Name as it appears on the ballot: Patty Wei-Pei Cheng
Party affiliation: Unaffiliated
Campaign website: Patty4Morrisville.com
Occupation & employer: IT Business Analyst, N.C. Dept. of Revenue
Years lived in Morrisville: 13 years, grew up nearby in Southern Durham County
1) In 300 words or less, please give us—and our readers—your elevator pitch: Why are you running? Why should voters entrust you with this position? What are your priorities, and what would you want to see the town council do differently or better over the course of your term?
In the last 10 years Morrisville has gone from having a large budget surplus to a town that raised taxes in 2020 when Town Hall was closed to the public during COVID and services were reduced. Despite the Town Budget growing 64% over the last 8 years, from $26 Million in 2014 to $42 Million in 2021, our Town Council consistently over-spends on projected costs and has no concerns about limiting excessive costs.
No private business would get away with over-spending improvements to a $3 Million swimming pool by $5 Million dollars. When Town Council debated an unaffordable elevated bridge road over our Crabtree Creek floodplain in early 2018, (3) Professional Engineers resigned their long-term service to Morrisville. Now Morrisville is promoting a “nature park” be built on land that is primarily floodplain and no Professional Engineer has endorsed the plans, certifying that the park construction will not cause flooding elsewhere.
As an NC State Engineering Graduate, Certified by the NC Board of Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors, I believe we need to better represent the people and businesses of Morrisville.
I served on the Morrisville Budget Performance Assessment Panel between 2011 and 2014. During that time, Morrisville was awarded a AAA Bond rating. I have considerable experience serving in positions responsible for handling funds judiciously and for effective money management.
I was a Graduate Teaching Assistant in Engineering Economic Analysis while earning my Masters degree is from Virginia Tech. I currently work as an IT Business Analyst with the NC Department of Revenue.
Morrisville Town Council needs a new voice with a fresh perspective. I will ask the hard questions to ensure that our tax dollars are well spent on projects that are sound and well vetted. I am Patty Cheng and I will “Engineer Positive Change”.
2) Given the direction of Morrisville government, would you say things are on the right course? If not, for what specific changes will you advocate if elected?
Morrisville has done some things well. The Town has embraced it’s diversity. Alternative energy sources like solar panels are being implemented. I would encourage the Town of Morrisville to live within its means and support its citizens by keeping tax rates low and keeping the Town an Affordable place to live for everyone.
3) What are three of the most pressing issues the town currently faces? How would you propose to address them? Please be specific.
(1) Lack of strategic planning – In pushing forward Morrisville’s greatest ever tax increase, Town Council has done a poor job allowing for open forum, collecting input from citizens, and communicating any detailed plans regarding the impact and benefits of costly projects. There is no list of street, road, or “infrastructure” projects provided to citizens that would be improved in Morrisville’s proposed $11.7 Million dollar bonds. No determination of how such projects would alleviate traffic congestion or improve the quality of life in Morrisville. I would call for such analysis to be documented, published, and integrated into plans before adding to the tax burden of local residents.
(2) Promoting Smart Growth – We need to balance growth with development projects that are focused on preserving green space and promoting owner-occupied housing.
(3) Re-evaluating Town Policy for Recreational Facilities – Our Parks & Recreation Policy needs to be revised so that once the facility is built, the income from the Swimming Pool, Baseball, Cricket Fields, and Tennis Courts should attempt to Break Even on the cost to maintain the facility. Morrisville taxpayers need not be obligated to pay $800,000 per year to subsidize the Morrisville Aquatics and Fitness Center for Durham and Cary residents who comprise over half of the membership.
4) What’s the best or most important thing the town council has done in the past year? Alternatively, name a decision you believe the council got wrong or an issue you believe the town should have handled differently. Please explain your answer.
Morrisville has benefitted greatly from state road funding that was granted and committed more than 4 years ago. The Town implemented solar panels on a town-owned building and recently approved a developer to begin developing town center.
The proposed $37 Million dollar bonds came as a surprise to many residents. The proposed projects were discussed while Town Council was closed to the public during COVID and, today, many of our residents are still unaware that the Bonds come with a significant tax increase to property owners. The merits and concerns about these projects were never discussed in open public forum as Town Council pushed forward the plan to destroy trees and a peaceful green lawn area to pack in tennis courts, pickleball courts, and bathrooms while installing a right-turn only median to entrance to the road heading to the community park. So the Town is intentionally installing a hurdle to deter vehicular access to the multi-million dollar courts that the neighboring communities do not welcome.
Such poorly planned projects would be using tax money to create problems for Morrisville neighborhoods.
5) What prior experience will make you an effective member of the town council and advocate of the issues listed above? Please note any endorsements you have received that you consider significant.
Morrisville Board of Adjustment (2017-2020, Vice Chair, 2020).
Morrisville Citizens’ Budget Performance Assessment Panel (2011- 2014). Morrisville was awarded it’s AAA Bond rating in 2012.
Carpenter Park SF HOA, Board of Directors, Treasurer (2009-2012).
Beechtree of Cary HOA, Board of Directors, Treasurer (2018-2020) – where I own investment property.
Good Hope Baptist Church, active member since 2010.
I have considerable experience serving in positions responsible for handling funds judiciously and for effective money management and financial reporting.
Linda Lyons, former Morrisville Town Council member
Mrs. Saroj Sharma, HSNC, Carpenter Park, Morrisville
Manoj Pandya, HSNC, Morrisville Budget Performance Assessment Panel
Jack and Kathleen Rodman, Prestonwood Kelton HOA, Morrisville
Tina Beri, Preston Grande HOA, Morrisville
Dwyular Denny, Downing Glen HOA, Morrisville
Annie Walton Wyatt, Morrisville’s historic Green Family
Raj Narayana, Savannah, Morrisville
Lou Urani, the Groves, Morrisville Parks & Recreation Advisory Committee (2018-2021)
Mary Jo Holmes, Parks & Rec Advisory Committee (2013-2019), Morrisville’s Education Garden volunteer,
Craig Groce, Professional Engineer, Morrisville’s Transportation Funding Committee, Vice-Chair Morrisville’s Planning and Zoning Board (2011-2018)
Anil Samuel, Addison Park, Morrisville
6) Morrisville recently altered its zoning laws to allow for denser development. Do you agree with this decision? Given the rate of growth in Morrisville, how will you ensure that growth is well managed and enhances the town rather than detracts from it? Where does density and height fit in in planning decisions, if it does? How do you intend to balance growth with sustainability?
The Town Center area and new “McCrimmon corridor” that is closer to the airport were specific areas targeted for higher density in Morrisville’s recently updated land use plan. It allows for higher density residential housing closer to offices that encourages walkable-liveable neighborhoods. Zoning requirements in other parts of town were not changed. The zoning changes show that thought and consideration were factored in to the changes.
Morrisville needs to continually press Wake County Schools to provide for more capacity for schools in Western Wake County and seek out opportunity for alternatives to the traditional school system. The town is beginning to see more 4-floor multi-family housing complexes.
For sustainability, physical buildings can be designed with built-in energy efficiencies and preserved green space. We can encourage solar panels and the use of re-cycled and recycle-able materials. Designing liveable-walkable neighborhoods near offices and retail would take traffic off roads. And encouraging the use of public transit would also decrease our carbon footprint.
7) As with most places in the Triangle, Morrisville is grappling with issues related to affordable housing. How would you like to see the town approach affordability issues over the next few years? Should it promote apartment living, duplexes, and/or triplexes? Encourage density in single family housing? What do you believe the town is doing right? What could it do better?
Given our location at the “Heart of the Triangle” we have great demand for housing, and with companies like Apple moving into the area, we will have even more pressure to provide more available housing.
Morrisville has done well to encourage new developments to provide 5 to 7% of their units that meet affordable housing criteria. Since developers are contributing to an affordable housing fund, the town can look grants for building affordable housing and partner with an organization like DHIC to develop and manage an affordable housing area.
What I would do to make the most impact to keep housing in Morrisville Affordable it to keep the property tax low. To encourage residents to stay in Morrisville long term, we can make sure that our property tax rate is competitive to that of Cary. Keeping Morrisville’s Property tax rate low will help to make Morrisville a more affordable place to live.
8) Morrisville has three bond referendum questions on the ballot this election that, if all pass, will incur a 3-cent property tax rate increase on the $37 million total. Please state whether you support the following bonds and explain why or not.
It is contradictory to attempt to both support Housing Affordability while raising property taxes.
No I do not support the Bond Referendums. Morrisville’s budget has grown 64% in the last 8 years, from $26 Million in 2014 to over $42 Million Dollars in 2022. We are fortunate to have much more money than other towns in NC.
These bonds will increase everyone’s annual property taxes by $105 on average or $75 to $225 per year depending on property value. No, I do not support such dramatic tax increases to make Morrisville a less affordable place to live without better detailed plans and analysis regarding how these proposed projects will improve and benefit the lives of Morrisville Citizens. I expected the town to provide more than one page of information on how $37 Million dollars of our Tax money will be used.
$8 million Public Safety Improvements
None of this bond would be helping our police department. Of the 3 bonds, building a new fire station is one that would be most worthy of consideration. The Town of Cary has a fire station for every 20,000 Cary Residents. (174,762 population to 9 fire stations) Morrisville has a population of 31,000 and 3 fire stations or just over 10,000 people per fire station. We already have almost twice as many fire stations per capita than Cary, NC. Why does Morrisville Taxpayers need to be burdened with having to pay for yet another fire station? If RTP has no fire services they should pay for their own fire station instead of giving Morrisville taxpayers the burden to pay for a fire station to service other jurisdictions. Fire station 2 is relatively new and is now expected to be vacated due to inconsistent long-term planning decisions.
$17.3 million Parks, Recreations, and Public Amenities Improvements
The proposed changes in the Parks and Recreation Bond for Morrisville Community Park Phase III will bring havoc to my neighborhood as Morrisville plans to put a median in front of Kudrow Lane preventing Left Turns at Kudrow Lane before building new Tennis and Pickleball courts at the end of Kudrow lane. This neighborhood with 234 homes have no new traffic accommodations to Turn Left on the 4-lane Morrisville-Carpenter Road and the Plan is to add traffic from the new tennis courts that have to find their own way past the intersection where we once had a child fatality. None of the more than 400 homeowners in the 3 neighborhoods adjacent to the community park at Kudrow lane has ever asked for the established trees to be cut down and the green grassy lawn to be paved over for tennis courts in an area that is only a few minutes away from Tennis Courts on Morrisville Parkway and in West Cary.
The Crabtree Creek Nature Park is proposed to be built on property that is IN the floodplain of Crabtree Creek. No NC Certified Professional Engineer living in Morrisville have said building a park in floodplain is a good idea. In fact the Sierra Club has said cutting down trees in a flood plain and hauling in truckloads of dirt will create flooding in other places, it may very well cause our new Crabtree Hatcher Greenway nearby to flood. There are all kinds of restrictions in section 5.6 of Morrisville’s Unified development ordinance against building in floodplains, yet Town Council is proposing that we develop property that is 90 to 95% floodplain. There were no engineering studies to determine that building a so called nature park in the Crabtree Creek Floodplain would be good use of our public funds.
$11.7 million Streets, Sidewalks, and Connectivity Improvements
Paying for “infrastructure improvements” should improve traffic conditions but there is no evidence the town has analyzed data regarding traffic bottlenecks around Morrisville, identified targeted areas to improve, or developed engineered plans for how traffic flow would be improved. Much of our infrastructure is NCDOT owned state roads. Collecting money to improve town own roads will not improve our traffic flow.
There is no list of road projects identifying where traffic congestion will be improved and there is a highly questionable, unvetted, proposed list of locations where new sidewalks may be placed. For example why are we paying for sidewalks along NC54 where the road is expected to be widened?
Beside the $3 Million Dollars that we are asked to fund to extend Airport Blvd, there is no sketch of the bridge overpass crossing over the railroad tracks or what phase 2 and 3 of the project will cost us later. Our incumbent has no conceptual idea of how traffic from NC54 would connect to the Airport Blvd overpass and no expectations of the cost of connector roads passing over the area where 2 gas stations exist.
8) Morrisville is about to get its first public transit system with the launch of a free new on-demand shuttle. How else should the town grow its public transit system? How should it work to alleviate traffic congestion?
The Smart Shuttle is the long-awaited beginning of having some public transit in Morrisville.
The nodes/ bus stops available around Morrisville need to be regularly re-evaluated. People living in higher density areas should have easy access rather than having to walk through low density neighborhoods to access the closest shuttle stops. A stop at Southport Business Park for Morrisville residents who work at that office complex off of Aviation Parkways should be considered. It s also important for the connectors from the Smart Shuttle to Go Triangle be consistently available.
9) What infrastructure needs does Morrisville currently have? How should the city address these needs and pay for them?
Morrisville needs to develop strategic plans to alleviate congestion on state roads. With the closing of railroad track crossing along Church St., better accessibility to the neighborhoods along church street need to be developed. We need to continue to work with NCDOT to advocate for more Transportation funding for the many state roads in Morrisville.
Morrisville needs to continue working with Wake County public schools and the school board to provide for more schools for Morrisville families.
The town has a revolving door of non-resident town planners and such a disrespect for the advice of engineers that our long-term Morrisville-resident professional engineers have resigned from the planning and zoning board less than 3 years ago, and a long-term resident professional engineer on staff chose to resign and commute to work elsewhere. Developing good infrastructure requires having knowledgeable people to develop good plans for infrastructure needs.
10) Morrisville was one of several municipalities in joining Wake County in reimplementing a mask mandate recently with the resurgence of the COVID-19 Delta variant. Was this the right decision? How do you feel Wake County and Wake School Board officials have handled the COVID-19 pandemic? If you don’t think the pandemic was handled well, what should have been done differently?
While I would prefer Wake County provide citizens with references to conclusive, better peer-reviewed studies on the effectiveness of face masks, all 7 of Morrisville’s Town Council members voted to join in with Wake County’s mask mandate because Cary and Durham already had similar mandates.
We can error on the side of caution but, our citizens also need to be sensitive to those who have reasonable exemptions. People need to be aware of the many situations when facemasks are not required. And there are also individual cases for facemask exemptions that will supercede the mandate. For example, face masks prevent people who lip-read (deaf/ hearing impaired) from being able to receive communications from others.
Most school age children were very happy to return to the classroom in person this school year. We need to be careful that remote learning is not creating more problems in the mental health of young people.
11) In what ways should Morrisville promote economic development? How do plans for a downtown corridor factor into those ways (if so)?
Due to our centralized location in the Heart of the Triangle, Morrisville does not have problems with -economic development. We need to ensure that the town sets a positive environment for small businesses and avoid restrictions limiting small businesses so that they can be successful operating in Morrisville. Keeping our property taxes low would encourage businesses to stay in Morrisville.
Providing for a mixed use development Town Center would allow for town center to develop organically, allowing for retail, cultural opportunities, and businesses to develop in a walk able area.
12) Morrisville residents love their parks and greenways. How should the town work to preserve, improve, or expand them?
Morrisville recently acquired two lots near the old Outlet Mall for new parkland. We have easy access to Wake County Parks, Raleigh, and Cary parks as well as our own. We need to preserve the naturally established trees in little green space we have left and not convert ever green grassy area into tennis courts when there are plenty of tennis courts nearby.The recent expansion of our greenways and the opening of the Crabtree-Hatcher Greenway have been a great asset and a great resource for our community. We need to be careful about over-developing the parks we currently own and make good decisions regarding future parks to develop.
13) If there is anything else you would like to address please do so here.
Morrisville Town Council needs a new voice with a fresh perspective, one who is willing to speak out for long-term residents and the working class citizens of Morrisville. We need someone on Town Council advocating for Morrisville Residents who will reign in excessive spending.
I am known for asking the deep, hard questions to ensure that our tax dollars are well spent on projects that are sound and well vetted, projects that will benefit the citizens of Morrisville.
I am Patty Cheng vote for me to see “Positive Change” and ensure that your tax funds are being well spent.
Thank you for your consideration. It would be an honor to represent you.
Support independent local journalism. Join the INDY Press Club to help us keep fearless watchdog reporting and essential arts and culture coverage viable in the Triangle.
Comment on this story at email@example.com.