Sunday, May 31, 2009

Weeks in Review 5/18/09 - 5/29/09

Yes, I know I didn’t post last week. I had the choice of either blogging, or celebrating Memorial Day with family and friends. Ice cold margaritas made the choice pretty easy. ;-) But not to fear – this week you get a two-fer. That’s right folks, two – count em – TWO weeks in review for the price of one. This special is only good for a limited time so READ NOW! Operators are not standing by, and this offer is void where prohibited by law.

May 18 – 22:

Something about Monday was different. The sky was a beautiful North Carolina Blue, birds were cheerfully singing in the trees and as I looked out into the backyard I saw our cat happily playing with the neighbor’s dog – it was almost surreal. Then it hit me. Today was my birthday. 29 years old…..again. ;-)

On Tuesday the town hosted a volunteer appreciation picnic at Ritter Park. The mayor and yours truly served as Master Chefs cooking over 80 hotdogs and hamburgers for some hungry volunteers. We even cooked some veggie burgers (no, I wouldn’t eat one) BTW - have you ever tried to cook a veggie burger on the grill? It’s weird – you’re not really “cooking” it – you’re “heating” it. I kept expecting it to catch fire like a piece of wood. Anyways, everyone had a great time – I only wish there was more we could do to show our appreciation to folks who give so much of themselves to make Cary the great place to live that it is.

Afterwards I attended the Downtown Turnaround dinner/social at Spirits in Downtown Cary. It was great to see so many downtown residents in attendance who share a passion for their community and I spoke to the group about current downtown plans and the economy’s effect on them.

Thursday evening was our Planning and Development Committee meeting. Meeting highlights included our committee deciding to not enter into a Memorandum of Understanding with DOT regarding the US 64 corridor between Pittsboro and Cary and consideration of amendments to the town’s Community Development Block Grant Annual Action Plan to allocate $122,433 in stimulus funds. I think you all know I oppose the fed’s stimulus package and Cary’s participation. However, what’s done is done and we have been allocated these funds. I believe The Serving Cup’s Green Level Apartment roadway improvements, housing rehab, and the Christian Community in Action’s project at the corner of High House and Old Apex Rd. appropriate projects to receive these funds.

My council week ended with a meeting between our Zoning Enforcement Department and a local business to work through a zoning compliance issue. The meeting went well - a few minor adjustments to the business’s storage and screening practices and alls well.

May 26 – 29:

Council held our second budget worksession this week. Council decided – at the town manager’s recommendation – to delay the downtown streetscape project out of concerns for increasing the town’s debt level during a recession. What really disappointed me however was that council also delayed moving forward with the renovations and conversion of old Cary Elementary into the community arts center. While I understand and agree that this isn’t the time to increase the town’s debt, this particular project is funded with cash on hand and does not impact our debt. I do not support delaying old Cary Elementary. This project is too important to our downtown, our town’s heritage and history. The longer we wait, the more this project will cost as the condition of old Cary Elementary will continue to deteriorate. Emergency roof repairs have already had to be contracted and the front porch is visibly sagging.

I believe that government must take care of existing facilities and infrastructure before looking to build new. The old Cary Elementary renovations do just that.

I also met with the owners of the Carolina Railhawks this week to learn more about their operation and hear from them regarding their vision for the program and Wake Med Soccer Park.

Thursday evening was our council meeting. Other than a few public hearings for annexations and rezonings notable items of discussion included the request from Councilors Robison and Portman to extend the annexation moratorium in Chatham County and a request by Councilor Portman and myself to consider amending the town’s approval process for new projects from 2 years with a 1 year renewal to 3 years with a 2 year renewal.

I opposed renewing the annexation moratorium for a couple of reasons. First, Chatham County asked us to reinstate the moratorium but they have not done the same in regards to development plan approvals, and secondly I believe that the annexation moratorium is what is largely responsible for Cary and Chatham not agreeing on a joint land use plan thus far. With a moratorium there is no incentive to hustle and get things done – no deadline. I voted against extending the moratorium and was the only one to do so. Enough “playing nice” – it’s time we lock both boards in a room and get this done.

Council unanimously directed staff to investigate extending the town’s approval process for new projects and to bring it back for committee review and ultimately council decision. Anything we can do to help the business community during these tough economic times makes sense, and once the economy turns around should we find these changes aren’t working well for us anymore we can revisit them. Just like businesses adjust when the economy dictates so should the town.

Well that’s about it for now. Thanks for reading!