State of Cary at Templeton, Frank Page, and Legislative Actions

Templeton State of Cary Address

Wednesday morning I presented the State of Cary address to the residents of Templeton of Cary. It was very much like the presentation I gave at the beginning of the year with a few updates. After the presentation there were about a half dozen questions and comments including one about pedestrian access to Waverly Place.

Candidates for Office

When it comes to Cary elections, my practice is to endorse incumbents and to help all candidates.

Wednesday evening, I met with a representative of a candidate planning to run for office. We talked about potential strengths and weaknesses of her candidate.

Thursday evening I met with Sarika Bansal who has declared her intention to run for the District D seat held by Ryan Eades. We talked about several issues including what she thought was important for District D.

Acting as Frank Page

Thursday night I was asked to portray Frank Page, Cary’s Founder, as part of an information meeting for the Friends of the Page Walker. Here is the speech I gave as Frank Page:

“Good Evening, Fellow Cary Residents!

As you may know, I am Allison Francis Page, Founder of Cary and Your First Mayor.  But you can call me Frank. I built this hotel in 1868 –even before we officially became a Town in 1871. I thought it would help put our little Town on the map.  And it did – despite I didn’t allow alcohol, card playing, or dancing on site. 

In fact, I founded Cary on 4 basic principles:

  1. God is our Leader.
  2. Education is Paramount.
  3. Entrepreneurship is Fundamental.
  4. Alcohol is the devil. 

Yes. I founded Cary as a “dry town”. I named it after not me, but Samuel Fenton Cary, the greatest Prohibitionist speaker of my time, who likely never stepped foot here.  I even declared in our incorporation papers that no alcohol would be legal in Cary for 1000 years.  So, clearly, we need to talk.

But not tonight.  Tonight is about you and your critical involvement in the Town we love.  Even if you don’t love our Town now, your involvement can help change that.  So I appreciate you being here, regardless, as civic engagement is the cornerstone of our democracy.

When I founded Cary in 1871, our population was about 150 souls. We didn’t even reach 1,000 people until the 1930s! I’ve watched us grow to over 182,000 people today, making us the second largest small town in America.  I always believed in Cary – even after I left here to go on to found Aberdeen in Moore County – but I’m not sure I ever saw that coming.  After all, Aberdeen’s population is only just over 9,000 today!

Clearly, we have something special here in Cary that we have to grow and preserve.  It starts with our history – the people and places that came before.  I’m heartened to see my original Cary Academy, then Cary High School, the first public high school in North Carolina and the first desegregated high school in Wake County, still sitting in its current form at the end of Academy Street.  I love that my hotel still stands. I understand that the Nancy Jones house and the Ivey-Ellington house also remain, although they don’t seem to be located where I remember them…no matter. I appreciate that there are enough historical structures that we could create a designated Historical Downtown District for Cary. 

But history is more than our buildings, as time and growth march on. It’s also our stories, our adventures, our struggles, our resilience to persevere.  These memories—this kind of history—only endure if they are placed in the hearts and minds of others. I ask you to commit yourself to all aspects of our history. So we know our history, but more importantly, Cary residents – new and long-term – truly know our Cary, love our Cary, take care of our Cary — like they would family.  And hopefully, by providing the sense of place that only history can provide, they see themselves as part of our family, and our future. 

Well, “Cary-on” with your event – (my wife, Kate, told me to put this in the speech, she has the sense of humor between us.  And a much better delivery, I’m sure).  I won’t bother smelling your liquid refreshment and just assume the best in you, that they are spirit-free. 

Thank you for being here tonight for Cary.”

I had a blast portraying Frank Page. Maybe I will do it again one day.

NC Metro Mayors Call

I participated in a meeting of the North Carolina Metro Mayors on Friday where we talked about legislative actions. Here is a summary of legislative actions from KTS Strategies:

House Budget Released

The House released their biennial budget proposal on Wednesday. Some of the highlights of the $29.7 billion spending plan include:

  • Average teacher pay raise of 10 percent over two years;
  • State employee pay raise of 7.5 percent over two years;
  • Individual income tax rate reduction to 4.5 percent in 2024 (a year earlier than planned) and franchise tax rate reduction;
  • $1 billion for transportation needs; and
  • $1 billion for water and sewer infrastructure.

The bill was approved by the House Appropriations Committee on Thursday after consideration of nearly 50 amendments. The proposal will be heard in the remaining committees and on the House floor next week.

Sports Betting

H347, Sports Wagering, passed the House this week. The bill would authorize, regulate, and tax sports betting in North Carolina. The Lottery Commission would be responsible for regulating and issuing licenses to 10 to 12 sports wagering operators. A 14 percent privilege tax would be levied on each operator. A portion of tax revenues would be distributed to DHHS for problem gambling, the NC Department of Parks and Recreation for grants to benefit youth sports, certain universities to support collegiate athletic departments, and the North Carolina Outdoor Heritage Advisory Council for grants for sports team travel assistance.

Multiple floor amendments were offered that would have removed college and amateur sports, increased licensing fees, and prevented family members of participants from placing bets on those events. All amendments failed. The bill passed third reading on the floor Wednesday with a vote of 64-45. It will now head to the Senate for consideration.

Veto Override Vote

Last Friday, Governor Cooper vetoed S41, Guarantee 2nd Amendment Freedom and Protections. The bill would remove the requirement to obtain a pistol purchase permit from the sheriff’s office prior to the purchase or receipt of a pistol. Criminal background checks would still be required prior to purchase of a pistol from a federally licensed dealer. The bill would also authorize concealed carry for certain law enforcement facility employees and authorize carrying a handgun in a place of religious worship that is also educational property under certain conditions. Additionally, it would create a statewide firearm safe storage awareness initiative to educate the public about safe firearm storage, facilitate the distribution of gun locks, and provide local communities with a toolkit to launch local firearm safe storage initiatives.

This week, the NC General Assembly held votes to override the Governor’s veto. A three-fifths majority vote of all members present is necessary for a successful override vote.  Both chambers successfully voted to override the veto along party lines. The final vote was 30-19 in the Senate and 71-46 in the House. The bill is now Session Law 2023-8.

While there are several bills working their way through the legislature. SB 317 is very concerning to municipalities. Here is the NC League of Municipalities summary of that bill:

As discussed in the March 17 Legislative Bulletin, SB 317 Addressing the Workforce Housing Crisis would establish a statewide mandate to allow “workforce housing developments” not subject to local planning and zoning regulations. It has been proposed as a solution to improve housing affordability.

Local officials from around the state have carefully gone through the bill’s provisions and given this legislation careful consideration. They express many concerns, including those listed below. The legislation does not represent the kind of comprehensive solution that will make housing more affordable.

Cities and towns are sharing that:

  • The housing affordability crisis in North Carolina is being driven by many factors, including decades of job relocations to metropolitan areas and rising land costs. The cost of land is a major factor in dictating development types, housing size, price points and project financing. By ignoring these issues, the policy changes in this bill are unlikely to substantially affect housing affordability.
  • The legislation fails to address these underlying causes of rising housing costs. It instead focuses on pre-emption of local planning, which cities use to ensure safe, well-designed neighborhoods that do not overwhelm roads or other infrastructure, or damage adjacent development.
  • Municipal officials share state policymakers’ concerns about housing affordability. That concern is seen in an NCLM legislative goal seeking more resources for affordable housing, in municipalities approval of housing bonds, and in cities’ approval of more density by right, where appropriate.   
  • The crisis is complex. Incentives-based approaches that do not undermine local planning will prove more realistic in creating additional workforce and middle housing. This kind of cooperative approach, in which density reforms go hand-in-hand with incentives to help offset development costs, ensures that appropriate development occurs and actually benefits homeowners and renters in the intended income range.
  • Providing developments with blanket exemptions from land-use planning rules has the potential to create a number of damaging effects. These local rules go beyond the protection of adjacent homeowners. They also protect areas around military bases, airports and farms. They help avoid financial losses in flood plains and sensitive coastal areas. They prevent clear-cutting that can lead to downslope erosion.

Let legislators know that North Carolina needs a comprehensive approach to housing affordability, one that will actually result in lower costs for workforce and middle housing. SB 317 may be well-intentioned but will not achieve that goal. Also please utilize this joint report with the N.C. Association of County Commissioners, Local Governments Responding: The Housing Crisis in North Carolina, which provides a detailed look at what is happening related to housing in the fastest growing communities of North Carolina.   

Taking away local control is never a good thing. In this case, it would allow developers to ignore local land use plans and do pretty much anything they would like. On top of that, it is bad policy to create a one-size-fits-all solution to a difficult problem.

Town Manager’s Report

Sean’s Message

On Wednesday, I met with my Cary colleagues for our quarterly All Hands. During this time, we took a deep dive into our recent Council-Staff Retreat, covering topics like what the retreat is (and isn’t) and the experiences of new and more seasoned participants. Staff also received an abbreviated version of Ted Boyd’s retreat presentation regarding our vision for Downtown redevelopment north of the railroad tracks. Our staff are such great champions of Imagine Cary, and I always enjoy having time to slow down and get on the balcony with them.
Please note, there won’t be a Council Weekly Report distributed next week. The next report will be shared on April 14.
Have a great weekend.

2023 Veterans Benefit Live Event

Herbert C. Young Community Center served as the site of the Veteran Benefits Live event last week. As a result of great partnerships among several organizations, more than 1,000 veterans received benefits assistance.

South Walker Street Sidewalk Construction

Construction on a new sidewalk along South Walker Street, between East Park Street and the First United Methodist Church parking lot, is scheduled to start on April 3. This sidewalk project was funded by the annual sidewalk improvement program and will complete the last remaining gap of sidewalk along South Walker Street. Staff have been collaborating with Downtown Park construction to have it built before the opening of the park. The road will remain open during construction; however, a daily lane closure will be necessary to safely complete the work. Construction is expected to be complete by early summer.

Kildaire Farm Road Construction Update

The Kildare Farm Road Improvements Project is on schedule to be completed this summer, including road work beginning in May. In advance of beginning road work, all overhead utilities will be converted to underground. This week, AT&T completed converting their facilities and next week Cary is scheduled to complete converting its facilities. Cary will be making provisions in advance of temporarily losing fiber connectivity to some fire stations, the South Cary Water Reclamation Facility and several traffic signals. Spectrum has been working over the past several weeks in anticipation of planned temporary outages for several thousand customers. Next week, Spectrum will be sending outage notifications to residential and commercial customers as they complete converting their facilities to underground in April.  

Transportation Grant Funding

Cary has applied for and been awarded federal grant funding for several transportation-related projects. NCDOT oversees these projects under the Locally Administered Project Program (LAPP) to ensure design, right of way, and construction activities meet stringent federal requirements. Many of Cary’s federal grant projects are approaching the construction phase and staff have recently received NCDOT concurrence on consultant selections to provide construction engineering and inspection services. for:

  • Crabtree Creek Greenway (Crossing under Weston Parkway)
  • Higgins Greenway Phase III (Union Street to Kildaire Farm Road)
  • Crabtree Creek Greenway (Bond Park to High House Road)
  • Black Creek Greenway Renovation (Old Reedy Creek Road to Dynasty Drive)
  • Cary Parkway Sidewalk including a pedestrian bridge over Black Creek
  • Carpenter Fire Station Road Widening (NC55 to NC540)

In addition, Cary was recently awarded $1.9 million in federal grant funding for Higgins Greenway Phase IV, which will extend into downtown. Design concepts have been developed in coordination with the Transportation Working Group and Greenway Committee, including enhancements consistent with the Cary Community Plan and Council priorities. Preliminary plans are anticipated to be shared with the public this summer.

Award Winning Pilot

Staff participated in the Carolina Recycling Association (CRA) annual conference focused on conserving resources and advancing waste reduction and recycling throughout the Carolinas. Waste Strategy and Community Impact Consultant Srijana Guilford presented Cary’s food waste drop-off and partnership with Toward Zero Waste as a municipal service model. Cary was also honored to receive a CRA Recycling Award for the pilot, recognizing it as an impactful and innovative project that successfully addresses current waste diversion challenges and demonstrates creative promotions and education.

Upcoming Meetings

Parks, Rec, ​​​​​​​& Cultural Resources
April 3 
5:15 p.m.

Information Services Advisory
April 3
6:00 p.m.

Zoning Board of Adjustment
April 3
6:30 p.m.

Human Rel, Inclusion, & Diversity
April 4
6:00 p.m.

Mayor’s Mailbox

  • A complaint about a homeless encampment on state property.
  • A request to accelerate the widening of Morrisville-Carpenter and Carpenter Fire Stations roads.
  • Kudos to Cary Police officers helping with road races.
  • A request to make sure residents and businesses of properties at East Chatham and SE Maynard “get a fair deal.” (We have no authority to get involved in real estate deals between a property owner and a buyer).
  • A request to start a public transit committee.
  • A request to pass a non-discrimination ordinance (We did last June).

Next Week

Next week’s activities include staff meetings, a trip to Texas, a trip to Augusta, and a meeting of the North Carolina Metro Mayors.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, April 9th, 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 and email personal comments to

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