The Third Way? | News Feature | Indy Week
Pin It

The Third Way? 

Chapel Hill's third mayoral candidate speaks

If Cam Hill had his way, the University of North Carolina would be putting up new buildings in Fayetteville, or Elizabeth City, or anywhere but Chapel Hill. UNC is wonderful, a great industry and the main reason Chapel Hill is a charming town, he says. But the university is becoming gargantuan, and its plan to add 8,000-plus students and staff to the main campus is shocking. And Meadowmont? "It's kind of appalling," Hill says. "Why wasn't the developer required to build what the zoning called for, which was single-family houses?"

So, after yet another anguished conversation with friends about the terrible things being done to Chapel Hill, and the, uh, "transient individuals" responsible for them (namely, UNC-Chapel Hill brass who came from somewhere else and will be gone before too long) Hill, 48, decided he was tired of feeling like a victim.

His answer? He's a candidate for mayor.

It would be easy to dismiss Hill. In fact, he virtually invites you to dismiss him, gesturing to a box full of unread stuff Town Manager Cal Horton has sent over and asking off-handedly if Smedes York is still mayor of Raleigh. (No, not for about 20 years.)

Whether he wins is "completely immaterial" to him. "I don't know if I should say this or not," he goes on--this is the way many things he says begin-- "but getting elected would terrify me. I mean, I'm willing to do it. ..."

On the other hand, he was born in Chapel Hill--the only one of the three candidates who was--and knows a lot of people in town, though interestingly, not Kevin Foy or Lee Pavao. They are "the sort of people" who like sitting in meetings and running the town, Hill says, not disparagingly.

For his part, he hates meetings, much preferring to be outdoors. That's why, although his dad was on the medical school faculty at Chapel Hill (and mom was head of volunteers at the university's Memorial Hospital for 25 years), the younger Hill never went to college, choosing instead to go into construction.

From his start as a carpenter, he put together a construction business, built and was co-owner of the original Crook's Corner restaurant and then went into fine cabinet-making, at one time employing 65 people. His company did all the woodwork in the Dean Dome, for example.

Hill sold the business during his divorce and for seven years since, has cut back, working 20-25 hours a week in home inspections and repairs while he concentrates on helping bring up his three children. His wife got the farm in Chatham County. He's back living in a little house in town that he bought long ago and rented out. It needs a lot of work. "The cobbler's children never have any shoes," he laughs.

Hill's house is in an interesting place. It's at the western edge of town, a block up from Franklin Street, and right across the way is the terminus of an old rail bed that runs all the way up to UNC-Chapel Hill's Horace Williams tract. Who owns the two vacant lots of either side of his house? The university does.

Hill knows perfectly well that even if he were the mayor of Chapel Hill, he couldn't stop growth cold. But he thinks the next mayor should be working overtime to slow it down and cut it back.

"Let's use the charming streets of our town as our guide," Hill says. "The mindset seems to be that we are helpless in a descent into becoming the next Cary. Well, you can't stop it if you don't try."

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in News Feature



Twitter Activity

Comments

The Trump phenomenon is catastrophic. Obviously, Trump is far smarter than Hitler; but he has Hitler's ability to make the …

by Oscar Martinez on Welcome to the Resistance: Trump Is President, But Trumpism Can Never Prevail (News Feature)

Has anything been done to address the problems? When something is reported like this it's more important to check on …

by Christine Dale on The truth about the Goathouse Refuge (News Feature)

Most Recent Comments

The Trump phenomenon is catastrophic. Obviously, Trump is far smarter than Hitler; but he has Hitler's ability to make the …

by Oscar Martinez on Welcome to the Resistance: Trump Is President, But Trumpism Can Never Prevail (News Feature)

Has anything been done to address the problems? When something is reported like this it's more important to check on …

by Christine Dale on The truth about the Goathouse Refuge (News Feature)

As one of the founders of Raleigh Cohousing I would like to set the record straight: The article is inaccurate …

by Kayelily Middleton on How the Triangle Became Ground Zero in the Cohousing Movement (News Feature)

Thanks for the mention of Village Hearth Cohousing. We finished our design workshops last weekend and are very excited about …

by Linda Hobbet on How the Triangle Became Ground Zero in the Cohousing Movement (News Feature)

From the article, "only a tenth of 1 percent of people in the Triangle live in an official cohousing communitythe …

by MickeyNotMouse on How the Triangle Became Ground Zero in the Cohousing Movement (News Feature)

© 2017 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation