Cary candidates debate business development
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Cary trustee candidates agree that the village would benefit from more business development, but they have different ideas on how to attract it.
Seven candidates are running for three, 4-year terms. Those candidates are incumbents Al Pilli, Barbara Hill and Debra McNamee and challengers Robert Bragg, a construction truck driver, Bruce Kaplan, a commercial real estate broker, Karen Lukasik, an office manager, and Frank Steckelberg, a plumbing contractor.
Jeff Kraus, a special-education teacher, and incumbent Mark Kownick are competing for a single, 2-year term.
Pilli, Kownick and McNamee all said Cary has a good track record in attracting new business, pointing to last year's opening of several small businesses. They also touted the expansion and renovation of three large businesses, including Jewel-Osco on Northwest Highway.
For properties to be developed, the owners of vacant parcels need to set fair market prices that take into account the state of the economy, Pilli said. "The price of leases and vacant land needs to be attractive to developers," he said.
The village's growth has been steady, and businesses "respect an operation that is efficient and well-run," McNamee said. She, too, said property owners should have realistic expectations when setting their sales and rental prices.
Kaplan and Steckelberg, however, called Cary's attitude toward developers "unfriendly."
The village's sign ordinance is too restrictive, and business development-related fees are too high, Kaplan said. "Among builders there is dissatisfaction with how they are treated, and with the red tape," he said.
The village should be faster in processing building permit applications and complying with requests for information, Steckelberg said.
Bragg, who called economic development his "main concern," said that building code information should be available online.
In January, the village waived several business development-related fees for 2011 to entice more business to come to Cary, Kownick pointed out. Impact fees, on the other hand, are just a "fair share" that ensures developers are invested in the community, he said.
Kraus, however, said the village should have waived business development fees much earlier. He also proposed working with the Cary Grove Chamber of Commerce and the Realtors Association to develop strategies to attract new business.
A blanket fee waiver isn't the right approach, Lukasik said. Instead, the village should come up with individualized incentives for different businesses.
Kaplan and Lukasik also believe the village needs an economic development commission to replace the one that was disbanded several years ago. "We need to put more people together to bring ideas," Lukasik said.
Bragg, Kownick, Kaplan, McNamee and Kraus made the comments during a recent Daily Herald editorial board interview. Pilli, Lukasik and Steckelberg were interviewed by phone. Hill did not respond to a request for comment.
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