Saturday, April 26, 2008

Thursday's Council Meeting 4-24-08

I had the honor of presenting a proclamation to members of the Wake County Gang Prevention Partnership proclaiming May as "Youth Gang Awareness and Prevention Month in Cary". The partnership's mission is to prevent youth gang activity and violence in Wake County through community mobilization, opportunities provision, social intervention, gang suppression, and organizational change and development. I think we can all agree that it is better to be proactive than reactive in regards to gangs, and I am proud of our town for participating in this organization.

Council members Jack Smith and Erv Portman were appointed regular members of the Wake County Growth Issues Task Force, and yours truly was appointed as the alternate member. Council also appointed Carla Sadtler to fill the vacant ETJ seat on our Planning and Zoning Board.

Council also received a presentation from the newly created Issues Advisory Task Force. This task force was created by council to create a framework and process by which citizens can petition the Town to allow them to formally meet as a group on a particular topic, and to expand, strengthen and improve citizen engagement and participation in local government, as well as provide a mechanism for greater visibility of citizen initiated issues to Town Council. This group, consisting of Cary citizens appointed by council did an awesome job and should be commended for their work. I am very interested to see how the task force's recommendations play out over the next year or two. Greater citizen participation is a goal of all of council and I am optimistic this groups recommendations will foster just that.

The only real issue of the evening related to an amendment to the Highland Village Planned Development District (PDD), and the associated funding request of this project. DHIC (a low income housing developer) requested to ammend their previously approved PDD to increase the total number of residential units from 258 to 278 and remove the ownership requirement for the multi-family units. In other words, the applicant was requesting to change the 60 owner occupied condominiums already approved to 80 age restricted rental apartments. And oh ya, they were also requesting another $170,000 loan from the town to help pay for addition to the $1,082,000 Cary has already contributed to this project.

Don't get me wrong, I believe the more age restricted housing we can bring to Cary the better. There is truly a market for this type of development in Cary, and the impact of this type of development to our school system is nil. My concerns were how this development would fit into the overall vision for downtown Cary, and what effect would the increase in low income rental would have on the downtown community. The age restriction would only be in effect for 15 years - what happens after that? And if there is a healthy market for senior rental housing, why do we need to help pay for it?

The vote was 6-1 to approve. I was the lone "no" vote on both the requested amendment, and the associated funding request. Not the first time the vote was 6-1, and I'm sure it won't be the last.