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