2017 Apex Town Council Retreat


For the past several months the Town of Apex staff have been feeding the town manager data so he could present his first draft of the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) for the fiscal year 2017-2018, which begins in July 2017. Last month, our town manager, Drew Havens, handed each of the council members his first draft of this big-spending planning document so we could review the contents and plan for the annual retreat.

Earlier today (March 3, 2017), the council met in the training room of the Apex Police Station on Saunders Street for our all-day retreat to learn, discuss, decide and guide the staff. The summarized agenda included the following items:

  • Development Statistics, presented by Dianne Khin, Planning Director.
  • Construction Statistics, presented by David Hughes.Asst. Town Manager.
  • Financial Update, presented by Vance Holleman, Finance Director.
  • Capital Improvement Plan, presented by Amanda Grogan, Budget & Management Analyst.
  • CIP Ranking Results and Analysis, discussion led by Lance Olive, Mayor.
  • Non-CIP Initiatives and Priorities, exercise led by Lance Olive.
  • General Obligation (GO) Bond Basics, presented by Vance Holleman.
  • GO Bond Practical Discussion, discussion led by Lance Olive,
  • Master Subdivision Plan Legal Review, presented by Laurie Hohe, Town Attorney
  • Master Subdivision Plan Planning Review, presented by Dianne Khin.

During the first presentation, Dianne Khin told us how our population is currently 48,500, and we expect to reach 89,392 by the year 2030. This expects a growth rate between 4 and 5% percent, and this is consistent with predictions that we’ve been making for the last few years. The year 2013 was the beginning of a noticeable increase in rezoning requests, development and plat submissions, with non-residential and construction plan submissions trailing a year behind. The ratio of single family homes to town homes is about 5.4 to 1 and new business startups have been fairly consistent over the past five years, ranging from 70 to 100 per year.

David Hughes then followed with construction data, showing us how residential construction permits have surged since last July, which didn’t surprise anyone in the room. With commercial permits, we’ve seen a smaller number of permits, but a higher total valuation, implying a strong base is being built for non-residential tax revenue and jobs. Permit fee revenue is up strong this year, compared to last year, and we’re arguably the hottest market in the county.

In the third presentation, Vance Holleman showed us that our actual revenues and expenditures and solid when compared to the working budget. We looked at the General Fund, the Electric Fund, and the Water/Sewer Fund. We then reviewed our current debt service, which is around 7.5% of budget, and debt capacity, which is about 20% of our policy maximum. We have a sound budget with room to take on additional debt to cover expensive projects, if we deem it necessary.

After a brief break, our new budget analyst, Amanda Grogan, reminded us that the CIP is the 1 to 5 year plan for spending on “big ticket” capital projects. While we’re currently working through the 2016-2017 year CIP items, we spent the last few weeks reviewing the draft 2017-2018 CIP, which contains projects that fall into the following seven categories:

  • Transportation
  • Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
  • Public Safety
  • Public Works & Environmental Services
  • Public Facilities
  • Electric
  • Water & Sewer

The council members individually ranked the entire list of 35 CIP projects and turned in a set of cards, showing their preferences. Amanda ordered them by average ranking and grouped them by standard deviation so we can see the groupings. The result was four sets of priorities, broken down into quartiles. Council negotiated a few minor adjustments and accepted this as their group set of priorities.

After a foreshortened lunch break, we reviewed the list of non-CIP issues, staff put them up on large flip charts and voted using dots so the staff could get a sense of the most important pursuits.

Vance Holleman then walked us through what would be required in order to pursue a possible tax increase to support a general obligation bond to fund Parks & Recreation projects. Each $10 million that we need would “cost” about 1 cent per $100 of property valuation. In the end, we gave staff general direction to assign the scope to be the list of parks and recreation projects that total about $30 million, and hold onto the other $20 million of needs for another referendum.

Lastly, Laurie Hohe and Dianne Khin spoke with council about making master subdivision plans a properly administrative effort, rather than a judicial one decided by council. We mostly accepted the modifications of the UDO in order to establish objective criteria against which an administrative body, such as the planning board, can make approvals of MSPs, allowing council to focus on larger issues.

We departed having accomplished all the planned goals for the day: learn, discuss, decide and guide.

Apex Music Festival 2016 A Great Success – Septmber 19, 2016


“The Apex Music Festival 2016 provided a wonderful weekend activity for many who live in the Triangle, and produced some of the best music in the state. Besides being an event that appealed to music lovers all over, this and other town festivals contribute to the superior quality of life that has propelled Apex to be named as the The Best Place to Live in America.”

Lance Olive, Mayor

Apex, NC

Challenges for 2016, A Year After Being Named #1


Demand for homes in Apex has become very strong — annual population growth for 2016 may exceed 8% by year’s end and stay strong for 2-4 more years. So what are we doing in response?

We just hired a new plans examiner just to keep from getting further behind processing the sudden wave of construction permit applications. Apex will need to manage growth more closely than ever. Quality of life is a critical element of Apex livability and we are working hard as a team to ensure we don’t lose it.

To that end, we are focused on 1) minimizing traffic impacts, 2) ensuring business balance and 3) preserving nature. The Peakway extension, Olive Chapel / Kelly Rd intersection and TIAs for new development address traffic impacts. The 2030 Land Use Amendments and Economic Development pursuits address business. Tree City USA planning, funding parks and extending greenways address our commitment to nature.

And finally, our downtown is our crown jewel, so we will continue to invest to keep and preserve it, hosting events and festivals there, while supporting our unique small-town character businesses.

As more people decide they, too, want to live in Apex, your local government is working hard to manage the demands that come with being the #1 Best Place to Live in America for the past twelve months. Thank you for allowing us to serve you. We continue to welcome and value your inputs.

It’s best at The Peak!

Lance Olive, Mayor

Peak City Pig Fest 2016 – June 20, 2016


“The Peak City Pig Fest 2016 provided a wonderful weekend activity for many who live in the Triangle, and produced some of the best barbecue pork in the southeast. Besides being a fundraiser that ultimately benefits the community, this and other town festivals contribute to the superior quality of life that has propelled Apex to be named as the The Best Place to Live in America.”

Lance Olive, Mayor
Apex, NC

For Orlando…


Today we gather in remembrance — to honor the lives of the 49 dead and 53 wounded in Orlando, Florida. Their families grieve — and we grieve with them.

The man who committed this heinous crime pledged his allegiance to the Islamic State — and ISIS, in kind, has claimed victory in this massacre.

Today, we the citizens of Apex stand to say, “We are Americans. We are a nation of free people. You can not intimidate us, nor kill our people with impunity, nor put us under the oppression of your sharia law.”

We also mourn the loss of the child at the Disney resort and offer our prayers and support to the parents as they bear the weight of their family tragedy. Orlando has born much in the past week. And we pray for them.

For all these souls, lost, wounded and bereaved, we lay this wreath.

Lance Olive, Mayor

Apex, NC

Apex Friendship Middle School 2018


The Apex Town Council has been made aware that the Wake County School Board would like us to reconsider the two traffic mitigation conditions, namely new turn lanes to improve traffic flow to and from the future Apex Friendship Middle School, that were added to the site plan for the school.

In communication with the WCPSS facilities staff this morning, we have expressed our willingness to move forward with an expedited review. It’s been three months since the site plan approval, and I’m sure both parties agree that we have no time to waste. Apex staff awaits the request by WCPSS for reconsideration, so that hearing can be scheduled as quickly as possible. I will immediately call for a special meeting once their reconsideration request is ready to be heard.

Apex residents have told us very clearly that all new development should mitigate their traffic impacts, and the addition of a school should be no different from any other project. Council is eager to hear the analysis that supports their staff’s assertion that the implementation of these two conditions “will not change the level of service” for these intersections. While my experience tells me that adding turn lanes will improve school traffic flow, I am looking forward to hearing their case and seeing the data analysis.

The citizens of western Apex are looking forward to the opening of AFMS in 2018, as prioritized by WCPSS last year. I’m confident that, just like with the Town of Garner a few months ago, we will be able to come to an agreement that keeps this school’s construction on schedule and Wake County residents will soon be served with a new facility that will accommodate the growing number of middle-school-aged children in and around Apex.

March 13, 2016 – Downtown Apex Parking


When I ask people “What’s so great about Apex?”,”The Downtown” is given more than any other answer. Indeed, the rejuvenation of our central business district over the last 15 years has been a wonderful thing to witness, and has become the envy of many other North Carolina towns. The tenant occupancy rate stays above 95% and people from miles around make specific trips just to experience the home town feel.

But when I ask, “What’s wrong with our downtown?”, I hear “Not enough parking.” Indeed, employees alone account for an estimated 75 vehicles, while customers added another 50 to 200, depending on the time of day and day of the week. Every time the town figures out how to add a few parking spaces, they are filled immediately.

The most obvious solution is a parking garage. But those are hideous to look at.

Do parking decks have to be ugly?

My suggestion, which I put before the council at our March 4 retreat, is to plan and fund a Stealth Parking Deck on the site of the Saunders Street parking lot. I define this as a structure, perhaps 3 levels, that functions like a parking garage on the inside, but looks like a renovated warehouse, row of shops or even apartments on the perimeter.

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Town of Apex Public Parking Lot on Saunders Street

And if the façade is constructed using reclaimed brick and a “sloppy mortar” technique, the building can instantly look like a restored 100-year-old building that visually fits in perfectly with our existing downtown.


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Imagine this look on the outside of a working parking deck

On March 4, during the priorities exercise at the retreat, the council expressed strong support of an idea such as this, where it received a vote from 5 of the 6 elected officials, and was the favorite idea for 2 (strong support considering there were 50 ideas competing for only 15 votes and 1 gold star per council member).

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A fake “row of shops” could be constructed on the front of a parking garage

Our population grows by 150 people every month. The citizen demand to be downtown will only grow. What better way to support our downtown businesses and provide for our citizens than to put a downtown parking solution on our 3-year plan, fund and build it? Do you like the idea of a Stealth Parking Deck?