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State and Local Updates - January 2020

Government Affairs ,

STATE

  • Unemployment Stats: The state’s seasonally adjusted November unemployment rate was 3.8%, decreasing 0.2% from October’s revised rate. The national rate decreased 0.1% to 3.5%. North Carolina’s November 2019 unemployment rate increased 0.1% from a year ago. The number of people employed increased 7,892 over the month to 4,932,389 and increased 130,472 over the year. The number of people unemployed decreased 6,711 over the month to 197,456 and increased 12,077 over the year.

REGIONAL

  • The U.S. Department of Transportation will loan the North Carolina Turnpike Authority up to $501.5 million to help finance the construction of N.C. Highway 540 toll road in southern Wake County, U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. This $501.5 million federal investment in transportation infrastructure in the Raleigh region will promote economic growth while enhancing mobility and reducing congestion for area residents and travelers," Chao said in a statement. The state will use toll revenue from the highway to repay the loan.

DURHAM COUNTY

  • Durham is in the process of developing its new Comprehensive Plan, which is a plan aimed at directing and managing future growth. Anyone living or working in Durham is encouraged to complete the survey online.

WAKE COUNTY

  • Wake County's Housing and Community Revitalization Department has launched Wake Prevent!, a new initiative under its Division of Homelessness and Prevention Services aimed at helping vulnerable families facing homelessness. Wake Prevent! rental assistance and case management is available to Wake County families who are:
    • At or below 50% of the area median income (currently $46,350 for a family of four); and
    • Less than 30 days to homelessness.
    • They must also meet at least one of the following criteria:
      • Currently fleeing or attempting to flee domestic violence;
      • Doubling up (couch surfing) and told to leave the unit;
      • Notified by the property owner or manager that they must vacate a leased property;
      • Paying for a hotel/motel without assistance; or
      • Exiting an institution (mental/physical health, prison) with no resources or support system to assist upon release.
  • Wake Prevent! is referral-based and accessible through the Coordinated Entry System. To access Wake Prevent! as well as shelter and support services, individuals can contact a Coordinated Entry Access Site to set up an appointment. Coordinated Entry Access Sites are located in the following locations:

For more information, visit wakegov.com/housing.

APEX

  • On December 17, 2019, the Town Council adopted the Apex Downtown Master Plan and Parking Study, establishing an exciting new vision for downtown! For more information, click HERE

CARY

  • Town leaders in Cary have approved two multi-million-dollar projects that could reshape downtown and a struggling mall. After 10 years of debate, an empty lot on Academy Street will soon be home to a $50-million development that includes commercial space, 180-apartments, and a multi-million-dollar parking deck. In an effort to revitalize the struggling Cary Towne Center, town leaders voted to rezone the area, making way for millions of square feet for mixed-use.

CHAPEL HILL

  • A new parking garage could be coming to downtown Chapel Hill. The West End parking deck is being considered for W. Franklin Street. Engineers wrapped up a study which found parking spaces are needed to keep up with growth in downtown. The town manager is expected to consider financing options and set a public hearing on Feb. 12, 2020. It would give the council and public a chance to talk about the project and a parking payment-in-lieu-program.
  • A University of North Carolina undergraduate has captured a seat on the Chapel Hill Town Council, recount election results. Tai Huynh, a UNC-Chapel Hill senior, received 3,959 votes. Nancy Oates, who joined the council in 2015, had 3,935 votes.
  • The Council received public comments and considered proposed changes to provide consistency regarding Concept Plans and to allow multi-family development as conditional zoning applications. The Planning Commission recommended that the Council enact the proposed amendments. The Council continued the public hearing to Jan. 8, 2020, for further public input and consideration.

DURHAM (CITY)

  • The floodplain maps along the Granville and Person County borders have been updated. These changes became effective on December 6, 2019. Please see Letter to Industry for more details, and impact to approved, pending, and future development applications in affected areas. For questions, please contact Maie Armstrong, EI, CFM, Development Services Engineer at armstrong@durhamnc.gov

GARNER

  • Changes to fee schedule- ** Effective January 1, 2020 **
  • Construction Drawing Review Fee
    • Fee Amount Initial Construction Drawing Fee (includes 2 reviews and 1 signature submittal): $500 + $10 per lot
    • Subsequent Construction Drawing Fee (per each additional review): $300
  • Development Review Fee    Current Fee Amount New Fee Amount
  • Major Subdivision, Preliminary Plat—CUP $500 + $10 per lot $600 + $10 per lot
  • Major Subdivision, Preliminary Plat—SUP $500 + $10 per lot $600 + $10 per lot
  • Major Subdivision, Preliminary Plat     $250 + $5 per lot $300 + $5 per lot.

HOLLY SPRINGS

  • At the Holly Springs Town Council’s December 3 meeting, new Council Members Aaron Wolff and Shaun McGrath took the oath of office. Outgoing Council Member Tom O’Brien was honored for his service. Outgoing Council Member Cheri Lee, who was unable to attend the meeting, is to be honored at a future meeting.  
  • The Town Council approved entering into a development agreement regarding about 190 acres near the intersection of Green Oaks Parkway and Holly Springs New Hill Road, a portion of which the town's Economic Development Department can market to potential businesses. Large tracts of land under single ownership are very attractive and a valuable commodity for targeting industrial projects.
  • Convenience is on its way for commuters; an express route bus service is coming to Holly Springs. The Holly Springs Express bus service was discussed by the Holly Springs Town Council at its November 19 meeting. HSX, a new GoCary-operated express service, will provide weekday peak commuter service between Holly Springs, Apex and Cary, where riders can connect with other lines. Initial service is expected to start in early 2020 with one bus stop at an existing bus shelter in Holly Springs Towne Center. Additional bus stops may be added later in 2020.

MORRISVILLE

  • The Town announced that the vacant Planner I position has been filled. Emily Langston started with the Planning Department in December. She will be handling all Final Plat reviews, the Planning Department’s review of all non-residential permits and assisting with the review of special event permit applications, among other things.
  • After 16 ½ years with the Town, Code Enforcement Officer John Barnard is retiring. His last day was December 31, 2019. The Town is currently developing a coverage plan so that others can pick up his sign permit, food truck permit, residential inspection, code enforcement and other duties until a replacement is found.  
  • Progress has been made last month in the implementation of the new Energov software system. All building permits and fire operational permits are now live. For more information, contact Michele Stegall at mstegall@townofmorrisville.org

RALEIGH

  • Mayor Baldwin said the Council’s agenda includes a bond referendum that will be on the ballot in 2020. “Think of it as a quality of life initiative supporting the construction of Phase One of Dix Park, building and maintaining our entire parks and greenway system in an equitable way, and supporting housing affordability. 
  • At its most recent meeting on Tuesday, January 7th, the City Council voted against TC-7-19: Infill Subdivisions and Recombination. This text change would have made infill development harder by limiting opportunities to subdivide lots. 
  • At the same meeting, the Council voted to approve TC-13-19: Building Heights, which removes the height cap measurement in feet for buildings seven stories and above.
  • The Council also authorized a draft text change on Parking Requirements in the Downtown Mixed Use (DX) zoning district. The text change process will take some time, but it appears the Council will be moving towards eliminating parking requirements in DX districts.