This week included several individual meetings with candidates for office.
Town Manager one-on-one
Monday I had a brief remote meeting with the town manager. Topics included the South Hills Mall site, the Sportsplex center, and the future 200-acre park in western Cary.
Talking with Candidates
Tuesday I talked to candidates and potential candidates for the NC House and for Congress. Almost all want my endorsement. Usually, I reserve endorsements for friends that I have known for a while, like Gale Adcock.
NC State Compost Center
Wednesday I toured the NC State Compost Center with representatives from Toward Zero Waste and Cary staff. This compost facility and research cooperative is located off of Lake Wheeler Road and is focused on organic waste management. It processes up to 1,200 tons of organic waste annually from the NC State campus with an eight-step process. It eliminates the need for taking the organic materials to the land fill. The process:
- Students, faculty, staff, & guests dine on campus, utilize paper towels, & manage greenhouse & agriculture waste.
- These organic waste & compostable materials are placed into a green compost bin.
- Everything collected is taken to a compost dumpster by staff.
- The dumpster is picked up by NC State’s Waste Reduction and Recycling team and transported to the NC State Compost Facility & Research Cooperative.
- This material is then mixed with wood chips & animal bedding (also from campus) at specific rates to ensure the proper carbon to nitrogen ratio, moisture content, bulk density, & porosity. If animal bedding is not available leaves can be used.
- The homogenized mixture is placed into a bay with perforated PVC pipes recessed into the floor. The pipes are hooked up to blowers and keep the piles aerated, eliminating the need for turning.
- The piles remain in the bay until they reach at least 131 degrees F for 3 days and have maintained an average temperature of 113 degrees F for 14 days to kill pathogens & weed seeds. Once the organic waste is completely broken down, the resulting compost is full of nutrients and will be used as a rich soil amendment and to grow new plants, flowers, and trees.
It is my hope that we can use this type of process in Cary to reduce our waste in the landfill and our carbon footprint. To find out more details about the NC State Compost Facility go to NC Department of Environmental Quality.
More Candidate Talk
Later Wednesday I met with another candidate for Cary Town council. We talked for about an hour.
Economic Development Committee
Wednesday evening I participated in a meeting of the Economic Development Committee. The agenda included a branding update, a quarterly report from the Cary Chamber, and a development update from our Economic Development Director.
In the branding update, the town manager showed the adopted tagline “live inspired”, the logo, and accepted versions of the logo. He explained that a logo, like art, can be loved and hated by many. The purpose of our branding effort was to position ourselves to compete nationally and internationally for businesses. This the first time Cary has had an update of its logo in decades.
The Cary Chamber President, Mark Lawson, presented his quarterly report to the committee noting visits to 31 existing businesses. Other notable items in his report include:
- Existing industry expansion:
- Garmin will expand its class A office by 90,000 square feet and add 100 staff.
- ProtoLabs will build a new 70,000 square foot manufacturing facility adding 50 to 110 jobs.
- WakeMed added 475 jobs.
- UNC Health added 350 jobs.
- Dude Solutions added 75 jobs.
- New Company announcements:
- Sonic Automotive: $5 – $7 million investment, estimated 100 jobs
- Onlogic: Building 50,000 – 75,000 square foot manufacturing facility over the next 36 months in Weston.
- Business recruitment pipeline includes 3 active projects worth $85 million in investment and 900 jobs. The types of jobs included advanced manufacturing, Life Science, and Warehouse-Distribution with most interest in the Life Sciences.
- There are two separate development firms interested in building large flex spaces in west Cary. One is building 170,000 square feet in two buildings or one large building while the other is building 700,000 square feet on a 142-acre tract.
- While interest in class A office is picking up, it will probably take more time before it comes back and at what extent is still unknown.
- A delegation from Frisco, Texas will be visiting Cary from March 30th through April 1st.
In the Development Update, Director Ted Boyd announced that the Fenton would probably be fully operational sometime in June. There will be soft openings before then. He also talked about the South Hills mall purchase and development, and downtown development projects.
Under new business the committee discussed the possibility of Social Districts. During the pandemic the legislature gave cities the authority to allow designated outdoor areas for the consumption of alcohol. This would allow individuals to walk around from business to business with alcoholic beverages. While Social Districts could easily be enforced on private property, such as the Fenton, it could be problematic on public streets with officers having to determine when someone should leave due to intoxication. The committee decided to discuss this further at future meetings.
Another item discussed under new business was the need for Cary to do a better job marketing the town’s talent pool. Committee business leaders pointed out that the talent pool is a major factor in relocation decisions.
The meeting concluded after about an hour and scheduled the next meeting for June 8th.
Thursday I met with staff about the Mayor’s new blog. We talked about formatting, the look, and how to update the new web page. I will post this week’s blog on Monday myself with staff available for questions.
NC Metro Mayors Meeting
Friday I participated in a meeting of the North Carolina Metro Mayors. The following is the summary from the executive director:
- Federal Government is still operating under a Continuing Resolution, which expires March 11. Potentially looking at a budget vote next week, which is important for Transportation funding that is currently tied up until a budget is passed.
- Federal Grants session – a webinar sponsored by NCLM, next Thursday, March 10 at 3pm, will address how to access grant funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill. Register Here: Federal Infrastructure Grants Session There are a wide variety of competitive grant programs and these opportunities will be open over he next few years. This session (jointly organized by Metro Mayors and NCLM) will help with pointers on seeking fund and help to demystify the process of applying for competitive federal grants.
General Update –
- NCGA is officially in LONG session (now the longest session on record) and is expected to schedule floor votes within a week or two to address “technical changes” to the budget bill they passed in November 2021.
- Will potentially resume committee meetings next week for budget technical correction.
- Re-districting Update: Final maps have been approved by NC Courts. The NC Legislative leaders have appealed the NC Congressional Districts to the US Supreme Court – seems unlikely the US Supreme Court will intervene at this point.
- Based current maps, past elections and polling, all points to Republicans winning a majority in the House and Senate in the 2022 Election, but probably not a supermajority. Deadline for filing for an election for May 17 is today at noon.
- 2022 Short Session will likely begin after the May 17 primary, late May, or early June. Looking at 6–8-week session with a focus on spending and a few other topics such as medical marijuana and sports betting. Any mayors/cities with local bills they are interested in should begin talking to their delegation now since the session will be short and action will have to well prepared in advance of the NCGA reconvening.
Transportation – NC Chamber of Commerce Destination 2030 Zoom event follow up
- One item discussed was the prospects for diverting transportation related sales and use taxes (such auto repair and parts). Currently, revenue from those transportation related sales tax revenues currently go the General Fund and now there is talk of diverting them to the NCDOT budget. This “user pay” idea could produce as much as an additional $450 million a year for NC transportation.
Public Safety – nothing new to report
Our next Metro Mayors Zoom on Friday, March 18 will include a quick update on federal funds available for municipal cyber-security support. Reports are that the risk of cyber-attacks is growing, especially as the Russian attack on the Ukrainian continues. So, competitive grants for cyber-security aid are more important than ever.
Economic Development – nothing new to report.
Local Control/Local Revenues– nothing new to report
Scott Mooneyham, Director of Political Communications/Coordination, NCLM
- Greensboro article linked above is a part of a larger series of articles that is centered around land use planning and development. The League began an issue campaign last Fall surrounding land use, in an effort to help with the ever-present battles over land use and local control that we have been fighting at the legislature for decades. We have recently seen wins in several areas surrounding land use planning (defeated proposals to strip control of trees, stormwater/flood control, etc.) It does appear we are making some progress in efforts to educate State Legislators on the importance of local control of many land use issues.
- During the Legislative session this year, the House created a local government committee on land use planning and development that helped advance terrible infringements on local land use control. There are still Legislators that remain hostile to allowing local authority to regulate land use and development.
- This effort is an attempt to highlight how cities are often working collaboratively with developers, and how they are working cooperatively with neighborhoods, builders and businesses for growth that both grows the economy but protects community values. A balance that is best addressed at the local level
- So far, five articles have been published by WRAL, (series is here on WRAL website) the largest visited news website in the state. These articles highlight land use issues currently going on in Raleigh, Wake Forest, Edenton and Greensboro.
- Another great example of the work Scott is doing can be found here – this example is related to the unique need to manage Airbnb/short term rentals in ways that addresses unique local circumstances – such as in Asheville.
- The League is currently exploring how to expand this effort. Please continue to spread the message that cities are working with developers, and local problems are best addressed at the local level.
The meeting concluded after about 45 minutes.
Interviewing of All NC Mayors
Saturday I was interviewed by Mitchell Whitley who is in the process of interviewing all 552 North Carolina mayors. We talked for about an hour and fifteen minutes and then took a picture in front of the Cary Arts Center. He plans to publish a book once he finishes his interviews.
Town Manager’s Report
The town manager’s report for this week included the following:
We had another wonderful week that included routine work items as well as a few bigger picture items. Interdepartmental teams collaborated with consultants on project frameworks and quarterly milestones. This type of work doesn’t produce huge headlines. However, it does bring clarity of purpose and most importantly strategy around work that happens at the microlevel in support of larger projects and services. Next week looks to be a largely routine week and we’re excited to hold our first regular council meeting of the month. I look forward to seeing each of you there.
Development Pulse Report
The February 2022 Development Pulse Report is now available.
- Lee & Associates Headquarters,413 Kildaire Farm Road: The building permit has been approved for a new 19,700 square-foot, 3-story mixed-use building with offices and ground floor retail. Site work began in January 2022.
- Rogers Building –Mixed-use Office and Retail, 167 East Chatham Street: The building permit has been issued for a new 60,500 square-foot, 3-story mixed-use building with office, assembly and retail spaces. Site work began in January 2022.
- Waste Management MRF Building, 10415 Globe Road: The Certificate of Occupancy has been issued for a new recycling facility at the existing Waste Management campus.
- Urban Place, 400 E Chatham Street: The Certificate of Occupancy has been issued for the new 28-unit apartment building, Urban Place.
Rolling out the Qcard
Marketing and Information Technology recently rolled out the QCard QR project as part of the Crabtree Creek/Black Creek Greenway detour. This pilot technology tool combines the power of video with QR codes, allowing us to upload informational videos and turn them into QR code stickers to place right where citizens want to access information. They’ve been deployed at Crabtree Creek Greenway trailheads to inform greenway goers about the ongoing sewer rehabilitation project. Qcard is a product of the RIoT accelerator program in which Cary is a partner. Scan the QR code above to see it in action, or tap the image, if you’re reading this on a mobile device.
Lunch and Learn: Food Waste, the Pilot, and You
Nearly 50 residents joined a free lunch and learn focused on food waste and the pilot drop-off service. During the virtual event, staff along with members of Toward Zero Waste Cary, shared what’s in and out for composting and tips to support our community’s participation in collecting food scraps for drop-off. Attendees shared their excitement for this new service and are receiving a free kitchen caddy to help collect food scraps to be turned into compost. More opportunities to learn with us and receive a caddy will be advertised throughout the year, here.
Summer Camp registration for 2022 kicked off Monday with 3,103 registrations – 94% of the transactions were via myCary. Revenue generated from these programs totaled $468,000 in just one day.
Facility staff and 311 advocates handled 33 citizen inquiries regarding registration procedures. At the end of the day, camp programs were 43% full. Half-day specialty (Arts, Outdoor Recreation, STEM, Sports) camp options are back in 2022 and saw an overwhelming response and interest from citizens. Half-day camps accounted for approximately 60% of the registrations.
Council Member Jack Smith Visits Blush
Council member Jack Smith joined Blush owners during their grand opening week. Blush is a women-focused coworking space that provides dedicated desks, conference room, and childcare. This business marks the first coworking community for women with childcare in North Carolina.
Public Records Overview Webinar
On Thursday, the Clerk’s Office, 311, and Legal team welcomed over 50 employees to a virtual Public Records Overview and Q&A with Kristina Wilson, Assistant Professor of Public Law and Government with the UNC School of Government. Attendees learned about public records law and the importance of producing public records.
Cary and Apex are now the proud co-owners of the Williams Property, having jointly acquired our first watershed protection property in the Jordan Lake watershed. The property is approximately 9.82-acres located near the American Tobacco Trail, the White Oak Greenway, and the Cary/Apex Water Treatment Facility. The Williams property was identified for watershed protection by the Triangle Land Conservancy. This marks Cary’s first watershed protection property purchase since watershed protection funding was established in FY 2021.
Hybrid Parks, Rec and Cultural Resources Advisory Board
Monday, March 7
Hybrid Information Services Advisory Board
Monday, March 7
Zoning Board of Adjustment
Monday, March 7
Hybrid Environmental Advisory Board
Tuesday, March 8
Historic Preservation Commission
Wednesday, March 9
Thursday, March 10
Emails from citizens this week included:
- A complaint about light pollution
- Comments for and against the affordable housing proposal on SE Maynard
- A complaint about not having enough affordable housing for veterans
- A concern that people are buying houses to set up Airbnb businesses
- A complaint about the mayor’s new blog background not being white
- A complaint about a plugged drain on Ralph Drive
- Requests from several candidates to meet
- A complaint about the Epic Games rezoning proposal
Next week’s activities include staff meetings, candidate meetings, a meeting of the Atlantic Tire Tennis Championships board, a meeting with OneWake, a regularly scheduled council meeting, a North Carolina Metro Mayors meeting, the Arbor Day ceremony, the Patrick Daugherty Art construction project, and a Basant Bahar event.
Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Monday, March 14th. 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 email@example.com.