Growth & Development

Props to Chatham Residents

The Chatham County political scene's decay means more than most of us want to admit. We've depended upon that large forested county to stay large, unpopulated, and forested so that we can uphold our own quality of life in southern Orange County. Part of the allure of living in the western edge of the Triangle here is that we can go north, south, or west and hit farmland and rivers and general pastoral ambiance and breathe. That's all about to change in a big way now that the Chatham board of commissioners is firmly under the control of uber-pro-development forces. The county is poised to add a LOT of people over the next 10 years, further clogging all the southern routes into and out of Chapel Hill and creating larger car and water pollution problems for the area in general. And next year's election in Chatham will only decide two seats, both of the seats currently held by those perceived to be least pro-development. It don't look good.

What's in a Research Park

It's no secret that UNC plans for Carolina North (CN) to be a research park, along the lines of NCSU's Centennial Campus (CC). In fact, the guys in charge of creating Carolina North specialize in it, which I think is sort of unfairly stacking the deck for research, when earlier plans for CN indicated there would a be significant academic (ie: teaching) activity there.

Associate Vice Chancellor Mark Crowell was recruited by UNC directly after working with CC at State. (He's quoted as saying "We don't give away football tickets, why should we give away technology?" Doesn't that just warm your cockles?) And the leader of development of Carolina North is Vice Chancellor (and UNC alumn) Tony Waldrop, who came to UNC after building a similar institution at the University of Illinois.

The public transit and planning nightmare that is our region.

Having lived in other parts of the country and visited other parts of the world that have livable, walkable, dense communities, it's sometimes hard to come home and be too positive about the state of affairs in this area. Just as grand old Durham always seems to be on the cusp of something big and grand and wonderful before plunging off the precipice into bad planning and disastrously bad governing decisions, the region as a whole seems to have good ideas and good people and decent governance but just can't seem to quite get it on track (pardon the pun) with planning and public transport.

It's Happenning on Rosemary Street

Drive down West Rosemary Street and you will now see a huge pile of rubble where several buildings used to be. Tom Tucker's "Rosemary Village" development is finally underway. I'm both scared and excited.

To me, this represents a new era for Chapel Hill, especially downtown. Tucker's development will be compact but dense, and truly mixed-use. Street-level retail with upscale condos (and a few token affordable rentals) on top. The plan has some flaws, but that's no surpise since we've only done one or two things like this before (ie: The Fountains). It's decidely urban, and I like that.

If it's done wrong, this could be a huge drag to Northside. If done right, it could jumpstart healthy revitalization of West Rosemary Street. I like Tom Tucker, and I trust that he wants to help the community (as long as he still makes money). Still, it's so tall!

Super Campus

Faster than a eigth-year senior. More powerful than an 800-pound gorilla. Able to leap over local government in a single bound. Look, up on Airport Road... It's a bird, it's a plane, it's Carolina North!

Yes, tonight UNC officially unveiled it's long-awaited "draft" plans for a gigantic new campus to be built on the Horace Williams property. I have a cold and I'm tired so I'll try to be brief. Pardon any goofyness, typos, etc.



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