Monday, February 1, 2010

Week in Review 1/25/10 - 1/30/10

I hope everyone had a great time playing in the snow and stayed warm and safe! The kids had a blast and we now have a miniature snow family in our freezer. ;-)

I attended Cary’s Planning and Zoning Board meeting on Monday evening so I could hear the board’s thoughts on two items of interest. The first was a public hearing on the proposed Silverton/Singh development at the corner of Cary Parkway and Evans Road. Much progress had been made in regards to satisfying neighborhood concerns, but unfortunately one in particular we recently learned is in conflict with our town’s Land Development Ordinance; specifically the proposed turning restrictions out of the development onto Winfair Drive. This is very disappointing to me as I believed this concession went a long ways towards reducing the amount of traffic on Winfair. The elimination of the proposed turning restrictions also further impacts a property owner at the corner of Winfair and Cary Parkway. The applicant requested this item be tabled so they could have more time to try and address these concerns.

The second item of discussion was proposed amendments to our LDO regarding signage. After a healthy debate the board recommended that the majority of the proposed amendments be addressed by the Sign Ordinance Review Task Force which is currently undertaking a comprehensive review of our ordinance. The board did however recommend for approval to increase the number of open houses a homeowner could advertise with signage from two to five. Currently Cary only allows homeowners the ability to advertise 2 open houses with signage. Yet given the current economic climate many homeowners are having a difficult time selling their homes and may need to host 3, 4, 5 or more open houses. The proposed amendment was recommended to have a two year sunset clause (will revert back to the current ordinance in two years) in the hopes that the economy will improve by then. Given how well the feds have done thus far however, I wouldn’t hold your breath.

Tuesday evening council held a worksession to discuss Cary’s Public Art Master Plan and hear from the town’s consultant and staff. Needless to say I was not surprised to hear that they were further recommending ways in which to implement public art into town constructed facilities. What was shocking however was that they were also recommending we create an ordinance or policy that requires a certain percentage of the cost construction be allocated to public art – 1% was their recommendation. What this means to Cary taxpayers is that if Cary were to build a $10 million community center for example, $100,000 must be allocated to public art. Sound familiar? What about made me fall out of my chair was that they stated this would NOT increase the cost of construction…seriously! When I asked how that was possible the consultant stated we could reduce construction costs by using cheaper doorknobs. I am not kidding! While council did agree to perform a comprehensive review of the town’s Public Art Master Plan – as it has been ten years since the plan was created and it’s probably time to review it – I will NOT support any plan that requires a percentage of construction be spent on public art. And honestly I don’t believe our current plan is broken so I’m not sure why we’re trying to fix it.

On Wednesday morning I attended the Cary Chamber of Commerce’s Eye Opener Breakfast to hear Mayor Weinbrecht’s State of the Town Address. Mayor Weinbrecht did a great job with his speech and it was wonderful to see so many friends and business colleagues.

On Thursday afternoon I had the honor and privilege of attending the Lady Daze Grant Awards presentation at the Page Walker Hotel. Monies generated from Cary’s annual Lazy Daze festival are given back to the community in the form of grants to local non-profits. $31,000 was presented to 28 area non-profit organizations.

Afterwards I high-tailed it to council chambers for our council meeting. Notable topics included LDO Amendments pertaining to adult businesses and home day cares, and a rezoning of the Russell Hills neighborhood in downtown. While I believe most everyone would agree we would rather not have any adult businesses in town, the reality is we cannot legally prohibit them from locating “somewhere” in town. The proposed ordinance amendment would require they not be sited within 1000 feet of a school, not be sited within 2000 feet of another adult business, and be allowed in the office, research, and development district in the airport overlay. Council directed staff to pursue making adult business a special use in the airport overlay and bring back information to council at our next meeting. Since our meeting I have heard from a citizen asking why 1000 feet from a school, yet 2000 feet from another adult business? – shouldn’t it be the other way around or 2000 feet for both? I can’t argue with that logic and I have asked our legal department to address.

In regards to home daycare uses I believe the ordinance amendment passed is a good compromise that protects both the rights of home day care operators and residents of residential neighborhoods. The amendment also only pertains to new home day cares – existing day cares would be grandfathered in.

On Friday I had the pleasure of speaking to 5th graders at Weatherstone Elementary about government, and my role as a member of the council. This was a lot of fun. Kids are so honest and have no idea what political correctness is. ;-) Some of the more interesting questions I was asked were, “What is the difference between a Republican and a Democrat?” “Have I ever met President Obama?”, and “Why doesn’t Cary have its own school system?”

That's the highlights from this week - as always, thanks for reading!