Saturday, September 20, 2008

Week in Review 9/14/08 - 9/20/08

Usually I don’t meet or participate in any functions on Sundays as I try to reserve this day for family, faith, and NASCAR races ;-) – but this past Sunday my wife and I were honored to attend BJ Lawson’s Freedom Rally at the VFW on Reedy Creek Road. BJ is a candidate for the US House of Representatives in the 4th Congressional District. BJ is running for Congress to advance a constitutional federal government that lives up to the ideals of our Declaration of Independence. A proud father of three, BJ strongly believes we must stop catering to corporate and special interests and instead focus on our nation’s constitutional responsibilities. If you live in the 4th district and are looking for a change in business as usual in Washington, give BJ Lawson a try – his opponent has been part of the problem in Washington for over 20 years.

My first meeting of the week was a follow up discussion with the downtown steering committee. We discussed what each of us took away from our downtown visits to Clayton, Smithfield, Salisbury, Raleigh and Greenville, what initiatives those municipalities have implemented that we believe might work well here in Cary, The different ways in which those municipalities structured their downtown economic development departments and partnerships with non-profit organizations, and how Cary should move forward from here. It was a very good discussion and I believe we are headed in the right direction. Staff will now be preparing a recommendation for council review and action in the near future.

Wednesday evening nearly the entire council attended the Cary Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Banquet. Three awards were presented that evening. Cindy Smith won the Ambassador of the Year Award, Crescent State Bank won The Business of the Year Award, and Michael Curran of Triangle Aquatics Center won the Citizen of the Year Award. Congratulations to everyone above for your commitment to making Cary a better place for all to live, work, and play! Town Manager Bill Coleman, who is retiring next month, was also recognized for the over 20 years of service he has given the Town of Cary. He will surely be missed.

Thursday was a double-header. Staff and I first met with a downtown resident regarding concerns she is experiencing in her neighborhood as a result of the increase in rental properties and the Cary Convenience Center (more commonly referred to as the “dump”). Many of the concerns we can address quickly – other issues will take time, and some Cary is, and has already been working on. It was a good meeting for both sides - we all left better informed.

Afterwards was our Planning and Development Committee meeting, and I must say I am really beginning to get irritated with the lack of respect and support for downtown from our committee chair. This time it was a roadway improvement waiver request from an applicant who owns a corner house at the Dry and Harrison Avenue intersection in downtown - the old Heater House to be exact. Simply put the homeowner wishes to convert the home to a small office use, and make thousands of dollars worth of improvements to the property in the process. This is EXACTLY the type of redevelopment/reinvestment we should be encouraging downtown. Along with the numerous code improvements being made, our ordinance requires the applicant also install a sidewalk - which they are, and install the required parking and landscaping - which they are. Our ordinance also requires the applicant make roadway improvements that include modifying the radius of the corner (reconstruct curb, gutter, and road to remove 90 degree angle), install a crosswalk and signal heads, and relocate traffic signal utilities/pole resulting in the removal of a very established tree. The applicant requested a waiver for the roadway improvements.

Four very nice historic homes share this intersection. Requiring the roadway improvements be constructed would simply ruin the character and charm of this historic community. It would also bring a road 10 feet closer to a historic home, create an intersection where 3 corners have 90 degree radius' and one does not (looks stupid), and cause such an economic burden on the applicant that it just might kill this project. Yet for some reason this is not going to council on consent. Our chair believes this request warrants the entire council weigh in. Funny - I wonder why we didn't feel this way regarding the other five roadway waiver requests P+D approved this year? Because they weren't downtown - that's why.

I ended my week with a meeting with with Michael Curran of Triangle Aquatics Center to discuss a potential partnership between Triangle Aquatics Center and the Town of Cary to provide recreational aquatics for Cary citizens. Yes it seems like this has been going on forever - but hopefully we can bring closure to the issue soon. Council has a worksession coming up on this topic next week.

I spent a good amount of time this week responding to emails from citizens in the west Cary area after a very misleading email was sent out by a member of the Davis and High House Organization regarding redistricting in which they accused the town of gerrymandering and deliberating in secrecy. Nothing could be farther from the truth and quite frankly I was offended by those accusations. Council will discuss the redistricting issue at Thursday's council meeting.

That's about it for now - as always thanks for reading!