For Orlando…

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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

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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

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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?

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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 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