Will the Town of Chapel Hill get it right?

Despite whatever impressions you may have about Chapel Hill being a bastion of progressive government, the truth is quite a bit less encouraging. Sure we get lots of things right, but we also get plenty of things wrong.

This week our Town Council will be voting on a proposed new development called Charterwood. In concept, it's an interesting project that offers dense development in an area (our northern transit corridor) where dense development makes sense. But when you look into the details, the project is a sketchy mess that has no business even being considered, let alone approved.

For starters, the corporation behind the proposal doesn't actually exist. Sure it's a paperwork oversight, but shouldn't we expect multimillion dollar projects to be backed by companies that have their shit together?

Beyond that, the project is located squarely in the watershed of two small lakes (I live beside one of them) and there is a 100% guarantee that runoff and silt from the development will end up in the lakes. Downstream neighbors have asked the town council to require an insurance bond from the developer to cover his liability for damage to the lakes. The town's staff and attorney are basically ignoring the request in favor of business as usual.

Any honest person, conservative or progressive, should want individuals and companies to be held responsible for whatever damage they inflict on those around them. For too long, we in America have allowed businesses and their owners to profit at the expense of the broader community. That has to stop.

You'd think Chapel Hill would have an enlightened point of view on this issue of fundamental fairness. You'd think our elected officials would understand the importance of making developers clean up their messes.

We'll see.

Comments

I'm not optimistic

Our town council members are people just like any other elected officials. And all too often, people tend to take whatever easy way out they can find. Voting to approve this project is easy. All you have to do is say "aye" and then it's someone else's problem.

It's a lot more challenging to do the hard work and put this project on hold, where it belongs, until an equitable solution can be reached.

Like I said, we'll see.

So who are the partners?

If the corporation is under another name (other than WCI), the Town should know, right? If not, they should never have issued any sort of permits.

Share on OP, please

I actually don't have a strong opinion about Charterwood, as I've had to budget my limited attention for other things (like the comprehensive debacle and getting awesome people elected to the County Commission), but I would love to you to cross post this on OrangePolitics.org, James!

Done.

Thanks for the nudge. I started to do that earlier but found I had forgotten my username and password. Now I'm all back up and running.

Boy, it sure sounds like the comprehensive debacle is unfolding like a slow-motion train wreck. Ugh.

So much at stake

"You'd think Chapel Hill would have an enlightened point of view on this issue of fundamental fairness."

You would think that, wouldn't you?

However, the valid protest petition presented to Council is a case in point. In 1923, The State give citizens the right to file a protest petition because "they suffer the greatest consequences of adjacent development." All eligible homeowners signed this petition, requiring a super majority to approve. A super majority was not obtained, and somehow, the Town logic is that it means that Charterwood was neither approved or denied! Additionally, the applicant then, legally, redrew lot lines (recombination)in order to circumvent any protest petition from being filed. The applicant's attorney stated "This type of configuartion of a zoning case in a manner to avoid the filing of a protest petition is entirely legal." It is. But, is it ethical? It violates the spirit of the law by moving lot lines by 5 feet. Years from now, case law may cite this as a precedent.

Charterwood is about the concepts of neighborhood protection (for all neighborhoods), ethics, and fairness. Density on transit corridors is fine...but every parcel on a transit corridor is not equal and may not be appropriate for density. Charterwood is on such a property. A residential neighborhood sits up to 50 feet below, and 100 feet from multi-story buildings. Two major groves of 100-200 year old majestic white oaks will die. The Booker Creek headwater streams (the Town's most impaired creek) will be paved over, impacting immediate and downstream areas. Pushed as workforce housing, something we desparately need, it has morphed into a luxury apartment complex. The applicant has literally ignored all Council recommendations. And this isn't even all of the list!

Chapel Hill citizens from the south to the east and north and west will be watching the vote tonight and think of how focused the Council will be on protecting their neighborhoods as well.

Read more: http://www.bluenc.com/comment/reply/27789#ixzz1ypSBNSzi

5 to 4

The dark side wins.

The Chapel Hill Town Council tonight gave the green light to profits for a private developer ... with one guaranteed result being increased financial burden on downstream neighbors.

Who says corporations aren't people? In Chapel Hill, they're better than people. They get to dump all over their neighbors, aided and abetted by elected officials, with no responsibility whatsoever to clean up their messes.

Those supporting the developer: Bell, Rich, Kleinschmidt, Ward, and Pease.

Gross.