Monday medley

Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt set a packed agenda for tonight’s meeting. Not that he has grown accustomed to meetings that last until midnight or beyond. But there are decisions to be made and work to be done.

The taxi ordinance is the only item on the agenda that invites public comment. The proposed changes seem pragmatic and appear fair to the taxi company owners and drivers, as well as customers. But this being Chapel Hill, someone is bound to quibble.

The agenda holds something for everyone:

The Historic Rogers Road Neighborhood Task Force is looking for support for a proposed community center, in the form of waived permitting and utility connection fees and free utilities for the first year. On Sept. 6, the Orange County Commissioners asked the county manager to find $380,000 to add to the $120,000 in a fund to build a community center for the Historic Rogers Road neighborhood. The neighborhood also needs sewer service, but as that would be “more complex to navigate” – i.e., would not be resolved while county incumbents were still in office – the board wants to accomplish something to show its commitment to the neighborhood. Approving funds for a community center, with or without a system to handle flush toilets, would make everyone feel better.

For an eye-opening understanding of the cost of commercial construction, take a look at UNC’s to-do list in its main campus development report. The big-ticket items to be paid for completely through gifts – $36 million for the Rizzo Center expansion approved by Town Council earlier this month, $7.5 million to renovate the student union and $3.5 million for an addition to the clubhouse at Finley Golf Course – underscore why Carolina will mourn the loss of its very successful fundraiser.

Council’s agenda includes a number of items that amount to housekeeping – Grubb Properties’ request for direction on what path to take to implement the Glen Lennox plan, a request from the Rural Road Safety Coalition to endorse its guidelines for car and bike safety on rural roads, and a vote on yet another reading of Charterwood’s application for a zoning amendment.

Expect the Town Hall auditorium to be packed with Charterwood opponents, all giving council members the Evil Eye in an effort to sway the vote. Glaring, once it reaches critical mass, can be a form of intimidation.
– Nancy Oates

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12 Comments

  1. Ed Harrison

     /  September 24, 2012

    Nancy,

    You write: The taxi ordinance is the only item on the agenda that invites public comment.

    This statement is categorically incorrect, if you’re saying that it’s the only item on which the public is automatically able to comment. There are nine agenda items which are automatically available for public comment, most notably #1, **Public Forum** on the … 2040 Metropolitan Transportation Plan.” The four consent and information items are available for comment most easily if someone either notifies the mayor’s aide, Mark McCurry, of interest in speaking, or a council member. McCurry will send an email this morning asking council members if they want any of those items “pulled” for discussion, as he needs to let appropriate staff members know that they might need to spend significant time at tonight’s meeting. The one land use item is no longer available for spoken comment because the public hearing was closed at a previous meeting.
    So that adds up, in my count, to 13 items on which the public are invited to comment.

  2. Nancy Oates

     /  September 24, 2012

    Ed — Thanks for pointing that out. If one were to go by the agenda, one would not know that public comment would be accepted on any of those other 12 items. I’ll file that information away for future reference.

    And given the possibility of public comment on 13 items on tonight’s agenda, you may be in for a long evening.

  3. Del Snow

     /  September 24, 2012

    “Expect the Town Hall auditorium to be packed with Charterwood opponents, all giving council members the Evil Eye in an effort to sway the vote. Glaring, once it reaches critical mass, can be a form of intimidation.”

    Oh, please!
    Citizen involvement is now a form of intimidation? Wasn’t that the whole purpose of 2020? If the chambers is “packed,” doesn’t that say anything? What if it is packed with Charterwood supporters? Although there have not been too many of those (an understatment, to be sure), would you view that as “intimidation?”

    All citizens have a right to witness the vote of Council members who in November of 2013, and beyond, will be asking for their vote.

  4. Fred Black

     /  September 24, 2012

    Isn’t it amazing how different people can read the same things and reach entirely different conclusions!

  5. DOM

     /  September 25, 2012

    Phew. The world didn’t end after all.

  6. Steve Wells

     /  September 25, 2012

    I don’t think it is necessarily fair to say people coming out to speak or support a position is really an “evil eye.”

    That said, I do wish people in the Town of Chapel Hill would stop being so negative. I was disappointed with the all or nothing stand of my neighbors on the IFC Shelter and some in the IFC’s attempt to call my neighborhood bigots. A fair and CORRECT compromise is still a Transitional Shelter safe from addicts and drug users otherwise known as the “hardcore homeless.” Instead we have what will become a mess before Program people in the IFC put their foot down to protect those who actually want help.

    Now, we have Charterwood. Frankly, I feel very lucky it isn’t a Strip Mall like the two on the other side of MLK. I am not sure when it was decided that compromise was bad. I don’t agree with Del on development. She has been inconsistent except when it comes to the Altemueller property. I know it is a pipe dream in a Town where most people have an Academic approach to real world problems (aka if we put in the “perfect system” it will work), but I would really love to see us stop viewing all Developers as bad. They aren’t.

    Northwoods V was built by an out of town developer from Ohio, as was my house. Prior to these rather boring, practically prefab houses being put in this was a dense wooded area. We need to divorce ourselves from the idea that a Town can or should exist without Mixed-Use Developments. My neighbors barely talk to each other. I see parties here and there with cars lining the streets. Our peer groups are less defined by neighborhood than by children’s social activities. Those without children have clubs, etc.

    I can’t walk to a cafe. I have no choice but to drive. The nearest place is through the park. Fine on a nice day, but I still have to cross two very busy roads. The issue is that the planning model of Houses here, business there, doesn’t work. It degrades the environment, but more so, it destroys community. Most people who live in the areas like Parkside, sleep in Chapel Hill and do most things everywhere else.

    Is Charterwood perfect? No. But to argue that houses that come in kits bundled in Ohio or some other off-site location are a slice of heaven is a bit weird. Del is right. Terri is right. The development process is broken. It is broken, because instead of sitting down like adults and working things out, each side tries to win. That doesn’t work. Now that the Development is approved and once the lawyers take some money and say “Suing really isn’t going to work, because everything is legal,” let’s sit down together and talk about how to live together.

    And as for downstream flooding, that makes me laugh. When we moved here, someone blamed Parkside for flooding at Eastgate. Turns out they hadn’t cleaned their drains oh and it was built over a creek.

    So, let’s stop making stuff up. Let’s stop acting like children and start working with developers and Council in a constructive way. That is the only way forward.

  7. DOM

     /  September 25, 2012

    Mr. Wells –

    Ever think of running for town council?

  8. Jason

     /  September 25, 2012

    Del wrote a piece for Orange Politics yesterday on Charterwood and I went back to re-read it and it has been removed from the site. She predicted that Charterwood would pass. And she was…….RIGHT!!

  9. Steve Wells

     /  September 25, 2012

    The answer is no on ever running for Town Council. While I disagree with some of the decisions that are made from time-to-time, I think our current Council has very good people. I also know there are better qualified folks like George C., Jon Dehart and Fred Black that have a better understanding of the nuances of the issues and would be much more effective on Council.

    I am involved in Festifall and do plan to do more in the Town of trying to encourage constructive engagement. I would love to see more of my neighbors at Festifall and the Fireworks displays. I have been thinking a lot about what George C. and Fred Black asked about how we can start helping people realize what Chapel Hill makes available to them.

    I still have no idea how we can stop something that has become a replacement for actual discourse.

    So, I am certain that I will never run for Town Council, but I do plan to be more of a voice of reason than I have been in the past. I used to Referee High School Football, so having both sides yelling at me is something I am used to.

  10. DOM

     /  September 25, 2012

    Mr. Wells.
    Too bad. At least I tried 😉

  11. Jane M

     /  September 25, 2012

    Jason, do you mean this post by Del? http://orangepolitics.org/2012/09/community-involvement-fails-it

    It’s still there, obviously. I don’t think they generally remove stuff from OP, unless the writer of it asks them to. They just don’t seem to post many things by users that aren’t registered.

  12. Jason

     /  September 26, 2012

    Jane – I saw it later. It was removed from the main section. Thanks.

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