A peek behind the curtain

You’d think with all the 5-hour-plus meetings Town Council has racked up lately, and the Nancy Oatesabstruse decisions that have come out of them, somewhere in there council members would have explained why they voted the way they did. Instead, we’ve watched council members pass over professionals with strong expertise for advisory board positions in favor of neophytes with little knowledge of the field. We’ve heard them espouse easing pressure on residential taxpayers and claim to support workforce housing, then make decisions that achieve neither. And we’ve seen them give more decision-making authority to a town manager and staff who are playing fast and loose with taxpayer funds and can’t get their stories straight in trying to cover their tracks.

No wonder community distrust of town government is at an all-time high.

So I was surprised to hear at the Friends of Downtown meeting last Thursday morning George Cianciolo sprinkle his talk about his first six months in office with moments of candor. He explained a couple of his votes and he shed some light on why council members sometimes seem lost amidst all the stipulations and motions.

Council members receive their packet of materials Thursday night before a Monday night meeting. Packets for the last two council meetings were 650 pages and 950 pages long each. Council members, all of whom have day jobs, must absorb what they can and send their questions to staff in hopes of getting a response before the meeting starts. Because the material for SUPs and rezonings is available well in advance and the agenda is set far in advance, it comes across as somewhat manipulative that staff wait until Thursday night to send materials to council members to review.

Cianciolo elaborated on voting in favor of Ephesus-Fordham, even though developers plan only high-end residential buildings that cost taxpayers money in services for the foreseeable future. He said no retail stores would be interested in the area until plenty of potential customers lived there. During discussions on the dais, the majority of council members denied that the apartments-first scenario would delay producing revenue.

And on his advisory board votes, Cianciolo opted for inexperienced candidates over seasoned professionals because he wants to add the voices of young people to advisory board discussions.

The implication is that Cianciolo wants to draw more free-spending young people to town, which might help the town fiscally more than creating space for residents on a budget.

I don’t agree with Cianciolo’s rationale, but I felt better hearing it. Council members need to share their thinking honestly behind their votes. Transparency would be a good first step to rebuilding trust.
— Nancy Oates

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44 Comments

  1. Fred Black

     /  June 30, 2014

    Nancy, where is the data that shows community distrust of town government is at an all-time high?

    Not surprising, my take on what George said is not the same as yours.

  2. DOM

     /  June 30, 2014

    “No wonder community distrust of town government is at an all-time high.”

    Statements like this immediately discount any credibility.

  3. Nancy

     /  June 30, 2014

    Fred — I simply listen and pay attention to people who listen and pay attention to town government. And of those people, I hear very few who trust the process and outcomes of recent decisions.

  4. Don Evans

     /  June 30, 2014

    Well, in this household the majority has lost confidence in the council and staff because we have been paying attention to the process and the decisions.

    We’ve watched the mayor push a major zoning change that made absolutely no sense unless you factored in the money paid out by an advocacy group. The council approved the Central-West plan despite widespread opposition and even efforts by council members to stifle discussion — council just didn’t want to hear from residents but gave exorbitant amounts of time to moneyed interests, which is par for the course for development in this city.

    The Bicycle Apartments and Shortbread projects, which were approved as affordable student housing and morphed into luxury apartments. And Timber Hollow apartments, which council approved with an affordable housing proviso that even council members were suspect of and voted for anyway. Not to mention the recreational space the developer submitted that is part of a power line easement that council members ignored.

    These are just plain bad decisions and are only the tip of the ice berg and definitely show a shortsightedness and disregard for the community that is breathtaking in its depth and cynicism.

    But that’s what I’ve come to expect from town staff and council — decisions that don’t benefit the community, but rather benefit either developers or someone in town government. Short-term gain for some and long-term burden for the town.

  5. David

     /  June 30, 2014

    I also am one of the residents—and there are many of us— who feels that our local government is broken, that the Council’s recent decisions regarding development in Central West, Ephesus-Fordham, Obey Creek, and other areas do not reflect the will of the majority of the citizens, that too many of our elected leaders have displayed an arrogant disregard for resident and advisory board concerns and unwarranted confidence in their own superior judgment, coupled with an inadequate understanding of the issues they are asked to decide.

    As to George Cianciolo, here is what he wrote back in 2009:

    Many of the “annoying” stipulations that Council requires of developers are the result of concerns expressed by the citizens of Chapel Hill (who elected the Council in the first place). Developers are not always citizens of Chapel Hill nor do they always have the best interests of the citizens at heart. For instance, when a traffic impact analysis shows that a new project is going to have a significant impact upon traffic flow at neighboring intersections, and the citizens of affected neighborhoods raise this concern, why shouldn’t the Council require the developer to use the lowest number of parking spaces feasible? When a proposed development is going to remove a significant number of specimen trees and Chapel Hill citizens have repeatedly said that one of the things they truly value about our Town is its tree canopy, why shouldn’t Council require a developer to demonstrate how they are mitigating tree loss as much as possible? When a developer is going to build a project why shouldn’t Council require the developer to build
    the infrastructure (sidewalks, turn-lanes) to make that development as accessible as possible without making the Town bear the costs for a private project? Many, if not most, of the so-called onerous stipulations that some have suggested the Council imposes on developers are the result of the Council listening to its citizens’ concerns.

    http://m.orangepolitics.org/2009/10/pro-environment-and-pro-business-are-not-mutually-exclusive#comment-9591

    The Cianciolo of 2009 admirably recognized that Council’s first obligation is ensure that development in Chapel Hill conforms, within reason, to citizen values and concerns. The Cianciolo of 2014 seems a totally different creature. What happened to him?

  6. DOM

     /  June 30, 2014

    Don –

    “Well, in this household the majority has lost confidence in the council and staff …”

    Thanks for the clarification. It seems there are a dozen or so familiar voices who speak out against just about every move Council makes. Other than than that small minority (who seems intent on insisting they’re the huge majority), the citizens of this town seem pretty content with the council’s recent forward movement. Just an honest observation, though, not backed up by any hard data.

  7. David

     /  June 30, 2014

    DOM,

    It’s my observation that the folks who have reliably spoken out in favor of the Council’s recent development decisions are an even smaller and more familiar group—e.g., Aaron Nelson, Kristin Smith, Desiree Goldman—and most, of not all, of them are connected either to the Chamber of Commerce or to the real estate industry. Hardly a disinterested group. They also assure us that they speak for the silent majority of Chapel Hill citizens. Why should we believe them?

    More than 700 residents signed a petition opposing the rezoning plan for Ephesus-Fordham produced by Town staff, and their concerns were essentially ignored. That’s hard data. Aside from your personal observations, what makes you think that the citizens of this town are pretty content with the Council’s current course of action (I obviously don’t share your view that it can be characterized as “forward movement”)?

    We will find out in November 2015 which of us has a more accurate sense of the public mood.

  8. Geoff Green

     /  June 30, 2014

    “And on his advisory board votes, Cianciolo opted for inexperienced candidates over seasoned professionals because he wants to add the voices of young people to advisory board discussions.”

    Interested to know which “seasoned professionals” you think were rejected in place of youth.

  9. David

     /  June 30, 2014

    Geoff,

    Here’s one example: For the Community Design Commission, the Council appointed Dixon Pitt, who graduated in 2012 with a B.A. in Finance/Econ, instead of applicant Beth Mueller, a licensed architect with 20 years of professional experience.

    Seem like an odd choice? Consider: Mr. Pitt works for Bryan Properties, the developer of Southern Village.

    [Cue sound of scales falling from eyes]

  10. Don Evans

     /  June 30, 2014

    Could it be that DOM has a financial interest in furthering develop issues?

  11. Fred Black

     /  June 30, 2014

    Nancy and Don, you still have not told me where you got the data. “All-time high” is a specific data point. Data from the annual survey says otherwise, but maybe you believe the next survey will say something different? Sad that anyone supports this type of nonsense that you’re writing!

  12. Fred Black

     /  June 30, 2014

    I’ve simply listened and paid attention to people who listen and pay attention to blogs and the unique hits for this one are at an all-time low.

    Is that OK to just throw out there?

  13. Terri

     /  June 30, 2014

    Fred,

    I agree with Nancy, and base my perception on the number of emails and citizen responses to projects before council as well as opinion pieces in the CH News. If you read the Council email archives the communications received by Council are overwhelmingly opposed to the projects that they are then turning around and approving. While it’s true that occasionally the Chamber folks show up to support large growth initiatives, like Ephesus Fordham or any of Roger Perry’s projects, there has not even been an overwhelming show of support among the non-business community.

    Even among the business community there appears to be some conflict. For example, they want commercial growth and take it on faith that building several new, high-volume multifamily residences is somehow going to translate into commercial growth, sometime down the road (based on public discussions through the CH News with members of the business community). But when pushed to explain why new apartment complexes are going to improve town finances, they can’t.

    In the face of petitions, speakers opposed to projects, emails against projects, and opinion pieces in the newspaper, what more evidence do you need? Or are you assuming that just because a large portion of the community opposes their actions, they still have confidence in them as a group?

    (BTW, OrangePolitics is mostly dead now too, so it may be more a trend against social media than against any one particular blog.)

  14. many

     /  June 30, 2014

    Oh Fred, methinks tho doth protest too much. Most recently on primary day you threw out this little gem:

    “……..Hard to get an accurate number, but some Republicans changed their affiliation to Unaffiliated so they can ask for the Democrat ballot and vote for OC Commissioners and the sheriff. Interestingly, some candidates were Republicans before they became Democrats……”

    Fred Black, you are a hypocrite.

  15. Fred Black

     /  June 30, 2014

    Show me the data, a mantra heard here often! If true there is data right Terri? At least the BOE has the data from the primary now and can tell you the number of registrations changed. And who in hell cares about being called a name by an Anon!

  16. Terri

     /  June 30, 2014

    Fred–if you are suggesting that I go back and count, I will forego that challenge. But the data is easily accessible for anyone who has time to formalize the count.

    I can tell you however that the only public support for beginning negotiation on Obey Creek came from those who are profiting from it with the exception of 1 email and 1 speaker at the council meeting. There were more than 30 emails and speakers opposed.

  17. Fred Black

     /  June 30, 2014

    Please! “Town government” is more than a mayor and the council members making decisions on developments. So you, Nancy and Don believe that the distrust of our entire town government is at an all-time high because of development decisions?

  18. Nancy

     /  June 30, 2014

    Fred — During the Central West discussions, more than 400 people signed a petition suggesting ways to make the development serve the community better, and council paid attention. That’s why it was so surprising when during E-F more than 700 signed suggesting improvements such as mitigating flooding and traffic the council dismissed them all. Those petition signers are tapping into something the town survey didn’t reach. I don’t know how many people completed the survey, but as I recall the survey asked for satisfaction in the town as it exists today, not the direction it is going. Residents like Chapel Hill, that’s why we react to plans to turn it into a Yuppie magnet.

  19. many

     /  June 30, 2014

    Obviously I hit Fred’s hypocrisy bone. Sorry that it is so sensitive.

    The issue you are whining about is dropping unsubstantiated innuendo which is *exactly* what you did Mr. Black. Embrace the suck.

  20. Terri

     /  June 30, 2014

    Fred, Yes, I believe the Council by not listening to large numbers of people who oppose the development proposals supported by town staff have undermined confidence in the town as a whole. Those are the important, visible decisions of local government, and the ones I think Nancy was referencing. I do not believe, as I think you are implying, that means residents have no confidence in certain city government services, like the police and fire departments.

  21. Fred Black

     /  June 30, 2014

    58,424 (2012)
    Chapel Hill, Population

  22. many

     /  June 30, 2014

    To Nancy’s point:
    First, I agree with the concern that asking leadership to absorb somewhere between 500 and 1000 pages of data over a weekend. It does not seem to be setting the decisions they make up for success.

    To Nancy and Terri’s and others points:
    Perhaps “an all-time high” is a bit hyperbolic, but distrust does seem palpable. I credit that to the feeling by many that past mistakes and current concerns are being swept under the rug of urgent and rapid economic development. (Library, Storm Water, Transit, Tax Base, “Form Based Coding” as a facade for real planning, adnausium) Maybe I am wrong, but it seems to me that lately things are happening to Chapel Hill rather than Chapel Hill controlling its own destiny.

    In my opinion, a big part of missing “transparency” keeps coming back to that “vision thing”. I have never heard anyone discuss what the holistic long term “vision” for Chapel Hill is. It seems as if there are myopic multiple projects, but I do not see how the current seemingly disparate efforts come together to achieve a vision. This “vision thing” involves a discussion on such thorny topics as Does Chapel Hill even want to grow? Does it have to grow? If so, how much? Is there a target quality to that growth?

    If the decision is that growth is inevitable (which it most likely is), how much can the town/county absorb? How much does the town/county want to absorb? How do UNC plans fit into that? Do we want to continue to be a low volume “boutique” retail destination or cater to a larger shopping population and the problems that big box development brings? Do people really understand the puts and takes of density vs. sprawl, both financial and social? How does that vision thing affect the extraterritorial areas? What are the demands on critical resources? What is the impact of other towns annexing within or building to our borders? What is the impact of the internet and technology on the vision? What are the impacts of changing demographic to the equations? How much do we pay for it, and where are the funds? Only after those sorts of things are thought through should the specifics be sorted out.

    As George Cianciolo seems to recognize, adding the voices of young people to advisory board discussions to gain buy in and support is critical. They will have to live with the decisions being made much longer than I will. That said, even the inexperienced should be able to articulate their vision and be able to show that they have thought it through. Things should work together by design, not by accident.

    – Speculative bubbles should be discouraged. Inflated regional population numbers should not be used to justify multiple specific pet projects. Nor should they be allowed to overrun the carrying capacity of the infrastructure. A good example are the population projections being used (which predate decisions like Chatham Park and the Chatham Randolph Megasite) while accurate on the macro level are orders of magnitude less accurate as one gets more specific. The reliance on the less accurate leads to speculation, over building and boom/bust scenarios. Development should be considered in the context of and in harmony with other broader development realities first. Certainly we can do better than to just follow along making decisions we know are based on old data.

    – If the town is competing for growth then the town should have a plan with specific targets. The statement “…… no retail stores would be interested in the area until plenty of potential customers lived there” implies that the town has made it a part of their unstated vision that importing retail shoppers is not desirable and that implies that a certain amount of retail shopping along with the tax revenue will be exported. Where is that spelled out and more importantly justified?

    All of the plans I have seen so far seem to me to either be reactive, based on stale data or simply based on pie in the sky guesses that have not been written down or discussed. There seems to be only tacit acknowledgement of known constraints such as water. I believe it is the lack of these things that lead to the feeling of confusion and mistrust.

    The recent decision by Carrboro to unconditionally ban new drive through is a small but significant support of their vision thing. You might disagree, but it is a stand that is in line with the vision Carrboro has projected for Carrboro and seems to be supported by the residents. One side effect of rejecting certain types of development has been to price (through taxes and property values) some of the creative class out of Carrboro. Carrboro seems to be OK with this and while not necessarily agreeing with the decisions, I applaud them for having a vision and standing by their vision. Agree or not, that vision thing allows people to plan and adds comfort in the form of consistency as well as showing leadership.
    http://www.ci.carrboro.nc.us/pzi/PDFs/Vision2020.pdf

    I continue to look for but not find that same sort of specificity in the plans in Chapel Hill.

  23. Geoff Green

     /  June 30, 2014

    David:

    So, I’m not quite clear on why the fact that Dixon Pitt works for Bryan Properties as a property manager and manager of the Lumina is particularly suspicious. Anyhow, besides that, his selection in lieu of an experienced architect is perfectly appropriate. He meets the qualifications of the position, and his youth provides much-needed perspective for the board.

    Members of the new CDC who served on the old CDC include Polly van de Velde (66 years old); Jason Hart (34), an architect with more than 14 years experience and member of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and chair of the old CDC; and John Guilateri (33), deputy vice chair of the CDC.

    Of the new members, we have Susana Dancy (46), a managing partner with a development firm; Lucy Davis (64), an architect with 25 years experience who lives and works in CH, and who prepared downtown Carrboro’s design guidelines; Laura Moore (54), a landscape architect who has done work in the town; and Chris Berendt (64), a retired city planner and former chair of the greenways commission.

    There were other applicants beyond these, Dixon Pitt, and Beth Meuller, but let’s look at these two. Meuller has served as vice-chair, so is a known quantity. She is 48 and has lived in town for about four year. Pitt is by far the youngest, at 24, and works and lives in Chapel Hill as well. If the CDC lacked architectural expertise, then perhaps the Council would have viewed her particular knowledge to be useful. However, given the presence of other experienced architects, developers, and others who have served on the CDC and shown their competence, the selection of an young individual who works in Chapel Hill, is excited about the new development coming to Chapel Hill and is eager to make sure they look good, is perfectly defensible.

  24. Geoff Green

     /  June 30, 2014

    many, Carrboro discussed but did not end up banning all drive-thrus. See this story in the Herald Sun.

  25. DOM

     /  June 30, 2014

    I would finish this conversation by pointing out the fact that 700 signatures (several of whom signed more than once if you look closely) on a petition questioning the E/F decision is a spit in the ocean when you compare it to the 58,424 people who live here.

  26. David

     /  June 30, 2014

    DOM,

    And how many of those 58,424 signed a petition in support of the EF redevelopment plan? None. In point of fact, the plan that staff produced was inconsistent with the adopted small area plan, with the recommendations of urban planning consultants hired by the town, and with the recommendations of the town’s own advisory boards. Letters submitted to the Chapel Hill News about EF were 2:1 against. Several Chamber of Commerce members who spoke in support at public hearings or sent emails to Council supporting the plan admitted to me that they never read the proposed code and knew next to nothing about what it contained. The only people who we know supported the plan, and actually understood what they were supporting, were the staff and consultant who produced it, the EF property owners it directly benefitted, a few people associated with the Chamber of Commerce and the local real estate sector, and six members of the Town Council (and I’m not sure all six of them actually understood what they were approving).

    And by the way, the petition garnered 703 signatures from Chapel Hill residents after excluding duplicates. I have the Excel file containing all their names on my hard drive and would be happy to send it to you.

  27. David

     /  June 30, 2014

    Geoff,

    You asked for an example of a seasoned professional rejected in favor of a younger less experienced applicant. I gave you one, and you proceeded to discount it. I could give you other examples, but you presumably would find some way to discount them as well. So let me ask you: What in your mind would constitute evidence that the Council had rejected seasoned professionals in favor of young, inexperienced applicants?

  28. Terri

     /  July 1, 2014

    David and Geoff,

    Professional experience is not a requirement for advisory board membership. Boards need to represent a wide slice of community membership. This part of the discussion is, in my mind, a red herring. Of more importance is the staff and council’s continued dependence on external consultant’s while totally ignoring/discounting the recommendations/opinions and sometimes even expertise (as exemplified by Geoff’s post) of their appointed advisory boards.

  29. David

     /  July 1, 2014

    Terri,

    I share your objection to relying on consultants and ignoring advisory boards. However, I am also concerned about regulatory capture: in the case of Dixon Pitt, we have an employee of a developer whose projects will be reviewed by the CDC serving on the body that will be doing the reviewing. I hope he has the good sense to recuse himself from reviewing his employer’s own projects.

  30. David

     /  July 1, 2014

    Terri,

    One other thing: The staff’s reliance on outside consultants seems largely opportunistic. They invoke consultant recommendations when it suits them and ignore the recommendations when it doesn’t. In the case of Ephesus-Fordham, the consultants offered three redevelopment scenarios of varying levels of increased residential density. The most “aggressive” scenario would add 400-900 new residential units together with at least nine acres of connected public green space in the district and improved mass transit infrastructure. The plan staff prepared for Council approval will add ~1,400 new residential units with no green space and no improved mass transit. Basically, they disregarded expert (and expensive) recommendations and created a plan that basically lets the property owners build whatever they want and fails to provide public amenities to offset the costs of increased residential density.

  31. many

     /  July 2, 2014

    I stand corrected on the point that a drive through is still permitted along highway 54 in Carrboro, saying they expanded their ban would have been a better choice of words on my part. My larger point stands however; Carrboro has a plan with a theme and a vision that allows people to choose and plan. Chapel Hill on the other hand has been balkanized by disparate myopic development thrusts. Chapel Hill leadership has fallen down on the job of bringing the proposals together into a coherent vision and communicating them.

    The total population of Chapel Hill in the context of E-F petitions is another meaningless red herring from people desperate to make a point. The +700 families that signed the petition are most likely those most immediately affected by the E-F development. Others are focused on other development close to them, or are not concerned because E-F is not close by.

    I have not heard anyone say that E-F should remain as is. It not Development vs. Anti-development. I am very surprised even the usually savvy Ellie Kinnaird does not seem to get that. Development and renewal at E-F is a given. Squabbles are over issues like density, retail vs. residential, storm water (actually it will be water in general depending on the density), transit and what the character of the development will be like are the issues. I think the treatment plant on Old Mason Farm Road or OWASA can handle and additional 900-1400 units (+3K resident) load, but what does that and other development do to OWASA “50 year plan”?

    I find myself again agreeing with Terri on the representation issue. It is not only important to have people that live in different areas of Chapel Hill, but that representation should strive to span different demographic perspectives as well.

  32. Del Snow

     /  July 2, 2014

    Presumably, when a municipality (or any entity) hires a consultant, the expectation is that recommendations will be followed. After all, the employer is hand picking the consultant and laying out the objective so it should follow that consultant’s provision of the details would be respected. Unfortunately, just as has been the case with the Town appointed advisory boards, that has not been the case.
    Is this responsible stewardship of our financial resources? Is there anyone who has the dollar total spent on consultants during the past 5 or so years? Why is this specific expenditure of our taxes so hard to find out? I’d like to see the dollar total AND an analysis of recommendations followed and those that have been ignored.

  33. Terri

     /  July 2, 2014

    OWASA’s current infrastructure for water and sewer is sufficient to handle all the planned development within Chapel Hill (and Carrboro).

    Consultants make their fortune when they are hired (and rehired)–which means making those who hired them happy. If the consulting assignment was posed as “Will Obey Creek, as currently proposed by the developer, add revenue to the Town coffers (and in what time frame) without creating traffic hazards for current residents?” you might get a different response than if the question is posed as “Is there any reason not to pursue negotiation of a development agreement with the developer?”

    Consultants work from a technical mindset. Citizens don’t respond technically about their homes–they respond with their emotions. Many of those emotional responses have been tempered by solid research that blends the technical with the emotional. It seems to me that should be what the Council and town staff encourages. Not giving consultants primacy over local residents but facilitating the blending of technical and emotional expertise to come out with something that is uniquely local.

  34. many

     /  July 2, 2014

    But if you do not know the density how can you say with certainty OWASA has an unknown covered? How may new users can OWASA accommodate with existing capacity at Old Mason Farm Road?

    Consultants work from mindset of self interest. Successful consultants quickly determine the message the entity that is writing checks wants to hear and then strive to regurgitate that message in a shiny presentation with lots of supporting data points.

  35. Terri

     /  July 2, 2014

    OWASA works with local planning staffs (Carrboro, Chapel Hill, and Orange County) to determine maximum build out scenarios. Those scenarios are reviewed every couple of years, and two years ago the OWASA Board of Director asked for it to be updated based on the 2020 build out plan which adds about 20,000 users between now and 2030. Thanks to the community’s excellent commitment to water conservation since the 2001 drought, we might actually have overbuilt, even on the current growth projection.

  36. Anita Badrock

     /  July 2, 2014

    Diversity on town committees is very important. If the role of a committee is to provide citizen input into decision making, then there should be room at the table to hear the opinion of average citizens, not just subject matter experts. Everyone lives with the results of decisions made, and what’s important to the general citizen may not be the same thing that’s important to a subject matter expert. That information deserves to be heard, respected, and considered in the final recommendations made to the council from a committee.

    Sometimes the person with the least “technical” expertise is the only one to say “I don’t know”, or “can you explain why this works better than that” which IMHO can often be a game changer in decision making and idea generation.

  37. David Schwartz

     /  July 2, 2014

    Anita,

    I fully agree with your abstract point about the importance of having diversity of views on advisory boards, including the views of laymen. But as to the specific case of Dixon Pitt, do you really think that a 24-year-old Econ major who works for one of the Town’s major property developers is the best person the Council could have chosen to represent the views of average citizens in matters of urban and landscape design, or even an appropriate person to serve in that role?

  38. bonnie hauser

     /  July 3, 2014

    Interesting point Anita. Ir reminds me of the success with the county’s emergency services workgroup where any citizen who showed up for a meeting had a seat at the table.

    People could show up when topics on the agenda were of interest to them. They didn’t get to vote – but could ask questions that often changed the conversation.

    The Compass Committee is another example of a group with open citizen engagement. Notice the quality of their insights in Susana Dancy’s piece in the Ch HIll News
    http://www.chapelhillnews.com/2014/07/01/3970497/susana-dancy-town-must-put-obey.html?sp=/99/586/885/905/

  39. Del Snow

     /  July 3, 2014

    From the Town Website about membership on the CDC:

    “The ordinance specifies that all members of the Commission shall reside within the planning jurisdiction of Chapel Hill, and a majority of the members shall have demonstrated special training or experience in a design field, such as architecture, landscape design, horticulture, city planning, or a closely related field.”

    It is well known that I advocate for broad citizen input, but the ordinance specifies the requirements for sitting on the CDC. WHY has the council chosen to ignore its own guidelines?

  40. Geoff Green

     /  July 3, 2014

    “City planning” is a pretty broad field, and Mr. Pitt’s experience could certainly well fall within it. There are plenty of people I know who know a lot about city planning but who don’t have a degree or work in the field, but who would be perfectly well qualified to serve on the committee per those criteria.

    It’s also interesting that Susana Dancy, the letter writer noted above expressing caution about Obey Creek plans, is one of the members of the new CDC.

  41. Fred Black

     /  July 5, 2014

    We attended an annual 4th of July breakfast yesterday morning out in the OC and a lady and her husband came up and talked about the election. She said she was surprised that people didn’t “get” why she and her husband, as well as some other Republican friends, changed their registrations to Unaffiliated so they could vote for Sheriff and County Commissioners on the Democrat ballot. After all, she continued, “Why are they partisan elections in the first place!” Even candidates know, she offered, that they can’t win on the Republican ballot, so they do what they need to do.

    She and her husband, she said, will change back for the November election.

  42. many

     /  July 5, 2014

    I have clearly struck a nerve rooted in truth. Your defensiveness is truly wretched.

    To paraphrase your opening comment on this thread: Not surprisingly, my take on why and when you dropped your innuendo is not the same as yours.

  43. DOM

     /  July 5, 2014

    many –

    “…truly wretched”?

    My God, woman. Get a life.

  44. many

     /  July 5, 2014

    DOM, don’t ever change.

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