I spent last week at my brother’s house, on an acreage on the edge of the Iowa town where I grew up. He lives at the end of a narrow tarmac road that barely allows two cars to pass one another and still keep all eight wheels on impervious surface. The population of the town hasn’t grown that much in the decades since I left home. But evidently residents’ need and ability to shop and go out to eat has. The week before last, a traffic light was installed where my brother’s tarmac road meets the four-lane.

From the looks of things, my home town’s development strategy must be something along the lines of “Approve any commercial project as long as the parking lots are contiguous.”

I don’t think my home town’s leaders meant for what has grown into a thriving commercial area to be as unattractive as it is. But I wish members of Chapel Hill’s Town Council could see it before they throw any more money or encouragement toward developing Obey Creek.

Yes, Chapel Hill needs more commercial space to shift the tax burden from homeowners. Yes, commercial development needs to be convenient to get to. Yes, clustering can result in more efficient shopping. But do we really want that section of U.S. 15-501 South to emulate the intersection of U.S. 15-501 North at Mount Moriah Road? They don’t call it No Hope Commons without reason.

Chapel Hill’s mayor and at least one council member ran on a platform of preserving Chapel Hill’s small-town image. Are contiguous parking lots broken only by traffic jams really how we want to say “Welcome to Chapel Hill”?
– Nancy Oates

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  1. Duncan O'Malley

     /  November 19, 2010

    “Are contiguous parking lots broken only by traffic jams really how we want to say ‘Welcome to Chapel Hill’?”

    Using slanted hyperbole doesn’t suit you.

  2. “No Hope Commons”. Sorry for my ignorance, but have never heard that before.

    One think I do know, is outside of most grocery items, New Hope Commons (and surrounding shopping) gets most of my shopping.

  3. Nancy Oates

     /  November 19, 2010

    Duncan — Sadly, it is not hyperbole. Drive out to New Hope Commons anytime between now and Dec. 24, and while you’re waiting through numerous traffic light cycles to turn left, think what more could be done to make that intersection even more unattractive (albeit thriving) than it already is.

  4. John Kramer

     /  November 19, 2010

    WJ- WalMart at New Hope Commons now has a full grocery store, so SHOP DURHAM FIRST! No more need to shop in Orange County.

  5. Duncan O'Malley

     /  November 19, 2010

    Nancy –

    Oh. I thought you were referring to Southern Village and the future Obey Creek project. I agree the New Hope Commons area is a sad situation – but I sure do love shopping there.

  6. Frank

     /  November 21, 2010

    I feel bad for people who think there is anything worth shopping for in No Hope Commons.

  7. Duncan O'Malley

     /  November 21, 2010

    Frank –

    Funny, I feel bad for people who feel bad for people who think.

  8. I like the Dollar Store at NHC.

  9. Elliot

     /  December 1, 2010

    No Hope Commons does have Best Buy and the poor country cousin of Office Depot. You can pick up your ammo at Dick’s and a Reuben at Jason’s, but I do hate the place.

    I always hate the three football fields length of uniterrupted buildings that are proposed for Obey Creek. It’s East 54, only longer and double the height.