Sunday, March 1, 2009

Week in Review 2/23/09 - 2/28/09

Hello everyone in Blogsville! Don Frantz’ Week in Review coming to you in 5,4,3,2,1.

Monday evening was the Western Wake Republican Club’s monthly meeting at Bentley’s Restaurant in Crossroads (FYI – Bentley’s makes a killer Burger!). This month’s guest speaker was Michael Patton, the North Carolina 4th Congressional District Director for Americans for Fair Taxation – otherwise known as the Fair Tax.

Council held a worksession this week to discuss two topics – affordable housing initiatives in town and the proposed Cary Community Arts Center fly tower design.

After a detailed housing and income analysis review the council discussed which income levels – if any – the council wished to focus our affordable housing efforts towards, and which specific initiatives we preferred. My opinion is that IF council is going to use public dollars to support affordable housing in the community then those dollars should go back into the existing community in the form of housing rehabilitation assistance. There are already a number of affordable homes in many of Cary’s older neighborhoods that, with a little assistance could make a great first home for a new family or help senior citizens on fixed incomes make needed repairs they otherwise would not be able to afford. This could also help address neighborhood decline which leads to increased rental housing and decreased property values.

In regards to the fly tower, council approved the design team to move forward with the artist’s latest concept. If you remember from earlier posts the original proposal generated quite a bit of controversy due to its massive size and contemporary design, and concerns over its placement on one of, if not the most historic and treasured buildings in Cary. The new design is a compromise of art and architecture and eliminates the massive 60 foot tall metal structure on the tower’s east wall. This, I believe, will provide a much cleaner backdrop for the roundabout art, and not detract from the beauty and art that is Old Cary Elementary.

Afterwards council left the stress of the worksession to celebrate with over 400 of Cary’s most valuable citizens at Cary’s Annual Volunteer Recognition Banquet. A big THANK YOU is in order to all of Cary’s volunteers, and congratulations to the night’s award winners. You all work so hard to make Cary the wonderful place to live that it is and we are forever grateful.

Thursday evening was our council meeting. Agenda highlights included a public hearing on Land Development Ordinance (LDO) Amendments, consideration of a review of Cary’s Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (APFO) for roads to see if there is a more equitable way to pay for roads and ensure that needed infrastructure is in place before development occurs, and recognition of Cary’s Citizen Assisting Police Team (CAP) members.

I was very pleased with the proposed LDO amendments as our staff has done a great job of addressing both council’s and citizen concerns regarding the mixed used development approval process to provide for greater citizen input and participation. Also included in this round of amendments are proposed changes to Cary’s sign ordinance that allow for greater flexibility for businesses in Cary, and property setback amendments regarding the redevelopment or subdivision of residential lots in our downtown area that will further protect the character of established neighborhoods. The LDO amendments are now on their way to our Planning and Zoning Board for review before coming back to council for final decision.

After a healthy discussion on whether or not to review Cary’s APFO for roads council directed town staff to conduct a review and come back to council with any recommendations they feel may help improve upon our current ordinance requirements. I originally had concerns in reviewing our APFO because 1) I didn’t necessarily feel our ordinance was broken so I wasn’t sure why we were trying to fix it. And 2) because I felt some council members were trying to craft the solution instead of identifying the problem first. After it was made clear that we weren’t giving staff specific direction on what changes we wanted to see I supported the review. Our APFO has been in place for 10 years now – a review to see whether it is still meeting our expectations couldn’t hurt.

Friday morning was a lot of fun. It was Celebrity Reader day at Cary Elementary School and I had the honor of reading Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham to fourth grade students (for some crazy reason they consider me a celebrity – I can assure you I am not.). Anyways, I never get tired of Green Eggs and Ham. I like that book – I like it Sam I am. Every time our youngest doesn’t want to try a new food I remind her of the story and ask her how she is sure she doesn’t like something until she tries it? I don’t think she likes the book as much as she used to. ;-)

Friday afternoon council spent the better part of 4 hours reviewing applicants for Cary’s town manager position. This was a closed session meeting so I cannot provide any details other than after reviewing a number of highly qualified individuals we have narrowed the field and we should make a final decision by mid-March.

Well that’s about it for this week in review. Thanks for reading and thank you for allowing me to serve you on the Cary Town Council. It is truly an honor.