Challenges for 2016, A Year After Being Named #1

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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

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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