All posts in category Town staff

What’s worth preserving

Would a time traveler from the turn of the 19th century into the 20th, walking through one of Chapel Hill’s historic districts, recognize the neighborhood? Amber Kidd, a preservationist with the N.C. Historic Preservation Office who advises local governments on how to set up and run a Historic District Commission, put that question to Chapel […]

Happier New Year

We started a new tradition this New Year’s Eve – we wrote all the bad things that happened in 2017 on little slips of paper, then tossed them into the fireplace. It was not as big of a bonfire as I expected, given the national politics and ripples into global and state affairs. And it […]

Park, Housing: Not an Either-Or

In 2003, as a taxpayer I voted against spending more than $16 million to expand and renovate the Chapel Hill Public Library. The town had a small but functional library, surrounded by the woods and trails of Pritchard Park, and while the demand would only grow as the town grew, it seemed to me we […]

Will we always have Paris?

Maybe Town Council’s next intercity visit should be to Paris, a city that Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane cited as her favorite because of its low buildings. At council’s Nov. 15 meeting, we reviewed a concept plan for a 5-story building of apartments, offices and retail, with 68 parking spaces on less than 4 acres at […]

Growth on what conditions

For 10 years before becoming Chapel Hill’s planning director, Ben Hitchings held the comparable role in Morrisville. There, he used a process called “conditional zoning” to develop and redevelop parcels to spur growth. At council’s Nov. 15 meeting, we heard a staff proposal to add conditional zoning to our Land Use Management Ordinance. CZ makes […]

Sitting on the Historic District Commission

In an interview aired on National Public Radio recently, Magazine Editor Hall-of-Famer Tina Brown described her desk-on-a-treadmill, noting, “Sitting is the new smoking.” That shot a little dart of fear in my heart, because my role as a Town Council member requires me to sit a lot. Council meetings, work sessions, committees, task forces and […]

Economics of affordability

A council member told of going to dinner at a new restaurant in town and having to wait a half-hour for a table. Initially, he took that as a good sign of how well the new business was faring. But once he was seated, he noticed that several tables had been removed since the last […]

Fighting back for DACA

Donald Trump seems to delight in causing chaos, regardless of the consequences. Like a toddler in the throes of a temper-tantrum, breaking everything he can get his little hands on, Trump gets attention through the disruption he creates. And Congress, the only authority figure that can put him in time out, instead stands to the […]

Season Premiere

Some of the candidates for Town Council attended our season opener on Wednesday. I hope those who stayed through the development agreement discussion do not rue their decision to run. The Sept. 6 council meeting gave candidates an accurate picture of some of the tortuous discussions we get ourselves into. Council is beta testing holding […]

Better planning for affordability

Last year, when Orange County commissioners proposed a $5 million bond to be used for affordable housing, I pushed for a plan. The county commissioners instead offered a slogan — 1,065 homes for $5 million — that was so unlikely to be achieved that it didn’t rise to the level of a goal. Trying to […]