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Obey Creek

I just returned home from a three plus hour meeting about Obey Creek. This was the last meeting before Chapel Hill decides to enter a development agreement negotiation. Phase I the Compass Committee ended last winter, Phase II addional information gathering has been during the last six months and phase III negotiations will probably begin soon. The first hour was a repeat of the traffic analysis presentation that was given last month at the library. More data will be obtained from additional studies but the analysis incorporates 1.2% traffic growth rate as the back ground increase in traffic. It projects 10% of the Obey Creek development traffic to be carried by mass transit. The next two hours were devoted to the general Obey Creek plan, modifications and potential points for negotiation. The general plan would allocate 50 acres for green space ( part of which could become come a school if needed) and 30acres developed near 15-501.
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High School

This spring I have been going to  a lot of high school events. My son graduates from Carrboro High School and former students at Chapel Hill HS are graduating. Last weekend in Winson Salem the state Ultimate playoffs occurred. This is a sport which requires almost no equipment: a frisbee and a field. Teams are low key, they don't have practice everyday. Carolina Friends won first place. CHHS 2nd, Carrboro 3rd and ECHHS 4th in the state! I've been impressed by the high school plays and concerts this year. As funding for school declines students are concerned that their favorite courses will be cut. Historically our district has funded the cultural arts. I hope that even the "smaller" classes will be allowed to continue. Students at Carrboro were worried about losing some of the chorus classes.  Today Carrboro had their senior assembly. Students put in an impressive number of volunteer hours, earned many scholarships and spoke up for diversity and social justice.

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Supporting Teachers

Last evening my son and I attended a forum at Culbreth Middle School about teacher pay. There were a number of panels. First teachers spoke (including one of my son's teachers from Carrboro High School). They shared stories about how hard it was to make it on teacher pay especially since their salaries have been frozen at the same pay scale step since 2007. State statistics show that an unusually high number of teachers are leaving for other states or are quitting the profession. High school and middle school students talked about their teachers and how sad it was that many of their teachers have decided to leave.  Aaron Nelson spoke for the local business community. He mentioned the positive impact a good school system has on the economy and that they support paying more for education. Finally the local superintendent, 3 state reps and 1 state senator spoke about the budgets and politics.
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Solid Waste Tax District

Solid Waste Tax District Public Hearing tonight 4/1/14 in Hillsborough.

I attended the public hearing on 3/18. Here are my observations based upon what others have said.

1.       The main problem is that the county had a good funding system which has been called into question. Many speakers supported the fee system and feared that a tax district would cost them more.

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More Chapel Hill election turnout analysis

2013 Chapel Hill Election Turn Out

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Sierra Club County Commissioner Forum

 The last day to register to vote for the primary in May is April 11th. (An official ID is not required until 2016).  Last week the Democratic Women had a forum for candidates who are registered Democrats. Tonight the Sierra Club will have a forum for all candidates for County Commissioner. Candidates for Orange County Commissioner will respond to questions posed by the Orange-Chatham Group. Members of the public are encouraged to attend and will be asked to submit questions for the moderator to choose from at the end.
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Ephesus Fordham Work Session

There was another well attended meeting  at lunch about Ephesus Fordham today. I asked questions about the projected differences in available Affordable Housing from Form Based Code vs. current Special Use Permit system for the area (they will respond later). I also asked if the property owners would have to pay a new stormwater fee (yes) and if the project could be developed to reduce the amount of stormwater run off. Currently the stated goals are to improve the water quality (reduce nutrients and dissolved solids) and maintain OR reduce the current amount of runoff. A number of neighbors are concerned about the increase in flooding. The watershed map shows the the Ef area is a relatively small amout of the watershed and probably is not the cause of the recent increase in flooding. There is probably some potential for reducing runoff with redevelopment as opposed to status quo.
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AP courses and minority enrollment

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Chatham Park and water quality

Thursday I attended a Sierra Club meeting in Pittsboro and learned more about the water issues associated with the huge Chatham Park development. The local goverment of Pittsboro will be deciding what happens there. First the area watershed has rare or endangered species of fresh water mussels and tiny fish called shiners. Of course it drains into Jordan Lake which is already impaired.   The state government has delayed the Jordan Lake water protection rules and has created a weird situation where if communities want to have better environmental rules they  will have to enact them this year with a 100% agreement vote. Also the state has reduced funding and resources for the state agencies that monitor and protect our water. Originally after hearing the Triangle Realtor presentation last summer I thought Chatham Park (for 55,000 people) was a done deal. I think there are a lot of reasons for believing it can not be that big.

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Cold Weather and libraries

Today there was a 2 hour delay for the public schools because of the cold weather. Carl got up at the usual time and walked to Southern Village to see a friend. I biked to the UNC campus and visited the Science Library Annex in Wilson. It's been a while since I have been there. The departamental libraries (Botany, Zoology, Chemistry, Geology etc.) have been combined.    A number of books are now in storage including many of the tropical birds books by Alexander Skutch. I was sad to see that many of the paper jounals are gone: the bound volumes of the classical ornithology journals have been discarded. I can't dojournal browsing anymore. (Since I am not a UNC student, I can't access the electronic journals.) I then explored the new eating places on Franklin (and overheard one conversation: room is locked, don't have the key, room mate isn't back with key due to cancelled flights.) The bike ride home was nice and cold. Hope the freeze kills the ticks and zancudos.
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