Friday, April 29, 2011

Redistricting Update

Council held another redistricting worksession last night prior to our council meeting. After a brief discussion the council unanimously approved moving forward with the following redistricting proposal. Note - Precinct 05-05 currently shown in District A was moved to District B. Only 5 people live in 05-05. It made no sense to leave this in District A and continue to have District A span from Chatham County to the Airport.

The council will now hold a public hearing to solicit citizen input prior to making our final decision. For comparrison, here is the current map:

Please feel free to email the council at with any comments or questions regarding the proposed district map. 

Monday, April 18, 2011

Week in Review 4/11/11 - 4/16/11

Saturday’s storms were the most violent I have seen since Hurricane Fran tore through North Carolina in 1996. Twenty two people are confirmed dead and hundreds are homeless. Businesses have been damaged or destroyed, and their employees now find themselves indefinitely unemployed. We can help. Please consider making a monetary donation or volunteer your time with the American Red Cross or Samaritan’s Purse to aid in relief efforts, or check with your church or area civic groups to see what you can do to help. You can also find more information on how to help here. Together we can make a difference and help North Carolina recover from this tragic event.

I had the privilege of participating in the Raleigh Regional Association of Realtors Leadership Academy this week along with Wake County School Board Member Deborah Prickett and Raleigh City Councilor Mary-Ann Baldwin. We were “guest panelists” for a session on Governmental Relations and Political Affairs. We spoke mainly about our call to leadership (why did we run for office?), our roles in our positions and what a typical day is like for each of us.

On Thursday the council held a worksession prior to our council meeting to discuss “sustainable site design guidelines”. Our town staff has been working to update Cary’s design guidelines in an effort to encourage development that creates more walkable, pedestrian friendly communities and better protects our environment through greater open space preservation.

Staff presented recommendations to council for consideration and feedback. My thoughts were that while I “liked what I saw”, I wanted to know more about the costs associated with these recommendations. Any time you create a new rule or regulation you add cost to a project, and we need to be sure that we aren’t imposing unrealistic burdens on small business owners in Cary. Sometimes blanket “one size fits all” ordinances don’t fit and might not work in a particular case. We need to ensure that there is flexibility so that when this happens – and it will – that we can resolve the issue in a timely manner.

Following the worksession was our council meeting. Notable discussion topics included the Pamlico Drive flood minimization and stream restoration project and associated greenway connection and sidewalk, and the Swift Creek Parallel Forced Main Project.

While residents in the Pamlico Drive area are eager for flood relief, they expressed concerns regarding the proposed greenway improvements – especially the greenway stub to their neighborhood and sidewalk. The council unanimously voted to remove the greenway connection and sidewalk from the project.

The council ultimately postponed a decision on the Swift Creek forced main project for two weeks to give our town staff time to resolve issues raised by property owners most impacted along Holly Springs Road.

The council also unanimously approved a quitclaim deed to relinquish property purchased from yours truly. I asked that I be recused from voting on this matter as it directly pertains to my property. You can read a detailed explanation on this item here.

I had a number of meetings this week including a meeting with Councilwoman Gale Adcock to discuss a number of items, as well as a budget preview meeting with our Town Manager and Budget Director.

On Saturday I had the honor of welcoming folks to this year’s Basant Bahar held at Athens Drive High School. Basant Bahar is the Indian celebration of spring and includes a number of beautiful dance and music performances. Unfortunately this year’s event was delayed due to severe weather and loss of power. Nonetheless the event was still a huge success and well attended. Thanks to everyone at HumSub for all your hard work and for your ongoing partnership with the town. Your involvement in our community is tremendous and we are all better for it.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Making Wrong Right

I recently learned that I made a mistake that I must take responsibility for.

The downtown streetscape project was approved as a component of the town’s budget in 2008 by a vote of 6-1. I voted for it. After the project was approved, the town began to acquire the necessary easements and right-of-way to implement the project, up until the project was ultimately postponed by council in 2009 to reduce spending to cope with the economic recession. The vote to delay the streetscape project passed unanimously.

From the time the project was approved until the time it was delayed, the town had acquired right-of-way and easements from over 90 different properties. Ours was one of them. The town purchased a small portion of our business property frontage for $14,550. Land prices paid to all landowners ranged from $100 - $102,000 depending on the size and value of the property acquired.

We have since discovered that NCGS 14-234 prohibits the town’s purchase of our property outright given my position on the council. The town should have instead performed what is referred to as a “friendly condemnation”. The town would have still acquired a portion of our property and we would still have been compensated for it.

It’s not THAT the town acquired a portion of our property, its HOW the town acquired it that is the problem. It is a process issue. Neither I nor the town was aware of this.

To correct this mistake, I have already paid back the entire $14,550 to the town and our property will be deeded back to us. If in the future the town finds itself in a position to move forward with the streetscape project, we will proceed with the condemnation process at that time (which unfortunately is a more expensive process than a simple purchase).

I apologize for this mistake and take full responsibility for what happened, yet I take great pride in the fact that I was treated no differently than any other land owner downtown.

I had spoken with Cary’s legal department shortly after joining the council regarding voting on matters pertaining to downtown projects and initiatives. I was told that being a downtown business owner did not prohibit me from voting on matters concerning downtown, and that state law actually requires me to vote barring a legal conflict. It’s not much different than Mayor Weinbrecht or Councilwoman Adcock voting on matters pertaining to their employer, SAS.

My support for downtown Cary is no secret. Heck, it was a large part of my campaign platform when I ran for council and has remained a priority during my service on the council. I have championed a number of downtown initiatives including the Cary Arts Center, the streetscape project and Cary’s new Downtown Manager. I have worked with residents, business owners and Cary PD to reduce crime in our downtown neighborhoods; as well as our zoning enforcement department to address minimum housing violations and hold absentee landlords accountable.

And during this time I have worked hard to keep citizens informed about my service on the council right here on my blog. I have always been open and honest with you. We may not always agree, but you will always know where I stand. And when I make a mistake I am going to tell you about it and take responsibility for it.

Thank you for your understanding.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Almost There!

Here are a few photos I took inside the Cary Arts Center yesterday. Construction is progressing along nicely - and within budget! I can't wait until the ribbon cutting!

Main Entrance Lobby

Classroom Space

Another Classroom


Fly Tower Cable Controls

Looking out from the stage