Meetings, Events, and Arbor Day

This week included the first regularly scheduled council meeting of the month along with several meetings and events.

Meetings with Staff, Council Members, and Atlantic Tire Board

Monday I attempted to contact each council member to hear of any questions or concerns about Thursday’s regularly meeting agenda. Comments were mostly about the Macedonia rezoning proposal to change from a senior multi-unit development to a market rate multi-unit development.

Monday afternoon I met with the Mayor Pro-Tem and key staff members to go over the agenda items. We talked about the Fenton and the Macedonia rezoning proposals. Our meeting lasted about twenty minutes.

After the Agenda meeting, I met with the town manager and chief strategy officer. Our topics included the South Hills Mall redevelopment, the future Sportsplex, the Fenton, the Epic rezoning proposal, and the future 200-acre park in western Cary. Our meeting lasted about twenty minutes.

Later Monday I met with a candidate for Wake County Commissioner. We talked about schools, partnerships, and the hotel/meals occupancy tax.

My last meeting Monday was with the board of the Atlantic Tire Tennis Championships. We discussed the Cary Tennis Park improvements, potential tournaments other than the Atlantic Tire Championships, plans for the tournament, and brainstormed on ways to get participation in sponsorships. The meeting concluded after about three hours.

OneWake Meeting

Wednesday I joined Assistant Town Manager Widmar and Housing manager Mansa in a virtual conversation with the members of OneWake. They expressed their concerns and passions about the affordable housing crisis in America. They want Cary to dedicate funding to affordable housing. Several months ago, we passed the Cary Housing Plan which includes strategies and goals to help with the affordable housing. Last year we spent more than what OneWake suggested that we spend. This year, as we continue to follow the plan, we will likely spend as much or more than they suggest we spend. It is important to understand that affordable housing will be an ongoing problem in our town, county, and nation. Cary plans to be very strategic in working on this crisis now and in the future.

Council Meeting Summary

Thursday the council held its first regularly scheduled meeting of the month. The meeting included a presentation from our CAP team, no consent items, one public hearing, and three discussion items.

The CAP (Citizens Assisting Police) team presented a savings check of $160,964.36 from 6436 volunteer hours they served the community and our police department. While their work of holding child safety seat checks and other various events might seem trivial to some, their service is invaluable and allows our officers to focus on duties that are critical to their profession. They are one of the reasons Cary is such a great place to live, work, and play.

The only public hearing was a proposal to make an adjustment to the Fenton project. If approved it would create a second development option for the primary anchor store, provide additional flexibility for signage, and make minor revisions to the original PDP. To simplify, it would create a grocery anchor about half the size of the original Wegmans and add other changes to that pod (section of the plan) such as a “jewel box” restaurant/retail in the middle of the main road. Most of the council seemed supportive of the changes but expressed concern about the roof of the anchor which will be visible from the rest of the development since it is a one-story building. Council members suggested the anchor have a green roof. This proposal will now go to the Planning and Zoning board for their review and recommendation and return to council for a decision in the next couple of months.

Under discussion the council unanimously approved Fire Truck Idle Reduction Technology to 9 of 23 large fire trucks. The others do not have the technology to all this and/or will rotate out of service in the coming years. The return on investment is estimated to be 4 to 6 years. The life of a fire truck is usually about 20 years and this technology will extend that life. The reduction in emissions is anticipated to be 8.23 metric tons per vehicle per year. This is equivalent to emissions from 2 passenger vehicles per year or the emissions related to energy consumption from 1 home for a year.

Our second discussion item was the construction bid for two neighborhood parks on McCrimmon Parkway and Carpenter Fire Station Road which was also approved unanimously. Funding for these parks of $15,240,000 was included in the Shaping Cary’s Tomorrow Bond approved by Cary voters in 2019.

Our last discussion item for the Macedonia Place rezoning was removed from the agenda at the applicant’s request.

The council meeting concluded after about an hour.

Legislative Summary

Friday I received a summary of this week’s legislative action from KTS Strategies:

Legislature Concludes Majority of Business for the Long Session
With the 2022 State and Congressional maps finalized, the legislature returned this week to wrap up their work for the legislative long session. Items considered by the legislature included an appointments bill, veto override, budget technical corrections bill, and adjournment resolution.

On Wednesday, the Senate unanimously confirmed the appointment of Karen M. Kemerait to the North Carolina Utilities Commission. Kemerait was nominated by Governor Cooper in May of 2021 and the House unanimously approved the confirmation in September. The Senate also attempted to override the Governor’s veto of S173, Free the Smiles Act. The bill would have allowed parents to decide whether or not their children wear a mask in schools. The override attempt failed 27-22. (An override requires a three-fifths majority vote.) Governor Cooper has encouraged local school boards to lift mask mandates.

Both chambers passed a 52-page technical corrections bill that makes changes to the 2021 Appropriations Act. Some of the provisions include:

  • Clarifications of rate increases to home and community-based providers;
  • Corrections to State Capital Infrastructure Fund grants;
  • Modifications of reporting dates for multiple programs; and
  • Changes to the business recovery grant program.

The bill passed the House 96-16 and the Senate 44-4. It will now head to Governor Cooper for approval.

The House and Senate also passed a resolution (SJR748) adjourning the legislature to a date certain. The resolution adjourns the legislature today (March 11) at noon and reconvenes the legislature in April (April 4-6) and May (May 4-6). During those three-day sessions only a limited number of issues could be considered such as appointments bills, veto overrides, and conference reports. However, leadership has indicated there are no plans for votes to be held during those sessions at this time. The General Assembly will return on May 18 (the day after the primary) to begin the legislative short session.

2022 Elections
On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court denied an appeal to the State Supreme Court ruling on the NC Congressional map. This means elections under the Congressional map drawn by the special masters will continue. Last Friday was the candidate filing deadline for all elections in the State. The full candidate filing list can be found here

The North Carolina General Assembly will look very different in 2023 with a number of retirements and multiple incumbents paired together in the same district, also referred to as “double bunking.” In the Senate, current Senators Bob Steinburg (R – Chowan) and Norman Sanderson (R – Pamlico) are double bunked in Senate District 1 and Senator Ralph Hise (R – Mitchell) and Senator Deanna Ballard (R – Watauga) are double bunked in Senate District 47. In the House, Representatives Jamie Boles (R – Moore) and Ben Moss (R – Richmond) are double bunked in House District 52 and Representatives Jake Johnson (R – Polk) and David Rogers ( R-Rutherford) are double bunked in House District 113. A total of 34 members of the General Assembly are guaranteed to be back in office in 2023. There are 10 Senate members running unopposed (9 Republicans and 1 Democrat) and 24 House members running unopposed (20 Republicans and 4 Democrats). 

Saturday’s events were moved to Sunday due to the inclement weather.

Sunday I participated in the annual Arbor Day Celebration at Bond Park. I was joined by council members Bush, Lu, Smith, and Yerha. For the 39th consecutive year Cary was designated as Tree City USA Community. At this ceremony our Hometown Spirit Award winner, Sarah Martin, was also presented with a tree and plaque in her honor.

After the speakers concluded we all joined together for a picture.

Later Sunday I attended the Basant Bahar ceremony at the Cary Arts Center. Basant Bahar is a celebration of spring. This was the first time in three years that this event was held. The mayor of Apex and Morrisville were in attendance along with a capacity crowd. I was able to see amazing performances and beautiful costumes. We are so lucky to have this event in Cary.

Town Manager’s report

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

Sean’s Message

Having seen you only a few hours ago, there’s little new to report on my end. So, I’ll simply wish you a great weekend.

Celebrating 311 Day All Week

March 11 is National 311 Day. In true Cary fashion, we made it a week and took some extra time to celebrate our 311 Citizen Advocates and the critical work they do to connect our citizens with non-emergency information, services, and support.
Our citizen advocates in the 311 Center and at the Hub are the heart and soul of our 311 operation – for many citizens, a citizen advocate is their primary point of contact with their local government.

Kudos To Julie

Recreation Manager Julie Collins demonstrated her self-taught Salesforce abilities to Directors this week. Julie is putting together dashboards for Park’s programs and helping us improve our data-informed decision making. Kudos to Julie for taking this on during the pandemic when her other work had been postponed.

Cary to host NC Lantern Festival through 2028

Cary officials announced this week that Koka Booth Amphitheatre will be home to the North Carolina Chinese Lantern Festival through 2028. The festival began in 2015 and has grown significantly in scope and attendance each year. In 2021 the event welcomed more than 200,000 visitors, setting a new attendance record.

Annie Jones Playground Update

As part of the 2019 Shaping Cary’s Tomorrow Bond Referendum, funding was approved for playground upgrades which included funding for improvements to Annie Jones Park. The installation of new play equipment at Annie Jones Park was recently completed and is now open to the public. The park still has construction ongoing for the replacement of the restroom building and court renovations, and those areas of the park will remain closed.

Fuel Update

The price of gasoline has increased significantly in recent weeks. Nationally, the average price of unleaded increased by 18.6% and the price of diesel increased 22.7% during the period of February 7 to March 7. During that same period, the price Cary pays has increased by 23.7% for unleaded and 19.9% for diesel. The price increases are largely based on reduced supply, and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. The current Energy Information Administration forecast indicates prices declining during the second half of 2022 and continuing to decline in 2023. Unfortunately, they note that their forecast is highly uncertain given the situation in Ukraine.
Cary is well positioned to manage price increases, and the Finance Department will work with impacted departments to ensure operations aren’t impacted and will factor the uncertainty related to fuel and energy prices into current and future budget decisions. 

New Member Orientation

Human Resources hosted a successful New Hire Orientation this week for 27 new Cary employees. With so much energy and expertise among the group, it’s clear Cary will continue to remain at the top of the arc. From presentations on our unique culture and the community we serve, our newest colleagues spent a full day meeting peers across the organization while learning what makes our organization so special.

Citizens Like It A Ton!

In the first three weeks, our community dropped off 1,822 pounds of material at the food waste recycling drop-off, diverting nearly a ton of compostable material from the landfill. Citizens are showing their interest and enthusiasm by searching items in the Cary Collects app for proper disposal with “food scraps” being the #5 top searched item in the Waste Wizard. Citizens can register now through the end of International Compost Awareness Week, May 7, to learn more and receive a free kitchen caddy during a second webinar co-hosted with Toward Zero Waste; register at

Upcoming Meetings

Public Art Advisory Board
Wednesday, March 16
5:00 p.m.

Hybrid Greenway Committee
Thursday, March 17
6:00 p.m.

Free Health Fair

This week I received information from a Cary High School student about a free health fair. I promised I would pass along this information in my blog. It will be held on Sunday, March 19th from 12 to 3 at the Life Enrichment Center at 3805 Tarheel Club Road in Raleigh. The fair will include vendors, food demonstrations, food giveaways, music, exercise, blood pressure checks, colon screening kits and more.

Mayor’s Mailbox

Emails from citizens this week included:

  • A complaint about affordable housing for veterans
  • A complaint about light pollution
  • A request for a nondiscrimination ordinance
  • A complaint about an out-of-state vehicle with expired plates at Crescent Commons Shopping Center
  • A complaint about a smash-and-grab theft at the Hemlock Bluffs parking lot
  • A concern about an invasive species on greenways

Next Week

Next week’s activities include staff meetings, speaking at a youth leadership event, a meeting with the Blue Memorial Highway Marker group, a VIP dinner at a’Verde, a CAMPO (Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization) Executive Board meeting, a podcast taping with a realtor group, and a meeting of the North Carolina Metro Mayors.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Monday, March 21st. 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 and email personal comments to

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