Tom Jensen's blog

Lots of work going into growth issues

As published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Saturday, February 17th:

Last Monday night's Town Council agenda pretty much summed up the amazing number of growth issues happening now in Chapel Hill. There are three developments on the table this month -- Lot 5 and Greenbridge downtown, the Residences at Chapel Hill North in the northwestern part of town, and East 54 on, well, East 54. There are also the issues caused by the large number of proposed developments -- re-evaluations of the comprehensive plan and tree protection ordinance, and a neighborhood conservation district in the Whitehead/Mason Farm area.

When all this stuff is going on, the Town Council and Planning Board (of which I am a member) get a lot of attention, as do the engaged citizens who speak out and make their feelings known.

Checking back in with Tim Dempsey

Last year a mini controversy erupted around the awarding of a consulting contract to then Planning Board Chair Tim Dempsey. Seven months later, are we getting our money's worth?

I believe the answer is yes. Tim did a tremendous job co-chairing the Manager search process with Anita Badrock (BTW, congratulations on your new Chamber chairmanship- there is no one better suited for the job in my book!)

One of the things Tim worked on of late was pulling together last weekend's Council retreat, which by all reports was much improved from previous years.

I thought Sally Greene, now becoming a Council veteran, had an interesting perspective, this being her fourth retreat:

Roadkill and Rabies: Enough!

As published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Saturday, January 20th:

Orange County won the state championship in 2005, finished a close second behind Guilford County last year, and is already well on its way to another state championship this year.

I wish I was talking about football or SAT scores or something of that ilk. Unfortunately I'm talking about the county's relative standing in the number of rabies cases it has compared to the rest of the state.

It seems like every day when I open up the paper there's been another confirmed rabies case. Most of the time I don't bat much of an eye. The vast majority of the cases are way out in the county, and since I live near downtown Chapel Hill, don't affect me.

But I kind of reached my breaking point when one of 2007's first pair of cases was a rabid fox that attacked someone walking near UNC Hospitals. I walk around there all the time, and that could just as well have been me.

Congratulations Speaker Hackney!

Joe Hackney, who represents Orange, Chatham, and Moore Counties was chosen by the Democratic caucus as its choice for Speaker of the House tonight. Barring some sketchy dealing making with Republicans, he'll be elected Speaker when the House convenes in two weeks.

I'm thrilled! Here's a column I wrote on the topic two months ago.

As printed in the Chapel Hill Herald on November 18th, 2006:

With Democrats increasing their majority in the legislature and Jim Black's re-election status still unclear as a recount looms in Mecklenburg County, it seems pretty clear that a new speaker of the House will need to be selected.

It's a decision not to be taken lightly for members of the Democratic caucus. I think hardly anyone is exactly sure what's been going on in Raleigh over the past few years but it sure doesn't smell right.

So the first attribute I want in a new speaker is that he or she be absolutely beyond reproach. The individual needs to be of impeccable integrity. Whether it's fair or not, the House doesn't have a very good image right now, and its new leader will need to inspire confidence among peers and the state's citizenry.

Kudos to Carolina North committee

As printed in the Chapel Hill Herald on January 6th, 2007:

Around this time last year, I was extremely skeptical about UNC's plans for a "Leadership Advisory Committee" on Carolina North. It seemed like just the latest in a series of bureaucratic bodies, at best another pointless waste of time and at worst a cooptation technique designed as an end run around substantive public input on one of the most important issues our area has ever faced.

Twelve months later, I am pleasantly surprised with the work it has done and cautiously optimistic about the direction we are heading in. Folks are engaging in a constructive dialogue about town/gown issues in a way that we have not often seen.



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