Cary, NC — This was my second slow week in a row. I am enjoying this before the active fall season.
Preparing for Thursday’s Quarterly Meeting
Monday I met the Deputy Town Manager and a key staff member to go over the quarterly meeting agenda.
The quarterly meeting, which will be held next Thursday starting at 1:30 PM, we plan to have an update on our branding effort, an update on the downtown park, a financial update specifically on pandemic relief funds, a development update, an update on housing, and an update on the Cary 150 celebration. This meeting is currently scheduled to be held at the Courtyard by Marriott at 1008 Parkside Main Street in Parkside Commons.
Read-Through of “Cary the Stories” Play
Tuesday I participated in a read-through of the play “Cary The Stories” which is part of the Cary 150 celebration. It was difficult since we were all masked. We finished after a couple hours with the intention of starting rehearsals next week. Unfortunately, due to the Delta variant of the pandemic, the play has been postponed indefinitely.
Raising Funds for Local Educators
Thursday I participated in a fundraising golf event for educators at MacGregor Downs which was held by the Cary Chamber. It was well attended and raised much-needed funds that will be used to recognize our educators. God bless all our educators for everything they do!
NC Metro Mayors Recap
Friday I participated in a meeting of the North Carolina Metro Mayors. Here is a summary of that meeting from the Executive Director:
- Work on the Bipartisan Infrastructure bill is expected to be completed this weekend, with a final vote In the US Senate occurring early next week.
- An amendment to the bill, co-sponsored by Sen. Cornyn (R-TX), would give cities the flexibility to spend up to 25% of both CARES Act/ARPA money on infrastructure needs, including transportation (30% mentioned on call after receiving update from Tillis’ office that it is likely 25%). Any outreach to Senators Tillis and Burr over the weekend is helpful – text, call or email with “Please continue to support the Cornyn Amendment for ARPA spending flexibility for badly needed infrastructure investments.”
- Once the bill passes the Senate, it will be sent to the House. Factions in the US House have stated that they are not interested in moving the bill until the budget reconciliation bill has passed the Senate. President Biden’s leadership will be tested within his own party if the bill moves to the House. The US House is on an “August recess” until September. Some pundits theorize that they may come back early to handle this $1T Senate Bipartisan Infrastructure bill and a possible 3rd “Recovery/Human Infrastructure” related bill – the even larger and yet to be matured Senate Budget Reconciliation bill for $3.5T.
General Update – Budget Update
- The House Appropriations Subcommittees released their individual portions of the budget on Thursday. The packages were voted out of each respective committee.
- General Government
- Agriculture and Natural and Economic Resources
- Justice and Public Safety
- Health and Human Services
- Larger budget items (teacher pay, tax cuts, capital funding provisions, etc.) will not be released until Monday in the comprehensive budget proposal.
- The House will hold committee hearings on Monday and Tuesday of next week and hold final floor votes on Wednesday and Thursday.
- The House and Senate budgets both included full restoration of Powell Bill funding, SMAP/Transit Funding, and Commercial Service Airport funding.
- Once the budget passes the House, the House and the Senate will conference before sending the bill to the Governor. We are hopeful that the Governor may sign the budget this year. If not, there will likely be enough Democratic votes to override a veto.
- The Transportation Committee Report fully funded SMAP/Transit, provided an 8% recurring increase to the Powell Bill, a one-time addition of $50m to Powell Bill in 2023 and made Bike/Pedestrian projects eligible for funding from STI at the division level.
- Grants-In-Aid (earmarks) were included for specific cities. We are told that there may be some availability for more projects to be added to this list. If you have projects that you would like to see done in your area, we would encourage you to make formal requests to your local delegation.
- The DOT Special Provisions (Page 55) would remove local authority to regulate the relocation of a billboard that must be removed for construction projects. We are strongly opposed to this language and working to remove this provision.
- Affordable Housing – The General Government Committee Report (Page F-82) allocated $200M to the workforce housing loan program and made a significant investment in affordable housing (including converting it to a revolving loan fund).
- The Agriculture and Natural and Economic Resources (AgNER) Committee Report allocated $500M to the Viable Utility Funds and $980M to the Water/Wastewater grant program. (this level of grant funding is non-recurring – relying on the State’s receipt of federal ARP funds)
Local Control/Local Revenues
- The NCLM is receiving a $10M grant that will be used to assist their members in managing ARP funds.
- The AgNER Committee Report included a provision that would limit local regulations around storm water programs. Cities would not be allowed to have stormwater programs that are more restrictive than state or federal. We are strongly opposed to this language and working to remove this provision.
House Regulatory Reform H911 includes Short Term Rentals
- This bill passed the House Rules Committee and second reading on the House floor this week with STR language still intact. Third reading is scheduled for August 10.
- The Senate is aware of our issues and concerns with this provision, and we are working to remove it on the Senate side.
- Tony McEwen from Wilmington has been working diligently on this issue. Feel free to reach out to him at: email@example.com
- The House and Senate Redistricting Committees met jointly on Thursday to discuss the upcoming redistricting process. The meeting was focused on laying out the schedule moving forward. The committee will meet three times next week. Monday will be a discussion around proposed criteria, Tuesday will be a public comment period, and they will take a vote on criteria on Thursday.
- The NCGA will receive raw census data on August 12th, but it will take central staff approximately three weeks to work through the data and load it into the system.
- While staff works through data, the committee will work on creating a public hearing schedule by the end of August.
- Committee Chairs are hopeful that starting the redistricting process now will ensure that they are finished by November.
- Our team is looking into the details of the data and will let everyone know if there is an opportunity for our cities that must go through a redistricting process to get usable data sooner than the previously reported Sept 30 date.
The meeting concluded after about 30 minutes.
Saturday the council was supposed to participate in a ribbon cutting of the newly renovated First Christian Church cemetery. Due to the rainy weather we decided to postpone the ceremony until the fall.
Town Manager Report
The town manager, Sean Stegall’s report for this week included the following:
Building Permits Issued for Downtown Park
Eleven building permits have been issued for the Downtown Cary Park buildings and elevated structures in the park. The first permit was issued at the end of June for the Bark Bar to maintain the current construction sequence. Permits were issued in early July for the Gathering House, Nest Restroom, Performance Pavilion, and Academy Pavilion along with permits for the Canopy Walk, Nest Bridge, Shade Sails, Storm Water Bridge, ADA boardwalk, and stormwater vault.
Development Pulse Report
The July 2021 Development Pulse Report is now available.
- Thales Academy, 1102 and 1110 Buck Jones Road: Thales Academy has submitted a development plan and building permits to convert two existing structures into a school for grades 6th-8th. In July, Thales opened their first school building in this location at 1120 Buck Jones.
- Meridian East Chatham, 50 Hunter Street: Building permits have been submitted for Meridian East Chatham located at the corner of East Chatham Street and Hunter Street. The five-story building will include 220 apartments, parking deck, and 8,200 square feet of retail space.
- 301 MetLife Way: Building permits were approved for a new tenant to renovate and occupy the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd floor of MetLife Building 3.
- Paragon Theatres, 1140 Parkside Main Street: The building permit was approved for Paragon to be the new tenant of the former CineBistro and Bowl at Parkside Town Commons. Paragon is also the theatre tenant at Fenton.
- Johnson Subaru, 109 Mackenan Drive: The certificate of occupancy was issued for Johnson Subaru’s new two-story expansion to their existing building. The expansion includes new drop-off locations and office space.
August ZBOA Meeting
On Monday, the Cary Zoning Board of Adjustment held their first in-person meeting since March 2, 2020. Five members of the public attended in addition to members of ZBOA, staff, and the applicants.
The Board unanimously approved two variance requests for encroachments into the rear yard setback and one variance request for an increase in the size for accessory structures.
Development plans have been submitted for the redevelopment of the former Northwoods Building site, 145 West Chatham Street, and surrounding property owned by Northwoods Jordan Building, LLC, First Baptist Church, and the Town of Cary.
Town Council approved the development agreement for this project on December 12, 2019. The development plans include a 240,000-square-foot multi-family building, an 82,000-square-foot commercial/office building, a parking deck and associated public infrastructure including sidewalks, driveways, surface parking, and stormwater collection and detention facilities.
Celebrating National Park & Recreation Month
July was National Park & Recreation Month, and we celebrated all month long by sharing #OurParkAndRecStory.
Citizens discovered a new appreciation for the essential services that kept us recreating during a difficult year. See how our parks, greenways and recreation programs make our community stronger, more vibrant, and more resilient in this video.
Water Main Replacement Project Update
Construction of this year’s annual water main replacement project is advancing, with new water mains installed along a portion of E Cedar Street and along Cary Street, just behind Town Hall.
On Monday, August 9, a new water main connection will be established at the intersection of Wilkinson Avenue at Ambassador Loop and this intersection will be closed to traffic.
The Walker Tour
One of the development’s owners, Bill Zahn, and key members of his construction team treated Town Manager Sean Stegall and Chief Strategy Officer Susan Moran to a hardhat tour of The Walker – impressive!
From the apartments’ amazing views and thoughtful amenities to the “sky lounge,” it’s no wonder the waiting list has dozens lined up. Expect to see citizens there a year or less from now.
Public Safety Community Engagement Event
On Saturday, July 31, Cary police officers, firefighters, and other Wake County public safety representatives participated in a community engagement event hosted by PDQ.
The various agencies displayed vehicles and set up booths to showcase equipment and provide information to patrons.
New Town Hall Generator
The concrete pad and transfer switch were installed early in the week for the 750 kilowatt town hall generator to be set on Thursday.
Planning continues for the connection to natural gas, electric services, as well as Town Hall’s electric system in the coming weeks. Screening of the noise attenuated generator will be accomplished with a retaining wall and landscaping following all connections.
Reedy Creek Road Roundabout Traffic Pattern
On Wednesday, Reedy Creek Road was fitted with a roundabout traffic pattern at its intersection with Reedy Creek Schools and Wyatt’s Pond Lane.
Contractors will be using traffic cones and signs to direct traffic around the intersection in the new roundabout pattern. The traffic cones will provide the contractor with the room they need to construct the median and roundabout islands at this location.
Motorists should continue to stay alert within the work zone as lane closures will be used as needed. For more information regarding roundabouts, please visit the NCDOT website.
Virtual Athletic Committee: Monday, Aug. 9 at 6 PM
Virtual Environmental Advisory Board: Tuesday, Aug. 10 at 6 PM
Historic Preservation Commission: Wed., Aug. 11 at 6:30 PM
Council Meeting (Quarterly): Thursday, Aug. 12 at 1:30 PM
This week I received several cut-and-paste emails from the anti-vaccine group threatening to vote me out of office if I didn’t protect their rights to not have a vaccine. Here is an excerpt from my response to those individuals:
Thanks for contacting me.
Vaccine mandates are usually from the state and federal level not from the local level. Private businesses, like my employer SAS, are also requiring vaccinations. However, while the Town of Cary employees are not required to be vaccinated, they are required, as is everyone else, to wear masks inside town facilities. This will continue for the foreseeable future.
I strongly believe in the overwhelming data about vaccines. I was vaccinated at the first opportunity. I also believe that people claiming the right to not to be vaccinated is similar to claiming a right to drive drunk. That is, it is irresponsible, reckless, endangers themselves, endangers their families, and endangers others. On this point we will strongly disagree. I cannot support your request.
Can you imagine what this country could accomplish if we stop the hate and threats and actually worked together on differences and looked for compromise? The Cary town council does that. We have members on the political far right and on the political far left. We have one Republican, two Democrats, and four Independents. In our decision making we listen to citizens, listen to staff, and listen to experts. But most importantly we listen to each other and respect each other and our differences. We vote and respect the vote. That is how democracy is designed to work. As a result, Cary has had the highest quality of life with the lowest tax rate during the 14 years I have been mayor.
I am sorry that we strongly disagree with each other on this issue. While I respect your right to oppose vaccinations, I do worry about yours and others safety. I pray you and all those around you remain safe.
Harold Weinbrecht Jr.
Other emails this week included:
- A request to celebrate Cary’s Olympians that medaled (we are working on it)
- A request to participate in a charity event (I try and do as many as my vacation will allow)
- Thanks for improvements in downtown crosswalks
- A complaint about masks being required in the Cary library (All county and Cary facilities require masks for the near future.)
Activities for next week include staff meetings, an interview, the Cary Chamber of Commerce leadership dinner, council-staff quarterly meeting, and a North Carolina Metro Mayors meeting.
Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, August 15th. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
From the blog of Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht. Images from Town of Cary.
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