The Triangle Community Coalition had another successful Coffee Chat with the Town of Wake Forest Elected Officials and Staff on October 1, 2014. Joining our members in an informal chat were Mayor Vivian Jones, Commissioner Margaret Stinnett, Commissioner Anne Reeve, Commissioner Greg Harrington, Commissioner Jim Thompson, Commissioner Zachary Donahue. Town of Wake Forest staff included Chad Sary, Planning Department, Eric Keravuori, Engineering Department, Roe O’Donnell, Deputy Town Manager, Ruben Wall, Parks & Recreation Director, J.J. Carr, Inspections Director, Bill Crabtree, Public Information Officer, Darren Abbacchi, Wake Forest Police Department, Virginia Jones, Human Resources Director, Aileen Staples, Finance Director and Tom LaBarge, IT Director.
We provided the Town of Wake Forest leadership with a better perspective of the Triangle Community Coalition’s goal to be a proactive partner in growth and land use issues and to work with senior staff and elected officials to develop policies, regulations, and procedures to encourage economic development, produce predictable (yet flexible) outcomes for all stakeholders, and protect the community’s interests.
The Town appreciated the TCC’s ability to offer objective facts and information in efforts to improve public policy debates and create effective working relationships between the business community and local government. We had some great interaction with the TCC membership in attendance and had opportunity to talk about the following:
- Mayor Jones gave a brief introduction noting Wake Forest growth at 3% per year with a projected population of 50k in the next 10 years. Build out projection is 65k. She also noted the Downtown is thriving and the enhanced cultural arts with a new Renaissance Center.
- Wake Forest recently adopted a new UDO after a 3 year process making it more user friendly. Form based with flexibility and focused on quality, not diversity has resulted in good development. With 1000 new apartments approved in 4 projects and a surge of single-family developments, new urban style townhouse developments and anticipate more senior living projects resulting in all the “good land” in Wake Forest being gone. Dormant projects are being completed with upgrades and making greenway connections. Increased infill development is resulting in NIMBY-ism.
- Wake Forest website has a section with active projects under review which is updated monthly. You can sign up for an eNotifier to receive this report monthly to your inbox.
- Town of Wake Forest received AAA Bond rating and is one of 70 towns in the nation having a population under 30k to receive that rating.
- Loss of Privilege Tax authority will result in only $50k in lost taxes.
- Inspections department adopted a new building code last year and is maintaining good customer service by offering next-day inspections and scheduling inspections online.
- Deputy Town Manager reported the acquisition of open space using grant funds.
- Public Works noted that electric utility for 45% of Wake Forest customers but provides 65% of the town’s consumption. The department is performing more services in-house.
- Engineering Department reported spending $3 million for road paving. Wake Forest has completed new Streetscape along White Street. They are also evaluating pavement along the 88 miles of town maintained public streets and is working on de-listing Smith Creek to open up development opportunities in the area. Smith Creek interceptor – the town is evaluating bids. Richland interceptor will be going out to bid soon.
- Transition period for Utilities Merger with City of Raleigh should end around January 2015. Town has plenty of water and sewer capacity- allocation increases 4% per year from 2010 to 2020 and 3% per year from 2020-2030. Unused allocation stays with the town. Consumption is increasing at slower rate than projected and provided for.
- Parks and Recreation began updating the P&R Master Plan in August and expects it to take 6-8 months to devise a 10 year plan. A Bond will be on the ballot in November for $25 million with $14 million for parks.
- The Commissioners discussed with the TCC the idea of fixed bus stop locations and shelters as part of development plans. Fixed locations may be impractical as demographics change and TCC committed to bringing this idea to the WCPSS.
- Wake Forest has a mobile phone app call “See Click, Fix” that citizens can use to report issues that need addressing. This app also will send you notifications & texts of traffic & events.
If you are interested in participating in future meetings with the Town of Wake Forest or future Coffee Chats, watch for notices or contact the TCC offices at 919 812-7785 or Charlene Logan at email@example.com to reserve your spot! These programs are a great way for you, as an exclusive benefit as a TCC member, to become active and help the TCC strengthen our relationships with local jurisdictions throughout the Triangle.