Harold’s Blog: Cary Composting, Advisory Boards, Policy Updates and More

Cary, NC — This was a much slower week than previous weeks.

Announcing Award Recipients for the Chamber

Monday I had the honor of presenting awards for the Chamber’s Excellence Awards Program which I presented in a taped message from the Mayton Inn.

I announced the first winners of the Town’s newly created Public Art Advisory Board Creative Placemaking Award which included eight recipients. I also announced the Chamber’s small business of the year.

Prep For Quarterly Meeting & Town Attorney Interviews

Monday evening I met with the town manager for our weekly one-on-one. We mostly discussed topics for our quarterly meeting next week.

Topics planned for discussion include public safety, financial, Black Creek greenway, Economic Development, Redistricting, and the Environment. We also discussed a potential mini-retreat to be held in November since we did not have a retreat this year.

Thursday the council held a special meeting to go into a closed session to discuss the town attorney’s position. I anticipate the council will appoint a new town attorney within the next couple of weeks.

NC Metro Mayors Recap

Friday I participated in a meeting of the North Carolina Metro Mayors. The following is a summary of that meeting from the Executive Director:

Federal Update

American Rescue Plan

  • $1.3 Billion has been allocated to North Carolina municipalities.
  • The Department of Treasury will release spending guidance on Monday, May 10th. Beau will distribute as soon as it has been released.

General Assembly

  • The General Assembly is heating up and the overall activity is increasing with lots of legislation moving quickly.
  • The crossover date is fast approaching (May 13).  Crossover is the date by which a bill must pass its chamber of origin in order to remain eligible for the remainder of the biennium.  Exceptions include local bills and bills with finance and appropriations provisions.
  • The budget will start in the Senate first this year and we expect to see something released from that chamber within the next two weeks.  In terms of the budget, it is worth noting that aside from having to craft something the Governor would approve, the chambers have to reach an agreement with each other first.  At this point in time, we are hearing the House and Senate are very far apart on the overall spending level, so the path to a traditional comprehensive state budget is going to be challenging.


Nothing new to report

  • The main items we will be watching for Metro Mayors in the Senate transportation budget (the Senate geos first in releasing a budget this year) include:
    • Restoration of transit (SMAP) funding
    • Restoration of Powell Bill funding
    • Commercial airport funding
  • The money supporting local and regional public transportation was zeroed out last year, but we are hopeful there will be a full restoration this year.  A full restoration was proposed in the Governor’s budget and we continue to have conversations on the importance of the funding with House and Senate leadership

Economic Development

Bring Business Back to Downtown H781

  • This bill would allow cities to adopt ordinances to create social districts and authorize ABC permittees to operate outside of their licensed premises.
  • Under the new ordinance, alcoholic beverages could be sold, possessed, and consumed within a social district. ABC permittees would be allowed to utilize an area outside of their license for the outdoor possession and consumption of alcohol sold by the permittee.
  • ALE would have jurisdiction to enforce alcohol laws in social districts and extended premises.
  • This bill passed the House with a vote of 103-7.
  • We would encourage you to have your staff look at this bill and determine if there are any changes to improve this legislation.  We could propose those changes on the Senate side.

Local Revenues/Local Control

Increase Housing Opportunities S349

  • The work municipalities have done opposing this bill has been effective.  Some members have removed their names as sponsors of this bill.
  • We are now hopeful that this bill will not be moving forward.

Property Owners’ Rights/Tree Ordinances H496

  • This legislation would repeal any local tree ordinance that wasn’t already specifically authorized by state legislation or a state local act.
  • Legislators have acknowledged the need to give municipalities time to submit requests for authorization before repealing their ordinances, however this seems to be on the track to move through the House.
  • It received a favorable report from the House Local Government Committee this week and was referred to House Rules.
  • We encourage you to contact your House members to voice your concerns on this bill.

Government Transparency Act S355

  • The bill would mandate state and all local governments to make the general information surrounding the hiring, firing, promotion, reclassification and performance records of personnel available to the public.
  • Bill sponsors say that North Carolina is one of the last states to implement a transparency law like this. There was very little opposition to this bill in committee.
  • The Press Association has been a strong advocate for this bill.
  • It has been pointed out in several news articles and editorials, that when Governor Cooper served as State Senator Cooper, he sponsored a similar bill.
  • It is scheduled to be heard on the Senate floor on Monday, May 10.

Public Safety

 Special update on a host of bills – Leo John, Legis. Counsel, NCLM

  • Over the past few years there has been a strong push from the Legislature and the Governor’s office for criminal justice reform – particularly in the last year.
  • Many of the bills listed below originated from suggestions made by Governor Cooper’s Task Force for Racial Equality in Criminal Justice and Speaker Moore’s Select Committee on Community Relations, Law Enforcement, and Justice.
  • Generally, the House and Senate took two different approaches.  The Senate created one large omnibus bill and the House decided to address the issues in individual bills.
  • Attorney General Josh Stein has requested to input from local governments on some of the recommendations in the Governor’s Task Force that both AG Stein and Justice Earls led. Beau will begin working on a phased approach for these discussions.

Protect City Employees From Retaliation H7

  • This bill would require city councils to adopt an ordinance encouraging city employees to report illegal or improper conduct to their supervisors or other appropriate authorities and to protect that employee from workplace retaliation based upon that reporting. Most cities already have personnel policy similar to this, but requiring a ordinance is said to create conditions that could lead to more wrongful termination suits being filed.
  • This bill has been calendared, but then removed from committee agendas (this can sometimes indicate difficulty in building support for a bill). Please continue to reach out to your local delegation and inform them of your concerns with this bill.
  • The NCLM has been joined by the Sheriff’s Association and Police Chiefs Assoc in working diligently to oppose this legislation.

Workmen’s Comp/Psych Trauma-Related Injuries H492

  • This bill provides first responders with workers’ compensation benefits for posttraumatic stress disorder in certain situations regardless of whether the injuries are accompanied by physical injuries.
  • It passed the House this week with a vote of 112-0.

Support Law Enforcement Mental Health H436

  • This bill would require the administration of a psychological screening examination, including an in-person interview conducted by a licensed clinical psychologist, in order to determine an applicant’s suitability for a job as a criminal justice officer.
  • It passed the House this week with a vote of 117-0.

Criminal Justice Reform S300

  • Senator Danny Britt (R-Robeson) introduced this as an omnibus bill.  There has been a large amount of work done on this bill with broad stakeholder input.  (Nearly 30 versions of this bill have been drafted).
  • This bill would:
    • Create and require the state to implement a statewide database for law enforcement discipline data.
    • Create a Critical Incidents Database that every use of force incident would be submitted to.
    • Increase hiring standards for criminal justice officers by means of required background checks and psychological screening examinations.
    • Create an early warning system that would keep track of any instances that included use of force, the discharge of a firearm, a vehicle collision, and a citizen complaint.
  • This bill was created in collaboration with the Sheriffs Association, Chiefs of Police Association, Police Benevolent Association, and other stakeholders.
  • It received a favorable report from the Senate Judiciary Committee this week and has been referred to Senate Rules.
  • No questions were asked during the most recent committee hearing which is a testament to the amount of advance work done to bring this legislation forward.

Prevent Rioting and Civil Disorder H805

  • This bill would increase the penalties for rioting or inciting a riot that results in damage to property, serious injury, or death, and assaulting emergency personnel during a riot or state of emergency.
  • House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) is one of the sponsors of this bill.
  • It is scheduled to be heard on the House floor next Monday, May 10.

Decriminalize Non-Statutory Offenses S455

  • A bipartisan bill, the original version would have decriminalized all local ordinances. Cities and counties would not have been able to enforce ordinances as criminal offenses.
  • NCLM has successfully worked to negotiate a version that maintains a presumption that local government ordinances can be enforced criminally but does includes a list of specific exceptions such as tree ordinances, and business or commercial related issues.
  • The House has taken a different approach to this issue. H738 would establish a bipartisan North Carolina Legislative Working Group responsible for making recommendations for the recodification of North Carolina’s Criminal Law.
  • S455 passed the Senate unanimously this week and has been sent to the House.

Law Enforcement Duty to Intervene H536

  • This bill establishes a duty for law enforcement officers to intervene in and report excessive use of force to a supervisor not on the scene.
  • It passed the House with a vote of 117-0.

Use Law Enforcement Decert. Index H547

  • This is a bipartisan bill that requires both the Criminal Justice Education and Training Standards Commission and the Sheriffs’ Education and Training Standards commission to search the National Decertification Index for any information regarding an applicant.
  • It passed the House with a vote of 117-0.

Duty to Report Giglio Information H548

  • This bill would require reports to the Criminal Justice Education and Training Standards Commission or the North Carolina Sheriffs’ Education and Training Standards Commission when an officer is informed (via “Giglio letter”) that they may not be called to testify due to bias, interest, or lack of credibility.
  • It passed the House with a vote of 117-0.

The Police Force Use of Force Transparency H757

  • This bill would require the North Carolina Department of Justice (DOJ) to create and maintain a database that keeps track of critical incidents and any use of force incidents.
  • It passed the House with a vote of 117-0.

Threaten LEO or Correction Officer H418

  • The bill would increase the penalty for anyone who threatens a criminal justice officer. That person would be charged with a Class I felony.
  • It passed the House with a vote of 102-10.

LEO Background checks/FBI Rap Services H607

  • This bill would authorize that State Bureau of Investigation to utilize the FBI’s Rap Back Service to perform a background check of any person that applies for certification with the NC Criminal Justice Training and Standard Commission or the NC Sheriffs’ Education and Training Standards Commission.
  • It passed the House with a vote of 111-0

The Sergeant Mickey Hutchens Act H417

  • This bill would allow law enforcement officers, probation/parole officers, and correctional officers to purchase up to four years of creditable service in the retirement system.  This means they can retire earlier – with access to the locally-funded early separation allowance local law enforcement officers are eligible for in NC.
  • You can find the Actuarial Impact
  • It passed the House with a vote of 112-0.

The meeting concluded after about 45 minutes.

Town Manager Report

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

Manager’s Message to Council

As you may have seen in Russ’ email this week, we were notified that the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ) issued RDUAA’s fence permit. We will continue to update you and our website as additional information is provided.

Our next Council Quarterly meeting is scheduled for May 13. As always, we look forward to updating you on several important topics including, but not limited to Budget, Redistricting, and Development.

There will not be a Council Weekly Report or Weekly Operational Report next week following the Quarterly meeting. My next message will be on Friday, May 21.

Stay safe and enjoy your weekend.


Senior Advisory Board

This week, the newly created Senior Advisory Board, comprised of seven citizens with a wide range of ages and backgrounds, gathered virtually for their first meeting. We look forward to seeing this dedicated group work together to further support senior services in Cary.

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.

  • Recruitment is now open for our volunteer advisory boards, commission, and committee. Cary citizens interested in volunteering their time and expertise to help shape Cary are invited to apply now through June 30 at Cary Boards.
  • The celebration of National Historic Preservation Month is off to a great start with the release of a short film documenting the relocation of the historic Nancy Jones House. Throughout the month, additional activities will be available such as a historic landmark tour that coincides with Cary’s 150th celebration and another short film focusing on the historic work being completed at the Barnabas Jones Farmstead.
  • The April 2021 Development Pulse Report is now available. Highlights:
    • Bond Brothers –Eastside Music Venue, 602 East Chatham Street: The certificate of occupancy has been issued for Bond Brothers new nightclub located on East Chatham Street. The scope of work included installing a bar, raised platform for musical performances and relocating ADA restrooms.
    • Novel Cary -Multifamily, 200 Henry Hill Street: Building permits were issued for Novel Cary’s new apartment buildings. This project will include 307 multifamily units located on Petty Farm Road in the Alston Activity Center.
    • Fenton – Theater Building, 21 Fenton Main Street: The building permit for the construction of the new 37,000 sq. ft. theater at Fenton is under review. The theater will include a bar and restaurant and seven auditoriums.
  • The Cary Zoning Board of Adjustment unanimously approved two variance cases at their May 3 meeting. The first case was a request for a variance to allow a residential addition to encroach into the buffer setback. The second case was a variance request from the owners of Pure Gold to relocate to 2916 Pleasant Grove Church Road in preparation for the future Downtown Cary Multi-Modal Transit Facility. The approved variance allows an adult business to be located less than 1,000 feet from a business with an ABC Permit and for parking to be calculated at a rate equivalent to a night club at one space per 50 square feet, rather than the LDO standard that sets a maximum rate of one space per 200 square feet for an adult business.
  • Players, coaches, and staff were excited to return to the field on May 3 with the kickoff of baseball and softball practices. Adult softball has 31 registered teams, down from 54 in 2019. Youth baseball and softball has1,061 registered participants compared to 1,616 in 2019. With a slightly modified schedule, the season will conclude in late July.
  • The City of Raleigh is updating the community on Wake Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) projects through a virtual open house, available online April 26-May 21. The public is invited to visit the online portal to learn more about individual BRT corridors and share comments about system branding, station design, and station artwork. For those unable to attend the live corridor-specific Q&A sessions, recordings will be posted on the website after the session closes. Please contact Transit Administrator Kelly Blazey, if you have any questions.
  • To recognize Drinking Water Week, Cary shared a couple of social media posts raising a glass of refreshing Cary water to the women and men who ensure our high-quality water reliably reaches the tap. Additionally, the Annual Water Quality Report has been sent to the printer for publication June 1. Be on the lookout for this yearly report that lists testing results and describes the year’s accolades and continued work to make the water system more resilient.

Composting Services

It was a record-breaking year for the annual compost bin and rain barrel online sale. Over 500 compost bins and more than 600 rain barrels were purchased by Cary citizens–more than double the annual average for each item.

Increased outreach from spring virtual programming, social media, and a multi-media communication strategy, highlighted the opportunity for citizens to purchase these home conservation tools via the convenient and affordable online sale.

The 1,100+ units arrived at Good Hope Farm just in time for International Compost Awareness Week and will be made available for citizen pickup throughout the month of May.

Specialized Services

To stay connected with our friends in specialized recreation, staff began a “Let’s Talk” series of virtual social gatherings in May. Sessions are offered each month focusing on a variety of topics from household scavenger hunts, trivia with friends, games and ice cream socials, animal lovers meet and greet, to the most recent topic — “What’s Your Talent?”

Last week, staff offered Strollin’ & Rollin’, the first outdoor activity introduced since the pandemic. Two sessions were offered where groups met at Marla Dorrel Park to enjoy the Hinshaw Greenway. The group covered close to two miles and everyone loved being outdoors, exercising, and especially connecting in-person with their friends.

Solar-Powered Radar Detection

In April, Traffic worked with a local vendor to install solar-powered radar detection to passively detect trail users on the American Tobacco Trail as they approach the crossing on O’Kelly Chapel Road.

The detectors activate the rectangular rapid flashing beacon (RRFB) at this crossing without the trail user having to push a crossing button. This is considered a pilot application and staff will monitor how interactions between motorists and trail users are impacted.

Crack Monitors

Crack monitors were installed on the first floor of the Town Hall parking deck. The devices monitor for any movement of the walls in the northwest corner of the deck where a minor separation was found.

The devices will be in place for six months. Engineering consultants are monitoring the devices and will provide updates and a final report. A structural and geotechnical analysis of the deck and surrounding soil was completed earlier this year, which determined the parking deck is structurally sound.

The separation is something that can be expected given materials and soil, and things are not projected to get worse. That being said, the crack monitors are the final step to confirm the structural analysis findings.

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:

  • Dozens of emails asking the council to stop the RDUAA fencing (unfortunately we are not the decision-makers and the permit has been issued by NCDEQ)
  • A request to adopt a new flag (we are in the process of a branding campaign that will create a new logo and eventually a new flag)
  • Kudos to staff that worked through the night to fix a water leak (Cary has the best of the best, especially in Public Works)
  • A request to do more to get people vaccinated
  • Invitations to meet to discuss various topics
  • An inquiry about the 4th of July celebration (we continue to monitor COVID daily and that will determine the scope of our 4th of July celebration)

Next week’s activities include staff meetings, a Juneteenth taping, a quarterly meeting, and a meeting of the North Carolina Metro Mayors.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, May 16th. Although I have Facebook and Twitter accounts those are not the best means of communication with me. Please send all Town of Cary questions or comments to [email protected] and email personal comments to [email protected].