Sunday, November 18, 2007

Parking is not a problem...

There has never been enough parking in downtown Apex until a free municipal parking facility was built in early 2007. Now there are so many parking places off Salem Street that most everyone can drive to the downtown historic district and park in the new, spacious lot across from the police station on Saunders street and easily get to any downtown destination.

From that lot it is an easy walk of just a hundred feet to the first stores on Salem Street and a modest walk of two or three blocks to the southern part of downtown. No problem now!

Head on downtown and check out the many shops, restaurants and businesses in the restored old historic district and experience the charm and small town character of this now bustling former small country North Carolina community.

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Sunday, September 2, 2007

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Zero lot line homes bring considerable danger

Zero lot line homes have gained in popularity in the last couple of years, but the alleged benefits of close living brings a significant increase in the level of danger inherent in the property design. The concept has gained in popularity with home owners that don't have time or don't want to maintain a large yard. The method also provides builders with yet another way to maximize profit and pack more homes onto a given piece of property during development.

Most zero lot line sites permit a home to have one side on the property line and often are built almost as large as the lot. Sometimes two adjacent homes will be built with a firewall between them. Either way there is built in risk that comes with the close proximity of homes built with this construction method.

On two separate occasions, multiple homes have been destroyed or greatly damaged in the same neighborhood in Rolesville, NC, as a direct result of having been built so close together. Early in 2007 and again in August, 2007, two homes were completely destroyed because the intense fire in one caused the other to catch fire and burn to the ground. In both cases additional houses close to the ones that were burned had substantial damage as a direct result of being so close to the houses that were destroyed.

In many cases the homes are so close together and the fires are so intense that firefighters are unable to get close enough to put out the primary fire. And when such a fire breaks out there is almost always significant collateral damage for the homeowners on either side. Adjacent homes will likely have siding melted or burned off the end next to the main fire and will often have further damage requiring major repairs.

In the Town of Apex, you can voice your opinion to help reduce or ban zero-lot-line building techniques by contacting your local Planning Board or Town Council members and telling them to not allow this form of construction. If located elsewhere look up your local community's website and search for Town Council or Planning Board.
News 14 Carolina
August 22, 2007
Ann Forte

ROLESVILLE, N.C. -- Three families are homeless after a fire ripped through their Rolesville homes Tuesday evening. The blaze happened on Ashbrittle Drive in the Village of Rolesville development.

"I was petrified. It was right across the street," recalled neighbor Jeanette Whalen.

Whalen said she heard a popping sound and looked out her window to see her neighbors' homes engulfed in flames.

"Our neighbor was trying to put it out with the hose and trying to get the dogs out," Whalen explained.

The fire spared Whalen's home, but the heat from it caused her siding to buckle. Fire officials believe the fire could have started in the garage of one of the homes that is a complete loss, then it spread to one next door. A third home sustained significant damage.

“The fire got ahead of us. When we got here, it was fully involved, and it's hard to put one out like that," said Rolesville Fire Chief Rodney Privette.

No one was injured, but at least one pet dog was killed in the blaze.

This is the second such fire in the same neighborhood this summer. In June, a propane tank spontaneously combusted. That fire destroyed two homes.

"Ever since we had the fire on the next block, it's been a concern to all of us,” Whalen said, “and I think everyone's been really careful with flammables and stuff because the houses are frankly very close."

Fire investigators will be back on the scene Wednesday to try to determine what sparked the fire.

A few firefighters did get sick from the heat while battling the blaze, but all are said to be doing fine. Original story...

Monday, August 13, 2007

Three-car accident at Apex intersection with no signal

Three cars collided - 10 people injured. Yet another accident takes it's toll at the intersection of Apex's Peakway and Old Raleigh Road. Town police closed down the roads for several hours in all directions due to severity of the accident until it could all be unraveled. All 10 people were taken to an area hospital for evaluation and treatment but only two were deemed to have "significant" injuries.

The intersection is one of those along the Apex Peakway where a stoplight was needed at the outset when the road was opened to public use a few years ago. Town planners say a light will be needed "someday" and then only when the State of North Carolina says one is needed and after surveys show enough cars travel the two roads to justify the cost. No matter that hundreds of cars travel these roads each day and that the number of accident continues to escalate.

This sort of comment is frequently made by Apex Town Officials when citizens say stoplights are needed at busy intersections or that left turn signals need to be added at the Town's many overloaded crossroads. When asked about a stoplight for the intersection where this latest accident occurred, the Town Manager only a few days before this very accident stated "We've already spent more money than we should on DOT's house. We cannot continue to do it." The official response from Town representatives often indicates that adding traffic lights and improving safety is not a high priority in Town business, or the State of North Carolina's.

Town Planners and Board of Commissioners are quick to jump on and approve new development projects, all in the name of gleaning increased tax revenues, but when it comes to building enough roads and insuring there are adequate traffic signals and controls, the common practice is to get a road built, then worry about adequate traffic control and safety later after many accidents have taken place. Even later when traffic signals are added, needed left turn signals are frequently left out, claiming "the town shouldn't have to pay for stoplights and controls when it's the State's responsibility."

Perhaps a clean slate of Commissioners and Town Planners may be needed to ensure that necessary infrastructure is added to keep up with the pace of growth. The existing groups seem to be behind the times and not able to adequately plan for recent phenomenal growth or even be up to the task of keeping existing streets in safe condition.

The following report was issued August 13, 2007, about the most recent accident within the Town's borders...
News and Observer
August 13, 2007
Staff Reports

Three-car accident injures 10 in Apex

APEX - An intersection was closed for more than 2 1/2 hours after a three-car collision sent 10 people to the hospital.

Police said that about 6:20 p.m., a Ford Expedition, a Toyota Matrix and a Chevrolet Venture collided at the intersection of Old Raleigh Road and Apex Peakway.

Authorities shut down the intersection until shortly before 9 p.m.

Of the 10 taken to the hospital, police said that two were seriously injured.

Details of the accident and the names of the drivers and injured were not available Sunday.

Apex police said they plan to file charges against one of the drivers. Original report...

Monday, August 6, 2007

Villages of Apex takes off

Development of the last remaining large parcel of land in Apex is about to get under way. A 170 acre parcel stretches from across the street from the Town Hall on Hunter Street to NC 64 north of town. Town Planners and the Board of Commissioners had previously reviewed and approved the expansion under two major plans known as "trackside north" and "trackside south".

Under the new name "Villages of Apex", the combined project is said to include plans for 1,300 condos, townhouses and homes, a private elementary school, a 13-acre park, 35 miles of walkways, 220,000 square feet retail shops and 80,000 square feet of office space. Work will probably begin immediately since the projects had been approved by the town and may take five or more years to complete.

The development is being described as an extension of the existing downtown area and that it bring more new businesses to the central part of town. It is not clear if the development will complement newly established businesses in the "historic downtown district" or if it will slowly drain businesses away as often happens with new developments.

Little has been said about how the significant surge in traffic will be handled by town planners. Recent projects all around town have brought a huge increase in daily commuter traffic and existing streets are already clogged much of the day from large numbers of cars passing through town along with a significant increase of construction and commercial traffic. Eighteen wheeler flatbed trucks, cargo haulers, gasoline tankers, concrete carriers, commercial dump trucks with trailer carrying road construction equipment constantly pass through the older parts of town making daily trips to construction sites and problems will get even worse with the new Villages of Apex project.

Town Planners consistently claim that new developments will not add significantly to traffic volume and include a comment in most project review reports on the Town's website that each project will bring only small increases in traffic and existing infrastructure will adequately handle the growth. Unfortunately the small increases have now accumulated to a point where driveways in much of the area are blocked for hours each day as commuters travel to and from outlying areas of employment. Years ago part of the town was declared a "historic district" in order to preserve the "small town look and feel" but neglect of traffic planning and control has turned most of the area into the equivalent of an interstate during work hours each day.

A new "Peakway" road was started several years ago by the town but limited construction has been done and the town has built only one side of segments of the parkway and the work has resulted in a hodgepodge of disconnected sections that don't provide a good route for commuters to use. If things continue as with prior developments, the Town will wait until after the new project is well under way to avoid investing in adequate roads to get ahead of problems before traffic has gotten too bad and hoping to force builders to provide the roads or cover cost of additions.

As noted in the following report, Apex has been experiencing a growth spurt, jumping from 7,257 residents in 1990 to 26,311 last year. Its population is predicted to climb to 31,430 by 2011.
News & Observer
August 2, 2007
Sue Stock, Staff Writer

One more big development for Apex

The largest remaining tract of undeveloped land in Apex won't remain that way much longer.

Construction could begin as early as this month on 170 acres in northeast Apex that connects the downtown area with U.S. 64.

Plans for the Villages of Apex, include 1,300 condos, townhouses and homes, a private elementary school, a 13-acre park, 35 miles of walkways, 220,000 square feet retail shops and 80,000 square feet of office space.

"It is the last project of that scope that will be possible in our town," Mayor Keith Weatherly said.

But the size of the project is raising some concerns about traffic, stress on Apex's already strained school system and cannibalization of the town's historic downtown, which has been experiencing a revitalization of its own.

Beverly and Bob Fuller own Out of the Kiln, an art studio and craft gallery on downtown's main drag, Salem Street. They also opened a gift shop, Traditions on Salem, next door in June.

"We just opened up a second store, so we weren't real, real worried about business dropping," Beverly Fuller said. "I think the thing is that people aren't afraid of the growth if it's done right. But have we yet to see it done right? I don't know."

Apex has been experiencing a growth spurt, jumping from 7,257 residents in 1990 to 26,311 last year. Its population is predicted to climb to 31,430 by 2011.

Retailers have been following the boom, with the addition of Beaver Creek Commons off U.S. 64 and the still-under-development Beaver Creek Crossings nearby. Together, the centers encompass more than 1 million square feet of retail space.

And there is more demand that makes the Villages of Apex viable, said developer Mike Howington.

Howington is half of Apex First Development LLC, and also owner of Apex Electric. His business partner is a friend and Maryland developer named Warren Halle. Together they plan to invest at least $327 million in the project.

Already, retailers are trying to become a part of the project, said Calvin Ramsey of Coldwell Banker Advantage, a Raleigh-based company helping to lease the space.

"We haven't even marketed this thing yet, and we've just been inundated with calls about this thing," he said. "We're already being courted by several major upscale grocery stores."

Work on the Villages of Apex will begin this month or in early September, Howington said. The entire project could be built in as little as five years.

"It's going to change the whole area," Howington said. "We're actually building a new city."

Weatherly, Apex's mayor, said town planners are doing what they can to encourage developers to include new schools and infrastructure with their plans as Apex grows.

The town is planning road improvements, including the extension of Apex Peakway and a bridge over the CSX railroad tracks to help ease traffic, he said.

"We can't force the school district to acquire property, but certainly we're facilitating the discussion," Weatherly said. "We really intend to keep our growth rate at 3 to 4 percent [annually] on average."

Staff writer Sue Stock can be reached at 829-4649 or

Original article...

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Apex Ice House

Long ago Town of Apex business were served by an "ice house", a local small business that packaged bags of ice and delivered bulk ice to grocery stores, downtown merchants, the one screen movie theater and other merchants around the area. The business was located in the south central part of town near the railroad tracks where the structure can still be seen today. It's one of the historic original businesses structures from the past that closed but was left in it's original place.

As the business lost customers due to decreased demand and widespread use of ice making machines at customer sites, it closed its doors like many small businesses of the past. The old structure shown here in a 2007 photo looks much as it did years ago.

In 2008 a local merchant remodeled the structure and now uses it for a business facility.Posted by Picasa

July 4th, 2007, Apex, NC

Each year the Parks and Recreation Department of the Town of Apex, NC, has a "just for kids" parade on July 4th. Vendors line the streets with inflated slides and rides for the children and others have tents offering food or wares for the occasion. The downtown area is packed with residents and visitors from all around just wanting to get out and celebrate the day. At high-noon all the kids that care to participate line up at the center of town on Salem Street to join a procession through the historic downtown with their costumes, wagons, bicycles and tricycles and all sorts of home built outfits to celebrate the day.
This year over 500 children participated in the big event!
A traditional last stop for all the kids is at the parking lot of the old restored train depot where one of the town fire trucks sets up to spray a fine cooling mist on all that want to run under it!
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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Apex NC - 14th best place to live in 2007

Apex, NC, is the 14th best place to live according to CNN Money, July 17, 2007. Holly Springs, NC, is 22nd best place.

It's long been a known that Apex has a lot to offer as a place to live in the central North Carolina area. Now it has been listed by CNN Money as one of the best places to live.

The central part of town has been preserved over the years to try to keep the "small town character" that has always been part of the town culture. In recent years the population has grown from about 2,500 in the early 1960s to some 33,000 or more now. In addition to the quaint downtown shopping area, where most of the old structures have been converted into newer shops, new shopping, restaurants and entertainment sites have been added at the town's original perimeter to provide the best of both the old town and the modern world.

More about the small town may be found at these websites...

Apex Historical Society
Town of Apex
Apex Chamber of Commerce
Peak of Good Living Blog
Traces in Time blog
Wake County, NC Review - Apex, NC Review - Holly Springs, NC Top 100 Best Places to Live - 2007

CNN Money review...
CNN Money
July 17, 2007

Best places to live: Top 100

14. Apex, N.C.
Population: 26,300
Median home price (2006): $226,942
Average property taxes (2006): $1,940

Apex is full of scenery, but the most striking area is the quaint Downtown Historic District. The turn-of-the-century train depot, built between 1867 and 1873, is still impressively intact, with an array of commercial and residential buildings now serving visitors and residents alike. Locals enjoy the small-town feel of the growing community. But some residents have to adapt to growth in less popular ways, like longer commute times to Raleigh or the Research Triangle, and recently implemented year-round school schedules. -A.B.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Solitude of days gone by

Gone are the days of quiet solitude in older neighborhoods in Apex, NC. In times past, living in one of the older houses in this former small country town would allow residents to sit on the porch or in the yard and have a little peace and quiet.

I remember well just how quiet it was sitting with my Dad on the front steps at home late in the afternoons after he returned home from work at the local Ford car dealership. The quiet, peaceful time sitting there was only interrupted by an occasional car on the way out of town.

Occasionally we would venture out into the street and make the two block walk to downtown, past the railroad tracks two blocks away, to the small, quaint neighborhood gas station to have a 10 cent coca-cola and sit around the pot-bellied stove to hear the latest gossip. An occasional car stopped out front to purchase gas at the astounding price of 15 cents a gallon. After filling up, customers would walk inside the one room brick structure to pay for fuel and look through the glass display cases for cigarettes or snacks to purchase. Afterwards we would make the short walk back home to sit for a little longer on the front steps until it was completely dark.

Fast paced growth has taken away the serenity of these old neighborhoods and being outside near the more heavily traveled town streets is always accompanied by the sound of approaching trucks, motorbikes and fast moving loud cars producing a constant roar of engine noise and the scent of air pollution that comes with greatly increased traffic.

The character of the central neighborhoods has changed completely now and most of the older residents have passed away or moved on after selling their homes to current residents. In many cases, buyers simply wanted to turn old family homes into rental houses that brought even more turnover and change. The families that lived across the intersection adjacent to my home in all three directions are gone and two of the homes are now rental properties. The turnover of residents in rental homes has produced the added effect of shuffling the neighborhood mix and character every couple of years or so.

With the passing of time, town planners and council members have approved changes, often driven by a desire to simply grow the tax base, allowing multi-family apartment buildings to be built in the middle of single family residential blocks, again changing the character of neighborhoods forever. Roads have also been changed to accommodate significant increases of commuter traffic along former small town streets.

Consider, for example, the neighborhoods around the intersection of Mason and Center streets. Long ago, Center Street was the end of state road 1010 and it served as the main path in and out of town from the east. Years ago only a small number of cars traveled the road into town bringing students, teachers and business employees into town along with customers for local businesses and shops. Center Street is now considered to be a "thoroughfare" to and from town, carrying thousands of cars a day, most from large new residential neighborhoods outside of town traveling to distant corporate jobs in Raleigh, Chapel Hill, Durham and the Research Triangle Park. Traffic into town to local stores continues but is far overshadowed by the huge volume of non-resident traffic each day.

The town planners, recently moving into a new town office building along Mason Street, recently chose to widen Mason Street to three lanes to accommodate the heavy volume of pass-through traffic rather than focus on adding new streets better designed to handle traffic through less populated areas and preserve the so-called "historical district" with so many older homes and driveways on the crowded streets. Much talk has been made of preserving the "historic district" but this gives way to approval of new development that might add to the town tax base.

Open land in this former small, rural town has been developed rapidly in recent years and the old practice of dividing land into one half to one acre lots has given way to builder "greed" and a desire to place as many homes in a given space as possible in order to generate profits and increase the tax base. The only homes with larger lots now belong to a few original residents or to those that purchased them and chose to keep the property intact. Builders choose a different path if they purchase older properties. they will frequently divide an acre lot into three or four smaller lots in order to maximize income with no thought given to bringing an end to another of the "small town" benefits from the past.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Ba-a-a-d joke draws neighboring town's comment

The Apex sheep saga has settled down to jokes and comments and life goes on. Apex Mayor Keith Weatherly appeared on a radio show this week and cracked a joke that this sort of problem might be expected in Holly Springs but not in Apex. To his surprise the Holly springs Mayor Dick Sears came back with "Well, you know, he's a jerk." Later after Weatherly called to apologize Sears calmed down and suggested it should all be left in Apex.

Animal protection representatives have visited the second farm owned by the man found to be keeping sheep in his home in Apex and determined that animals there were lacking for attention but the situation did not rise to animal cruelty. The saga of keeping animals in the Apex house is settling down and the owner is being viewed as a bit eccentric and that he was overwhelmed by having so many sheep born that he simply couldn't take care of them all. Time will tell when his case is resolved and the issue repeats itself or goes away.
News and Observer
March 31, 2007
Toby Coleman and David Bracken, Staff Writers

Mayor's ba-a-a-d joke

Apex Mayor Keith Weatherly responded to news that a man was keeping a flock of sheep in his downtown Apex house with a lot of jokes.

He even went on WRAL-FM's "Bill and Sheri in the Morning" show Tuesday to face baaas and a bunch of cracks.

He respond-ed with what he said was a lighthearted jab at a neighboring town: "Very frankly, you might expect this sort of thing in Holly Springs, but ... it was a surprise to us in Apex."

That didn't play well in Holly Springs.

"Well, you know, he's a jerk," said Holly Springs Mayor Dick Sears on Wednesday morning.

Sears cooled down later in the day after Weatherly called him to apologize. He said that he no longer thought Weatherly was a jerk.

"You just shouldn't do those kind of things," Sears said. "If the joke was on Apex the whole show, then leave it on Apex."

"If anybody took that as a serious commentary they missed the point and that's unfortunate," Weatherly said later.

"I certainly didn't mean to demean the good people of Holly Springs," the mayor added. "That would be ludicrous."

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

More on Apex sheep owner - charges filed

The owner of the abused animals has been charged. David Watts has been formally charged with cruelty to animals and is being held in the Wake County jail.

Read the latest report...

News and Observer
March 28, 2007
Michael Biesecker and Toby Coleman, Staff Writers

Sheep owner charged with 30 cruelty counts

APEX - The suburban shepherd who shared his downtown Apex house with 77 sheep has been charged with 30 counts of cruelty to animals.

David Watts was being held this morning in the Wake jail in lieu of $30,000 bond.

On Tuesday, Watts denied in an interview that he had abused his flock. He said that so many lambs were born this year that he was a little overwhelmed. Read more...

More on saga of neglected Apex sheep

A second report reveals more on the life and troubles of the sheep owned by David Watts of Apex. He claims "so many lambs were born this year that he was a little overwhelmed, but denied he abused his flock." It would seem more like he wasn't able to provided adequate care all along and isn't up to facing reality. The veterinarians remarks indicate "some in the flock showed signs of serious neglect that had been continuing for many months, probably years."

Following the rescue at the Apex house police and animal care personnel visited his farm in Chatham County they found a smaller group of animals that were in reasonably normal condition for the most part. Watts claims he planned to eventually move the neglected sheep to the farm but didn't get around to it.

Read the latest report with remarks from the veterinarian that helped with the rescue operation...
News and Observer
March 28, 2007
Michael Biesecker and Toby Coleman, Staff Writers

Lambs just kept coming, owner says
77 sheep seized; 60 more are found

APEX - The suburban shepherd who shared his downtown Apex house with 77 sheep said that so many lambs were born this year that he was a little overwhelmed, but denied he abused his flock.

"It was just bad timing for me," David Watts said Tuesday. "I just got hit with the extra animals this year that needed extra supervision."

Veterinarian Kelli Ferris, who examined the sheep that Watts surrendered to Wake County animal control officers Monday, said that some in the flock showed signs of serious neglect that had been continuing for many months, probably years.

So far, 30 of the sheep have been euthanized after it was determined they were too sick to recover. Read more...

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Sad day for abused sheep in Apex

This was truly a sad day for sheep living in a house in Apex...

When the police were called on a bright spring Monday morning about a flock of sheep grazing in the town cemetery they knew right where to go. A dilapidated old 1910 home next to the cemetery was being shared by David Watts with his flock of some 80 sheep. They lived in and around the first floor, on the porch, in fenced off areas under tarps and trees and virtually all around the property. He lived on the second floor of the house, apparently alone.

Mr. Watts could be seen occasionally walking some of his sheep on leashes in the neighborhood surrounding the house and cemetery. Neighbors had called police and animal protection personnel numerous times about the foul smell in the neighborhood but until now no one could justify taking the animals away from him. He will now face criminal charges and is to blame for some thirty or more having to be euthanized due to severe sickness and untreatable conditions.

The town has previously tried to draft an ordinance to prevent keeping livestock in residential neighborhoods but had not been able to produce a draft draft a plan that could be approved before this tragedy ocurred.

Read the complete report...

News and Observer
March 27, 2007
Michael Biesecker and Benjamin Niolet, Staff Writers

80 sheep weren't flock, but roomies

APEX - When Apex police got the call early Monday that wayward sheep were grazing on the floral arrangements in the town cemetery, they didn't have to guess where the animals had come from.

On an adjacent downtown property, a short stroll from the quaint restaurants and art galleries lining Salem Street, David Watts had long shared his crumbling house with what authorities say was a flock of about 80 sheep.

"He lives upstairs, and the sheep were living downstairs," Apex Police Sgt. Robert Towell said. "He considered them pets." Read more...

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Progress versus saving the past

An interesting article was published in the March 25, 2007, News and Observer titled "Is progress killing small towns?". Interesting to me because I grew up in the "small" town of Apex, and have arrived at a similar question about what progress has done to my home town and what it is like compared to it's past, in spite of efforts by the town board and planners to allegedly "preserve the small town atmosphere" here.

I agree completely with the idea suggested by the news article that progress is essentially destroying what has been referred to as "small town atmosphere" in much of the region and most of what was here is fading into the past.

I lived here from when I was born in 1943 through graduation from college in 1966, went into the Navy for a time and returned to a different part of North Carolina afterwards. After returning and living in Winston-Salem, NC, for a while, I was transferred to Virginia for thirty years and moved back here in 2002, a year after the factory I worked in was closed and all the jobs were exported to China. That's a story for another day, so for now I'll stick to the "progress killing small towns" issue at hand.

The town I knew while growing up was truly a small, southern town. It had a population of 2,000 or so when I left and was truly a small town by any standards. During the time I was gone the town began to grow during the time when growth accelerated in this part of the state and had grown to a population of some 33,000 by the time I returned. It simply was not the little country town it was when I left years ago.

Main street in Apex during the fifties and sixties was very much like it looks now and even the buildings look the same except for numerous attempts to make downtown look better and be more attractive to newer businesses and residents. Years ago downtown included a movie theater, corner drugstore, florist shop, insurance agency, beauty shop, barber shop, the "dime store", Western Auto, Martin's grocery, Beasley's grocery and supply, Baker's dry cleaners, an old closed up hardware store, the Apex fire station, a bank, an old corner gas station (complete with a pot bellied stove, gum and candy counter and ten cent cokes), a farm supply business, the old town hall, the local working train station and a Ford car dealership. And of course there is the railroad that has always run straight through the middle of town since it's begining. There were a few other stores near downtown and scattered nearby but these made up a majority of businesses in town. There were a couple of doctor and dentist offices and eventually the town was blessed to gain a small satellite hospital on the edge of town.

For the most part all of these businesses disappeared long ago (except for the insurance agency) and the original stores have been replaced by an assortment of small locally owned businesses that use the same buildings in much the same shape and appearance as they were in the past. The sidewalk has been widened and streetlights styled like gas-lights have been added. The street otherwise is much like it always was and still carries hundreds of cars through downtown each day and still has lots of eighteen wheeler trucks squeezing through town each day (even though they aren't supposed to be on the crowded street).

Although the old central part of town has been "preserved" and looks much like it did fifty years ago, new shopping areas and lots of typical commuter subdivisions have been built around town bringing in a new era of big-box shopping and conveniences of big city living. Much of the town is grid-locked from sunrise until dark every day with commuters rushing back and forth to employment centers in Raleigh, Durham and the Research Triangle Park areas. Even though there has been a little improvement in major outlying roads into and out of town, the town planners have not seen fit to push to replace the single old railroad "underpass" road through the south end of town so thousands of commuters passing through town now squeeze through many of the small streets in the older parts of town bringing modern day grid-lock to virtually every neighborhood. With recent completion of widening of highway NC 55 toward Durham and the other end toward Holly Springs the portion of this major state artery inside the city limits of Apex remains the only bottleneck in the path thousands of commuters and no plans have been made to rid the town of the reputation of being the worst traffic bottleneck in the southern Wake County.

In this little town there has been much talk of "preserving" the past and keeping the "look and feel" of what the town was like in times past. Part of the town has been declared a "Historic Area" in an attempt to keep at least those portions of town from dramatically changing. Unfortunately much of these parts of town have been changed by allowing construction of apartment buildings mixed adjascent to old homes and the roads in these areas have been allowed to overflow with a flood of daily commuter traffic. This has forever altered the character of even older Historic Area neighborhoods and they no longer reflect the quiet country living that once characterized the town.

As for the question as to whether "Progress is killing small towns" there isn't much left of the laid back style of living that was in this rural country town and most of the same observations can be made in many other similar "small towns" scattered around the region.

Read the N&O article for more about how much of the small town atmosphere has slipped away and what some communities are doing to try to bring back and protect some of the past "small-town character."

News and Observer
March 25, 2007
Jesse James DeConto, Staff Writer

Is progress killing small towns?

Small-town charm is now so rare in the Triangle, it has become a commodity.

Chambers of commerce use it in their marketing slogans, such as Wendell’s “Small Town Charm -- Capital City Connection.”

Some in Hillsborough have given it a name -- “smalltownliness” -- and they’re trying to sell the experience to tourists through a Web site,

And the booming suburb of Morrisville aims to create an old-time Main Street feel where none ever existed.

As Triangle towns mesh into a single metropolitan area, no longer isolated from one another by forests and farmland, folks are striving to protect or recapture the small-town lifestyle. Read more...

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

CSX trains and late night noise...

If you plan to live in one of the existing older homes in the downtown district or the "historic area" of Apex, or even in one of the newly constructed buildings like Duncan Commons or in Villages of Apex, be aware of issues with CSX trains left parked and idling in downtown at the old CSX freight depot building. In addition to noisy evening freight car movement, CSX leaves two to four diesel train engines parked and idling all night during cold weather beside the old CSX freight depot.

While this might not seem to be a problem on the surface, the noise continues all night and can be heard blocks away and is especially noticeable inside homes. When the wind is drifting to the east, the sounds are even louder in the old "historic district" where many single family and apartment residences are located.

Requests for Town representatives to resolve this issue and restore quiet to the night in these areas has not been productive.

A similar problem with CSX leaving engines idling at night in Raleigh's historic Mordecai area has been solved through efforts of the Raleigh City Council. Mayor Meeker and the city of Raleigh worked hard to put in place requirements that train engines be turned off at night to help keep the area near the trains quiet for residents. CSX has even provided a telephone number for Raleigh residents to call when trains are left idling for longer than fifteen minutes at night and has agreed to have the engines turned off when called.

If you would like to contact your Town of Apex representatives they are listed at the Town website. The town telephone directory is also available on the website.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Mordecai House - Visit the Wake County site

Raleigh's Mordecai House - an interesting local site to visit. See website below for hours and prices for tour.

Take the photo tour!

From the Mordecai House web page on Raleigh's website...

City of Raleigh, NC, website
March 19, 2007

Mordecai Historic Park

The Mordecai house and grounds were once the seat of one of the largest plantations in Wake County, encompassing more than 5,000 acres. Today, the Mordecai House is one of the oldest residences in Raleigh and the oldest on its original foundation.

The home was originally built in 1785 by Joel Lane but the house takes its name from Moses Mordecai, who married into the Lane family. After Moses' death in 1824, his second wife Nancy used money from his will to hire William Nichols, then State Architect, to enlarge the original house. Read more...

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

EQ chemical disposal plant can't rebuild in Apex

Great news for Apex residents... The State of North Carolina Division of Waste Management said Tuesday that EQ is being barred from rebuilding the Apex facility destroyed in its recent chemical fire. EQ bypassed Town of Apex and sought to have the state grant an exception on a recent Town of Apex declaration because the company had been established in the now mostly residential area prior to town zoning changes banning hazardous material facilities in the area. This is good news for the thousands of Apex residents living near the former facility and may help to reduce anxiety about such a facility appearing nearby in the future.

A March 7, 2007, News and Observer provides details of the ruling...

News and Observer
March 7, 2007
Toby Coleman, Staff Writer

Hazmat plant can't rebuild
State: Violations were not reported

EQ Industrial Services kept silent about fires and chemical reactions that plagued its Apex hazardous waste warehouse in the two years before it blew up, the state Division of Waste Management said Tuesday as it barred the company from rebuilding.

State regulators say EQ flouted reporting rules intended to ensure that the people who live and work around hazardous waste warehouse are safe. They said the company should lose its permit to operate on Apex's Investment Boulevard and pay a $553,225 fine because it did not submit required reports of two fires and three potentially dangerous chemical reactions.

"Our actions today send a clear message that the state of North Carolina will not tolerate non-compliance with rules and non-reporting of incidents that occur at commercial hazardous waste facilities across the state," division director Dexter Matthews said in a prepared statement. Read more...

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Apex development and construction news

The Town of Apex publishes a newsletter occasionally called Changing Times. It covers new stores and businesses under development in town zoning areas, changes to roads and other items of interest. It's a good document that reviews what's happening around the town but unfortunately the town is a bit slow to publish new releases on a regular basis. Read the latest issue...

There's also a nice development map that shows current zoning and development locations under consideration. When you click on the link and view the PDF map you will need to zoom in to see details of a given area, then click on a number link to pull up a detailed map of that area. You can move around and find most sites currently planned or in development.

If you go to the Apex website you can also find news about town activities, board of commissioners meetings, zoning activities, building guidelines, etc.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Apex main street starts to grow

Downtown Apex is moving into the modern age. A plan has been put forth to take down an old downtown building and build a four story "high rise" building right in the middle of downtown. While this has been resisted in the past, if the town Board of Commissioners approve this plan it could let the town actually start expanding and move into the modern age with new architecture.

Last year town officials hosted a meeting at the town hall showing how planners wanted to keep the downtown area looking as it was since the town began many years ago - all building must keep the look and feel of the old style buildings and any construction should be planned to let structures follow the style of the old downtown appearance. Most likely the new building would conform to this idea but would offer more flexible use incorporating newer mixed-use planning.

The following February 19, 2007, article from the News and Observer describes a plan to replace one of the old buildings with a modern structure offering first floor store condos, second floor office condos and loft style residential condos on the top two floors...

News and Observer
February 19, 2007
Jack Hagel, Staff Writer

The big-building bug has come to Apex. Local entrepreneur Steve Adams says he wants to tear down a wilting two-story at 123 N. Salem St. to make way for "downtown Apex's first skyscraper."

Sure, this cloud-picker won't rival the height of the 32-story RBC Plaza being built in downtown Raleigh. It won't even climb as high as the parking deck of the 42-story Soleil Center planned next to Crabtree Valley Mall.

But at four stories, it will tower over most other buildings in the center of Apex, a western Wake town.

Preliminary plans call for a 13,548-square-foot building with seven underground parking spaces; four ground-floor retail condos ranging from 650 square feet to 950 square feet; and 3,600 square feet of office condos on the second floor.

The top two floors would consist of six two-story, loft-style residential condominiums starting in the low $200,000s.

And because of Apex's high elevation (hence the name) -- and because of the town's lack of tall buildings -- some of the the residences will feature views of Jordan Lake miles in the distance, Adams says.

It's the latest sign of renewal in the 134-year-old railroad town. There were 28,551 people living in Apex in 2005 -- almost a sixfold increase from 1990, according to census estimates. And the growth has awakened downtown Apex.

"It's not like it's just a series of antique shops, like it used to be, where you go in and see someone else's junk," Adams says. "There's some really cool, unique retail here.

"It's almost like another Glenwood South, when you consider the potential."

As Raleigh's entertainment district did years ago, Apex's downtown has sprouted art galleries, restaurants and bakeries -- even a day spa -- during the past year.

Adams himself has been part of the upswing.

In August 2005, he converted an old hardware store at 126 N. Salem St. into the Peak City Grill & Bar. He also carved offices out of the top floor.

Adams still needs town approval to start his new project. He hopes to begin building by June and to wrap up a year later.

If his $1.5 million plan is a success, he'll make a lot. But he may not have the distinction of the tallest building in the town that bills itself as "the peak of good living."

The proof is just one block over, Adams explains. The Baptist church is probably taller -- "if you count the very tip-top of the steeple."

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Apex Historical Society - visit the site

For a glimpse into the past of the town of Apex, NC, check out the Apex Historical Society. It's the local organization that provides a look into how the town was in years past and offers occasional public lectures about various topics relating to the people, events and historic structures around town.

The society has restored the Maynard-Pearson House (pictured at left) and uses it for its meetings and public tours on Olive Chapel Road west of town. A calendar of events is posted on the website listing dates of events and meetings.

The historical society has regular events, many open to the public - see calendar on website for details. Special tours can be arranged by contacting board members.
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