Harold’s Blog: Diversity, Teslas and Delayed Elections

Cary, NC — This week the holiday festivities continued with the Cary Christmas parade.

Talking Tennis in Cary

Monday I met with the board of the Atlantic Tire Tennis Championships. We discussed awards and recognitions, Cary Tennis Park upgrades, sponsorship, community events, charities & non-profits, and ticket sales. Our meeting lasted a couple of hours.

CAMPO Meeting Recap

Wednesday I participated in a meeting of the Executive Board for CAMPO (Capital Are Metropolitan Planning Organization). The agenda has two consent items and one discussion item.

The discussion item was the 2050 Metropolitan Transportation Plan Update. Several comments were made during the public comment portion of the meeting about the plan’s inclusion of a bypass for 401. The new mayor of Fuquay Varina made a motion, that was passed unanimously, to study alternative options for the bypass. If that study results in a need for change, there will need to be another update to the plan in the future.

The meeting concluded after about an hour and a half.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Mixer

Thursday I joined Mayor Pro-Tem Frantz, and council members Bush, Lui, Smith, and Yerha for Cary’s first DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) mixer. It was well attended with dozens of citizens, staff, and people from other communities.

I was introduced by our HR representative and made remarks before introducing our DEI manager, Rashonda Harris. My remarks included racial data from the 2020 Census:

  • White 57%
  • Asian 22%
  • Black or African American 8%
  • Hispanic or Latino 8%
  • Two or more races 4%
  • Other 1%

All these identities and experiences enrich our community which makes Cary one of the greatest communities in the nation.

Update on the Legislature

Friday I received the following legislative summary from the Kilpatrick Townsend Government Relations Team:

Legislature Adjourns

Today (December 10) the legislature will adjourn the regular 2021 legislative session to a date certain. The legislature will stand adjourned until December 30. As outlined in the adjournment resolution, upon returning, the legislature can only take up a narrow number of matters. Items that could be considered include veto overrides, appointments, and redistricting.

Due to adjournment, this will be the final weekly newsletter for 2021. You will continue to receive legislative updates from us periodically as legislative actions occur.

North Carolina 2022 Elections Delayed

Candidate filing for the 2022 elections began on Monday. The original filing period was scheduled for December 10 to December 17. However, on Wednesday, the North Carolina Supreme Court suspended candidate filing for all offices and moved the 2022 primary election date from March 8 to May 17. Before the filing was suspended, 1,400 candidates had filed with the State Board of Elections.

The NC Supreme Court ordered the delay so the lawsuits related to gerrymandering can be heard. Historically, redistricting lawsuits have taken years to work through the courts, but the Order also requires the trial to be completed by January 11, 2022. The full Order can be found here. Read the press release from the State Board of Elections here.

Senate Majority Leader Not Seeking Re-Election

This week, Senator Kathy Harrington (R-Gaston), the current Senate Majority Leader, announced she will not be seeking re-election. Sen. Harrington was the first woman to serve as the Senate Majority Leader and has served in the Senate for 12 years. Sen. Harrington’s full announcement can be read here.

Ruling Pushes 40 Municipal Elections to May 2022, Including Cary

Friday I afternoon received information from staff about the Cary Council elections moving to May. There are 40 municipalities impacted by this ruling.

In addition, the district court judges are subject to it. The Supreme Court chose to move “all” elections even though the maps do not impact the local elections and municipalities are not named parties. It is possible that the Board of elections prefers them on the same day.

Staff has had several conversations with decision-makers to see if it were possible for Cary to go ahead and have its elections since it is not impacted by the “redrawn lines” that are stuck in court. Staff is more concerned that this could end up in federal court and the delays could go beyond May 2022. Staff is working with outside counsel to see if we would have a viable argument that the local elections should be exempt from any future delays in the event that the “redrawn lines” are rejected as well.

Cary Debuts Two New Tesla Police Cars

Saturday I joined several council members and members of our police department in welcoming two new Teslas as police cars. These cars not only perform better than gas-powered police cars but will pay for the difference in cost in about two years with fuel savings. So not only will they be environmentally friendly but economically beneficial. I believe this is the first step in Cary moving to an all-electric fleet.

Riding in Style for the Jaycees Christmas Parade

Saturday Cary held its annual Christmas parade for the first time in two years. Our safety team was out in full force and made sure the route was safe and secure. The parade was probably the best-attended parade I have ever been involved in. This was partially due to the 70+ degrees. It was windy but the performers all seemed to handle it without an issue.

I rode in one of the new Teslas with my wife and a Sergeant in the transportation group of the police department. We had a great time wishing everyone Merry Christmas and throwing out pounds of candy. Thanks to the Cary Jaycees for bringing back the Cary Christmas parade.

Town Manager Report

The town manager’s report for this week included the following:

Sean’s Message

I want to thank the Council for your strong support in our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) efforts. While I was unable to attend last night’s DEI mixer, the event was a great success by every measure.

It provided an amazing opportunity for Council and staff to engage with our community around the shared interest of DEI. Special thanks to Chief Human Resources Officer Renee Poole, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Manager Rashonda Harris, and Director of Special Projects Kerry Harville for leading in this space.

We are fortunate to have such talented and passionate staff focused and committed to cultivating diversity and inclusion throughout our community. This is the first of what will be many experiences engaging with our community in the DEI space, and I look forward to playing an active role in these future events.

In appreciation,

Public Safety Update

There are 4 active cases among town staff bringing the total number to 175 since the pandemic began. Wake County remains in a High Transmission category as we begin a new post-Thanksgiving surge.

The case rate per 100,000 is now about 70% more than what it was three weeks ago. 71% of Wake County residents over the age of 5 have been vaccinated. Almost all the hospitalizations continue to be those that are unvaccinated.

Cary Municipal Elections Postponed

Due to a recent court order, Cary’s municipal elections, along with all elections statewide, have been postponed until May 17, 2022, and early voting will take place April 28, 2022 – May 14, 2022.

Early voting location details will remain unchanged – Herb Young Community Center and Cary Senior Center.
Citizens can find their election day polling place through the State Board of Election Voter Lookup tool.

Development Pulse Report

The November 2021 Development Pulse Report is now available. Highlights include the following:

  • Echo Park, 2333 Walnut Street: The building permit has been approved to renovate the former Crossroads Ford Auto Dealership for a new dealership called Echo Park. A rezoning to allow used car sales as a use and a development plan for site changes were approved earlier this year.
  • Bond Brothers Eastside- Pergola & Restrooms, 602 East Chatham Street: The building permit was approved for the construction of a new outdoor pergola and the addition of restrooms to accommodate the increase in outdoor seating.
  • First United Methodist Church Renovation Project, 117 South Academy Street: The certificate of occupancy was issued for interior renovation to the historic sanctuary, fellowship hall and administrative space.
  • Williams House- Office and Retail, 210 East Chatham Street: The certificate of occupancy was issued for the shell of the new two-story building with basement.
  • Building permits approved for restaurants in Cary:
    • Bibibop Asian Grill, 2007 Walnut Street: Former Zoe’s Kitchen converted into a new fast and casual Asian grill.
    • @ Sweet Room, 2763 NC 55 Hwy: Conversion of the former NY Pizza into a dessert tea house.
    • Bull City Ciderworks, 210 East Chatham Street: New cider tasting room will be the first-floor tenant in the Williams House development.
    • The Sweetest Things, 1881 Lake Pine Drive: Relocation of an existing area bakery to the former Simply Cakes location in MacGregor Square.

December ZBOA meeting

On Monday, the Cary Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBOA) unanimously approved the development plan and resolution for the new Brier Creek Industrial Park in northern Cary, near the interchange of Aviation Parkway and I-540.

The development plan required a quasi-judicial hearing because it exceeds 100,000 square feet of non-residential building area. The Brier Creek Industrial Park proposes 740,400 square feet of office, warehouse, and related uses. The final agenda item was a discussion regarding appeal criteria. The Jan. 3 ZBOA meeting will be canceled, and the board will meet again on Feb. 7, 2022.

Cary’s Newest Public Street

Earlier this year, Council approved the acceptance of Glenpark Place as a public street contingent on the Homeowners Association (HOA) completing a repair list for the street and executing the necessary legal documents to convey private right-of-way to public.

These items have recently been completed; therefore, Cary has accepted Glenpark Place as Cary’s newest public street, the first community to complete our reimagined approach to accepting private streets to the Cary maintenance system.

Staff learned many valuable lessons while working with the HOA in this pilot process, and staff is using these experiences to craft a policy and guidelines for current and future requests.

Water Transfer to Durham

Cary has provided intergovernmental support to Durham in the form of water transfers for the past three weeks. Since Nov. 18, Cary has sent an average of 2.7 million gallons each day to our neighbors from the Surles Court interconnection.

As Durham works to repair and replace equipment, current supply chain issues could result in this transfer of water continuing a few more weeks. No Cary or Morrisville citizens have been impacted during the water transfers.

Police Academy Graduation

On Dec. 7, four Cary Police Department Cadets graduated from the police academy and successfully completed 768 hours of intensive law enforcement training which includes topics and instructional methods required by the North Carolina Criminal Justice Education and Training Standards Commission.

Please join us in congratulating Alfredo Del Valle, Victoria Rossway, Chase Elliott, and Milton Baker on their completion of Wake Technical Community College’s Basic Law Enforcement Training (BLET) Academy.

Upcoming Meetings

Hybrid Athletic Committee
Monday, Dec. 13
6 PM

Planning and Zoning Board
Monday, Dec. 13
6:30 PM

Hybrid Environmental Advisory Board
Tuesday, Dec. 14
6:00 p.m.

Hybrid Cultural Arts Committee
Wednesday, Dec. 15
6 PM

Hybrid Public Art Advisory Board
Wednesday, Dec. 15
6:15 PM

Council Meeting
Thursday, Dec. 16
6:30 PM

Responding to Complaints from Blakeley Subdivision

Several residents from the Blakeley subdivision reached out to me about a proposal that is going through the process. They had complaints from a neighborhood that development in Cary is leading to overcrowded schools and roads. And that we should require an increase in buffers, scale back the units, reduce the building heights. They also wanted to levy a fee for construction to provide for schools and roads. In addition, they wanted certain guarantees for road design and the style of architecture. My response included:

“Thanks for reaching out to me. Creating an assessment to make sure there is adequate school space or adequate road capacity is what is called an Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance. That authority would take legislative approval. In addition, courts have struck down previous APF’s.

It is important to remember that schools are a function of the county and roads (thoroughfares) are a function of the state. Cary does its best to partner with the county and state on many school projects. For example, land for Mills Park schools was land banked years ago by the town for schools and a park. Middle Creek and many other schools have shared facilities that are partially funded and/or operated by Cary.

NCDOT roads are a problem that the entire state is suffering from since they lack funding. Projects have been and will continue to be pushed back for years. I wish I had better news about thoroughfares. The good news is that neighborhood roads, the responsibility of Cary, are in great shape and we continue to be proactive about maintenance.

Regarding growth, Cary has been growing at a rate of 2-2.5% the last 15 years. Of course, most of the growth is occurring west of Highway 55 which makes the growth rate seem a lot higher. Property owners have the right to develop their property. While we can’t control the rate of growth, we do have a say in what is built. We must make sure they meet the Cary Community Plan which was created by Cary citizens over a three-year period. …”

Mayor’s Mailbox

Other Emails from citizens this week included:

  • Kudos to our remarkable Town Clerk, Ginny Johnson
  • A request that the council take away the mayor’s ability to create a “draconian and heavy-handed” mask mandate (my understanding is that this would require a legislative change, not a council vote)
  • A complaint about the town’s DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion): “the true agenda behind this is to promote LBGT movement which is being forced on us. Lighting up the Cary Arts Center with rainbow lights in June was proof of that. … It goes against the tenants of our faith. …This sin should not be displayed boldly…”
  • Requests to reinstate the mask mandate
  • Complaints about the Hatcher Rezoning which is proposing 92 townhomes and 6 detached single-family dwellings.

Next week’s activities include staff meetings, a photo with Hometown Heroes, a regularly scheduled council meeting, and the Wreaths Across America event.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, December 19th. 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].

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

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1 reply
  1. Len NIeman
    Len NIeman says:

    ” … It goes against the tenants of our faith. ”

    And why, in a country founded on religious freedom, should the tenants of your faith supercedie the tenants of other faiths?

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