Sunday, July 26, 2009

Week in Review 7/20/09 - 7/25/09

What a week – a council meeting that lasted until 12:45 am, a worksession, numerous meetings with town staff and residents, and political campaigns….not necessarily in that order.

Monday morning I met with representatives of Infinite Solar Power, our town Manager Ben Shivar and his assistant Lana Hygh. The purpose of me calling this meeting was to introduce Infinite Solar Power to the town in the hopes that we may be able to work together and possibly utilize solar power to help power some of Cary’s buildings and facilities – while saving Cary taxpayers thousands of dollars in the process. It is estimated that one solar installation at a town wastewater facility for example might amount to $50,000.00 in savings without any capital outlay. As with anything, the devil is in the details - I'll keep you posted as this moves along through the process.

Monday evening I attended the Wake GOP Executive Committee meeting to hear from all Republican candidates running for office in Wake County. After hearing from the candidates, the committee then went in to closed session to debate and determine party endorsements. Some were slam dunks – others took a great deal of time and debate to determine who would receive the party’s endorsement. While not every candidate seeking the party’s endorsement received it, everyone one of them is to be commended for their desire to serve, and all are winners in my book.

One candidate that stood out to me was WCPSS District 9 Candidate Debra Goldman. I also had the pleasure of meeting with her for lunch the next day. Hearing first hand her vision of education in Wake County and her passion for increased parental involvement and neighborhood schools was very encouraging. I am proud to support Debra Goldman for WCPSS Board District 9.

Council held a worksession Tuesday evening to receive an update from consultants and staff, and for council to provide feedback regarding Cary’s creation of a Historic Preservation Master Plan. The main goals of the Historic Preservation Master Plan are to preserve, protect and maintain Cary’s historic resources, viewsheds and landscapes; and to discourage demolition of significant structures and promote policies and actions that reinforce downtown’s significance as Cary’s historic core. I was very pleased with the work that has been completed thus far, and am optimistic that when all is said and done we will have a plan in place that protects Cary’s historic resources, while at the same time providing for reinvestment in Cary’s historic districts.

Wednesday morning I met with Cary citizens for a general discussion on a number of regional and local issues which included but was not limited to annexation, incentives, environmental protection and politics. It is our hope to meet on a regular basis and potentially serve in an advisory capacity to local and state government. I’m just hoping we find a better time to meet than 7 too darn early am. ;-) Afterwards I spent the better part of the day in preparation for this week’s council meeting.

Thursday evening was our council meeting. Notable discussion items included a stealth cell tower installation at Greenwood Forest Baptist Church, an economic development incentives contract, round 12 of land development ordinance amendments, a comprehensive plan amendment to a proposed development near Carpenter’s historic district, land development ordinance amendments pertaining to front yard vehicle parking, a potential new low density residential (LDR) zoning district in our downtown area, council’s decision to direct staff to perform a comprehensive review of the town’s sign ordinance, and a partridge in a pear tree.

Council held a quasi-judicial public hearing pertaining to the proposed installation of a stealth cell tower in Greenwood Forest’s bell tower. While council members – myself included – expressed concerns over the potential negative health effects associated with a cell tower (potential radiation exposure), there is no proof that a cell tower poses any health risks to the adjoining community and/or church membership. The proposed cell tower would emit less than 1% of the maximum radiation allowed by the FCC. In a quasi-judicial public hearing the council acts as judge and jury and MUST base our decision on fact – not fear. Given the facts presented to council we unanimously voted to approve the installation.

Council voted 6-1 to approve an economic development incentives contract with Loparex LLC. in the amount of $25,000.00. Yes, I was the lone no vote. I find it very hard to believe that a company such as Loparex bases their decision on which city to set up shop over 25 grand. I voted against the incentive as I believe our quality of life, low taxes, and high demographics are incentive enough, AND I am sick to death that every time we turn around another business wants a government handout at taxpayer’s expense. I aint playing this game.

Land development ordinances pertaining to Cary’s new mixed use development approval process were tabled until our next meeting to give staff time to make a few minor adjustments. The new process for mixed use development approvals has been a long time in the making – we want to make sure we get them right.

A proposed comprehensive plan amendment pertaining to a development proposal adjacent to Carpenter’s historic district was also tabled over concerns that the proposed changes to the buffer language in the plan’s note would potentially reduce the buffer’s effectiveness and provide less protection to the historic district. Considering the devastation that has occurred to Cameron Pond’s buffer the council has grave concerns about changing any buffer restrictions at this time. I can also promise you we will be looking to increase the effectiveness of our buffer restrictions in the very near future.

Council also directed staff to begin a comprehensive review of the town’s sign ordinance. While Cary has weathered the recession better than most communities, many businesses and residents are feeling its effect nonetheless. Businesses are having a harder time making ends meet and homes are taking longer to sell. It is our hope that we may find areas where we can be a bit more flexible in our ordinance while at the same time continuing to protect Cary’s visual landscape. Times change and it’s been ten years since our sign ordinance was last reviewed. This process will take time and I will do my best to keep everyone abreast of our progress. I was also interviewed by WRAL and NBC17 regarding this topic.

Town Manager Ben Shivar also announced this week his selection of Mike Bajorek as the Town of Cary's new Assistant Town Manager. Mike replaces Ben Shivar as assistant who was selected by council to serve as Town Manager; replacing retiring Manager Bill Coleman. Congratulations Mike and Good Luck!

That’s all for this week in review. As always, thanks for reading and thank you very much for allowing me the opportunity to serve you.