TCC Coffee Chat Summary - Town of Garner March 7, 2018

TCC – 2018 Garner Staff Member of the Year Award – Responsiveness, efficiency and customer orientation awarded to Jonathan Hamm, Engineering.

2018 Coffee Chat Sponsor:  Kimley-Horn & Associates, Inc.

Elected Official Recap

Mayor Ronnie Williams – 25-year veteran of Council, Mayor since '05

·        New Town Hall – Opened in August 2017, excited for the opportunities the TCC and its affiliates bring to Garner. 

Councilmen Kennedy

•    “Financing Requires Discipline, Growth requires financing” -   Living within means - Town of Garner is not overspending. There is a goal of having a gap between tax revenue and spending. Looking to fund the growth needs looking forward.

•    Focus now is on improving Garner's Appearance - need to present the town better.

•    Garner is in a state of preparation - almost playing catch up. Ref: Comp/Transportation Plans

•    Looking forward, there will be a UDO update following the Comp/Transportation plan adoption

•    Parks and Master Planning will follow behind these items

•    Referring to the Meadowbrook Country Club Golf Course site acquisition, the town is looking for additional sites in a similar fashion

•    Things that changed in 4 years

○  Second Assistant Town Manager – Matt Roylance on board from Wake County

○  Transportation Planner Het Patel

○  Communications Director - Director Rick Mercier is a real asset to the Town

•    Referring to I-540

○  Access off Interstates -- Garner only has 2, one is getting development, the other is being looked at for future development

○  540 Future -- 5 intersections coming off 540 and Town is looking down the road to plan for this growth

Staff Summary/Recap

Rodney Dickerson – Town Manager & John Hodges, Assistant Town Mgr.

•    ETJ last year - first since the 80's - larger area (shown in green on the new development map of PowerPoint Presentation)

•    Challenges with the Utility Development in some of the ETJ boundaries

•    2013 Bond Ref - helped with Town Hall and police station, but there is also the streets and sidewalk component

○  Some of the bond funds will be going into the following:

▪    White Oak Church Road, invest $ in the redesign of this intersection. Apply to LAP funding in the fall of this year based on the redesign.

•    Garner Forward

○  Want to make sure there is something that can be taken away from the Comp Plan - citing the 5 opportunity sites, goes further and provides the renderings of what the sites "could" look like - may spark interest

▪    Opportunity 1 - North/South Station at 401/70 - BRT station out of Raleigh.
Taken from Raleigh’s southern gateway corridor, and Garner took that added concept

▪    Opportunity 2 - Former ConAgra Site, Garner Technology Site - Jones Sausage Road Gateway - looked at everything around it and figured what a campus environment could look like

▪    Opportunity 3 - Commuter Rail Site off Hwy 70 near Rainer Road, tried to see what area it would take to put a Train Platform and put businesses near the hub, and Transit Oriented Development. This site is not selected for a station, but this was shown as hypothetical.

▪    Opportunity 4 - Shoppes at 5th Ave - Along Hwy 70 near Town Hall. Duplicate what is near HWY 70 and make it more pedestrian-oriented

▪    Opportunity 5 - Historic Downtown District - Denser Development in the downtown core, property downtown that Town owns will be sold to the development community once the recreation center is finished. Will have parameters on the building and then the Town will seek proposals.

•    UDO update - Starting immediately after the adoption of the comp plan - will looking for input from the TCC community

o   National Accreditation - rare to have a community of 30k, to have national recognition on depts/services

o   Police

o   Public Works

o  Volunteer Fire/Rescue is in the process

David Bamford - Assistant Planning Director

•    Pre-Submittal Meetings encouraged for new projects

•    Emerging Growth Area -

○  along New Bethel Church, near new South Garner HS and the Elementary School

○  Hwy 401/TenTen Road - McCullough Road, border with Fuquay-Varina

○  Totals new developments - 1966 Single Family Homes, 175 Townhomes, 1344 Multi-family Units.

○  Seeing an increased request/inquiries and development for age targeted/retirement communities

•    Looking Forward

○  '06 Long Range Plan

○  New Comp Plan and Transportation Plan - both will get approved in Spring of '18 (mid-April or May of this year)

▪    The plans/maps are on the web

○  Comp Plan focus on future land use

○  Transportation Plan on sidewalk, road and greenways, bike paths - one goal is to connect Garner to other regional trails and greenways (Lake Wheeler and Neuse for examples)

○  Staffing -

▪    Jeffrey Treizenberg - new Planning Director

▪    Jenny Saldi retired in December '17, and since Stacy Harper with Wake

County Planning has started with Garner to fill in the position

▪    Het Patel - new senior transportation planner from Fla.

▪    Looking to add a Planner 1
 

Joe Stalling – Economic Development Director

•    33 proposals for projects, $2.9 Bil, 8,900 new jobs projected

•    73% advanced manufacturing type project requests

•    2% vacancy in office, retail near full occupancy

•    The economy is back in Garner - new retail is coming in

•    Non-traditional uses are filling older centers

•    Been a good year for Garner,

•    120,000 SF of space has been leased up this year - Ferguson took a big chunk - Manufacturing/Industrial & Commercial is hot

•    Class A office is seeing an uptick, mostly by Medical Office

○  See a continuation of small office space

•    Existing Companies?

○  New jobs are being added

○  Hard time finding good talent

○  One Initiative Garner has taken is working with the High School - Trojan Career Prep Program - culminating in a hiring event annually. The promising program, starting small. County will be taking the program over this year as a pilot, but fully next year and then taken all over the County (first time since 1990's)

•    Looking Forward

○  Make sure there is adequate product to meet the demand

○  Flex Manufacturing is target right now

Rick Mercer - Communications

•    Guide to Garner Publication - great Summary of all things Garner

•    Website – www.GarnerNC.gov

Matt Roylance, Assistant Town Manager gave the Parks & Rec Report

•    Flex Space/Community Center is currently under construction - Fall '18 projected completion - has internal sports space/flex sports space, tourney events. Largest Park project underway

•    Planning Stages

○  Parks Comp Master Plan - 2018 start to look at revamp, public input session/opportunities will be found on the website and social media

○  Greenway - Ext South Garner Greenway - white deer park over swift creek out to Buffaloe Road.  Will sync up with County plan to connect Lake Wheeler to Lake Benson. Town has done a little work on alignment, Town now has funding and alignment refinement is underway

○  Meadowbrook - was a private country club (historically black) - sold to Garner, and Town will turn this to a future Athletic Complex with multi-use fields, but will be part of the Master Parks Plan. 120 AC site, which lines up with current growth patterns and needs for a park.

Question & Answers

Tom Anhut, 2018 TCC Chairman - back in '05~'07 there were zoning things that were put in place that hindered Garner post-recession while the rest of the area saw rebound. The Town came to the HBA and asked what can be done to encourage growth. The Town listened and changed, and the growth has followed. Very encouraging. The Wake County growth map is showing growth coming to Garner. Combination of Taxes and Fees compiled across Wake County- of the 13 townships, Garner is the 5th lowest.

Ross Massey, Stewart - seeing the opportunity of Greenfield. There is a great opportunity and great utility challenges. It's encouraging to see the Town spend effort on the master planning in this area. Question - is there a utility master plan available?

Councilmen Kennedy - It's largely up to CORPUD, where there could be a new regional pumping station to compliment Raleigh's plan on the Neuse. There is an effort to anticipate the Growth. From a water supply - Garner reactivated Dempsey E Benton Water Treatment Plant - there exists additional land for a raw water reservoir supplemented by highly treated wastewater. Raleigh is taking the lead on this.

Suzanne Harris, HBA Raleigh/Wake County - Schools? How can Garner make sure that schools are an asset instead of a negative POV for Realtors? At the time discussed a few years ago, Garner was trying to get more engaged. What has happened over the past few years, and what is the current perception? Suggestion -- Have the Town reach out to the Raleigh Regional Association of Realtors (Andrew Blackburn)

•    Councilwoman Kathy Behringer - Facilities need to be updated (same tract as other parts of the County, but Garner is getting overlooked). WCPSS is citing lack of funds, but it's Garner's turn.  Now, Garner Renovation for the HS is now just about complete, and there's the New South Garner HS, Vandora Springs Elementary is getting renovated… so WCPSS is listening now and Garner is getting much-needed attention to the facilities.

•    Councilmen Kennedy - the student assignment issues of splitting houses has largely been solved, so this is a small measure of progress. Another issue is that the current school board has no (or very low) incumbent re-election, so it's hard to get traction and track record in that short duration. Cultural Issue in Garner - "woe is me…" but Town can get past this and concentrate on looking forward.

•    Town Manager Rodney Dickerson - Town has hired a lobbyist

•    Assistant TM John Hodges - Perception - Staff is challenged because staff cannot initiate change that Council needs. There was a time when Realtors wouldn’t focus on Garner. So that decision really hurt Garner since the Schools was plausibly used to justify those not showing houses or suggesting Garner. That is largely not happening any longer.

David Lazzo, Howling Wolf Properties - Downtown Growth is interesting. How is the Town motivating this, or incentivizing this? Cite: Durham. Why do people to want to be there?

•    ATM John - 2010 Plan already in place. The HWY 70 design from the '50's doesn't help. However, Town is looking at what is the catalyst? Town believes the Community/Recreation Center could help.  But also, getting #'s of people to get traffic in the downtown 7 days per week. Performing Arts Center -- it all helps knit a base there to form network for others to join.  Now, getting the regional transit (BRT) and stops to help facilitate downtown. Getting stops and TOD overlays to get downtown to work. Look at the UDO and Land Use Plan to encourage the higher density in the core.

•    Councilwoman Behringer - historically there wasn't traffic in the downtown, but today the downtown has a lot of good things going on. It's moving and growing. At the 50,000' level it's encouraging.