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.
Wake County Mayors, Cary One of Best Places in US, Cary High Mascot #1 in US, CAMPO, Wall of Honor, Council Meeting, NC Metro Mayors, and NC Courage Soccer
Wake County Mayors Association
Monday night I joined the mayors of Apex, Garner, Holly Springs, Knightdale, Rolesville, Wake Forest, and Zebulon for a tour of the Fujifilm’s Diosynth Biotechnologies facility under construction in Holly Springs. Once completed it will be the largest end-to-end cell culture CDMO biopharmaceutical manufacturing facility in North America. It is a $2 billion dollar project and will be the largest life sciences investment ever in the state of North Carolina. This massive facility will employ up to 3000 people during construction and is expected to open in 2025.
Council Meeting Prep
Tuesday, to prepare for the week’s council meeting, I attempted to contact colleagues to hear of any questions or concerns about the agenda. There were none. Later in the day I joined Mayor Pro-Tem Frantz and staff to go over the agenda.
Town Manager One-On-One
Tuesday evening I met with the town manager for my weekly one-on-one. We talked about the downtown park opening which is scheduled for November 19th. Other topics included an issue with a resident in MacGregor who is complaining about flooding from a house being developed next door.
Cary One of the Best Places to Live
I was notified Tuesday that Cary was ranked as 6th best place to live in the country by Livability. Their qualifications include communities between 75,000 and 500,000 and median home values of less than $500,000. They based their decision on economy, housing, cost of living, amenities, transportation, environment, safety, education, and health. Cary ranked #1 for transportation, economy, and health.
Cary High School Imps Ranked #1 Mascot in US
Wednesday I was notified that Cary High School’s Imp mascot, a small green devil, was ranked the #1 mascot in the county. Congratulations Cary High School! To find out more read the N&O article.
Wednesday I attended a meeting of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Executive Board. The agenda included four consent items, four public hearings, and seven discussion items.
Under public hearings the board unanimously approved Amendment #12 to FY2020-2029 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) which will determine what roads, bridges, etc., projects will get funded and built in the next ten years. The board also unanimously approved Wake Transit FY 24 Recommended Work Plan and Project Agreements even after protest from Wake County Manager David Ellis about losing over $4.5 million in vehicle tax revenue. The board agreed to renegotiate that for the next fiscal year. The 2023 (Section 5310) Enhanced Mobility of Seniors and Individuals with
Disabilities Program Project Selection was also approved by the board.
Under discussion items the board endorsed the Mobility Management Program Implementation Study and received information on several items including construction plans for the beltline and other roads in the area. To see presentation slides and the entire agenda go here.
Wall of Honor
Thursday afternoon we recognized four new honorees for Cary’s Wall of Honor. This program was created by me and the town manager in 2019. It is the highest level of recognition from Cary government to staff and citizens whose transcendent contributions have shaped our community and are woven into the fabric of Cary forever.
Our four honorees for this year were Karen Mills, Debra Grannan, Howard Manning, and Howard Johnson. Here are the remarks I spoke from at the ceremony:
“… Our first recipient, Karen Mills, joined the Town of Cary as Director of Finance in May 1991, marking the beginning of a transformative era. Throughout her remarkable three-decade career, Karen established an unrivaled tradition of excellence that extended far beyond her immediate sphere of influence. Her visionary leadership not only propelled the finance department to new heights but also played a pivotal role in shaping Cary’s identity as a world-class utility service provider.
Under her guidance, Cary earned the coveted AAA bond rating, a testament to her unwavering commitment to fiscal responsibility and strategic financial management. Karen’s expertise in navigating complex budget cycles and her instrumental role in transitioning to a rolling budget process have had a lasting impact on Cary’s financial stability and long-term planning. Let us extend our heartfelt appreciation and resounding applause to Karen Mills for her outstanding contributions, which have shaped Cary into the vibrant and prosperous community we know today.
Next, we have Debra Grannan, whose journey with the Town of Cary began as an inspection scheduler and soared to incredible heights during her 30-year tenure, retiring as Associate Director of Planning in 2022. Debra’s notable achievements include orchestrating major rezoning cases and development projects that have significantly shaped Cary’s physical and architectural landscape in recent years. With strategic vision and meticulous attention to detail, Debra ensured these endeavors seamlessly aligned with the town’s goals and aspirations.
Beyond her professional accomplishments, Debra’s theater background and involvement with the Cary Players added a unique dimension to her role. Her commanding presence at Town Council meetings served as an inspiring example for all Cary staff. Let us express our sincere gratitude and resounding applause to Debra Grannan for her exceptional contributions that have played a pivotal role in shaping Cary into the vibrant and prosperous community it has become today.
Our third recipient, Howard Manning, epitomized unwavering commitment to the Cary community during his dedicated tenure as Executive Director of Dorcas Ministries from 2005 until his passing in 2022. Howard’s tireless efforts extended beyond Dorcas, as he actively served on multiple boards, including the Cary Chamber of Commerce, Cary Rotary Club, Western Regional Advocacy Committee, Centre for Homeownership and Economic Development, and the Capital Area Workforce Development Board.
In 2017, Howard’s exceptional contributions were recognized when he was named Citizen of the Year by the Cary Chamber of Commerce. Fueled by his deep-rooted Christian faith, his passion for improving lives served as a guiding force in his endeavors. Tonight, we express our heartfelt gratitude to Howard’s beloved wife, family, and friends for joining us to honor his memory. Let us cherish his legacy, which will continue to inspire and uplift generations to come.
Lastly, we must acknowledge the profound impact of Howard Johnson, whose transformative leadership as Cary Chamber of Commerce President spanned over three decades. Under Howard’s visionary guidance, the Chamber and the local business community experienced unparalleled growth and prosperity. Membership surged from a modest 300 to an impressive 1,200, making it the sixth largest in our state.
One of Howard’s greatest contributions was the establishment of the Chamber’s enduring pillars: Economic Development, Member Business Services, Education, and Governmental Affairs. These pillars have become the bedrock for fostering a thriving business environment in Cary. Howard’s unwavering dedication and expertise played a pivotal role in positioning Cary as an enticing global business destination, attracting entrepreneurs and investors from around the world. Let us express our heartfelt appreciation and resounding applause to Howard, whose influential presence, tireless efforts, and exceptional contributions have been instrumental in creating the dynamic and prosperous Cary business community we celebrate today. …”
We are so blessed to have had these people in our community. They have made a significant contribution to what Cary is today.
Thursday night the council held its last regularly scheduled meeting of June. The agenda included nine consent items, one public hearing, and three discussion items.
Public Speaks Out had several speakers speaking against a single-family proposal called the Kanoy property. There was also a speaker who spoke against Cary requiring trees that blocked his solar panels, and a speaker that said we should be ashamed for promoting sin by having PRIDE month.
The public hearing was to designate the Nancy Jones House, the oldest residence in Cary, as an historic landmark. That vote was unanimous. This building is now funded in the FY2024 budget to be restored.
The first two discussion items were the annexation and rezoning of the Kanoy Property. This is a one-hundred-acre tract that was proposing up to 1.4 single-family units an acre. After hearing information and recommendations for approval from the Planning and Zoning Board and the staff, the council approved the proposal with a 5 to 1 vote (Lori Bush was absent and Jack Smith was the dissenting vote).
The last discussion item was the FY2024 budget. Most of the work on this budget has been done in the past several months. So this was a time of staff praise and approval. The budget passed unanimously. The approved budget totals $523.8 million, which is a 17.1% increase from the prior year. This expenditure increase is largely offset by additional sales tax revenue and one-time capital revenue. This budget keeps Cary’s property tax rate unchanged at $0.345 per every $100 of assessed valuation, which is the lowest in Wake County. A 3% utility rate increase was approved to pay for inflationary costs associated with chemicals and maintenance.
The council meeting adjourned after a little over two hours.
North Carolina Metro Mayors
Friday I participated in a meeting of the North Carolina Metro Mayors to hear a legislative summary. The following is a legislative summary from KTS Strategies:
Veto Override Votes
This week, the Senate voted to override Governor Cooper’s veto of the following four pieces of legislation:
- SB 364, Nondiscrimination & Dignity in State Work – This bill would prohibit discrimination against job applicants based on personal beliefs or political affiliations. The bill would also prohibit concepts related to race or sex from being promoted in the workplace of state employees.
- SB 299, Reimburse Late Audit Costs with Sales Tax Revenue – This bill would authorize the Local Government Commission to withhold a county or municipality’s sales tax distribution if the county or municipality fails to submit an annual audit report.
- SB 329, Retail Installment Sales Act Amendments – This bill would modify the maximum finance charge rates that may be applied to consumer credit installment sale contracts. It would also increase the default charge for past due installment payments from $15 to $18.
- SB 331, Consumer Finance Act Amendments – This bill makes various changes to statutes in the Consumer Finance Act.
The Senate has successfully voted to override six vetoes from Governor Cooper this session. These bills have been placed in the House calendar for consideration next week.
On Wednesday, the Senate voted to approve two bills that would make various changes to the elections process in North Carolina. S747, Elections Law Changes, would require absentee ballots to be received by 7:30 PM on Election Day, require same day registration voters to vote via a provisional ballot if the address on the voter’s photo ID does not match the address on a HAVA document provided by the voter, and prohibit private money from elections administration. It would also require County Boards to utilize signature verification software for absentee ballots.
- S749, No Partisan Advantage in Elections, would increase the number of members on the State Board of Elections from five to eight. Members would be appointed by the General Assembly instead of the Governor. The Senate President Pro Tempore, Speaker of the House, and both the House and Senate minority leaders would each have two appointments. The bill would also change the composition of County Boards from five members to four members. Both bills passed along party lines (28-19) and have been sent to the House for consideration.
Fairness in Women’s Sports Act
- HB 574, Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, received its final stamp of approval from the General Assembly this week. The House voted to concur with the Senate changes by a vote of 62-43, with one Democrat voting in favor. The bill would prohibit biological males from competing on women’s sports teams. The bill will now be sent to Governor Cooper for consideration. We anticipate he will veto the legislation, but the legislature has the votes for an override.
Cary Night at NC Courage
Saturday night I joined council member Ryan Eades for Cary night at the NC Courage Game. Council member Eades carried out the ceremonial ball and I performed the coin toss. After the coin toss, we posed for pictures with the referees and players. It was a good time and a great match with NC Courage prevailing 1-0.
Town Manager’s Report
It was a privilege to join you, Council, at the Wall of Honor celebration last night to recognize Karen Mills, Debra Grannan, Howard Manning, and Howard Johnson as the newest additions to Cary’s Wall of Honor. These individuals’ transcendent contributions have shaped our community and will forever be remembered. To learn more about each honoree, click here.
Another highlight from the night was the adoption of the FY 2024 budget at last night’s Council meeting. The adoption of the budget is a signature milestone in our rolling budget process, made possible by the leadership of you, the Council, working with Town Manager Sean Stegall. Throughout the year, I am impressed by the hard work and dedication from the Finance and Budget team, as well as the stewardship of each department. The successful adoption of the budget is made possible by the trust in the process and these strong relationships.
Happy Friday and have a wonderful weekend!
Juneteenth: Celebrate Freedom 2023
Juneteenth: Celebrate Freedom was held at Sertoma Amphitheatre at Bond Park on Saturday, June 17. It was a day marked with celebrations and reflections, commemorating African American freedom, and emphasizing education and achievement. Councilmembers Ryan Eades and Carissa Kohn-Johnson read the Proclamation and welcomed attendees. The celebration included African dance, music, poetry, and powerful historical discussions about Juneteenth and freedom – past, present, and future. Juneteenth: Celebrate Freedom was curated by local cultural historian Darrell Stover.
Staff worked with the Cary Chamber of Commerce and NC Courage to create a Cary-focused night at the NC Courage game tomorrow evening at WakeMed Soccer Park. Cary and Chamber of Commerce employees, along with their families, have been invited to the soccer game. Currently, about 400 attendees have reserved tickets and will be representing Cary. Discounted tickets for Cary residents and Chamber members have been advertised on social media and can be found here.
There will be games and activities, food and drinks, special t-shirts, and a Cary Town Council Coin Toss. The game starts at 7 p.m. and can also be viewed on Paramount+ for those who can’t attend.
Waverly Place Rezoning Application
This week, a rezoning application was filed for Waverly Place. The rezoning request seeks new zoning to redevelop the eastern portion of the Waverly Place shopping center. The proposed rezoning would allow up to 700 multi-family units and 30,000 square feet of commercial use, with building heights between 4-7 floors. Staff is reviewing the application for completeness, and final acceptance is anticipated within the coming weeks. A neighborhood meeting could be scheduled for late summer or early fall.
Downtown Parking Deck Traffic Shift
Beginning this Monday at 7 a.m., we’ll be temporarily shifting traffic patterns within the downtown parking deck to allow contractors working on behalf of the Town easy access to various parts of the structure. Our plan is to return to the normal traffic pattern on Thursday, June 28.
2022 Water Resources Year In Review
The 2022 Water Resources Year In Review report is now available and provides meaningful snapshots and historical trends about Cary’s excellent utility service. This year’s report includes a check on Cary’s per capita usage as well as the water demand of the overall service area of the Cary/Apex Water Treatment Facility.
Virtual Neighborhood Rezoning Meeting on July 12
The Neighborhood Meeting will be held virtually on WebEx from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on July 12. The following cases will be discussed:
For more information and to register, visit the Virtual Neighborhood Rezoning Meeting page.
Cultural Arts Committee
June 28 6:00 p.m.
- A complaint that our 4th of July celebration makes us “agents of destruction for the planet. … People will forget you; the planet will not forgive you.”
- A complaint about storm runoff from a house being built in MacGregor calling me arrogant and condescending.
- A question about the future downtown trolleys.
- A complaint about temporary signs and litter.
- A compliment on how Cary has managed growth.
Next week’s activities include staff meetings and a meeting of the North Carolina Metro Mayors.
Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, July 2nd, 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.