Mayor Harold Weinbrecht publishes his weekly blog post on his personal blog (mayorweinbrecht.com), sharing his thoughts and updates on local news and events in Cary, NC. The Cary Report, with permission from the town, will be re-publishing the Mayor’s blog as they are posted each Sunday. The following is the latest from Mayor Harold Weinbrecht.
Council Meeting Prep
As part of the preparation for a regularly scheduled council meeting, I contacted each council member to hear of any concerns or questions about the upcoming agenda. There was a request from two council members to remove the Old Apex Road rezoning 21-REZ-16 from the consent agenda to the discussion portion of the agenda. Later in the day I met with Mayor Pro-Tem Bryson Robinson and staff to go over the agenda. Our meeting lasted about twenty minutes.
Next, I met with the town manager and town attorney. We spent about half an hour talking about the annual Jaycee’s Christmas Parade and the controversy caused by the drag queen float they allowed. We also talked about the upcoming work session and the council.
Human Relations, Inclusion, & Diversity Task Force
Monday night I joined a meeting of the Human Relations, Inclusion, and Diversity Task Force. They heard and discussed presentations on the Biennial Survey, Business Inclusion, and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Grievance Procedure. A subcommittee was also formed to do a deep dive into ADA issues. The meeting lasted two hours.
Bel Canto Meeting
Tuesday afternoon I met with representatives of the Bel Canto proposal next to the future Duke hospital. While I normally don’t meet with developers and their representatives before a Public Hearing, I thought it was important that they understand the difficulties of bringing a multi-family project forward without affordable housing.
NC Senator Gale Adcock
Tuesday I had the pleasure of meeting with NC Senator Gale Adcock for a couple of hours. While we talked about the legislature and the council, we mostly spent time talking as friends. I am so glad she represents Cary.
Wednesday night I joined council members Bush, Kohn-Johnson, Craig, and Bansal at the Menorah Lighting held on the old library site. Speakers included council member Bush, Director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Raleigh Brodsky, Rabbi Edery of Beth Shalom, and Rabbi Cotlar. Council member Bush included comments about Chanukah and its history. Her message was about hope and unity. Here is an excerpt from that message:
“…And I am here tonight, as many Jews may be, because it is an acknowledgement of so much – it is not just a celebration, it’s not just a way for us to share our faiths and learn about each other, it’s a response to a collective yearning we’ve heard from our community to come together.
It is an acknowledgement of the importance of standing up to bigotry, hate – and bringing light, to the darkness.
As the granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor, it is important for me to be the flame that burns brightly to light this menorah, and to do it publicly. No matter what.
Here in Cary – we celebrate our diversity, we embrace it. And we stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters of all ethnicities, cultures, and faiths. So, I ask you ALL to do that with us. Being here is JUST one way. There are others, as well…. making sure that when you DO see antisemitism, you call it out. You support us online, on social media – calling out hate and bigotry when you see it. You check in on your Jewish friends.
Help us take the lights that we will see here, and use it to bring light, hope and gladness to others. The message of Hanukkah is a message of light over darkness, triumph over darkness.
THANK YOU – and Happy Hanukkah to all of you and may this holiday season bring joy and happiness to you and your loved ones.”
Other speakers’ messages focused on the heightened fear among the Jewish people and growing antisemitism. And while that is a message that must be given it came across as doom and gloom instead of a triumph of light over darkness. After comments, seven of the eight cancels of the Menorah were lit by council member Bush and Rabbi Cotlar. There were about a hundred in attendance.
Council Work Session
The council and staff held a work session before the regularly scheduled council meeting on Thursday to discuss four topics.
A South Hills update was the first topic and staff let the council know that the applicants, Loden and Northpond, were close to submitting. In addition to this mixed-use proposal, this site will also be the location of “The Centre” if the council agrees to move forward with the project via a bond. The council agreed to take a minibus tour of the site to see their vision.
Pre-work for the annual council-staff retreat was the second topic. Consultants will call council members in the upcoming days to hear about each council member’s priorities in preparation for a work session prior to the retreat. The retreat will focus on top priorities.
The third topic, Legal Foundations, was presented by the town’s attorney. The session included a review of open meetings law, what is allowed in closed sessions, the definition of public records, ethics, and gifts &favors. We learned that legislative laws changed in the last few years to allow council members to abstain from any zoning vote without reason. Before this change, abstentions meant a yes vote for the motion. Personally, I think every council member should vote on every zoning. This change allows council members to not have to make decisions on controversial votes.
The last topic of the work session was on council policies, procedures, and practices:
- Council seating is determined by the mayor according to Town Code 2-32.
- Council initiated topics for a meeting’s agenda, formerly called “pink slip”, is one council member’s idea presented for discussion with a second from another council member.
- No individual council member should speak for the council or staff unless authorized by the council.
- The council will try and accommodate other council members that may be out of town. That means, if possible, delay important votes until the entire council is present.
- The staff will try to accommodate council members at events. That is, make sure council members are invited to participate in events that are in their district or events they may be interested in.
- The process of Board, Commission, and task force appointments is being reviewed by staff and will be presented soon.
There was little discussion of these items, and none of the items were changed. The work session lasted about an hour and a half.
Thursday night the council held its last regularly scheduled meeting of the year. The agenda included six consent items, one public hearing, and one discussion item.
Council member Smith spoke about consent item 21-REZ-16 which is the Old Apex Road rezoning. The proposal previously had a public hearing and had a recommendation for denial by the Planning and Zoning Board. The proposal had yet to make it to the council for a vote. The applicant, promising additional changes, wanted it reviewed by the board again before coming to council before a vote. Council member Smith pointed out that we do not know what the changes are at this point.
The public hearing was on the rezoning 23-REZ-11 on Piney Plains Road. It would allow up to nine dwellings on 2 ½ acres that would be detached homes and/or townhouses. The only speaker was a representative from the adjacent townhomes which had a list of concerns. This proposal will next go to the Planning and Zoning board for a recommendation and return to council in a few months.
The discussion item was to fund the Symphony Lake dredging that has never been dredged and has islands forming. This was approved unanimously. The work will begin in January just after the Chinese Lantern Festival season closes and will continue until the Koka Booth Amphitheatre season begins in April. While maintaining the lake water elevation, the dredge material will be removed, dried on site, hauled off via a portion of the Symphony Lake greenway trail, and taken to the South Cary Water Reclamation Facility (SCWRF) where it will be used to close a lagoon that is no longer in use. Once the dredging is complete, the site will be restored, and the greenway trail repaved.
After a closed session the council meeting concluded after about two and a half hours.
Wreaths Across America
Saturday I attended and provided remarks for the Wreaths Across America ceremony held in Hillcrest Cemetery. The following was what I spoke from:
“Good afternoon, It is an honor to stand before you today as we participate in the Wreaths Across America program—a tradition that unites us in honoring and remembering our nation’s heroes.
Today, we come together as a community bound by gratitude, respect, and a deep appreciation for the freedoms we hold dear.
All of us understand the importance of community and the value of remembrance. As we lay these wreaths on the graves of those who gave their all, we are not only acknowledging their sacrifice but also ensuring that their memories endure. The spirit of Wreaths Across America is a reminder that the cost of freedom is never forgotten, and it is our duty to carry the torch of remembrance forward.
As we lay each wreath, let us also renew our commitment to supporting those who continue to serve and protect our nation. May the solemn beauty of this ceremony inspire us to uphold the values that define us as a community—one that recognizes the importance of service, sacrifice, and the enduring legacy of those who have worn the uniform.
Thank you for being here today and inviting me to be part of a special ceremony for our community.”
May we never forget all the men and women who have sacrificed and are still sacrificing for our freedom today. Thank you for your service and God Bless You!
Town Manager’s Report
This was a busy week, and I appreciate all the time, Council, you were able to give to us – from our one-on-ones, board meetings, and special events to yesterday’s work session and the Council meeting. Sometimes it’s a lot, and it’s never lost on me, nor on the staff, that you’re having to prioritize Cary over friends and family.
We wrapped the week up this morning by having new Councilmembers Sarika Bansal and Michelle Craig share breakfast with the Directors. We listened to each other’s personal stories on how and why we chose to serve Cary. To a person, both Council and staff, each was authentic, grateful, optimistic, and vulnerable. And as is often the case in our group gatherings, there was so much laughter, which I find incredibly important in building strong relationships and lasting memories.
I, too, am grateful to be Cary’s Manager, and today was another reminder for me of just how fortunate I am.
Enjoy your weekend.
Voting on Zoning Matters
At last night’s work session, we discussed state law regarding voting on zoning matters. The legislature amended the law in 2015 to permit abstention votes on zoning ordinances (rezonings and Land Development Ordinance text amendments), and Council adopted changes to Policy Statement 143, Rules of Procedure for the Cary Town Council, to reflect those changes in December 2015. Please contact Lisa Glover if you have additional questions.
2023 Hanukkah Menorah Lighting
For the seventh night of Hanukkah, Councilmember Lori Bush lit the ‘shamash’ for the menorah at the Old Library Site. Also in attendance were Mayor Harold Weinbrecht, Councilmembers Carissa Kohn-Johnson, Sarika Bansal, Michelle Craig, North Carolina Representative Maria Cervania, and 150 community members. The annual event represents a partnership between Cary, the Jewish Federation of Greater Raleigh, Beth Shalom, and Chabad of Cary.
South Hills Rezoning
Cary received the second-round preliminary development plan for the redevelopment of the South Hills District. The application seeks to rezone 11 properties, consisting of approximately 44 acres along Buck Jones Road (the location of the South Hills Mall site), near the intersection of Walnut Street, north of US Hwy 1, and west of I-40. The neighborhood meeting was held on June 7, 2023. Staff is currently working on scheduling a visit for Council to tour the existing South Hills site.
Captain Kat Christian Graduates Leader for Results as 2023 Civic Fellow
Captain Katherine Christian has completed the Leading for Results course at the University of North Carolina School of Government at Chapel Hill. Kat was chosen to participate as a 2023 Civic Fellow. Fellows were selected through a competitive process from more than 170 applicants from across the State, and selection was based on identifying emerging leaders in local government. The Leading for Results program focuses on organizational leadership. Fellows gained insight into their leadership styles and strengths, practiced critical leadership behaviors, and worked with individual coaches to increase their effectiveness within their organizations.
Cary Meets with SAS Environmental Team
On Wednesday, Cary’s IT and Environment team members met with SAS Chief Environmental Officer Jerry Williams on sustainability data analytic tools and solutions. This meeting provided insight into opportunities to manage solar production and energy consumption by learning from partners to support Cary’s environmental sustainability efforts.
Trip to Iowa for Electrifying News
On Nov. 15, Fleet Manager Brandon Pasinski and Solid Waste Manager Jesse Troublefield visited New Way Truck’s manufacturing facility and its engineers in Scranton, Iowa, to view the progress of our fully electric solid waste truck. Cary partnered with New Way Trucks and Mack in 2021 as part of a Diesel Emissions Reduction Act grant to replace an existing diesel-powered truck.
Thoroughfare Street Lighting Program
This Saturday, Duke Energy will install streetlights on Green Level Church Road near O’Kelly Chapel Road. This work is scheduled from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and will require detouring traffic heading southbound on Green Level Church Road to O’Kelly Chapel Road. Street lighting is an integral component of Cary’s transportation system that improves public safety and is required for new development. Staff routinely works with developers, NCDOT, and Duke Energy to install streetlights in Cary’s jurisdiction.
NCDOT S-Line $1.09 Billion Grant Awarded
Assistant Town Manager Shelley Curran and Director of Transit Kelly Blazey attended a press event where NCDOT, USDOT, and other state and federal representatives announced the award of a $1.09 billion grant. The funding includes two railroad grade separations at Trinity Road and NE Maynard Road, as well as NCDOT’s S-Line project. The S-Line Project extends from Raleigh to Richmond and impacts Cary and the rail lines in town. NCDOT will use the $1.09 billion grant for design, right-of-way acquisition, and construction costs for the first section of the S-Line, which runs from Raleigh to Wake Forest. This section will establish a high-performance passenger rail line while maintaining the existing freight service.
Additionally, the grant will fund the construction of highway and rail bridges, including two safety projects in Cary along the Southeast Corridor. These projects consist of the Trinity Road railroad grade separation, slated for construction in 2029, and the NE Maynard Road railroad grade separation, for which the construction date has yet to be determined. Staff regularly coordinates with NCDOT on both projects and will provide updates as the state evaluates design alternatives.
Howland Avenue Water Main Replacement Construction
As 2024 begins, so will the water main replacement project on Howland Avenue. The existing water main has not been reliable as it approaches the end of its service life. Therefore, the water main design and procurement were expedited this past year. Pipeline Utilities, Inc. was awarded the construction contract on October 26 and will begin work on January 2. Notifications have been sent to the neighborhood, and during the week of December 18, door hangers will be distributed to residents, notifying them again of the upcoming project. Construction will start at the intersection of Old Apex Road and Howland Avenue. The project will replace approximately 3,000 feet of 6-inch PVC water main with a new 8-inch ductile iron water main. The project ends at the point where Howland Avenue becomes Bayoak Drive, and the construction is expected to last eight months.
Celebrating Cary’s Service Milestone Employees
As 2023 winds down this month, Cary recognized 199 employees representing over 2,680 years of career service throughout December. To celebrate their ongoing dedication and commitment to each other, our organization, and our Cary community, employees who reached 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, and 35 years of service this year were honored with commemorative plaques, recognition in their departments, and featured individually on virtual slideshows streaming on monitors throughout Cary facilities all month. Cary staff is committed to their careers, and we congratulate them on reaching these milestones while sending thanks for their service.
Cary Teen Council’s 2023 Highlights
In 2023, the Cary Teen Council demonstrated exceptional commitment to community service by completing 17,596 volunteer service hours through active participation in many engagement opportunities. Noteworthy initiatives include an ongoing commitment to addressing food insecurities in our local community by packaging meals at local food banks and running a highly successful campaign collecting a substantial quantity of food for Dorcas Ministries. The teens also regularly participated in the Adopt A Highway and Cary Litter Sweep programs, showcasing their dedication to fostering a cleaner and more sustainable local environment.
Monday, December 18
Planning and Zoning Board
Monday, December 18
Tuesday, December 19
- Numerous complaints from Cary and all over the state about the Pride float in our parade (The Jaycees, not Cary decides who is in the parade. I had no decision about who was in the parade. Private entities, such as the Jaycees can include or exclude who they would like. Public entities like Cary cannot. Some of the names I have been called, that I can mention: Satanic, Evil, Anti-Christian).
- A few compliments for the Pride float in the Cary parade (Again, I had no role in the decision).
- A complaint about noise created by Waste Management.
- A complaint about the proposed rezoning on Old Apex Road.
- A concern about water quality (Cary exceeds state and federal standards).
Next week’s activities include staff meetings, the Wake County Mayors Association Annual Banquet, and the Atlantic Tire Tennis Championships board meeting.
Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, December 24th, 2023. 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 Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org and email personal comments to email@example.com.