Published: Sep 08, 2012 10:15 AM
Modified: Sep 08, 2012 10:16 AM
This time, you – you personally – need to get off your backside and get involved in your government.
Not only is it the right thing to do; it’s a matter of your own self-preservation.
A developer and certain members of the Chapel Hill Town Council are banking on you sleeping through the vote on the Charterwood-development proposal on Sept. 12.
What is so dangerous about the way the approval process for this project has taken place is that the developer has pulled a legal maneuver that sidesteps the residents’ right to a protest-petition against a development project they don’t want.
A law has been on the books in North Carolina since 1923 that protects us all from unwanted or unreasonable developments.
It allows residents in neighborhoods within 100 feet of a proposed development to gather signatures and submit a protest-petition to their local government.
This triggers the need for a “super majority” vote to approve a project, not just a simple majority.
It represents the last line of defense we all have against developments we don’t want ... until now.
In an admittedly brilliant legal move, the developer of the Charterwood project simply juggled the property into tracts to essentially create a “spike strip” buffer zone of 105 feet.
That subsequently killed residents’ rights to present a protest-petition to Town Council by merely adding five feet of green space.
Is it legal? Yes.
Is it ethical? You decide.
In my opinion, hearing and addressing citizens’ concerns is honorable; but legal maneuvers around them in order to permanently silence the voice of protesting citizens is never ethical.
But what about the Chapel Hill mayor’s and town council’s book?
If Charterwood is approved as now proposed, there isn’t a single neighborhood in Chapel Hill or its associate extra-territorial jurisdiction areas that will be safe from any developers’ whims.
Without the rights associated with the protest-petition, we have no say in what happens to our own neighborhoods beyond essentially begging the Town Council to do the right thing on our behalf.
It is not the Town Council’s job to make developers profitable or even whole.
First and foremost, it is their job to protect the rights of the citizenry.
Above all else, this
is good stewardship.
So which is it, Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt and Chapel Hill Town Council members Ed Harrison, Donna Bell, Matt Czajkowski, Laurin Easthom, Gene Pease, Penny Rich, Lee Storrow and Jim Ward?
Do you represent the rights of citizens in your town and the residents in your adopted ETJs to have a true voice in their government, the government for which you have current stewardship?
Or do you support developers not adapting to neighborhood concerns, but merely circumventing them as they dangle the promise of fat wallets in front of the town like a carrot before a hungry rabbit?
Where do you stand?