There he goes again ...
Mark Zimmermans concern for the environment, economic diversity, and economic sustainability would be laudable, if, in fact, it was true. His latest column How We Grow is a Choice (CHN, Oct. 10, bit.ly/SQBqAs
) shares some of his concern about affordability: Over time, the community becomes less diverse and more privileged. ... taxes move low- and fixed-income residents out. Mr. Zimmerman is also quite worried about our environment: Most jobs are a commute away ... which is inconvenient, expensive and harmful to the environment.
Contrast this with his column of November 28, 2010 where he states:
It is just the latest example of our local governments assuming control over rights previously enjoyed by residents. A new Inclusionary Zoning ordinance commands if you want to build homes to sell to people who can afford them, you must also build homes for people who cannot. And Impervious surface and steep-slope restrictions send homeowners who want to add a deck or a room to surveyors and engineers, adding cost that often kills the project.
Additionally, a land transfer tax on the ballot in 2007, would have helped our county budget to the tune of approximately $20 million to date, but few fought as hard as Mr. Zimmerman to defeat it.
Chapel Hills latest love affair with luxury apartment development, which has no payment in lieu requirement for affordable housing, is further driving the economic disparity that Mr. Zimmerman allegedly bemoans. Our town could become less progressive if the choice is made to lessen environmental protection and encourage luxury apartments.
So, at least we agree on that our choices do matter. Del Snow Chapel Hill Let the data drive
Mark Zimmermans use of data to argue for significant growth in Chapel Hill illustrates the need for our community to use objective, data-driven discussions in order to make informed decisions.
To begin with, lets understand that 33 percent of the town is owned by non-taxpaying UNC making it difficult to compare Chapel Hill with Cary or Durham.
Then lets evaluate Metropolitan Planning Organization projections stated in a Sept. 24 Town Council presentation which indicated that Chapel Hill will create 30,000 new jobs by 2040 despite the fact that four of our five biggest employers are government entities (UNC, UNC Health Care, the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools and the town). Also important to know is that the one for-profit company on the list, Blue Cross and Blue Shield, has moved most of its employees and operations out of town. The report went on to say that one-third of those new jobs would be in retail!
When talking about the need for high-density housing, lets use updated SAPFO formulas to understand the impacts on the school system and make certain we will have school sites so that our schools can handle newcomers with minimum need for redistricting and continued assurance of favorable student-to-teacher ratios.
With regard to retail, lets take charge of the Big Box, Big Retail conversation with an analysis that includes sales and property tax generation, costs of service for such establishments, impacts on area businesses, an understanding of 21st century retail trends AND whether there is a location in town or the county where it would be best suited.
And, when talking transit lets decide if this current plan benefits the changing face of Chapel Hill/Carrboro/Orange County as well as it serves Durham.
Yes change is inevitable and Yes growth a choice. But balance should be our mantra and objective data-driven analysis should be a primary tool.Jeanne Brown Chapel Hill Wrong thing to do
Many southern Chapel Hill area residents are adamantly opposed to using a development agreement for Obey Creek. We believe the developers concept plan should be revised to conform to the towns new Comprehensive Plan and should go through the normal Special Use Permit process which provides protection for neighboring landowners and area neighborhoods and businesses.
The claim made by the developer at the Sept. 19 council meeting that he doesnt know what to do next is very misleading. The Comprehensive Plan spells it out specifically in a map that states This area should be like the (Southern) Village core. The plan he submitted doesnt even come close to that.
The developer should be directed to downsize his plan to meet that criteria, and additionally should be required to provide vital information that was never presented adequately. The council needs it to judge the benefits and true costs of the project before proceeding further:
1. What is the best detailed estimate of the sales and property taxes that would flow from the project?
2. What is the expected traffic impact, and what remediation has to be put into effect? The developers statement that it would generate a ton of traffic is probably true but not sufficient.
3. What are the additional school requirements and costs that will result?
4. What are the additional police, fire and other costs that can be expected?
5. What are the additional environmental and other infrastructure costs?
The remediation and infrastructure costs must be compared to the tax benefits before any approvals are granted for this plan.
To rush ahead with any type of agreement without answering these questions would be a monumental mistake.
A huge number of citizens worked hard with the town staff and consultants to create the new Comprehensive Plan. To brush aside its recommendations for the 15-501 South area and proceed with an amorphous development agreement with an unknown outcome is the wrong thing to do. John E. Schmidt Chapel HillGrowth like cancer
Humans are a particularly invasive species.
Since 90 percent of their existence was spent as hunters and gatherers, humans had little impact as they migrated all over the world. In the last few centuries, however, capitalism has spread all over the world, populations have exploded, and human activity threatens the entire global ecological system.
The trouble with capitalism is capital; it has to grow or the system starts to collapse. The manic-depressive nature of this economy produces a manic-depressive culture and growth is its mantra. Growth is the cancerous, uncontrollable imperative of the system.
In the scheme of things, 140 West Franklin Street is just a little malignancy. I moved back to Chapel Hill last year and was taken aback by what I saw at that site, the giant cranes, and the huge hole on Franklin Street. I first came to Chapel Hill in the mid-60s as a graduate student in sociology. Then it was a sleepy little, southern town. It was human scale and lovely. The surrounding countryside with its hills, forests, streams and small farms was so beautiful.
Humans have a capacity for the esthetic but in capitalism beauty is simply another commodity, another opportunity for capital to multiply. Growth destroys beauty when engorged capital moves on.
This is a small irony in the larger one: growth achieves its goal by killing its host.Jerry Carr Chapel Hill
All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be published, broadcast or redistributed in any manner.