All posts in category Economic development

Lessons from Boulder

If the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce aimed to scare travelers on its 2016 Inter-City Visit into thinking that height restrictions and no-build buffers would make real estate prices skyrocket, someone forgot to clue in the Boulder speakers. The chamber organized a trip for about 80 of us from Orange County – elected officials, business […]

Don’t let Google be lonely

Google unveiled its new sign last week. The tasteful, illuminated logo on the Church Street side of 200 W. Franklin St. perhaps quelled fears that the town’s new sign ordinance would result in a wave of garishness overpowering our downtown’s charm. Chapel Hill has been Google’s home for the past decade, but few people knew […]

What, me worry?

I’m at that age where I repeat myself. For more than a year and a half, I’ve been nagging Town Council members to fix the Ephesus-Fordham form-based code so that we can repay the $10 million loan we took out for improvements to the area. Bear in mind, we put up Town Hall as collateral. […]


You might expect a low turnout for an event scheduled at the end of a hot day, toward the end of a week of hundred-degree days, in a warehouse venue with only a hint of air-conditioning. But as Thomas Edison said, genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. Last Thursday, the anteroom of TOPO Distillery […]


How often do we hear the community — the people who live here or have businesses here or otherwise spend money here — tout the virtues of walkability? Some of us on council are pushing for creating a more walkable town by advocating for shorter block size (300 feet, tops) for new developments, more sidewalks […]

Discretionary Zoning

Listen to Raleigh’s city attorney, Tom McCormick: “It is important to remember that when making a zoning decision, the council must consider all potential uses in a proposed district and cannot make a decision based on one specific use.” McCormick said council members have “wide discretion” in deciding whether to rezone a property for a […]

Making the most of Ephesus-Fordham

Last week, someone using the name Jon Miller wrote to Town Council, concerned that proposed changes to the Ephesus-Fordham form-based code would weaken it. I responded that the modifications would strengthen it — taxpayers have a $10 million loan to repay from increased net tax revenue, and the four projects planned or underway won’t generate […]

Walking the talk

Every once in a while an insight emerges from those early-morning meetings that makes them worth getting up for. Take the Community Prosperity Committee meeting last Friday morning (8 a.m., first Friday of every month, in Room C at the library; public is welcome). We’ve been working on strategies to attract more commercial development to […]

What we do best

Decades ago, a running coach told me, “The only way to run faster is to run faster.” Pre-empting Nike’s “Just Do It” slogan by nearly a generation, the coach’s advice has proved useful in all sorts of situations in my life. Now it appears I can apply it to Town Council work. The town has […]

New beginnings

New year, new mayor, new council. New ideas, new dynamics, new proposals. With all of these new beginnings, Town Council will evaluate new development applications. Chapel Hill has only a handful of large parcels of land that would be suitable for the high-revenue commercial space we need to shift the property tax burden homeowners bear. […]