Kevin C. Foy | Candidate Questionnaires | Indy Week
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Kevin C. Foy 

Candidate for Chapel Hill Mayor

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Name as it appears on the ballot: Kevin C. Foy
Date of birth: January 28, 1956
Home address: 19 Oakwood Drive Chapel Hill NC 27517
Campaign Web site:
Occupation & employer: Assistant Professor, NCCU School of Law
Home phone: 919-932-1925
Work phone: 919-968-2714
Cell phone:
E-mail:





1. What is there in your public record or other experience that demonstrates your ability to be an effective leader? Please be specific about your public and community service background.

I have served as Mayor of Chapel Hill since 2001. Prior to that, I served four years as a member of the Council. Prior to that, I served as a member of the Sierra Club executive committee. Currently, in addition to my role as Mayor, I serve as vice-chair of the Metropolitan Coalition, a statewide organization of North Carolina’s 23 largest municipalities.

2. How do you define yourself politically and how does your political philosophy show itself in your past achievements and present campaign platform?

I define myself politically as thoughtful, reasonable, and progressive. I have demonstrated my philosophy in decisions that I have made, including strong commitments to affordable housing in Chapel Hill; to working closely with the Interfaith Council; to embedding strong environmental regulations in the town’s land use ordinances; and to focusing the community on thinking and acting on climate change.

3. Identify a principled stand you might be willing to take if elected that you suspect might cost you some popularity points with voters.

I have already taken a principled stand that earned a lot of animosity from some voters. That was when I advocated locating a new men’s shelter at the Southern Human Services Center. This location makes sense because it is right next to services that many homeless people need, including DSS and the health department, while still being in town and served by Chapel Hill Transit.

4. The Independent’s mission is to help build a just community in the Triangle. How would your election to office help further that goal?

One of my major goals during my next term, if I am re-elected, is to find a location and start construction of a new men’s shelter. Anyone who has been in the current shelter knows that it is not up to the standards that we would expect for a residential facility. Furthermore, we are seeing continued population growth in the Triangle. That means that we will also continue to see more people who need shelter, and we don’t have extra capacity. In addition, the current shelter is not able to stay open during the day, and is not able to provide the kinds of services that people need to get employment, get health care, and otherwise get their lives in order – other than meals and shelter. So I think we can do better than we’re doing, and it will take the whole community, with the town in the lead, to do that.

5. Carolina North could transform the look of Chapel Hill, as well as set precedents in town-gown relations. What zoning regulations and building standards should the city implement on the project? Explain the optimal process by which the town could work with UNC on this and future projects.

There are three basic principles that should guide the Carolina North plan: transportation impact, natural resource protection, and impact on the town budget. So the regulations should revolve around those principles.

I think it is likely that the town and the university will be able to negotiate an agreement that requires that the design of the project as a whole is transit and pedestrian friendly, and that de-emphasizes single-occupancy vehicles. We have demonstrated that we can do this on the main campus, so we should be able to do even better on a campus that is developed from the start with these transportation ideas in mind. The obvious implication is that parking and street capacity should be minimized.

As to resource protection, if transportation and design minimize automobiles, then part of the issue is already solved. However, there are also concerns about stormwater management, building materials, energy usage, and density of footprint. These all will be important to environmental protection.

The budgetary concerns are not something that the town and the university have a model to follow. So we are going to be searching our way through that, but an example of the issue is instructive. That example is fire protection. Our fire chief estimates that there is a significant gap between the cost of fire protection for the campus, and the funds that the town receives from the General Assembly (to protect state property). Depending on how the cost of fire protection is measured, the gap is in the range of $1 million annually. It takes almost two cents on our property tax rate to generate a million dollars, which means that about 4% of our property tax revenue is going to pay for university fire protection. The town’s concern is that if this gap grows, it is not sustainable for our tax structure. So we need to find an equitable way to provide town services to Carolina North.

The actual zoning regulations will probably be in the form of an agreement between the town and the university. This is at least in part because the university can agree voluntarily to certain requirements that are not legally mandated (e.g., abiding by the Resource Conservation District rules).

As to how the university and town should work together in the future, I think the process for Carolina North is based on the way we worked together for the main campus rezoning in 2001. So we are using a process that works, but modifying it for specific proposals.

6. Along those development lines, growth in northwest Chapel Hill is an issue important to the town’s citizens. What is your plan for growth in that sector? How will it be achieved?

The northwest area is only the most obvious place where there is growth pressure in Chapel Hill. That’s because there is still some significant undeveloped land there. But the re-development pressures are going to bring the same concerns to neighborhoods throughout town that have been brought to the northwest area.

I think the Council is following a good process: we put a moratorium on development, while a citizen task force engaged in several months of thoughtful planning. They brought their recommendations to the Council this week, and we have asked for comment from citizens and advisory boards. Out of all that, we’ll develop a coherent plan. It probably won’t involve extensive rezoning, but instead will make clear the desire in particular places for the following: density fronting parts of the corridor; buffers with existing neighborhoods; preservation of significant places; and a plan for affordable housing, particularly where the mobile home parks are currently located.

7. While Greenbridge has been lauded as an environmentally friendly housing development, there are also concerns that it threatens adjacent lower-income neighborhoods. What do you think the town’s strategy should be in regards to gentrification?

The Northside neighborhood conservation district was a neighborhood-based effort to institute legal protections that would preserve the neighborhood’s characteristics. Part of the NCD also confirmed the neighborhood boundaries – meaning that downtown development should not spill over into Northside. Therefore, to an important degree the town took preemptive measures against gentrification. In addition, the Greenbridge developers made an effort to engage their neighbors in planning the project, which indicates a degree of respect that I think is likely to carry forward as the units are sold.

As to the town’s further role, the neighborhood’s autonomy should be respected. Residents have made it clear, on many occasions, that they do not wish to have their property values artificially suppressed by the actions of the town. They have pointed out the ways in which this is harmful not just to their economic health, but to the health of the neighborhood and its viability.

8. How should the town incentivize affordable housing? As for public housing, how should the town continue to manage these developments in light of reduced federal funding?

The town can encourage, and probably mandate, affordable housing, especially if it is willing to do so in exchange for increased density. The Council has already shown that it will do this, most recently with the East 54 project. The 30% of this project that is dedicated to affordable housing is made possible by the increased density that the Council granted.

Public housing will be increasingly paid for from the general fund. There are no other real options if we want to keep the housing viable, until federal funding is restored.

9. The town’s comprehensive plan emphasizes regional planning and cooperation. What are the most important issues in regional planning? What results are you looking for? How would you achieve them?

The most pressing issue in the region is transportation infrastructure, and in particular transit. I would like to see some type of fixed transit system in place in some part of the Triangle within the next ten years. This could be light rail, busway, BRT – but something that is beyond the level of on-street buses.

This can be achieved through the work of the two MPOs, the municipalities (through TJCOG), and TTA agreeing on a plan and getting it funded, both through state-permitted local revenue and federal funding.

The fact that TTA’s original plan is now on hold is not a reason to stop working on the Triangle’s transit plan. It’s a reason to keep working, but to do it with more seriousness and critical evaluation.

Regional planning also refers to work with Chatham County, which the town is now doing. The same issue faces us with Chatham: now that there are 13,000 new residences approved, the traffic impact on Chapel Hill will be difficult to manage unless we provide alternative ways for people to move around.

10. The council has debated obtaining contributions from developers to help pay for the operating costs of the town’s free bus system. What are the pros and cons of such a plan? What formulas should be used to assess the fee amounts? What transportation needs could be met with the additional funds generated by these fees?

The council has state permission to get transit impact funds. This should be done when other transportation needs have already been met (e.g., many in-fill developments don’t need to build new sidewalks). The formula could either be something that approximates the costs that a developer would outlay in a comparable greenfield development, or a per capita assessment. The money would be used for capital expenditures (buses, bus shelters, etc.) not for operating expenses.

11. The 10-year plan to end homelessness began earlier this month. How will the town monitor progress on the plan? What accountability measures are or should be in place? What are the hurdles to accomplishing it? How can the town overcome those obstacles?

I think the answers to these questions are contained in the plan itself, and I was on the committee that wrote the plan. The major hurdle is funding. We will look for grants and other private money, but the bulk of it will come from some kind of governmental entity – federal, state, or local. Part of the reason we put the plan together was to take advantage of federal funds that would not otherwise be available.

As to accountability, the measures that the plan lays out all revolve around moving people from chronic homelessness to permanent residences. The model is “housing first,” so merely getting someone into a residence is not the measure – the permanency is the measure.

12. What important town departments or agencies have been, in your opinion, chronically underfunded? What have been the ramifications of that shortage? If elected, where would you find the money to more fairly fund these areas? Conversely, what town departments or agencies have been overfunded?

I am not aware of a department that is overfunded. However, I think we have not funded the parks and recreation department to the degree that it should be. Our new parks director brings a lot of experience, and an emphasis on programming, which I expect will raise both the profile of the department and the quality of the programming.

The parks department’s underfunding has left us with too few parks and too few things going on in our recreation programming.

The way to adequately fund any department is to look at the department’s long-term plans and understand the financial implications. Then those plans compete with other departments’ goals during the budget process.

13. Chapel Hill is participating in the Jordan Lake Stakeholder Project to help manage this resource, which is polluted and threatened by growth and development. What is Chapel Hill’s responsibility in mitigating these threats? What policies should Town Council enact to help protect water quality and quantity in Jordan Lake?

The reason that we established a stormwater management utility was to help clean runoff before it flows into Jordan Lake. This utility has been expensive to set up and expensive to run, in part because it spends a lot of money on retrofitting bad practices from the past. But when the Council undertook to establish the utility five years ago, it took upon itself responsibility for cleaning Chapel Hill’s stormwater runoff. By the way, it is unfortunate that neither Carrboro nor UNC chose to participate in this utility with the town.

Our stormwater management rules, in our land use ordinance, also addresses both quantity and quality of water running downstream from Chapel Hill. We have an absolute obligation to insure, at a minimum, that water leaving Chapel Hill is at least as clean as water entering Chapel Hill. We probably have a moral obligation to go beyond that, especially as Jordan Lake becomes a reservoir for more people’s drinking water.

  • Candidate for Chapel Hill Mayor

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