Growth on what conditions

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  1. “Because approving CZ amounts to a policy change — essentially enabling town-wide spot-zoning — we need to take the time to get this right.”

    Given Chapel Hill’s disastrous application of form-based code and development agreements, what is the compelling argument for another “wild-west” land-use change?

    Nancy, the Council can’t continue to cede its responsibility to make thoughtful land-use decisions to a behind closed-door, staff driven process. The best option is to drop CZ completely as a proposed tool.

  2. Oh, if Council needs a push to drop CZ, I suggest they take a little “class trip” to Morrisville and see the ugly outcome of “wild west” planning.

  3. Nancy

     /  November 21, 2017

    I agree, Will. There’s a lot about this that makes me uneasy: staff seeming to have a different understanding of how to use it; the rush to ram it through before the current council leaves office; the closed-door negotiations; the lack of differentiation with a development agreement process. Given that the manager and mayor claim that nothing is in the pipeline, I’m not sure why this needs to be pushed through before some reasonable limits are put on it.

  4. plurimus

     /  November 24, 2017

    RIght, I would not hold up Morrisville as an example of what Chapel hill aspires to.

    In my way of thinking, CZ should be a tool to focus specific uses, offering more surety to neighbors and a less onerous process within CZ boundaries to developers in exchange. In other words it should reduce wild speculation in favor of a more mature vision.

  5. Nancy

     /  November 24, 2017

    Morrisville’s council approved CZ because a prior council had approved upzoning throughout town to spur growth, and CZ was a subsequent council’s way of tightening development. Also, Morrisville’s council has an “expectation” (can’t make it a requirement) that council members will not talk with a developer about a project until after it comes before the council and public in a concept plan review. Morrisville’s mayor and planning commission chair are well aware of how developers try to game the system.

  6. plurimus

     /  November 26, 2017

    My question then is do you think Morrisville is a model for Chapel Hill or do you think Morrisville’s mayor and planning commission chair found out how developers try to game the system the hard way?

  7. Nancy

     /  November 26, 2017

    They are two separate questions. Morrisville is not a model for CH, because Morrisville has the opposite problem. While Morrisville is trying to exercise some control over a town that is upzoned entirely in “general use,” CH downzoned most areas and now wants to make room for more growth. There are ways for CH to do that without giving carte blanche to developers, which is what CZ would do. Note that CHTC has turned down only one proposed development — Ayden Court condos next to Meadowmont — in the past decade.

  8. plurimus

     /  November 26, 2017

    so, no and yes?

  9. Recent Councils have been terrible measuring obvious down-sides and objectively evaluating proposals.

    For instance, the required sale of a ladder truck to underwrite completely anticipated or should have been known cost over-runs with Fire Station #2.

    Citizens came forward explaining why the cost+plus arrangement with East/West Partners was a big mistake and also questioning the rather optimistic cost projections for Fire Station #2.

    What happened?

    The same-old, same-old “only upside” story.

    Council ignored residents reasonable concerns. Staff participated in a lot of hand-waving and joined the “rah rah growth” chorus.

    And, once again, a developer wins by externalizing the cost of their risk to Chapel Hill tax payers.

    Got to say I think there is a growing number of residents who are getting more than tired underwriting the profits of developers like East/West for projects that don’t provide much – if any – community benefit.

  10. Deborah Fulghieri

     /  December 2, 2017

    In going through some of my old planning board papers a few months ago, I found a question/answer list regarding changes made to the Form Based Code as presented to Council compared to what had been shown to the PB to work on. One question asked why, when Town Council had approved a Small Area Plan for the Ephesus-Fordham zone that called for 3- to 5-story buildings, did the Form-Based-Code district call for 7-9 stories. The answer: “staff” had decided that 7-9 stories was more appropriate than what the PB had voted on. I can go look for that if you’re interested. It’s from several years ago.

  11. Nancy

     /  December 3, 2017

    Thanks, Deb. That’s yet another reason I voted against the Conditional Zoning council approved last week. Staff and council are not on the same page. We put conditions in an SUP, and staff changes them, citing their ability to make “minor changes.” In discussing Conditional Zoning, the PB recommended that all proposed development projects get the input of the Stormwater Advisory Board early on, because flooding is a major concern of properties nearby and downstream from development. But staff jettisoned the recommendation because of the mirror image of “we’ve always done it this way”: “we’ve never done that before.”

  12. David

     /  December 7, 2017

    If staff continually undermine the intent of elected officials’ policy directives, it’s a problem. Stancil has been manager for ten years and during that time has shaped the town government in his image. His upcoming retirement presents an opportunity for a major housecleaning. I hope we take advantage of it.