Cary, NC — In the first council meeting of the new year, the council accepted $252,375 in grant funds to acquire Cary’s first all-electric sanitation truck, heard three public hearings and discussed Cary’s plans for the sesquicentennial.
Cary’s 150th Year: Events, Documentary and More
In the ceremonial opening of last night’s meeting, councilmember Ed Yerha announced 2021 as the year of Cary’s sesquicentennial — its 150th birthday. The true anniversary of Cary’s incorporation date will be April 3, 2021, but a citizens’ task force and Town of Cary staff have been working on making it a year full of celebrations.
Even with COVID-19 making its unwelcomed appearance, these are a few of the planned celebrations:
- A documentary of Cary produced by an award-winning local filmmaker
- A play that centers around Cary history from the Cary Players
- Self-guided walking and driving tours downtown and around Cary
- A celebratory tree-planting
- Commemorative items for sale
- Occasional history presentations during council meetings throughout the year
- A big, downtown festival aimed for the end of July, COVID-permitting, called “A Day to Remember”
- A masquerade gala in late November with a charitable element to it
Yerha also said a website will become live at the end of January for further information on the sesquicentennial celebrations. The site will also feature a virtual scrapbook that citizens can contribute to with recordings of stories and memories in Cary.
Town Manager & Mayor Call for COVID-19 Safety
As noted in the January Cary COVID report, there has been a noticeable increase in coronavirus cases in Cary over the last several weeks and in the first week of 2021, Cary surpassed 4,000 cumulative COVID-19 cases. During Sean Stegall’s Town Manager Update in last night’s meeting, he took a moment to address this climb.
“This week, we’ve unfortunately had 521 new COVID cases in Cary, just in Cary. That’s nearly 75 new citizens catching the virus every day,” said Stegall.
“And unfortunately, since the pandemic began, 16 have passed.”
Offering a silver lining, Stegall did mention that Cary’s cases per capita remain the lowest in comparison to the other 11 Wake County municipalities.
Stegall said he’s astounded by the latest numbers and as we head into the holiday weekend of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, he urges everyone to stay well and not let their guard down. As for the Town of Cary, they will be continuing their MLK celebration, “Dreamfest” virtually this year.
Before moving on, Mayor Harold Weinbrecht echoed Stegall, saying after 10 months we are still peaking.
“We need to double-down, we really do, ” said Weinbrecht. “Just hang in there because change is coming, but it’s not now.”
Cary Awarded Grant for Electric Sanitation Truck
Following the November 2020 quarterly meeting of the council, Cary applied for and has been awarded a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency. The grant is administered by the NC Department of Environmental Quality and provides for the purchase and testing of Cary’s first electric sanitation truck.
Additionally, the grant supports the purchase and installation of one dual-port electric vehicle charging station. This technology will reduce emissions in Town operations and help guide future decisions on emission reduction. The council, by a unanimous vote, recognized and appropriated $252,375 in DERA (Diesel Emissions Reduction Act) grant funds to the Sanitation and Recycling Truck Replacement capital project.
Cary Considers Expanding Corporate Limits into Durham County
To expand their warehouse and distribution operations, the Cary-based company “Long Beverage” has petitioned to annex and rezone land adjacent to their current facilities. The 5.34 acres are located just inside the limits of Durham County.
The new zoning designation, if approved, would be Office/Research and Development Conditional Use (ORD-CU) and the annexation would bring this land into Cary’s corporate limits. The land is located at the southeast corner of the Page Road and World Trade Boulevard intersection in Durham County, just north of Cary.
“This request marks the first time Cary has expanded our corporate limits into Durham County,” said Katie Drye, Principal Planner for the Town.
Proposed zoning limits from the landowners include:
- Limiting the property to a maximum of 100,000 square feet of warehousing and distribution uses and associated accessory uses
- Recombination of the Durham County property into a single parcel
- Limiting the use of the existing residential structure to an accessory use to the principal use
With no calls or write-in speakers, the council closed the public hearing with action deferred on the rezoning until Cary’s planning and zoning board can review it. The council also adopted a resolution, calling for a public hearing during their January 28 meeting regarding the annexation element of the request.
6012 Farm Pond Road Annexation/Rezoning
In the council’s second public hearing of the night, a property owner petitioned for annexation so that the property may be connected to Cary utilities. The 5.36 acres is located approximately 400 feet west of the intersection of Farmpond Road with Davis Drive.
The Town received one email ahead of the public hearing in opposition to the rezoning with no explanation listed. With no callers and no comments from the council, Mayor Weinbrecht said it would likely not return for a few months for a final action after it is considered by the P&Z board.
230 Multi-Family Units Proposed at Twin Lakes
During the final public hearing of the night, 92 total comments of public concern were summarized on the topic.
In this rezoning case, an applicant wants to rezone 5.59 acres at 10152 Lake Grove Boulevard, by amending a portion of the Twin Lakes Planned Development District.
The proposal includes:
- Development of up to 230 multi-family units with a maximum height of 70 feet
- Alternative streetscapes standards
- 7,500 square feet of community gathering space
- A commitment to building a public greenway from Lake Grove Boulevard to Airport Boulevard (exclusive of any wetland or stream crossings)
- A commitment to 50% structured parking, and a parking reduction
- Additional architectural standards
Analysis from Town planners indicated that the mix of residential within a half-mile of the site is made up of 58% single-family detached, 29% townhomes and 13% multi-family. So, from the Town staff’s perspective, this proposal would add to the mixture of housing types in the area.
Community feedback for this case was far higher than any recent rezoning cases with 6 comments from nearby homeowners, 12 comments made directly to the town before the meeting and 74 comments submitted specifically for last night’s hearing.
Drye summarized the initial comments that came in, including concerns of traffic impacts, unit heights, no traffic study done and cut-through traffic in nearby neighborhoods. Of the 74 submitted public hearing comments:
- 52 cited loss of trees as a major concern for the impact on the environment
- 30 had concerns about traffic congestion
- 20 mentioned air and noise pollution
- 5 stated schools in the area are already capped
- 7 felt multi-family was too dense for are
- 6 would prefer to see the area developed as a recreation area
Mayor Weinbrecht spoke up after hearing the comments to make a few clarifications.
This site has a zoning by-right which would allow development today without any council decision which could be retail and office or senior housing.
“So, there are concerns about trees going down, but the point I want to make is this land can be developed and very likely it will be developed regardless of what this council does with this proposal,” said Weinbrecht. “We’re not deciding if things should be built here, we’re deciding what should be built here.”
As for his own views on the case made by the applicant, he said he can understand the use, but struggles with the intensity.
Councilmembers Jennifer Robinson and Lori Bush asked for more details on the proposed greenway construction along the west side of the site. Don Frantz also chimed in to request more information on the impact of the streams and wetlands on-site and what burden that could potentially put on Cary taxpayers.
To see the full meeting, including the Town’s 2020 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, visit the Town of Cary YouTube Channel. The next regular meeting of the Cary Town Council is scheduled for Thursday, January 28, 2021.
Story by Ashley Kairis. Images screen-captured from the live, virtual meeting.
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