Growth & Development
I sent the letter below to CHTC on Sunday, December 4, one day before the meeting, and four days after the public was first notified of the proposed purchase of the property for $7..9 million.
Dear Mayor Hemminger and Council Members:
A common complaint in Chapel Hill is that homeowners bear too great a tax burden because the town lacks a significant commercial tax base to offset it. The town’s onerous development process limits the amount of commercial space that can be built while also limiting the construction of new, different, and denser housing that is affordable to a wider range of people. At the same time, through the Neighborhood Conservation District (NCD) process, the town further restricts the availability of some areas for redevelopment, effectively freezing large areas of Chapel Hill in time. Removing these areas from potential redevelopment results in even less land for the creation of new mixed use and less single-family detached suburban type development to shift the tax burden. If our town is serious about supporting affordability, NCDs are counterproductive, “protecting” large swaths of the town that cannot be developed into denser urban environments.
Learn more about the Draft Environmental Impact Statement/Draft Section 4(f) Evaluation (DEIS) for the proposed Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit (D-O LRT) Project. A formal public meeting where you can give feedback will be held on September 29.
Tuesday, September 15, 2015 -
4:00pm to 7:00pm
Friday Center, 100 Friday Center Drive, Chapel Hill
This commentary, written by me and fellow OP editor Molly De Marco, originally appeared in the Chapel Hill News on July 26, 2015.
Chapel Hill has a branding problem. There, we said it – and we said it because it’s time for us to have a frank and honest discussion about just exactly what Chapel Hill is and who we are as Chapel Hillians.
Far too often these days, it’s common for people to compare Chapel Hill to Durham or even Raleigh. But the fact is that we’re not Durham and we’re not Raleigh – and more importantly, we’re not competing with Durham or Raleigh.
Rather, as one of the nation’s leading and most desirable college towns, we’re competing with towns and cities across the country with major research universities, like Ann Arbor, Bloomington, Athens, and Austin.
Acknowledging this is the first step toward developing a Chapel Hill brand and using it to attract the individuals, businesses, and opportunities that will make Chapel Hill a unique regional and national leader.
Last week, you might have read a Gizmodo article about how millennials will live in cities unlike anything we've ever seen before. If you haven't read it yet, I highly encourage you to, because, unlike so many articles in the media today, this one does an excellent job of capturing the nuances of why we are seeing certain behavioral patterns among millennials when it comes to where we live.
The critical takeaway from this article is one that has major implications for us in Chapel Hill/Carrboro: Millennials are choosing to live in urban neighborhoods, but not necessarily in urban downtowns.
This behavioral pattern shows that what millennials value is not the big city life itself, but having easy access to amenities like walkability and public transit. For suburbs around the country, this means attracting the next generation of Americans requires urbanizing to provide these kind of amenities.
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