We don't need more luxury apartments - a trend that has made Chapel Hill more exclusive. We won't do better on affordability until the Town develops a sound targeted economic development strategy that won't make living in Chapel Hill more expensive..
Thanks to Mr Hudnall for his excellent investigative report. It's astounding that acquiring the property was identified as a town goal, but the concept was not shared with Parks and Rec or the public who might have been thrilled to see land acquisition added to the fall bond issue.
The Town cannot live on permit fees alone. Costs of serving the new development must be included in the net revenue. Check out the January 2015 Orange County Commission work session if you would like to hear our commissioners discuss their concerns about this project. Sure the town gets lots of money from Perry and company this year from the building fees -- but this is not sustainable growth.
One of the most annoying things about EF was the way Donna Bell and the mayor touted this a "good for us" when the great majority of those patronizing the shopping areas were unhappy with the changes proposed. Our pleas to include pocket parks, some green space, affordable housing and energy efficiency were ignored. The Council was in a hurry and they forgot to consider design and proportions - witness the monstrosity on Elliot Road.
It is not "good for us" when some of our favorite merchants have already left due to the high rents. Taxpayers will pay for the affordable housing, green spaces, transit, and road improvements. We are not happy when the developer could have paid his fair share.
I know you are looking for some good aspects to this zone but there are not many. A lot of EF went on after you left you job as mayor's assistant and so you may not be familiar with the details. Many of your assertions are incorrect. I've repeated and responded to each of your numbered statements.
(1) DHIC is a response to the goal of providing 15% affordable units with new development in the Ephesus Fordham district.
The housing authority that is getting federal grants to put some housing on town cemetery land is a good project but in the wrong place. As jim Ward has said a number of time it is not part of EF and has always been a separate project. Many feel that the town should not have given up cemetery land at at almost no cost to a developer. This concern was raised at the Carol Wood forum yesterday. Even if one were to count this new project as a way to mitigate the loss of affordable housing lost in EF, there is still a net loss because the Code required NO AFFORDABLE HOUSING and Park Apartments offer reasonable rents and that housing will be lost in the EF plan.
(2) My understanding is density bonuses have been incorporated into Ephesus Fordham. Basically this means, if the development adds affordable housing to their building, they are allowed a denser zone to offset the cost of the affordable unit.
This is not correct. Surrounding residents presented a well formulated proposal along these lines and it was rejected by the mayor and council.
(3) Ephesus Fordham was intentionally form based coded to create a walk-able, dense mixed use development. ....Second, mixed use development is known to generate higher tax revenue that single family residential, and is cheaper to service....
Sounds good. But the developer funded transportation improvements are mostly interior roads. The new buildings actually destroyed the Booker Creek Greenway which will be rebuilt closer to the creek. Walking safety has not been improved as bike lanes run only in front of the new building. Many more cars and turning movements will make it more dangerous for pedestrians in the area. Yes there are major taxpayer financed "improvements" to 15 - 501, none of which are anticipated to relieve congestion.
Finally it is a gigantic myth that "mixed use" which turns out to be largely residential apartments pays for itself or makes money for the town. The Town's own analysis suggested a pay back within 20 years but that was without the the costs of transit included. The Council invited the County to participate and they declined because they did not feel secure becoming partners with the town. See editorial on costs of growth. http://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/com…
I am responding to the comments that schools have nothing to do with Town affairs. Mark McCurry is absolutely correct that one entity does not have authority over the other. But in fact, Town land use decisions and development approvals have everything to do with tax bill a Chapel Hill voter will pay. In fact the biggest chunk of our taxes goes to paying for schools and new school construction - a very big ticket item.
People move to our community most often for our good schools. Therefore is good economic policy for the Town through its land use decision to keep our schools strong. If our schools are overcrowded that hurts educational quality and also the desire of people who want to move here. That's why years ago town, county and school officials established a public facilities ordinance for schools. The idea was that if the school system could not build schools fast enough to accommodate growth, than the Town would agree to withhold a permit. Good idea. But is has not worked as a growth management tool and currently we have kids in trailers.
This past year, some council members voiced interest in a closer collaboration with the school system and for the first time the schools were asked for planning information. However, the Town Council has not identified next steps to bring meaningful progress to address how more collaborative planning could occur.
I am heartened that we have a thoughtful candidate in Jess Anderson who is raising this important issue. She cares - she has a young child who will be in our school system.
I'll try to answer the question that was posed:
Can someone clarify whether ephesus fordham is mandated to have affordable housing?
None. For reasons that are hard to understand, the incumbent majority replaced the current zoning with a much more dense zone but with no requirements for affordable housing.
The biggest frustration of dealing with this Town Council is that they solicit input - often taking years - and then vote without paying any attention to their advisory boards and the public. Al Rimer another former council member voices the problem here better than I can. "To serve or not serve on a Town commission": http://chapelboro.com/?powerpress_pinw=150…
Responding to Michael's comment: " What this boils down to is CHALT is simply unhappy because its not getting exactly what it wants" . I've heard this comment from others so I want to respond. A public process is intended to bring in public opinion so that the project is improved by addressing community values. That is the purpose but if the decision makers already know what they want, they should skip the long expensive process. "So much input, so little impact", best describes what happened in the 2020, Central West, Ephesus Fordham and Obey Creek public processes.
Of course democracy does not guarantee anyone gets all of what they want. Through a public dialogue, better solutions can emerge which many interests can accommodate. I've never see a project that was not improved with public input. But the current council has some ill founded ideas which make them resistant to hearing recommendations at all.
Take Ephesus Fordham where the town planned to rezone nearly 200 acres. Our council appointed planning board spent many hours improving the code; Citizen experts presented recommendations that would have brought affordable housing and energy efficiency. Some asked the Code to require small urban parks and community benefits. Other asked to build in citizen review of future projects. The Council adopted none of these recommendations.
A development agreement negotiated process was used for Obey Creek. Sure citizen comments were occasionally adopted into the contract. But the big picture is that citizens' interests were badly represented by the chief negotiators representing them - the town council members . For the big decision such as the ultimate size, Mr Perry, the owner's representative, took the town to the cleaners. The Council signed off on a contract that gave the landowner more intensity than what was suggested at the start, and gifted the town for posterity an elephantine project with traffic jams to come.
I want a town council that invites public input and uses it constructively so what comes out is different and better from where we started.
All Comments »
Make sure you're signed up so we can inbox you the latest.
Login to choose your subscriptions!
Indy Week • 201 W. Main St., Suite 101, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation