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?