March 1, 2016

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Welcome to March! Can’t believe it? Me neither! I’ve been in office for only 3 months, but it feels closer to a year. We have gotten so much done since I’ve been mayor! It’s time once again to review the past week…

On Monday, I met several walkers to raise money for MS. They stopped for lunch at the Anna’s Pizzeria, and what a great bunch. Later that day we had a 2-hour economic planning session where we helped prepare the economic study for South Salem Street, between Friendship and New Hill. The biggest take away was that we all want to make sure the important intersections are able to be developed for commercial use in order to serve the future residential population there.

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On Tuesday, the development community provided similar feedback to the economic study professionals. Then I went to the Apex Area Teacher of the Year awards, sponsored by the Apex Chamber of Commerce. It was great to meet several principals, whom I did not yet know. Then we had a Planning Committee meeting where we discussed possible proposals to move the Veridea project forward and then possibilities for off-site non-residential in mixed use zonings. Lastly, we had the town council meeting at 7pm to finish up the agenda from Feb 16.

On Wednesday, I met with the chair of the Parks, Recreation & Cultural Resources Advisory Commission. We discussed some minor tweaks to the concept plan for Pleasant Park and had a nice coffee.

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On Thursday, I went for Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) Training to get a handle on how we ask for, and sometimes receive, state funding for sidewalk, street and other transportation projects. I then met a land buyer for lunch, my treat.

On Friday, I met with a council member and a business owner to discuss how we can continue finding ways to make Apex a great place to work, as well as to live. And on the weekend, a young lady from Skip-Its interviewed me on leadership and humility.

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In the coming week, we have our first regular meeting of the town council for March tonight, where we will have mostly presentations and a few new business items on the agenda. Looking forward to a breather soon. It’s busy, but I love it.

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February 22, 2016

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The week started out with a meeting of the Wake County Mayors. There is so much experience in that room, and it’s really encouraging to see how well folks get along. We all share a common goal: to help our respective towns be the best they can be. We bond over that, and whatever “political” differences we might have are never at issue, because we’re too focused on our common problems and solutions. I am blessed to have such good mentors, and I’d wager no other county in the state has as functional a set of mayors as we have in Wake.

Tuesday night we had 6-1/2 hours planned on our agenda, so we trimmed about 1-1/2 off (to be heard Feb 23rd) and kept it to a 5-hour meeting. The two biggest issues to be heard were Crossroads Ford Rezoning Request and the residential parking issue near Apex High School. The rezoning request of 45 acres next to US 64 and Davis Drive was ultimately rejected by the council. They could come back with a different idea soon. The parking issue was resolved with a temporary change to the UDO that allows a Temporary Use Permit to be submitted by a property owner near the school that desires to allow some students to park on their property until the end of the school year.

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Proposed Auto Dealership (Denied)

On Wednesday, the Triangle Community Coalition had a “coffee chat” with Town of Apex folks — a few directors, town manager, a couple of council members and myself. We talked about development, the future, locations, growth and other factors to affect their working “sphere”. It was a good meeting, had been almost two years since the last one, and they certainly want to do it again. They had representatives from HBA Wake, and various builders and interested parties. Shout out to Sheetz for the coffee!

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TCC Coffee Chat (top) – CAMPO TAC (bottom)

On the same afternoon I went to monthly CAMPO TAC meeting in Raleigh, where we were able to secure the state grant of over $2M to help build the bridge over CSX for the Apex Peakway on the southwest of town.

On Thursday night, I spent an hour flipping through some old issues of the Western Wake Herald (Feb/Mar 1973). I found photos of both my parents in there! That was our centennial celebration year, and the whole town was gearing up for the long party!

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Ross Olive (left) – Nancy Olive (right) in Western Wake Herald, Feb 1973

The rest of the week was one-on-one meetings. On Friday, I met with the chair of the Planning Board, David Hooks. On Saturday, I met with State House Representative (District 41) Gale Adcock, and also one of the members of town council. I want to build up my relational network, and that’s going to take some time.

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Eagle Scout Award Ceremony

I rounded out the week by attending an Eagle Scout Award Ceremony at the Church of J.C. of L.D.S. Congratulations to Grant Johnson, Isaac Peart, and Jacob Conners! Well done, sirs!

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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 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.

Disc Golf comes to Apex, NC!

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Citizens will finally be able to play disc golf in Apex

Citizens will finally be able to play disc golf in Apex

This Saturday, March 29, 2014 the Apex Nature Park will have a Grand Opening, including disc golf lessons. But it almost didn’t happen. The park’s Master Plan did not have disc golf anywhere on it. In fact, no one had even considered it. Until I educated them.

In October 2004, I went in front of the Town of Apex Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission and asked them if any of them had ever heard of disc golf. 100% said “no”. So I proceeded to teach them by presenting a 27-slide educational deck which included the following:

The Need
Disc golfers in Apex had to go to Raleigh or Harris Lake in order to play disc golf. Apex offered nothing (nor did Cary, in fact). And disc golf adoption was growing exponentially across the country.

The Education
The disc, the correct term, is similar to a Frisbee®, made by Wham-O, except it has a sharp edge so it can fly great distances. The tee box is a concrete pad that serves as the starting point. The basket is a metal wire receptacle on a pole, with a chain above, and serves as the destination. The game is played like golf — the player throws a long-flying disc (driver), then walks to the place it landed, throws a mid-range flying disc (approach) and eventually tosses the final disc (putter) into the basket. Counting the throws as strokes, the golfer keeps score just as in “ball golf.” Groups play together in twosomes, threesomes and foursomes, they “play through” when the group behind has faster play, and an ace is rare but achievable on some shorter holes. Etiquette is much the same when it comes to avoiding noise during another player’s throw, not crossing between a player and their destination and touching other people’s discs that in are play.

The Appeal
For players, the game is easier to master and much less expensive than ball golf. A wide ranges of ages can participate and the game can be as casual or as serious as one wishes. It encourages walking among the trees, which act as natural obstacles. For recreation departments, it is less expensive to install and maintain than traditional sports, it leaves more of nature undisturbed by leaving medium and large trees in place. It can theoretically support 72 (4×18) simultaneous citizens (players) maximizing the utilization of the infrastructure.

The Town of Apex Nature Park is located at 2600 Evans Rd, near the intersection of Apex Barbecue Rd. The Grand Opening is Saturday, March 29, 2014 at 10:00 AM and will include disc golf demonstrations.

Here is the site map:

 

 

Apex Nature Park Site Map

 Copyright 2014 Lance Olive, All Rights Reserved.

Money from the Dead

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Government Taking Money

US Government: Taking money from the dead

The San Jose Mercury News has reported that a very wealthy client has taken out life insurance policies worth a world record 201 million US dollars, spending at least 5% of that in annual premiums. Financial experts attribute just one likely motive — to mitigate and/or avoid estate taxes upon death.

The United States has had a federal estate tax in place since Congress passed the War Revenue Act of 1898, the purpose of which was to raise funding for the war with Spain following the sinking of the USS Maine in Havana Harbor, Cuba. The Republican who proposed the original House of Representatives bill #10100 to fund the war favored fair public participation via sales taxes. The Senate Democrats, however, along with a few Republicans, made several amendments that added an estate tax to the bill. For the past 115 years, countless Americans have paid those taxes on their demise.

Despite the Supreme Court’s finding that these estate taxes are constitutional, we should ask if they are a good and fair way of raising revenue, and if the law should be finally be repealed.

Much of this debate centers around the definition of fair taxation. The conservative approach focuses on everyone’s participation through consumption, or sales taxes. The more one purchases, the more one pays, using a percentage of the price to determine the taxes owed. By contrast, the liberal approach is to tax the rich Americans at a higher rate, taking a disproportionate amount (due to an increasing rate) based on their possessions. And the least objectionable way to do that is to tax them when they die.

At this point, you might be saying, “Yeah, but this estate tax only applies to the super wealthy.” But first consider how you would respond to this approach if the law did apply to you, a middle class citizen.

Imagine this scenario: Your parents are driving down to Florida for a nice beach weekend together and have an unfortunate and fatal accident. The probate comes through and your tax attorney informs you that you have inherited all their possessions, with a net worth of $100,000. By today’s standards, that’s not a lot, but it’s something. Then he says, “But you need to pay the federal government $23,800 immediately.”

If you would object to the government taxing your parents at their death, and putting you in the position of having to sell some possessions in order to get the IRS off your back, then you should object, out of principle, to this same approach being applied to the wealthy. This country is founded on equality and this should apply to taxation as well as rights.

Today, the estate tax applies to all US citizens, with a 5 million dollar exemption and a 35% tax rate. When structured correctly, the proceeds of the life insurance policy go directly to the beneficiary, rather than the estate, and therefore can be excluded from estate taxes. This is most certainly what the mystery record-setting policy holder has done to avoid, or significantly reduce, the amount of federal “death taxes” to be paid.

Attempts to use regulation to take from the rich are often thwarted by clever financial advisors and legal experts, even when the objective is to wait until someone’s demise. Once again, the middle class gets hurt by this attempt and the attorneys cash in.

So is it time to eliminate the federal estate tax? Consider the following countries who have recently abolished it:

  • 1972 Canada
  • 1979 Australia
  • 1981 Israel
  • 1985 India
  • 1992 New Zealand
  • 2005 Sweden
  • 2006 Russia
  • 2006 Hong Kong
  • 2008 Singapore
  • 2008 Austria
  • 2014 Norway

In America, the government already taxes our property and our income while while we’re alive. And it’s difficult enough to deal with the passing of our parents when it happens. Let’s work to eliminate the estate tax and stop taking money from the dead.

Raleigh Council Mulls Restricting Business

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Raleigh Council Member Wishes to Clamp Down on Signs

Raleigh Council Member Wishes to Clamp Down on Signs

If a business owner wants to put a sign in his window, should he be allowed to put that sign there and exercise his right to advertise his business in a manner that’s not a public nuisance?

The city of Raleigh found out about one business’ use, or intended use, of an electric-powered sign placed in the window in order to attract attention to their real estate business.  And the planning board of citizen advisors and planning department staff are now looking into the possibility of tightening up the sign laws.

The placement of signs in the windows of a business is a practice long supported by free American business people for 250 years.  And despite this history of free enterprise and exercising private property rights, council member Thomas Crowder has gone on record citing his desire to “make Raleigh more attractive”, mitigate the “safety risk if police cannot see within a business” and address lit signs that “are like the sun”.  In other words, he’s making a case for regulating the type and amount of signage in a shop’s own windows.

Mr. Crowder goes too far in citing these as valid reasons for writing the new regulations. Mr. Crowder, do you wish to regulate signs out next to the road right of way?  Fine.  Keep them, low, static and safe for drivers.  It’s understandable to try and prevent the NC 17 and 24 effect that Jacksonville and the surrounding areas suffer, with so many billboards and lit signs.  But you want to stop a shopowner from putting signs in the window of his store?  Hands off our business. Government should stay out so long as it’s not a public nuisance or patently offensive.  When you say people complain about signs that are “bright like the sun”, your hyperbole belies the fact that you know down deep you’re overreaching and need to resort to exaggeration and emotion to gain support for your regulation.

The matter is expected to be presented to the Raleigh city council in one to two months.

Should electronic window signs be considered OK in the city limits?  Or are they the first step on the slippery slope of becoming “too Vegas”?