Published: Sep 08, 2012 10:15 AM
Modified: Sep 08, 2012 10:16 AM
When Charterwood returns for your vote, citizens will be watching to make sure the development’s beneficiaries are Chapel Hill and its residents, not just the applicant.
Citizens have spoken, written and presented significant documented evidence for Charterwood’s denial. Charterwood’s location on a transit corridor is not reason enough to ignore every other measure of acceptability and accountability. We want everyone to know that approving Charterwood means you support:
• Denying protest-petition rights and lot gerrymandering: State law requires a super majority to approve rezoning when a valid protest petition is filed. Residents submitted a certified petition and Charterwood did not receive the super-majority vote needed. Yet, it was not approved and not denied. How then, can a protest petition ever have a true bearing on a vote’s outcome?
The developer then moved the rezoning lines by as little as five feet, so abutting neighbors were outside the boundary to file a new protest petition. This maneuver deprived citizens of their rights and quashed the spirit of the state protest-petition law. Is this a Chapel Hill value you support?
• Undoing a long tradition of neighborhood and environmental protection: By approving a towering, dense project abutting low-density and low-lying Northwoods V and Parkside. By an indifferent attitude to the future crisis at Lake Ellen and Eastwood Lake, which will likely fill in with sediment from Charterwood’s runoff. By advising those neighborhoods that council will not protect them from these impacts. By approving a project that paves over headwater streams of Booker Creek, significantly decreasing water quality, increasing sediment loads and putting dozens of old growth trees at risk.
• Acting against the guidelines of the 2000 and 2020 Comprehensive Plans: The high densities proposed are in direct opposition to the Town’s NATF report and the 2000 plan. The new 2020 plan endorses citizen participation in planning decisions. Countless citizens have repeatedly objected to Charterwood.
• Endorsing a repeat of errors made in the East 54 development design: The project is too tall, too close to the road, and has a lackluster design not worthy of its location at one of the main gateway entrances to town. Approval would fail to encourage developers to work with neighbors on solutions that complement surrounding areas. The opposition is not antidevelopment. We simply are pro-vision – something that is sorely lacking in this project.
Many of these circumstances apply not only to Charterwood, but also to other pending large developments. Carolina Flats, Obey Creek, The Retreat, Bicycle Apartments and The Edge will impact countless residents who are relying on you to ensure their rights and the integrity of process are protected and that you’ll keep 2020’s promise to citizens that our principles and quality of life will be respected.
To Council members Czajkowski, Easthom, Harrison and Storrow, who recognize problems with this project and voted against it, we appreciate your understanding of the issues and your support of all citizens who seek excellence in new development.
To Mayor Kleinschmidt and Council members Bell, Pease, Rich and Ward, who have not been swayed by citizens’ protests, we urge you to take the time to reconsider whether this project reflects your values and priorities and the ones that you were elected to represent.
This column was written by Alan Hecht, Joey Ware-Furlow, Del Snow and Maggie Underberg and signed by more than 200 members of Citizens Alliance, town-wide advocates for development excellence.