Who’s the boss?

A while back, someone I know made a disparaging comment to a Town Council member about town manager Roger Stancil. The council member responded sharply, “Don’t talk about my boss that way.”

Pause while you think about what’s wrong with that statement.

Not long ago, I gossiped to another council member about the other council member’s defense of Stancil. I waited for that council member to do a double take. Nothing.

Here’s what I was waiting for: Recognition that Town Council is the town manager’s boss, not the other way around, and by extension, council has authority over staff who report to Stancil.

All this came to mind as I read a listserv discussion of the staff recommendation to grant carte blanche approval to Obey Creek before hearing the advisory committee’s report and recommendation. Obey Creek comes back before council tonight for a vote on how to proceed. The committee would like more impact data (traffic, stormwater and area economy) and a draft concept plan. Council itself voted last March that the final step in Phase 1 required an approved concept plan, but the developer won’t budge on any changes to the original plan that sparked widespread community uproar. (The success of the plan requires heavy customer traffic, yet the site is limited by a traffic bottleneck – a bridge that can’t be widened.)

Likely no one in the town Planning Department has to get to and from work via the James Taylor Bridge, so what do they care?

Why I care is because of the town’s double-speak. CH2020 principals have been used to justify form-based zoning (see: “carte blanche development”), yet conveniently ignores the CH2020 goal of community input. The Compass advisory committee has put in many, many hours over the past six months or so, all without compensation, to make this community more viable and desirable. Obey Creek developer Roger Perry is a heck of a charming guy. But town staff members swooning over his charisma to the point they dismiss community expertise is no way to run a town.

Somebody needs to remember who’s boss. Let’s hope Town Council members step up and show the balanced leadership we believed they could deliver when we elected them.
– Nancy Oates

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  1. Deborah Fulghieri

     /  January 13, 2014

    The funny part is that the Obey Creek Ventures LLC property is in the Extra-Territorial Jurisdiction, outside Chapel Hill municipal limits, and apparently there has been no discussion as to how the property will ever pay Chapel Hill town property or sales taxes or otherwise contribute towards town finances. At present, it does not (it doesn’t even pay the 15% Chapel Hill fire district tax). Further, the property surrounds other owners who may not agree to annexation– a choice they presently have the right to make.

  2. Deborah Fulghieri

     /  January 13, 2014

    Obey Creek Ventures LLC also has the right not to be annexed by Chapel Hill.

  3. Nancy

     /  January 13, 2014

    Deborah — Would you swap houses with me so you can be an official resident of Chapel Hill and run for office? I am impressed by the way you think of the big picture in this, and your letter to the editor in Sunday’s edition of a local newspaper about the additional revenue the town is giving up by giving away the cemetery land. Not that I disagree with Town Council’s decision, but it would have been wonderful if someone on council or town staff, for that matter, had thought about that.

  4. Bonnie Hauser

     /  January 13, 2014

    Now I’m confused. Isn’t the whole plan to annex Obey Creek as a condition of approval?

  5. many

     /  January 13, 2014

    Deborah, yes. If precedence holds, Obey Creek Ventures LLC in theory has the right to *force* Chapel Hill to annex.their property and to extend utilities, however I doubt Chapel Hill has as much right to force others to be annexed against their will.

    It’s a brave new world brought to you by the NC Leg.

  6. Deborah Fulghieri

     /  January 13, 2014

    Nancy, someone on staff did think about it, because the department of Parks and Recreation, which oversees cemetery services, was asked to report how much the cemetery earns yearly for Chapel Hill. Did that information not make it to Council? (I don’t watch CHTC on TV).

    That actually wasn’t a letter to the editor, just a comment on an article by Tammy Grubbs about the transaction.

  7. Deborah Fulghieri

     /  January 13, 2014

    Now I am wondering whether there is some legal catch by which the land is transferred to DHIC which then sells the land for its own account and uses the proceeds for developments elsewhere. Could that happen?

  8. Anita

     /  January 14, 2014

    I think you would have to put a deed restriction on the land when it transfers if you want to be sure that the property is used for certain specific purposes.