The Triangle Community Coalition had another successful Coffee Chat with Town of Cary on Tuesday, June 27, 2017!
Joining our members in an informal chat were Mayor Pro Tem Ed Yerha, Councilor Don Frantz, Assistant Town Manager Russ Overton, Deputy Town Manager Mike Bajorek, Development Service Director Scot Berry, Inspections & Permits Director Ken Hawley and Transportation, & Facilities Manager Jerry Jensen.
We provided the Town of Cary with a better perspective of the Triangle Community Coalition's goal to be a proactive partner in growth and land use issues and to work with senior staff and elected officials to develop policies, regulations, and procedures to encourage economic development, produce predictable (yet flexible) outcomes for all stakeholders, and protect the community's interests.
The Town of Cary appreciated the TCC’s ability to offer objective facts and information in efforts to improve public policy debates and create effective working relationships between the business community and local government. We had some great interaction with the TCC membership in attendance and had opportunity to talk about the following:
Mayor Pro Tem Ed Yerha:
· Summarized the 12 goals of the New Cary Community Plan. The plan can be accessed on their website
· Additional $17million to local economy due to the Arts & Culture initiative
· Cary Parks & Rec won the 2016 Gold Medal Award for excellence in P&R management
Councilor Don Frantz:
· Downtown redevelopment: competition is underway amongst national design firms. The goal is for a spectacular park “nothing seen before” to be a destination as Cary’s Central Park.
· Private sector interest is up for the downtown area
· Town is considering a 4-story residential at Harrison & Chatham, Condo’s at Chatham and Urban
· Older homes in the surrounding downtown area are being torn down with redevelopment
· Inside the Maynard Loop is the hottest area in Cary
· Widening is approved along Reedy Creek in hopes to spur new development
Assistant Town Manager Russ Overton:
· 17% land left in Cary for development. Of that, over half is in the western Cary area.
· Of the 83% left, some portion will be redevelopment. Sites are more complex, so development is therefore more difficult
· “PIT” crew (Policy Implementation Team), a cross department team is prioritizing how the community plan can be implemented by working with Cary citizens
Transportation & Facilities Manager Jerry Jensen:
· Navigating thru municipal government is challenging
· Adding the right people to work more efficiently
· Working with new Town Manager Sean Segall to improve the town’s processes
Development Service Director Scot Berry:
· Decouple the Development Service Department and Development Review from the technical services.
· This department encouraged the TCC members to call with questions/issues to make the development review better
Deputy Town Manager Mike Bajorek:
· Focus how to continue to provide high levels of service
Inspections & Permits Director Ken Hawley:
· 80-85K permits annually. 95% are next day inspections
· The town if committed to hitting the advertised plan review dates – currently at 92% hit rate on permit review schedule
· Online Plan submittals is approved to be used for building permits, making it much easier
· 67 people are coming to Wake County every day, many to Cary. Cary must not "remain the same" because status quo of Cary is not the right model. Town must understand that the TCC goal is to NOT stay the same - our job is to change. We need to have densification - need condo's/small lots downtown. People that service this area need to be able to live downtown. NIMBYism is strong downtown
What does urban infill look like in Cary?
· Councilor Frantz noted “Depends on where it is? Big mixed use near arterials. Closer to existing neighborhoods might be more dense residential. E.g. Urban Drive mixed use; how do you transition to the neighborhood next door? Scale it down closer to the neighboring use. Change of use of how people live. Boomer generation wants to downsize and this is recognized by Council. State property; not looking for big box. Looking for a better mix. Downtown is looking for a mix of uses, street level and vertical mix. Cary has been typically known as NIMBY town, but Council is standing strong about doing the right thing for its citizens, by trying to get away from the NIMBY label.
· Councilor Yerha noted Cary Town Center is going to be a signature redevelopment.
What are Council’s thoughts on the Habitat Project? What can we learn to overcome NIMBY ism in Cary?
· Councilor Frantz: Applicants are willing to work with the neighbors & council to craft projects that TOC will approve. Council will mostly approve rezoning’s if neighbors are in general agreement and when it makes sense. Focus on getting the application and prove that what is presented to Council early on is actually what is going to be built. This goes a long way with the Council and the Neighbors/Community.
· Assistant Town Manager Russ Overton - the Comp plan focuses heavily on transitions at the peripheral of certain areas. You have to look at the whole and focus on the future.
What does the term "spectacular" mean to Council?
· Councilor Frantz - Council is looking for more assurances and how the product is situated on the site. This might mean design materials and design elements. The Community Plan has the quality and goals baked in - "sense of place" comes up. Cary doesn't get the recognition through low quality - need to assure fit & quality and something that stands the test of time. Someplace that "you and your family would want to live."
Transportation Bond & Focus on the Urban Density?
· Russ Overton - Transportation and multi-modal plan and cap facility plan are out there. Outside of Maynard loop needs improvements.
· Jerry Jensen - Cary is still going to be a context driven community that serves the bicycle and pedestrian community as well as autos. In more dense areas the idea of pedestrian walkability is important - so focusing on how to do that in the Cary's ordinance framework is needed. Wake County sales tax produces $90MM in revenue. Cary would be remiss if they didn't leverage the funding for large transit and land development projects. Garner/Cary interaction, Raleigh/Cary interaction - commuter rail and redevelopment with density - the new Community Plan addresses a lot of this already in these Transit Oriented corridors. Another game changer for Cary - the way the State DOT prioritizes projects in urban areas. These areas are starting to get funding to get congestion relief. Cary is gaining momentum in getting funding. Another game changer, the turnpike around the southern side of Cary. This allows mobility in the area/triangle. Cary is now starting to get revenue and we're leveraging to get better projects. It's done right in Cary and Jerry gives praise to the development community to help fund this.