Published: Mar 05, 2013 04:41 PM
Modified: Mar 05, 2013 06:15 PM
CHAPEL HILL - The town’s planning board chairwoman said Tuesday she doesn’t want to argue with a Town Council member seeking her resignation but his comments about the board are wrong.
Council member Gene Pease became the second local leader in two months to ask Chapel Hill Planning Board Chairwoman Del Snow to resign.
In a Sunday letter, Pease told Snow he has “very little confidence in the Board’s ability to weigh development applications fairly,” especially under her leadership.
Snow said it saddened her to read about Pease’s lack of faith in the board.
“I have great faith in the Planning Board,” Snow said. “They know their own mind. They are experienced. That he used the word ‘amateur’ to describe them was an unfortunate choice of words.”
The Planning Board first elected Snow chairwoman in August 2011. She is serving her second, one-year term; board members can only serve two consecutive terms as chairman. Snow’s three-year Planning Board appointment expires in 2015.
In his letter, Pease also cited Snow’s role in a lawsuit challenging the Charterwood mixed-use development on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard that the Town Council approved last year.
“You have shown a pattern of bias in your decision making on the Planning Board,” he wrote. “There is a major ethical line that has been crossed with the filing of the lawsuit, therefore I respectfully ask you to resign from the Planning Board.”
Snow, whose house is next to the Charterwood site, has steadfastly opposed the project, signing a protest petition last year. In April, she recused herself from the Planning Board’s vote.
Snow also objected to the Town Council’s approval last week of the Bicycle Apartments project on MLK Boulevard. She shared the Planning Board’s unanimous concerns in a Feb. 28 letter to Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt and the Town Council that the project did not reflect the town’s 2020 Comprehensive Plan, a document that is meant to guide growth.
“I found it very distressing that Council brought up legitimate concerns that Staff could have answered, but chose, instead, to act last night before answers were received, instead of deferring action,” Snow wrote in her letter.
Residents who argue about “fact-based information” to oppose developments while saying they don’t oppose growth usually can’t explain what responsible growth is, Pease said.
“They can’t articulate how we pay for the increased costs of running the town, they don’t want our town services cut, nor do they not want their taxes raised, but consistently they are against growth in any form,” he said.
This is the second time in as many months that Snow’s role on the Planning Board has been publicly questioned.
In a Dec. 29 letter to the Town Council, Orange County Commissioner Penny Rich, a former Town Council member, asked Snow to resign as chairwoman. Rich’s letter also questioned Snow’s involvement in the pending Charterwood lawsuit, as well as Snow’s comments at a December county commissioners meeting.
Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt said at the time that Snow was within her rights as a citizen to address the commissioners. Her participation in the Charterwood lawsuit is “irrelevant,” he said.