion.

The council held a closed session, and the meeting was concluded after a little over two hours.

Town Manager’s Report

The town manager, Sean Stegall’s report for this week included:

Manager’s Message to Council

I enjoyed spending time this week with Hal Goodtree as he continues work on our Cary 150th video. It was a beautiful day for our time together, and I found Hal’s questions to be very interesting. Me aside, I’m looking forward to watching the finished product!

Also this week, Thursday’s weather event provided an opportunity to monitor rainfall as part of Council’s ongoing stormwater initiative. Staff monitored rainfall amounts and stream levels throughout the Walnut Creek Watershed, and I can report that there were just over four inches recorded at Wake Med Soccer Park. Our 311 team reports that there were seven flooding/high water calls attributed to this week’s weather. Overall, there were no public safety issues in Cary.

Our next Council Quarterly meeting is scheduled for November 19. As always, I’m looking forward to the valuable time spent together.

Stay safe and enjoy your weekend.

Sean

PRCR Updates

The Town was host to several major events all in keeping with current COVID protocols. This past Tuesday the PRCR Department hosted its first drive-through Lunch for the Brave: Honoring and Serving Veterans.

Staff partnered with Backyard Bistro to serve free hot meals to over 170 Cary Veterans. The Veterans Day drive-through was the first of its kind for the Town since COVID-19. Council members Jack Smith and Jennifer Robinson greeted and thanked the veterans as they picked up their lunches.

Also on Tuesday, the ACC Women’s Soccer Championships kicked off at WakeMed Soccer Park with four matches in the main stadium. Matches continued through the week with the championship match being carried on ESPNU on Sunday 11/15 at 12 noon.

At the Cary Tennis Park, the Town is hosting the Atlantic Tire Championships this week. It is the first ATP Challenger event held in the United States since March. Challenger events feature the world’s rising tennis stars, many of which play in the US Open. This year’s tournament features 53 competitors from 20 different countries.

Weekly Operational Report

The weekly operational report brings a close to the week’s organizational activities. 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.

  • During Thursday’s Council Meeting, Brent Miller was named as the winner of the 2020 Hometown Spirit Award! Read more about Mr. Miller’s dedication to Cary, along with the other 2020 nominees, on our website.
  • The Capital Project Request process has moved to Salesforce! R&D and Finance worked together to develop this new capital budget development tool.
  • Cary has closed on the final of three debt refinancing’s. The refinancing’s, totaling $108 million, resulted in over $8.3 million in debt service savings over the next 21 years with most of the savings going to the utility fund.
  • Continuing the focus of the Power of Inclusion for November, a rap session focusing on Veterans in the Workplace was held on Thursday. Our own Russ Hughes, who serves as an HR Consultant, co-hosted to share his perspective and experience as an Air Force veteran who served for over 25 years prior to joining the Town. Over 100 employees attended, including several other veterans who shared their experiences.
  • Members of NC State’s Camcore Program joined staff at Hemlock Bluffs in conducting a tree inventory at the Nature Preserve. The trees were checked for health issues and presence of hemlock woolly adelgids (HWA). This non-native insect that can be fatal to hemlocks, was first detected in 2010, and remains present in very low, manageable numbers. The partnership with Camcore results in at least three health checks per year and saves Cary approximately $10,000annually.
  • Historically, line dancing has been one of our most popular activities at the Senior Center. Because of its popularity, efforts were initiated to offer the program virtually. Over 40 seniors joined in the first ever virtual line dance class.
  • The Town helped the Downtown Farmers Market produce a few 30-45 second clips used to help their “Harvest” fundraising event. In addition to growing sponsors and sustainers, they also continue to attract new farmers and craft vendors that will start this fall and carry over into the spring. The limited Winter Market started the first Saturday in November and will run every Saturday 9 a.m.-noon through March.
  • Walnut Street Park Enhancements-The development plan was approved for two new pickleball courts and a 3/4 basketball court. Updates will also include stormwater retention, utilities, a new retaining wall, and ADA compliance. The enhancements to the park will require the removal of some trees internal to the park.
    The Town is working with Cary First Christian Church to restore headstones in the Cary First Christian Church Cemetery. The cemetery is a local historic landmark which dates to the 1800s and it is historically significant because of its association with Cary’s first African American religious congregation. This restoration project will be another step forward in our efforts to use preservation of significant historical resources for the advancement of social equity and inclusivity in Cary.
  • This week, Cary’s partnership with SAS and Microsoft to predict and manage flood events was featured as a SAS customer success story. The story highlights Cary’s newfound ability to improve safety and emergency response, properly vet new development projects, and safeguard watersheds using SAS and Microsoft IoT software to analyze the data collected by rain gauges and stream sensors. Read the full story.
  • October 12, 2020 was the EPA reporting deadline for dental offices nationwide to document the management of amalgam (mercury) discharges to public sewer systems for cooperation on reduction into the environment. As of this week, staff has reached out to all Cary and Morrisville dental facilities and are happy to report that 100 percent of the dental facilities have met the one-time compliance reporting with the federal requirement.
  • The Cary Apex Water Treatment Facility has completed full implementation of their first Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) software. Utilization of this program has improved efficiency and has reduced the chance of manual transcription errors.

Fenton Update

Building permits were approved for Buildings 22 and 24, which will include 357 multifamily units and over 99,351 square feet of retail space. The permit for Building 7, a 4,551 square foot restaurant, was also approved this week.

Fenton has submitted 13 other minor permits under review. On Thursday, Columbia Development and Hines held a groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate the beginning of vertical building construction, yet another significant milestone for their ongoing construction efforts.

Green Level West Sidewalk Upgrade Completion

Upgrades to a segment of sidewalk on Green Level West near the High House Crossing shopping center are complete. Residents of Joshua Tree Court now have a safe, accessible path to GoCary bus stops.

These improvements were done as part of comprehensive pedestrian and bus stop upgrades for the upcoming GoCary route changes, which are planned to occur after the New Year.

The Reserve Calming Program Project

Staff conducted the first Community Meeting for a Traffic Calming Program Project this week. On Tuesday, more than 80 people attended the meeting for The Reserve Traffic Calming Project which was initially planned for March 2020 but was delayed due to the pandemic and converted to a virtual meeting.

Staff provided a brief presentation and then answered questions from the residents in attendance. The community will be provided with an online survey as a follow up to the meeting and the next steps in a larger effort to ensure traffic calming is managed in a way that addresses as many concerns as possible from the neighborhood.

Additional Information of Interest

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

Mayor’s Mailbox

Emails from citizens this week included:

  • Complaints about the proposed Dellinger rezoning
  • A complaint about noise at the Skate Park
  • A complaint about speeding on West Chatham between Old Apex and Cary Parkway
  • A complaint about council members not wearing masks when speaking at the council meeting (It should be noted that we wear masks to and from our seats. Our seats are at least 10 feet apart. Town hall is closed to the public. And almost all staff is virtual except the town manager, town clerk, and town attorney. We continue to follow state and national guidelines.)
  • A complaint about climate change.

Next week’s activities include staff meetings, a meeting of the Wake County Mayors Association, a meeting of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Executive Board and a town-staff quarterly meeting.

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


From the blog of Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht. Images from Town of Cary.

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