Published: Jun 28, 2008 03:31 PM
Modified: Jun 28, 2008 03:31 PM
You seldom hear "I'm sorry" in public life, but the past week brought two notable apologies, both of which stemmed from actions flawed by poor timing and insufficient input from the public.
Two members of the Chapel Hill Town Council -- Ed Harrison and Laurin Easthom -- apologized Wednesday for the upset and anger the council sparked in its vote over the now-infamous health insurance benefits for council members. That subject has been hashed and rehashed, and it's time to move on. Suffice to say the council learned something about gauging the mood of the people before floating new ideas for spending their money, and about the value of transparency.
Also on Wednesday, developer Clay Grubb apologized to the Town Council, and by extension the community, for drawing up a plan for redeveloping the Glen Lennox neighborhood that he said was not sensitive enough to the area's character. The initial plan proposed to replace 440 apartments and the Glen Lennox shopping center with a mix of residences, commercial spaces, three parking decks and a seven- to nine-story hotel.
The plan, he acknowledged, was done too hastily and was too sweeping. "Our current plan does not preserve the unique character that makes up Glen Lennox's heart and soul," he said.
That's a rare admission, and Grubb's candor is appreciated. He no doubt hoped it would serve the practical purpose, as well, of forestalling the process of considering Glen Lennox for Neighborhood Conservation District status.
It did not; the council decided to begin the Neighborhood Conservation District process requested by citizens. A Neighborhood Conservation District designation would establish development rules designed to protect the neighborhood's historic character.
Previous petitions for Neighborhood Conservation District status have come in response to more evolutionary types of changes -- patterns of teardowns, tree clearing and so on. This is the first such request to arise in response to a single major redevelopment proposal.
Whatever happens in Glen Lennox is going to take a long time; both the Neighborhood Conservation District process and the development approval process are lengthy. It's in everybody's interest to build communication and trust as both plans proceed. Grubb's frank admission of the overreach of his original proposal suggests an openness to working together with the town and the neighbors to try to craft a plan that would allow some amount of redevelopment and still preserve Glen Lennox's humble charm.
If you have a comment on todays editorial, please contact Dave Hart, associate editor, at 932-8744 or firstname.lastname@example.org