Your letters, Aug 7: Stormwater, Sam and sinners

August 6, 2013 

I appreciate Callie Warner’s concern about storm water runoff (CHN, July 9,, but her attribution to new development isn’t accurate.

The water issues are from existing impervious surfaces – roads, parking lots and roofs – where on-site drainage infrastructure is not required because they are grandfathered. The town can’t make someone meet code unless they redevelop.

Existing impermeable surfaces include especially wide roads, roofs, and parking lots – like the five-lane sections of Estes Drive, Franklin Street, or MLK Jr. Boulevard; all of the one-story ranch homes and buildings; and the University Mall parking lot. There is no point in blaming new development, which will be required to keep all runoff on-site via swales, rain gardens, and catching stormwater in cisterns for landscape watering use.

Because the soil here in Chapel Hill is largely clay, compacted soil is also impermeable. Dig a hole and fill it with water; if the water is still there an hour later, then your yard has a drainage problem. Your home should be graded so water drains away from the foundation. Install the largest gutter and downspout system, and make it drain into a ditch in your yard with water-loving plants. If you can, try not to have downspouts drain into the street, where it adds to the rapid runoff problem.

If you are in the floodplain, in a local low spot or near a creek, there is very little that can be done when there is an exceptionally large, heavy, and rapid volume of water falling from the sky as we had on that Sunday one month ago. In such a situation, all of the rain is running along the surface of the soil.

I am speaking for myself, as a member of The Central West Steering Committee; this group is very mindful of stormwater issues. Any new development in Central West is going to minimize parking lots and roof area. If we can figure out how to fix the problems with existing development, we may try that, too.

Sarah K. McIntee

Chapel Hill

Editor’s note: We waived the letters length limit to allow a fuller response to the original guest column.

Sinners and Sam

After reading Mr. Entenman’s column (CHN, July 31, I was impressed by his passion for research aimed at heating up divisions in the community. Funny – the main reason for deep disgust toward Silent Sam is the character of the man who initiated its erection, as if the statue honors not veterans, but the horrible personality of the racist who raised the money.

Isn’t it ridiculous to dig in the past to judge historical monuments? Take the Statue of Liberty. Do you know that the author of “Give me your tired …,” E. Lazarus, was a daughter of a rich businessman connected to Louisiana sugar cane plantations? Did you hear that while participating in the project, G. Eiffel took bribes from the Panama Canal Co. and was sentenced to two years in prison? And President Cleveland, who gave a speech at the unveiling, was not a good man: He paid $150 to someone to replace him in the Army during the Civil War, and he personally performed executions while being a sheriff in Erie County. And who collected money for the statue restoration? Yes, you guessed right – Mr. Lee Iacocca, responsible for a Ford Pinto gas tank design that resulted in burning to death a few people.

Can you compare one sinner behind Silent Sam with the crowd of above-mentioned rascals?

Mr. Entenman’s column is a well-calculated political provocation. I wish that instead of activists’ gatherings around Silent Sam calling for removal of the “shameful monument to old Southern racism,” the students could use their time studying history.

Yelena Francis

Chapel Hill

Guns not the problem

The gun debate has caused people to focus on the U.S. Constitution. It is important to take a close and long look at the Constitution’s guarantee to gun owners and people who want to obtain a gun.

The Second Amendment reads: “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

People have the right to purchase and carry a gun. The amendment does not require people to have a background check, to obtain a gun purchase permit or a gun carry permit – all infringe on people’s amendment rights. Some states and counties are now violating people’s rights. The only way to change the Constitution is to amend the Constitution. If additional unconstitutional gun laws are enacted by Congress, that could create a very large black market for guns in the U.S. Illegal guns will flow across our borders.

Guns are not the problem; people are the problem. A person who wants to kill another person will find a way to kill with a knife, a bomb, a baseball bat, fire, an automobile or an airplane. Many people have an evil nature; that is why people need guns.

Obama, some in the U.S. Congress and some in the news media are exploiting the killing of children and the sorrow and grief of their parents for their liberal, unethical advantage. That is shameful and disgusting.

James R. Hardy


Fixed enough yet?

If you believe the currently controlled Republican state government, the Democrats were in power for 141 years and the experience devastated our state; and they, the Republicans, are going to fix it.

Our governor tells us about once a day that state government is broken, and that he is going to fix it. As a retired military person, I am reminded of the commanders I knew who came to a new post and also said, “This place is messed up, and I am going to fix it.” More often than not, in two years a new commander would come in and repeat the same sentiment in either implied or explicit terms.

As a nonaffiliated, moderate voter, the direction of state government is more than concerning; it is downright alarming. Our state government, like all governments, is not perfect and is in need of constant vigilance and improvement.

To say that, in effect, that the bipartisan words of Terry Sanford and many others from the progressive movement were for naught is unbelievable. The progressive movement took years to build and gave us better schools, better roads, better medical care and a better standard of living compared with many of our regional neighbors. It seems that the crowd in Raleigh is determined with great zeal and glee, as well as a breathtaking pace, to put us on par with our regional neighbors. I wish they had the vision to make us better, not equal to or less than others.

It is much easier to dismantle than to build. Building takes vision, planning, forethought, patience and commitment. Unfortunately, destruction often only requires a desire to make things quickly better for a few at the expense of the many to include the less fortunate among us.

It is a crying shame, literally, that the work of the past visionaries is so little under appreciated. Or appreciated. God help us, they are not through fixing us yet. But we can all take comfort and sleep well, because we are apparently protected from the looming threat of Sharia law.

D. Ray McArthur


A better solar way

A recent article reported on the installation of a solar farm at White Cross. I applaud the solar farm even as I regret the loss of trees.

There is a better way to distribute solar energy than large solar farms that take land out of cultivation or forests.

Solar hot water and/or the generation of electricity on every roof – industrial, commercial, and residential – is more efficient and less costly, since no transmission lines are required. This could cut our energy use without the disruption of large solar farms with their required acreage and loss of power through distribution lines. Some 350 million Chinese have solar on their roofs. We could do the same.

The objection is raised that solar is subsidized. But oil and gas are also highly subsidized, and have been since their inception.

Solar is becoming competitive in cost with other energy sources, and new inventions are being created every year. But until the Utilities Commission changes the way solar power is metered, it is not feasible. I hope our laws will be changed so that utilities could be forced to accommodate such individual solar power installations.

Additionally, if we discourage the development of solar by removing subsidies – as has the new North Carolina tax bill and is threatened by the Congress – it will be years before we get out of the climate change and destruction caused by oil, gas and nuclear production.

Eleanor G. Kinnaird

Chapel Hill

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