Episode #9 of the Apex Roundup Podcast. It’s the “Let Me Speak” special.
In this episode, I’ve rounded up for you…
- Part 2 of my interview with Apex resident and Human Trafficking Freedom Fighter, Whitney Ludlow, where she has confessions about the Publix grocery store and her real reason for being in a book club.
- I explain to you the town’s policy on speaking at the public forum and public hearings.
- The Apex town council updates from the October 3rd meeting, where a family dentist wants to relocate her practice one block over, causing a bit of a stir, and we begin the process to buy a solar array.
All coming your way. Right now.
Jumping into podcasting with both boots, I’m Lance Olive, host of the Apex Roundup Podcast. I’m glad you’re here with me right now. My goal is to bring you the news of Apex that the print media no longer covers. The Apex Herald? They folded in 2013. The Southwest Wake insert to the News & Observer? They’ve gone foodie. It’s not even news. And even social media posts almost never present both sides of the story.
That’s why I’m here. Thirty minutes, twice a month, I round up the stories, the decisions and the opinions, and I share ’em with you.
You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, iTunes and Google. Just search for Apex Roundup with Lance Olive.
Bam! Let’s get started, shall we?
The Apex Town Council met on Tuesday, October 3rd, at 7:00pm to hold its first regularly scheduled meeting of the month at town hall. Council Member Wilkie was absent, leaving a quorum comprised of four members. On the agenda we had one presentation, twelve items on consent agenda, four public forums scheduled (but only one heard), some old business to sell a parcel of land, some unfinished business to buy a solar panel array to place atop a public building.
For the presentation, I read a proclamation for Town of Apex Government’s participation in Public Power Week 2017, and we saw a short video of the electric utilities team in action [Watch on YouTube] (3:39).
The consent agenda items were all enacted with a single motion that passed unanimously.
This being the first regularly scheduled meeting of the month, we opened the public forum, but no one signed up to speak, so we closed it and moved along.
Public Hearing #1 was the family dentistry practice that wanted to move one block over, yet met with a bit of opposition from neighbors. This was a rezoning application #17CZ15 submitted by Peak City Properties, LLC, to add medical/dental use to the parcel at 200 West Chatham Street, which was already zoned as Mixed Office Residential Retail, Conditional Use. Dr. Kelly Viau has had this practice in the downtown for 20 years and now wants to move it to her home a block away, which is currently still in the MORR Small Downtown Character overlay district.
We got off to a bumpy start with some unhappy residents wanting to spend their time arguing with me about the public speaking policies, which have been in place for almost two years now. I’ll go over these later in the podcast.
While some of the residents expressed concerns over parking and made legal arguments that this should not be allowed (three spoke against it), a large number of downtown business owners, at least twelve, supported her desire to relocate around the corner, freeing up a prime retail space on North Salem Street (three spoke in favor). The council went into closed session to get clarity on the claims that this request is a classic case of spot zoning, and came back out sufficiently clear on the terms as they apply to this parcel.
Here is what Dr. Viau had to say about her request:
play audio clip here
Staff assessed the available public parking and recommended approval. The measure passed by a vote of 3 to 1, with Council Member Dozier voting no.
Public Hearing #2, #17CZ19, also known as Horton Park PUD, located near Jessie Drive, has gone back Planning Board due to the significant modifications made to the proposal.
Public Hearing #3, a possible purchase of 121 acres of land for the purpose of economic development, was continued by the council, at the request of town staff, until the October 17th meeting. This was a unanimous vote.
Public Hearing #4, Annexation request #613, consisting of four and a half acres on Whistling Quail Run, was continued by the council, at the request of the applicant. This was a unanimous vote.
And that concluded the public hearings.
The council then heard Old Business #1, to begin the upset bid process for a parcel of land near the US 64 and NC 55 intersection. The town has no further use of the land and would like to sell it. The council voted unanimously to begin the process.
The next item was some Unfinished Business #1 to consider a contract to lease-to-own a solar photovoltaic (PV) electric generation system for the roof of the Public Works Operations building. The expected payback period is about eight years. The council voted unanimously to authorize the town manager and town attorney to execute the contract. Installation can be expected to begin about a month after all the paperwork is complete. The lease cost is $30,000 now and then $3,000 after five years, substantially less than the $54,000 purchase price.
At around 9pm, the council then went to close session for personnel matters.
The meeting formally adjourned around 9:40 pm.
The content of this podcast is proudly produced in Apex, North Carolina. By listening to it, you agree to hold me harmless for anything I say here. Although I am indeed the mayor, the opinions expressed by me are my own. All information shared on this podcast is already public record. This podcast is a private venture and no public or campaign money was used in its production. Make decisions by doing your own research, because I’m just here for your entertainment. No lawyers witnessed my writing of this disclaimer.
In this episode I continue my interview with Whitney Ludlow, Apex resident and warrior against Human Trafficking. If you missed the first part, pause right now and go back to episode 008 so you can catch up, and then resume here once you’re done.
But first, this episode is sponsored by Time 2 Go Travel, featuring group trips for home school families and girl scouts. Time 2 Go Travel is now developing a Concierge Trip to Ireland, where someone else plans all the logistics of the trip and takes you and your friends to at least five cities in Ireland. Learn and have fun while someone else does the hard work to make your Irish dream trip happen. All you have to do is pack, and meet the group at the airport. To learn more about this concierge trip to Ireland, go to Time 2 Go Travel’s website at t2gt.com. That’s T, the number two, G T dot com. If you book the trip and use the promo code “APEXROUNDUP”, you’ll receive $100 off the cost of the trip.
So let’s join the interview with Whitney Ludlow, already in progress.
Whitney tells how she ended up in Apex after her education at Appalachian State University. She spends time helping Nicole Bernard with her non-profit called Second Life, part of the International Justice Mission. Life in Bella Casa means she frequents Beaver Creek Shopping Center and confesses her initial reluctance of having a Publix so near to Olive Chapel Elementary School, but admits to having grown to like it. Her kids participate in Upward Basketball and Robotics Classes. Her family is helping the 519 church to plant in Morrisville as a mobile church. We found our connection through Jim and Laurie Stella. Her participation in the neighborhood book club was more social than reading, and that’s OK. She’s focused on transitioning the oldest boy to middle school, wondering if he will be at the new Apex Friendship Middle School. We end by considering how the Freedom Week in Apex, to help educate citizens on Human Trafficking, and that Second Life will be based here in Apex.
That concludes my interview with Human Trafficking warrior, Whitney Ludlow. On the next episode of the Apex Roundup Podcast, I’ll have another great guest interview.
For the final segment of the podcast, I want to help you understand how the public process works, and specifically share with you the guidelines for speaking during town council meetings.
There are three main things to keep in mind when attending a town council meeting.
- The public doesn’t play an active role during the majority of a town council meeting. The council meeting is a gathering of your elected representatives and, while the public are welcome because it is an open meeting, they can not disrupt the flow of the meeting, nor hinder the council’s ability — duty, in fact — to conduct the business of the town. This means that while council is in session, the audience should not attempt to make comments toward, or ask questions of, council members, town staff or proposal applicants. The purpose of this rule is to maintain order so business can be conducted effectively and efficiently. If we are not in a declared period of public comment, then the public should respect the needs of the council to conduct business and listen quietly.
- The Public Forum. North Carolina General Statute 160A-81.1 requires that each local government hold a public comment period per month if they meet during that month. We call ours The Public Forum and it usually happens around 7:10 p.m. and lasts from 0 to 45 minutes, depending on the number of speakers. We also have the ability to adopt rules to govern the conduct and ours were made effective July 19, 2016. I’ll share those with you in just a minute. Public Forum time is when any citizen may share their thoughts on any matter relevant to the town council. You talk, the council listens.
- Public Hearings. When a proposal for consideration comes before the town and is required by law to accept public input as part of the process, we hold a public hearing. In fact, before it comes to the council it will usually go to the Planning Board first, which is your first, best opportunity to learn about the project and voice your opinion. The council is given the same ability to set policies to guide the speaking at a public hearing, specifically North Carolina General Statute 160A-81.
The town has published, what we call, the Public Forum and Public Hearing Participation Policy, and we have a hard copy on yellow paper on the podium at the council chambers entrance. In a nutshell, here’s how it goes… and this will be on the web in my show notes on apex roundup dot come slash 009.
- Appear in person and sign in at the beginning of the meeting. We need to be able to get your name on the record. As mayor, I use these sheets to call the next speaker up to the podium.
- Provide any handouts to the town clerk in advance. The clerk will distribute them so you don’t have to do it during your time allotment.
- Avoid repetitious testimony and designate one person per household to allow for fair opportunity for others to speak.
- For groups of four or more, who must be present, designate a spokesperson to provide the feedback of the group. A spokesperson will get nine (9) minutes to state the case of the group. This works well for a neighborhood or a group with a common interest.
- Individuals have three (3) minutes to make relevant comments on the topic at hand. We have a 3-light system on the podium. The green light we be lit for two and a half minutes, then the yellow comes on. When you’ve hit the red light, your time is up and you must stop. If this seems unusually harsh or extreme, realize that your most salient points can be made in about 60 seconds. More isn’t always better. There is a reason that people in business work hard to develop their elevator pitch — what happens in the first 15 seconds has the most impact. Focus on what’s most important to you, backup your point and toss the rest. I’d rather have a single well-supported point than a 12-point issues list any day, and I suspect the rest of the council would agree with me. And, by the way, those three minutes are yours. You can’t give them to someone else.
- Since applause and cheering and disruptive and use the speaker’s time, I encourage those in the audience who agree with anything they are hearing to use the American Sign Language “deaf applause” sign, which is to hold your hands straight up in the air and wiggle them like leaves on a tree. The council will see that and interpret that as strong support for something just said.
- This is a one-way communication path. You speak and the council listens. It’s not Q&A or debate time. If you ask a question, the council may take note of the question and, if they wish to add that to their own line of questioning or debate, they will do so. But they won’t be engaging in dialogue. This keeps us focused on receiving input before we begin deliberation.
- The maximum time limit for public input is 45 minutes or 15 speakers, whichever comes first. This is sufficient input for the council to come up to speed on the public sentiment and concerns. If you’ve ever been to a different government meeting where this policy isn’t in place, you’ll understand why it’s so important to have it. The council needs this cut-off in order to move the meeting progress forward.
I hope you’ve found this helpful or educational. If any of these are confusing, you can contact me by using one of the many methods listed on the web at apex roundup dot com slash contact.
Hey! Thanks for joining me today for the ninth episode of the Apex Roundup Podcast.
Today I brought you updates from the October 3rd Apex Town Council meeting, including the proposal to move Dr. Viau’s dentist office downtown to her current home a block away. You got to hear the second half of my interview with Whitney Ludlow. And I shared the public speaking policies for the Apex Town Council. If you want to review the show notes for this episode, point your web browser to apex roundup dot com slash 009 and you’ll be able to scroll down to read this entire episode.
Next episode I’ll be share the happenings of the Apex town council meeting for October 17th. I’ll also have the first half of another great interview with an Apex resident or business owner. So subscribe to the podcast and make sure you don’t miss it.
You can find this podcast on the web at Apex Roundup dot com and subscribe in iTunes and Google Play. Follow me on Twitter and Facebook (@apexroundup).
Hey. What’s on YOUR mind? Do you have an opinion to share? Got any questions related to Apex? Go to Apex Roundup dot com slash contact and you can find multiple ways to get in touch with me.
I’m so glad you listened all the way to the end with me today. Until the next roundup… Happy Trails!