Monday, October 26, 2009

Week in Review 10/19/09 - 10/24/09

Council held a worksession on Tuesday to discuss the town’s adequate public facilities ordinance for roads (APFs) and our transportation development fee structure to determine if there is a more equitable way of ensuring that all development along a corridor pays its fair share. Currently the projects which develop early in the process don’t place too heavy a burden on our infrastructure, and therefore are not required to make as many improvements as those projects which come in towards the end when the need for transportation improvements are much greater, and much more expensive. All development taxes our infrastructure and therefore all development should pay its fair share. I feel like we left the worksession knowing what we want to do – we just don’t know how to do it yet. We’ll continue to work on it until we get it right.

I met with the applicants of a proposed cheerleading and tumbling gym in West Cary off of Davis Drive. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss their request for a 20% parking reduction from what our ordinance requires. The town calculates parking requirements based on building square footage and they are proposing to build a 10,000 sq. ft. facility; yet the majority of floor space is open gym space with spring floors and tumbling tracks. Our ordinance requires they provide enough parking to accommodate 185 people, yet according to the applicant they will never have more than 115 children there at any given time. They simply do not need the amount of parking our ordinance requires. Makes sense to me. Another positive is that reducing the number of parking spaces reduces the amount of impervious surface at the site which will result in less stormwater runoff and increased environmental benefits.

Afterwards Councilwoman Jennifer Robinson and I met with a family on Pamlico Drive to discuss the flooding issues in their neighborhood. We were shown a video the couple had created that clearly documented the flooding problem folks in this area are experiencing. It was truly amazing to see the amount of water behind these folks’ homes after only a half inch of rain – after just a few inches water was coming inside their home.

More and more folks – especially in our older areas of town – are experiencing increased flooding with each passing year. While I am proud that the council recently strengthened our stormwater retention ordinance to prevent future development from negatively impacting nearby property owners, we must also address the existing problems folks are experiencing now. Mrs. Robinson and I will continue working with our staff to determine the best course of action.

Prior to our council meeting Thursday evening the town hosted a reception for our outgoing board and commission members. Seeing everyone was a lot of fun. I cannot thank our board members for their dedication and service to the town. Cary is a much better place because of their efforts.

Of the five public hearings scheduled for our council meeting, two generated the most comments. The first was Round 13 Amendments to Cary’s Land Development Ordinance. A number of folks spoke in opposition to the proposed reductions to the number of children a home day care provider may keep at one time from eight to six. While existing providers would be “grandfathered in”, a number of folks expressed concerns regarding the current shortage of day care providers throughout town, and how these restrictions would further reduce folks ability to obtain child care for their children, as well as reduced income earning potential of home child care providers. Our Planning and Zoning Board will now review the proposed ordinance amendments and then make a recommendation to council.

The other public hearing which generated significant comment was the proposed rezoning of the Russell Hills community in our downtown area from TC-LDR to TC-LDR-12. A number of residents voiced their support of this proposal as the proposed zoning would in effect align the neighborhood’s zoning with the original covenants the neighborhood was developed under, and remain valid today. Russell Hills’ original R12 zoning was changed to TCLDR when TCAP was adopted back in 2001. This allowed for zero lot line development and reduced setbacks resulting in redevelopment that residents found out of character with that of the existing Russell Hills community. While Russell Hills residents originally requested that the town rezone their neighborhood back to R12, given the neighborhoods proximity to downtown we believe there value in keeping this community zoned town center (TC) and instead worked to create a new zoning classification that addresses the neighborhood’s concerns yet still provides opportunity for redevelopment and reinvestment. One property owner spoke in opposition to the proposed rezoning. This proposal now goes to our Planning and Zoning board before coming back to council for final decision.

Another item that generated some discussion - and quite a bit of frustration among most all on the council I might add - was a Comprehensive Plan Amendment for a parcel in the Carolina Preserve at Amberly on Pittard Sears and O’Kelly Chapel Roads. The applicant was requesting a change in the land use plan from low density residential (LDR) to medium density residential (MDR) as they are looking to expand their retirement community – a community which brings little traffic and adds no school aged children I might add. The parcel is surrounded by MDR except that which fronts Pittard Sears and O’Kelly Chapel Roads. Pittard Sears Road provides a good boundary between the existing MDR on the east side and LDR on the west side. Simply put, this amendment made sense…well, six council members thought so anyways.

One council member who after speaking with a Chatham County Commissioner very familiar with the proposed amendment just a few hours before our council meeting stated she would oppose the amendment because – in her words – the Chatham County Commissioner was “unsettled” about the proposal. That’s it. Not because she believed it to be a bad amendment or anything like that, but because a Chatham County Commissioner – who by the way is no stranger at Cary Council meetings and has communicated her thoughts to council on numerous Cary developments in the past including this one – was “unsettled”.

Another Cary Council member said it best, “I work for Cary”.

On Friday I had the honor and privilege of attending a retirement party for Mr. James Brice, Custodian at Cary Elementary School for over 33 years. After some brief remarks I presented him with a Proclamation from the Mayor and council thanking him for his many years of dedicated service to both Cary Elementary and the community. He will be sorely missed.

Well that's all for this week in review. As always, thanks for reading!