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- The General Assembly has adjourned until April. The legislature was able to accomplish some important things during the long session, but one item still has yet to pass: the state’s budget for 2020-2021.
- The state’s seasonally adjusted December unemployment rate was 3.7 percent, decreasing 0.1 of a percentage point from November’s revised rate. The national rate remained unchanged at 3.5 percent. North Carolina’s December 2019 unemployment rate remained unchanged from a year ago. The number of people employed increased 7,227 over the month to 4,939,767 and increased 137,509 over the year. The number of people unemployed decreased 6,432 over the month to 191,019 and increased 5,095 over the year.
- North Carolina is the top state in the country for business, according to a new report from Forbes. The American business magazine published its 14th annual "Best States for Business" in December. Forbes said in a press release that the rankings were calculated based on 40 metrics spanning six main categories: business costs, labor supply, regulatory environment, economic climate, growth prospects and quality of life.
- A commuter rail system running 40 trains each weekday between Garner and Durham would cost $1.4 billion to $1.8 billion to build and carry 7,500 to 10,000 passengers a day, according to preliminary estimates from the regional transit agency GoTriangle.
- A major multi-million dollar road project has been announced for Johnston County. The North Carolina Department of Transportation gave the green light to the extension of N.C. 42 East across U.S. 70 and to Ranch Road. The goal is to alleviate traffic growth in Clayton and the surrounding communities. Right now, town officials say N.C. 42, a primary state highway, is “incomplete” and just ends at U.S. 70 Business and then starts again two miles down the road. The extension will get drivers to U.S. 70 Bypass in just one mile. The NCDOT’s Division 4 is in charge of managing the project and will be working on a schedule for the project. Right-of-way acquisition may begin in late 2020.
- Wake County Department of Tax Administration mailed about 395,000 notices to residential and commercial real estate property owners today. The notice provides them with a first look at their property's tax value as a result of the 2020 reappraisal, which was effective Jan. 1, 2020. It's important to note that the reappraisal only focuses on updating assessed values for 2020 – not the amount of property tax that will be due," said Tax Administrator Marcus Kinrade. "That cannot be precisely calculated until the county's Fiscal Year 2021 budget is adopted in June." In the meantime, property owners can see an estimate of what their upcoming tax obligation could be by using the county's Revenue-Neutral Tax Calculator. It provides an estimate of how the reappraisal might affect their property-specific taxes using revenue-neutral tax rates. Read more about Wake County Property Tax updates.
- Cary residents are encouraged to complete the 2020 Biennial Citizen Satisfaction Survey. Residents will be asked to share their opinions on how well Cary’s government works for them. The survey report is expected in the spring. Cary has been conducting this research since 2000, and past surveys are available online.
- NCDOT began constructing intersection improvements on Chapel Hill Road at Bowden Street and Sorrell Street. Improvements include road widening to provide left-turn lanes onto Bowden Street and Sorrell Street and associated drainage improvements. These improvements were identified due to safety concerns with vehicles using wide pavement to illegally pass vehicles turning left. These changes will improve safety and eliminate deep rutting on the shoulder of the street. This improvement was designed and funded as part of Cary’s FY2016 Intersection Improvements Project. Construction is expected to take about two months.
- The Carrboro Town Council recently heard an update on the 203 Project, the multi-million-dollar development project planned for the surface parking lot off Greensboro Street. Design plans for the project were tabled after the announcement by The ArtsCenter it would no longer be part of the plans and would find a different space for its relocation. The town continues to seek public input.
- With Chapel Hill Town Council member Rachel Schaevitz announcing she will be stepping down from her position to move to New Zealand, a council position will soon have an unexpected vacancy. Discussion is now underway as to whether Council should take this opportunity to reduce the size to seven seats, or whether to fill the vacancy another way. No decision has been made as of yet.
- Climate Action and Response Plan: The Council considered early plans for the development of a Climate Action and Response Plan. Find more at www.townofchapelhill.org/greencity
- The Council continued the public hearing on new massing standards designed to increase pedestrian connections and visual permeability, and reduce the visual impact of taller buildings in the Blue Hill District. Existing standards will be updated to include maximum building length and depth, and minimum separation between buildings, with criteria to make inviting spaces. This item will be continued on Feb. 19.
- Clayton is building a $3.5 million pedestrian tunnel and greenway extension into Downtown Clayton. Construction has closed Legend Park and will mean temporary shutdowns of O’Neil Street and the Sam’s Branch Trailhead and parking area - exact dates have not been determined, but the closure of O'Neil will likely be in the spring of 2020 and will mean drivers needing to detour down Covered Bridge and City Road. The greenway will connect to Legend Park, giving walkers, runners, and bicyclists a safe and scenic trail into Downtown Clayton.
- Michelle Stegall has been appointed Planning Director effective January 6. Michelle was the Current Planning Manager for the Town before having this role.
- You can check out the results from the Residential Infill Development Survey by clicking HERE. With over 62,000 responses and 10,000 individual comments, staff analyzed and put together these results.
- Earlier this month, the Raleigh City Council moved to disband the Community Advisory Council (CAC) system, which had been used to give local residents an opportunity to weigh-in on rezonings and new development. The Council has promised to replace the system with a new Office of Community Engagement and has hired a consultant to help develop a new engagement plan. Read more on this new development from City Lab here.
- The Raleigh City Council has also made significant progress on the problem of “missing middle housing.” This month, text changes were authorized that would allow for the by-right construction of duplexes, triplexes, and quadplexes in any residential district. An additional study was authorized on issues such as setbacks, lot sizes, etc. that may also be barriers towards new construction. There will be public hearings and a vote on these text changes in the next few months. These moves follow moves in January to allow the by-right construction of Accessory Dwelling Units and a repeal of the Accessory Dwelling Unit Overlay that was approved by the last Council.
- Two grants, totaling $4.8 million, will help fund street revitalization and road improvements in downtown Rolesville. The state money will fund 80% of the projects. The town will pitch in the remaining costs, about $1.2 million. One project, to cost an estimated $2.3 million, will realign the intersection of Main Street and Burlington Mills Road. The town said the improvements may attract commercial investment in the area. The second project will add crosswalks, curb, gutter, sidewalks and bike improvements on Main Street between Burlington Mills Road and Young Street. The $3.7 million streetscape is intended to give U.S. Highway 401 Business a main-street feel.