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.
Meeting with Planning Director
Tuesday instead of my weekly one-on-one with the town manager, I spent the time with the Planning Director who was joining me in a presentation to the Home Builders Association the next day. We went over State of Cary slides and quarterly update slides to decide what to present.
Human Relations, Inclusion, & Diversity Task Force (HIRD)
Tuesday night I joined a meeting of the Human Relations, Inclusion, and & Diversity task force. The agenda included three items. The first item was a presentation of “Count Me In, Cary” from Environmental Manager Allyssa Campo. The second item was a discussion on accessibility options downtown park. The task force will be providing feedback before the opening on November 19th. The last item was recommendations for communications as part of a public awareness event.
Home Builders Association Presentation
Wednesday morning, I joined Scot Berry, Cary’s Planning Director, in a presentation to the Home Builders Association. There were roughly two dozen attendees for this talk. I provided an updated and scaled down version of the State of Cary address and Scot gave an update on development activities for the last quarter. There were only a few questions, and the presentation was well received.
North Carolina Association of Senior Citizen Clubs
The North Carolina Association of Senior Citizen Clubs was holding their first annual conference since pre-Covid in Cary and invited me to provide a welcome. In addition to providing a welcome I gave them a few fun facts about Cary and talked about places they might consider visiting. I am grateful they decided to hold their annual conference in Cary.
Economic Development Committee
Wednesday night I joined Council members Smith and Robinson in a meeting of the EDC (Economic Development Committee).
The first item on the agenda was a presentation by Assistant Town Manager Danna Widmar on the “Count Me In, Cary!” Initiative. She talked through data related to the environment and trends. While there were several eye-opening statements presented, one interesting statement that popped out is that the number of days reaching 105 degrees in Cary will average about 10 a year by 2035. Wow! Ms. Widmar also presented a set of draft goals, strategies, actions, metrics, and targets for Cary:
DRAFT Sample Energy Actions:
- Incentivize energy efficiency and electrification upgrades in existing residential and commercial buildings.
- Establish a benchmarking and disclosure policy requiring large commercial buildings to report on energy use annually and make commitments to improve their energy use.
- Connect residents with vetted contractors and service providers who can provide individualized recommendations for energy efficiency and electrification.
- Implement a community “Solarize” program to reduce the cost of solar through equipment bulk purchasing and streamlined installation.
- Promote workforce development and training for clean energy installations and net-zero construction.
DRAFT Sample Transportation Actions:
- Invest in pedestrian and bike infrastructure projects such as bike racks, traffic lights at pedestrian crossings, and shade structures.
- Launch an on-demand transit pilot project to enhance accessibility and connectivity.
- Incentivize the installation of EV charging stations in new commercial, multi-family developments, and single-family developments.
- Provide incentives for adoption of electric vehicles and EV charging among residents, businesses, and visitors.
- Partner with Wake Tech to establish an EV and charging infrastructure maintenance workforce development program.
DRAFT Sample Solid Waste Actions:
- Develop ordinance for multi-family apartments, commercial establishments, schools, and government buildings that phases in mandatory recycling and composting requirements.
- Create partnerships to enhance and market reuse programs and services.
- Support the growth of a market for reusable materials in Cary, including by partnering with businesses to offer consumer goods reduced packaging.
- Establish a public recognition program to recognize and reward businesses and organizations for waste reduction policies and practices.
- Explore local action to target use of single-use plastics (e.g., plastic bags, straws)
DRAFT Sample Waste Actions:
- Implement technical assistance programs to support residents and businesses to become more water efficient.
- Conduct targeted outreach to increase usage of reclaimed water in the private sector.
- Pilot a GSI grant program to incentivize commercial and residential properties with no stormwater control measures to implement best practices (e.g., open space, cisterns, rain gardens, basins and green roofs)
- Implement public-private partnerships to promote the use and maintenance of GSI.
- Enhance tools and resources to help residents and businesses install and maintain GSI on their property.
DRAFT Sample Natural Resources Actions:
- Create a best practice toolkit for multiple audiences (e.g., HOAs, renters) to enhance landscaping and other sustainability practices.
- Offer incentives to developers to install and maintain privately-owned public spaces.
DRAFT Sample Community Resilience Actions:
- Create a centralized online resource hub with information and resources relat4d to emergency preparedness.
The next item on the agenda was a Summary of Economic Development Activity from Jacki Roth who oversees Economic Development for the Cary Chamber. Her report included:
- Visits with about half a dozen existing Cary industries
- Business recruitment pipeline:
- 2829 potential jobs
- $644 million in potential capital investment
- Industries mostly in advanced manufacturing &Life Science, corporate headquarters, consumer goods, and aerospace/aviation
- RDU Business Park by Merritt properties is moving forward again.
- Meetings with a couple dozen developers, commercial real estate brokers, and site consultants
- Meetings with regional collaborators in economic development
The last item on the agenda was a development update from Cary’s Economic Development Director, Ted Boyd. Here are some of my takeaways from his comments:
- A few of the fiscal and economic impacts of the Meridian East Chatham Project:
- It will generate $1.55 million in development fees.
- Development cost is estimated to be $87.5 million.
- It is estimated to create 63 jobs.
- It should be 70% complete by January 2024 and 100% complete by January 2025.
- Weston will experience significant change in the future. We are working with Highwoods Properties on several issues including mobility. The town will do a visioning exercise for the future of Weston.
- There is lots of interest in assemblage of properties in the downtown area. We are helping connect private parties together to help with design.
- There is interest in Crossroads for redevelopment.
- There may be another mixed-use node in Parkside Commons.
- The RFQ for the downtown campus produced eighteen submittals.
- The EDC will start providing the economic impact of large projects.
- In 2024 the EDC meetings will be aligned to occur before the council-staff retreat and council meetings.
The EDC meeting concluded in about 1 ½ hours.
NC Metro Mayors
The NC Metro Mayors did not meet this week, but a summary of legislative actions was provided by KTS Strategies:
Lawmakers returned to Raleigh this week and Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) announced that the House plans to take votes on the budget next week.
House Republicans met on Tuesday to discuss outstanding budget items, including authorizing additional casinos in North Carolina. State law currently allows casinos to be built only on tribal lands. As reported by WRAL, one proposal would authorize four new casinos to be built in Rockingham, Nash, and Anson counties, with one allocated to the Lumbee Tribe in eastern North Carolina. When asked about the meeting, Speaker Tim Moore said, “We don’t have anything to report back after the caucus, but probably will in the next couple of days.” Moore was also quoted saying that a proposal will not move forward without support from a majority of House Republicans, who currently hold seventy-two seats in the chamber.
A proposed committee substitute (PCS) for S527, ABC Omnibus 2023, was heard in the House Alcoholic Beverage Control Committee this week. The PCS would make several changes to state alcohol laws. One of these changes would allow ABC stores to operate on Sundays and select holidays if they are petitioned to do so by the local board. Another change would allow delivery and to-go sales of mixed beverages and wine, as was temporarily permitted by executive orders during the COVID-19 pandemic. Four amendments were adopted, including one that would allow the sale of beer and wine at community college sporting events. The bill was approved by the committee and has been referred to the House Finance Committee.
Town Manager’s Report
Thankfully, it’s been a long time since Cary has seen significant impacts from a hurricane, but there’s a chance that could change with Hurricane Lee. Staff are actively working together with their emergency management counterparts in our counties, as well as at the State, to ensure that Cary is prepared. Even if Lee stays offshore, its wind and rain could pose challenges for us to be ready for.
Because our jobs require us to work during the storm to help keep others safe and the community functioning, our focus right now is to encourage our staff to use this weekend to take steps to prepare themselves and their families for the storm and for the possibility of needing to be here with us rather than at home with loved ones.
Council, I know I speak for all of you when I say just how grateful we are for that level of personal sacrifice and commitment to Cary.
Atlantic Tire Championships September 10 – 17
Cary will be hosting the Atlantic Tire Championships at the Cary Tennis Park from September 10 – 17. This is a Men’s Professional Challenger 75 and will be the second one hosted this year. Players in this event are usually ranked in the top 200 in the world. For tickets and more information, please go to the tournament website at AtlanticTireChampionships.com.
Carpenter Fire Station Road Bridge Progress
The contractor has begun staining the textured architectural concrete walls for the railroad overpass that supports CSX Railroad. The new railroad overpass spans the future east-west connector roadway that will ultimately connect Louis Stephens Drive to NC 55 Highway. The textured bridge walls are reminiscent of architectural features within and adjacent to the Historic Carpenter District. Staining is expected to be completed in September, and the new roadway is set to open to traffic in late Fall 2023.
New Signs in Native Gardens
Cary proudly supports native planting projects and more ecologically friendly landscaping practices that are designed to evolve with the changing seasons. These spaces help restore ecosystems, replenish groundwater, and provide habitat all year long even when plants are dormant. To underscore that native gardens look and function differently from traditional landscapes, approximately 30 temporary signs have been installed across town. These signs serve as physical reminders of Cary’s mission to grow resilient natural resources. Each sign has a unique website URL to deepen engagement opportunities.
Higgins Greenway Trail Invasive Plant Removal Project Launches
Cary will be performing an environmental project along the Higgins Greenway Trail from September 11 through the spring of 2024 to support our commitment to healthy urban forests and clean waterways. The project will include removing non-native invasive plants to maintain the best health of the existing native forests that surround the greenway trail. This area is an integral part of the Swift Creek Watershed, and healthy landscapes serve as a riparian buffer that protects water quality in our region. The work will be performed in stages so that portions of the greenway trail will remain open to the public for the project’s duration. The community is encouraged to visit the project page to learn the specific locations of existing closures and to discover how you can join us in growing Cary’s urban forests by supporting native plants and wildlife in their own yards.
Programming for Native Plants and Prairies Ecosystems
Cary residents received an afternoon of tours and tips for protecting pollinators though an engagement opportunity at Good Hope Farm this week. Along with personalized information to transform their own lawns into native ecosystems, participants interacted with prairie habitats and native plant gardens. Live action performances from various birds, bees, and butterflies helped connect the concepts of the class and inspired students to join in Cary’s commitment to urban ecosystem restoration.
Cary Citizenship Scouting Event
In late September, Cary will host a ‘Citizenship in the Community’ Merit Badge experience for scouts. This event will include several activities, starting with an afternoon session on September 28 that explores the concept of ‘what it means to be a good citizen.’ After the session, participants will enjoy a pizza dinner prior to attending the September 28 Council meeting. The two-day experience will conclude with a full-day session on September 30, focusing on covering other badge requirements.
Registration for this event is limited to 50 scouts and will open at 9 a.m. on September 12. For further details, please visit the ‘Merit Badge Opportunities’ page or reach out to Rob Wilson for more information.
Information Services Advisory Board
Monday, September 11
Parks, Rec & Cultural Resources
Monday, September 11
Zoning Board of Adjustment
Monday, September 11
Environmental Advisory Board
Tuesday, September 12
Historic Preservation Commission
Wednesday, September 13
6:30 p. m.
Council Meeting Work Session
Thursday, September 14
Thursday, September 14
- A request for better street lighting in Fairview Estates.
- A request to light the arts center for ovarian cancer awareness on September 30th.
- A request to meet with me about implementing C-COPS (I suggested they talk with the police chief and town manager first to learn what we already do in this area).
- A thank you for the town center park.
- A complaint about the Waverly Place rezoning (council has not seen this proposal yet).
- A complaint about the future connection of Middleton Avenue.
- A thank you for the signage at Walnut Street and Kildaire Farm Road.
- A complaint about I-440 graffiti.
Next week’s activities include staff meetings, attending the Atlantic Tire Championships, a CAMPO (Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s) Rail Subcommittee meeting, dinner with the past president of the USTA (United States Tennis Association), an Atlantic Tire Luncheon, Cary Chamber’s Business After Hours, a council work session, a regularly scheduled council meeting, playing George Washington at an event at Cary Christian Academy, a dragon boat festival rowing practice, dragon boat races, a campaign event for council member Ryan Eades, and presenting trophies at the Atlantic Tire Championships doubles and singles.
Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, September 17th, 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.