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Cary held its Council/Staff retreat in Asheville in February. The annual retreat reinforces the critical nature of our partnership and energizes the work of implementing the Imagine Cary Community Plan. It is a time to reflect, connect with each other and continue the highly effective collaborations that will prepare us for the days ahead.
The first day of the retreat focused on our vibrant downtown, beginning with a presentation by Urban3, an Asheville-based company that explores new ways to think about and visualize land use, urban design and economics. Ted Boyd, Director of Economic Development, presented next with a downtown redevelopment update and a proposed plan to align the LDO to achieve the vision of Imagine Cary. Doug McRainey, Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Director, then followed up with a deeper dive into the Downtown Park master plan.
On day two, an interdepartmental group of staff presented on the issue of private streets. The adaptive approach by the group demonstrated a foundational understanding of the implications of public and private streets in Cary.
The retreat concluded with a presentation by Dr. Alec Horniman of the Darden School at the University of Virginia. Dr. Horniman’s presentation was thought-provoking and encouraged staff and council to
consider “inviting, including and inspiring others” in our daily work.
At the November 14, 2018 work session, Council authorized staff to begin working on two action items. The first item was an ordinance amendment to require developers to analyze, model and mitigate impacts new development may have to our community from a 100-year storm. The second item was to pilot a project in which the Town would investigate private stormwater infrastructure that is believed to be responsible for flooding episodes at the intersection of Warren and Pleasants. Staff has made significant progress on these items.
The proposed ordinance amendment has been drafted and shared with the development and engineering communities, as well as the Downtown Stormwater Working Group. Feedback has been positive and helpful. Staff plans to formally present Council with the ordinance amendment this summer.
The pilot project at Warren and Pleasants was also initiated. Staff contacted all homeowners and received verbal agreement to investigate the private stormwater infrastructure on their respective properties. Formal rights of entry are being finalized, and staff will begin the investigation this summer.
Cary hosted a reception for its legislators on January 14 at Academy Street Bistro. This event provided an opportunity for council members and senior staff to meet and build relationships with legislators in a pleasant and relaxed environment, especially important since Cary is represented by several newly-elected representatives. Assistant Manager Dan Ault and Special Projects Director Lana Hygh followed up by visiting with the Cary delegation members at their offices in March. Dan and Lana continued to build relationships and shared Council’s legislative agenda as well as other information about Cary projects and events.
After spending the first couple of months of the legislative session getting organized and oriented, the General Assembly shifted into full gear by the end of March with hundreds of bills being filed and committees meeting regularly. Staff is monitoring legislative action closely and engaging legislators, consultants and the NC League of Municipalities on some bills. Of particular note are:
- H278/S179 Parity for First Responders would require payment of a special separation allowance for firefighters in addition to their retirement benefits. Cary’s budget office estimates the cost to Cary taxpayers to start at approximately $400,000 per year and quickly escalate to nearly $2 million annually.
- S355 Land Use Regulatory Changes would make wide-ranging changes to land use regulatory statutes that would weaken protections for neighboring property owners of new developments.
- 536 Water/Wastewater Enterprise Reform is aimed at improving the operations and management of distressed water and wastewater systems by creating a grant program for improvements. The bill proposes funding the program with a $1 surcharge on every water and every public sewer account across the state.
Cary will continue to engage its delegation with the goal of protecting its citizens and ensuring a continued high quality of life.