December 28, 2015

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This being the week of Christmas, things took a bit of a pause with the town hall generally closed the latter half of the week. I was able to start the week off by attending the Wake County Mayors’ Association Holiday Dinner on Monday night in downtown Raleigh. It was a nice time to meet mayors, town managers and council members from around the county. It was a treat for Cheryl and I to enjoy the spirit of Christmas with others that share our passion for our Wake County towns.

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Interim Town Manager, Drew Havens, and I with our Better Halves.

I continued the week with another pair of one-on-one meetings with town department heads. Establishing a good working relationship is an important part of my role as mayor. I’m very encouraged by each meeting. We talked about topics such as existing buildings, maintenance of vehicles, and water, sewer and electricity as utilities. The town employees support many services that we rarely see, but experience through our quality of life.

I had a few other minor phone calls about logistics for committees, the new logo for the website and water tower, and plans for our next town council meeting. I’m looking forward to having “normal-sized” agendas in 2016!

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Christmas Eve Candlelight Service at Apex Baptist Church

Cheryl and I attended Christmas Eve Service at Apex Baptist Church with family members. We love the Christmas carol singing and the lighting the candles in a dark room. It’s a renewal of spirit for us both and it’s a small part of what makes Apex a special place for me.

Early Christmas morning brought a beautiful rainbow to Apex! I hope everyone had a great holiday weekend and got to be outside while the weather was amazing.

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Early Christmas Morning Rainbow in Apex

Wishing you and yours a Happy New Year!

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December 21, 2015

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One on Ones
In order to establish good working relationships with our town staff leaders, I began a series of one-on-one meetings with department heads. I’ve met with five so far, and I have to say it’s going great. We have excellent staff and I look forward to working with them all. It’ll take me another three weeks to finish, allowing time for the holidays.

Crossroads Ford
William (Bill) Daniel hosted another neighborhood meeting to discuss possible rezoning request on the northern corner of US 64 and Davis Drive, where it intersects North Salem Street. It is expected that he will submit a request to the town staff in the next few weeks, which will eventually result in a public hearing in front of the Planning Board.

William Daniel pitches his ideas for Crossroads Ford

Planning for Growth
I met with a few builders, developers and the Government Affairs V.P. from the Home Builders Association of Raleigh-Wake County prior to the last town council meeting of the calendar year (and my first full meeting as mayor). They expressed concern over the Planning Committee’s conversation to study the three mixed-use nodes down Old US 1 South, which have not yet been studied in detail for economic possibilities. If these intersections are good commercial sites, then they will need to be identified as such on the Land Use Map.

Despite the rumors and the newspaper article using the “m” word, there is no moratorium, real or “de facto”, on residential development in Apex. There is no prohibition of residential development being proposed. If a project is submitted, it will be considered against the 2030 Land Use Plan as usual. With the proposal, planning staff would advise the applicant, Planning Board and/or Town Council as to whether the project is inside the study area or not. From there, the council can decide whether they wish to proceed or wait for the imminent results of the economic study. Should any applicant wish to proceed through the process, the town of Apex will be happy to follow all steps normally.

Proposed 2035 Study Area (notice the “targets” along the highway)

The primary reason this study is being pursued is that a vast majority of 2015 voters in Apex expressed their desire for local elected officials to prevent runaway residential growth (many chose to say “tap the brakes” or “implement smart growth”) and to actively work to shift the balance of the residential-to-commercial ratio lower (it’s currently around 81:19). Several hundred citizens told me this as I was campaigning throughout the year, in a dozen different neighborhoods. It seems prudent to perform a targeted due diligence study to allow local economic growth experts to advise us on whether those specific nodes have commercial potential or not. There is a balance that we can strike and I’d like to help our council find common ground so we can find the right solution to keep Apex the #1 Best Place to Live in America.

This all came up during our marathon town council meeting, which lasted six hours and thirty-six minutes (it ended at 1:36AM). As the topic was brought up for discussion during New Business, there was some concern expressed that it felt rushed (one council member said it was being “ramrodded”), and that landowners who had their properties under contract might be adversely affected. In order to provide assurances that neither of these perceptions were intended, the council agreed to send this back to the planning committee to develop a few more details.

Retirement and Replacement
Bruce Radford is retiring today as the town manager, so last week the staff had a nice send-off dinner for him, catered by Swan’s Barbecue (at Bruce’s Request). Former staff and elected officials made sentimental statements, wishing Bruce well. I did likewise, and presented him with his retirement clock.

Bruce Radford is retiring from Town of Apex

Similarly, Assistant Town Manager, Drew Havens, has been named by the council as the Interim Town Manager. Tim Donnelly, is moving from Public Works to take the Interim Assistant Town Manager job, while David Hughes will fill Donnelly’s shoes.

The Personnel Committee will begin the process of identifying a search assistance firm who specializes in filling Town Manager roles. The committee generally feels that we, as the #1 Best Place to Live in America, can cast a wide net across the country to find cream-of-the-crop candidates. The process of finding a permanent town manager is expected to take 3-6 months.

Economic Development (E.D.)
Economic Development Director, Joanna Helms, and I went to an Economic Forecast presentation by Mark Vintner, Managing Director and Senior Economist at Wells Fargo. Councilman Moyer attended as well. The 2016 forecast looks slightly steadily positive. Locally, we can expect residential housing starts to increase and economic growth between 2 and 3 percent.

Mark Vintner of Wells Fargo on 2016 Economy

To round out the week, I donated blood in Rex bloodmobile in the Lowe’s Foods parking lot. It’s always a pleasure to give blood… it’s so personal, even though I never meet the recipients. But they say it’s the gift of life and that’s always a good thing.

Give Blood, Make a Friend! Meet Shontel Moore!

I also held a Finance Committee meeting to review Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) progress, a document which helps us plan our 1 to 5 year spending. We’re looking good for pre-planning for next year’s budget. We’re likely going to have a prioritization workshop before our annual retreat in order to make sure we know what this new council will identify as its priorities.

I met with key leaders of Veridea, the 1,100+ acre future development that has been in the making for almost ten years in Apex. The land is located in the triangle formed by US 1, NC 55 and NC-540 (i.e. behind the Arby’s). There is a lot of land tied up there, and the pressure to develop it is great. As a potential E.D. engine for Apex, any proposals will be carefully scrutinized to ensure the mix is good and solidifies the future of Apex.

Happy Holidays
As I reflect on the past two weeks and look forward to the next two, I feel compelled to ask those of you who have managed to read this far, to take the time to think on the love that this season brings. Whether you just celebrated Chanukah, or are about to celebrate Christmas, our families are important. As a Christian, I dwell on the love that God has shown me and my family throughout the year. And how I want to share that with my family and friends out of gratitude to Him. What will you do this season?

Apex Christmas Tree 2015

 

God bless each and every one of you!

Lance

 

December 14, 2015

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I started off the week by accepting a meeting request from a builder who has a farm-themed neighborhood he wants to build in western Apex. Interesting ideas, nice variety and low density. It will likely be brought to the town in January or February. We had coffee at Wake Zone.

 

Builder Requested Meeting. I suggested Wake Zone.

 

I encouraged the committee chairs to find time to meet, so we had three committee meetings this past week.

  1. Personnel. Our current town manager, Bruce Radford, is retiring in a week, so we need to establish an interim town manager. The committee is going to recommend that we appoint our assistant town manager, Drew Havens, as the Interim Town Manager. Should the council go along with that recommendation, I’m confident that Mr. Havens will do an wonderful job.
  2. Planning. The chairman wanted to eliminate medium density from our 2030 Land Use Map, which we use for planning. His primary concern, as it turns out, is that we may lose valuable commercial nodes at some major intersection areas. The committee will ask the council to study an area out between Friendship and New Hill on Old US1 in order to properly anticipate the economy and needs of residents out west. Also, the committee looked into requiring mixed use nodes to have 50% or more of non-residential use, allowing for residential above the non-residential to be ignored in the calculation. Picture the Grace Park development on Davis Drive and Morrisville-Carpenter Rd.
  3. Economic Development. The committee reviewed last month’s progress and discussed advertising Apex. It was agreed that we need to finish identifying the product to “sell” before we begin advertising in earnest. The committee asked the directory to put together a plan, showing dependencies and timeline (i.e. a project Gantt).

The staff also had the annual Town of Apex Employee Holiday Luncheon. It was a great event, and Michael MacAuley, Police Telecommunicator, was recognized as the 2015 Employee of the Year.

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Presenting Mike MacAulay with his plaque and Parking Sign

I also represented our town at the Community Leader Luncheon, hosted by the area LDS Church on Bryan Dr. There were 700+ nativity scenes set up, lots of lights and a light Cuban-style lunch. We heard from a couple of speakers, listened to a couple of songs, then met other leaders before heading back to work.

 

Represented Town of Apex at Leaders Luncheon

Personally, I began my series of one-on-one meetings with our town department heads to get to know them and their objectives. This will take a few more weeks, but it will be worth it.

I wrapped up the week by driving one of the two vans for our Shop-with-a-Cop program, where deserving kids spend most of Saturday morning with our finest officers, go shopping at Target for Christmas presents, then back to the APD for pizza. What a wonderful way to help and promote the community spirit here in Apex!

 

Apex Police Officers bought toys for deservibng kids at Target

This coming week will bring the council’s first full meeting as a new team, along with one or two other committee meetings. Our Dec 15th meeting is expected to have 30 items on the agenda. This council is, indeed, hitting the ground running.

 

December 7, 2015

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On Dec 1, 2015, I took the oath of office, with Justice Robert Edmunds of the NC Supreme Court administering the oath. In the very brief organizational meeting, the council selected Nicole Dozier as our new Mayor Pro Tempore. She and I will work together keep us focused on what’s important for the citizens of Apex.

Following that, I appointed council members to committees and liaison positions, making a few structural changes along the way. I removed the Fire Advisory Board position since it has become obsolete. I replaced the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources position with a PR&CR committee so they could focus more on policies, priorities and projects. I then created a new position to support the Apex Downtown Business Association. Then we adjourned that meeting.

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Sworn on Dec 1, 2015 by NC Supreme Court Justice Robert Edmunds

Since then I have met with our town manager and assistant town manager, completed the New Mayor training offered by the NC League of Municipalities in conjunction with the UNC School of Government, lit the downtown Christmas tree, rode with my wife, Cheryl, on my trusty Baja in the Christmas parade, lit the first “candle” on the downtown menorah for Chanukah, and met some Chamber of Commerce members at a social event. It’s been a busy week — a good and fun busy.
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Before the Apex Christmas Parade, Dec 5, 2015: (L-R) Denise Wilkie, Wesley Moyer, Lance Olive, Bill Jensen, Nicole Dozier, Gene Schulze

As Apex wraps up the year 2015, we enter a new era of town council. We have a balanced team who will work together to focus on making Apex even greater. As I begin my term as mayor, and narrow down our objectives for 2016, here are some of the high-level areas I will ask our council to pursue:

  • Replace our retiring town manager
  • Ensure our planned commercial regions are secured
  • Pursue downtown infrastructure improvements
  • Agree upon ground rules of behavior for elected officials
  • Hold an old-fashioned town hall meeting
  • Finish planning our senior center
  • Establish concrete objectives and success metrics for economic development
  • Prioritize our greenway, parks and recreation ideas
  • Plan and fund our Apex Peakway completion project
  • Balance the 2016-2017 budget with no tax increase
  • Make planning ordinance changes to ensure school space is adequately addressed
  • Promote business in Apex to balance the residential growth
  • Complete construction of Public Safety Station #5
  • Explore the council structure: numbers and districts
This council is hitting the ground running — over the next couple of weeks we are having committee meetings to get the ball rolling on many of these items. Apex citizens should rest assured that their elected officials are working hard for them to make sure Apex continues to be the peak of great living.