Community involvement fails its first test

In the most likely scenario that Charterwood will be approved tonight,  Chapel Hill citizens may choose to make some conclusions about the future of citizen input into how OUR town grows.

Despite significant environmental impact (not only to Eastwood Lake and Lake Ellen but to the Booker Creek headwater streams and the old growth trees), the disregard for neighborhood protection, the bastardization of process, the economic shakiness of the proposed plan, the reversal of affordable housing goals, the widespread public objections, the applicant’s frequent “misstatements,” and the precedent setting nature of the approval, Charterwood is virtually assured of passage.

What does this presage for the 2020 Future Focus Areas?  Will citizens, once again, be involved in busy work?  Will their work, like the work of citizens involved in the original Southern Small Area Plan,  the Northern Area Task Force, and 2020 be ignored?

Even though hundreds of citizens across the spectrum -  environmental advocates, affordable housing advocates, neighborhood protection supporters, Northern Area Task Force members, and others - have all independently reached out to Council to voice their objections to Charterwood, five council members, including the Mayor, continue to patronize us and support a very flawed proposal.  Why have they not articulated what is so worthy and necessary about Charterwood? 

My guess is that they cannot deny that it will affect downstream neighbors leaving them in a deep financial hole.  They cannot promote the affordable housing available because there is none at the luxury apartment complex.  No one, despite repeated requests by neighbors and Council members, has ever seen any elevations of the design from the neighborhood side, which lies up to fifty feet lower than 70’ tall buildings.  No one can assert that the 20,000 square feet of retail proposed at Charterwood, in an area surrounded by retail, is a game changer for the Town’s bottom line.  Sadder yet, is the willingness to endorse a policy of circumventing the State protest petition law, a saving grace for those most impacted by development.

We should all be asking why?

 

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Total votes: 1

6 Comments

The Consequences

I would have "Truth or Consequences," but there has been little truth during this process.Next, I would assume staff review of ZCP requirements and another visit to the CDC for final elevation approvals.  Then, clear cutting of trees on the northern portion of the site, staging for the construction which will compact the soil and "take care" of a lot of the other trees for us.  Once soil disturbance occurs, I'd expect an outcry from Lake Forest and Lake Ellen residents when the lakes fill with silt and sedimentation. Booker Creek will be affected beyond remediation's scope. When Charterwood is done, Parkside and Northwoods V will be a showcase for other areas if they want to know what it is like to live in the shadow of tall buildings and overly dense development.   And anyone who needs an affordable apartment will still need one...Del Snow

Geoff Green's picture

Alternative explanation

Perhaps some thought that the Charterwood proposal would not bring about a liklihood of substantial enivonrmental degradation, would not cause decline of nearby neighborhoods, that the the process (a lengthy one) was followed, that the economic plan is not shaky, that it meets affordable housing and overall community housing goals appropriately, and that the public opposition represented at the hearing did not reflect the general sense of the town's residents or the town's goals as expressed in the vague CH2020 plan.As for the protest petition, the law gives residents within 100 feet of a particular proposed development special rights to object. So the development kept 100 feet away.

That would be

That would be great. However,  Booker Creek's headwater streams will be paved over.  The low bug population of the creek is already a huge problem and the recent runoff into the lakes from Weaver Dairy Road widening foreshadows more problems.  I never said that the neighborhoods would decline...only their quality of life.  That is what the concept of neighborhood protection is about.I don't know  the basis of your conclusions about affordable housing and the economic plan, but I'd be happy to recap numbers.Just under 300 people signed an open letter to the Council, many people spoke at council meetings, many letters were written.  Where was the mysterious support?You are 100% right about the protest petition, and if you don't think that moving lot lines (not development, which will be closer) 5 feet further is a tactic that leaves a bad aftertaste, that is certainly your perogative.I also agree with your view of the CH2020 plan.  A lot of money, time, and effort went into redoing the 2000 plan and it is not more specific than the last one and a less user friendly.  Del Snow

Geoff Green's picture

opposition

The alleged detriments are personal and specific, but the possible beenfits to the community are general and dispersed. Why would someone who supports the plan but who won't be personally affected by it much at all take the time out to organize in favor of it? That's the case in every single develeopment, and which is why saying that x number of people opposed it is far from dispositive.