All posts in category Land Use

What makes a house historic?

Last week, the Historic District Commission reluctantly pulled the plug on a house in the Gimghoul Historic District by approving a request by the owners of 704 Gimghoul to demolish the home. The couple had purchased the house in March 2015 and had come to the HDC with a plan to make it live better […]

Horsetrading at the Council Corral

Two weeks ago, Chapel Hill hired a new planning director, Ben Hitchings, who came to the April 11 Town Council meeting. Much to my surprise, he did not resign immediately; in fact, he participated in our work session two days later. That says he’s a man undaunted by challenges. In a nutshell — we embarrassed […]

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 […]

Aging in town

We know we won’t live forever, But most of us believe we’ll stay spry until our last day on earth. We convince ourselves that if we take a brisk walk daily, there won’t come a time when we can’t take that walk, that if we live a healthy lifestyle, we won’t ever have to battle […]

Council retreat

I suppose I’d be opening up fresh wounds if I proposed that before people weigh in on the icy sidewalk problem they first go see The Martian. The movie captures one of my core philosophies of life: the notion of chipping away. In the face of futility, continue to live your life. Stay true 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. […]

Winding down or unraveling?

I’ve heard tales of people, upon receiving an eviction notice, vandalizing the very place they call home. At the Nov. 16 meeting, we saw a bit of that behavior by some council members wrapping up their terms and others anxious about the change that newly elected officials might bring. The meeting opened with a developer […]

The big money at stake

This election boils down to economic theory. One theory, held by the incumbents and a challenger who as an advisory board member voted in lockstep with them, aims to add enough luxury housing filled with high-wealth individuals that national chain stores will open branches in town. This group is banking on sales tax revenue and […]