Friends of Who?

Yesterday's Chapel Hill Herald gave us a preview of the "Friends of Sunrise" forum. Excuse me, but who the hell holds their candidate forum on the same night as a Town Council meeting? Doesn't that sort of indicate that you are more interested in making your own points than hearing other people's?

They also gave the candidates questions in advance:

One of the submitted questions reads in part, "Do you think that the town should continue its current policy of ignoring I-40 noise?" Another question asks, "Do you think nonprofits should be allowed to build large-scale, low-income housing projects with public funds and with no public accountability?"

The question on the bonds reads, "Keeping in mind that property taxes have increased steadily over the past 15 years and many Chapel Hill residents have lost their jobs in the economic downturn, how would you justify that this is the time to initiate the largest bond package in Chapel Hill history? Are there other ways to accomplish the intended goals?"

These are the folks who have been fighting tooth and nail to keep Habitat for Humanity from building affordable homes near their neighborhood. (Oh, but course we're for affordable housing!) It sounds like TaxWatch is back on the scene. Republicans have a right to live in Chapel Hill too, dammit! Does't mean anyone's going to vote for them, though.

I hope our elected officials (Bill Strom and Jim Ward) were at Town Hall attending to the community's business rather than humoring Doug Schworer and his NIMBY neighbors.

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Total votes: 166

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The NIMBYs are chomping at the bit in anticipation of tonight's concluding Charrette presentation of Habitat for Humanity's possible design(s) for the Sunrise tract.

For those who don't wish to see the perversion of "neighborhood protection" used to unduly limit desperately needed, well-designed affordable housing, show up at 7:00 at the church on the corner of Homestead and Airport Road to get a first-hand glimpse of what's proposed and the predictable ugly response it will be given by a vocal minority..

All right, frick it. I've got to post my thoughts on the actual "forum." Ruby, again you're right in your insinuation that this meeting was little more than propaganda for one, single special interest. If anyone cares to hear the full range of views and actually foster meaningful debate, then don't schedule this thing at the same time as a council meeting! The municipal calendars are readily available and give you plenty of time to plan accordingly. But not only was it a meeting of the council, it was done in conjunction with the planning board since every item on the agenda dealt with the Land Use Management Ordinance. What does this mean? Hmm, I guess it also means that Sally Greene and Thatcher Freund can't make it either since they're members of said planning board and had to be at the meeting also. But, the "friends" ask, are there any other repercussions to scheduling our propaganda concurrent with this meeting? Sure, glad you asked folks. Since your misinformation summit centers on a controversial Habitat development that you oppose, it may be helpful to debate this issue with Ward, Greene, and Strom present (the affordable housing endorsees). Very cunning indeed these "friends."

Even more distressing were the tenets of this forum. Oh yeah, Schworer was the founder of the Sunrise Coalition that's battling Habitat — I thought that needed to be mentioned. Anyway, what the hell kind of idea is it to ask questions the candidates have already read and prepared for? Especially questions that are loaded and focus solely on one interest in one part of town. This has little to do with Chapel Hill issues at large, and if this group has the nerve to make endorsements, may God rain fire and brimstone onto Chandler's Green and allow Habitat to emerge as the phoenix from the fiery remains.

Something I remember from the early `90s. Habitat had sought to purchase the parcel of land that ECHHS sits on now. These home wouldn't be out of character, most homes on Weaver Dairy, excepting the developments that have occured since the early `90s, are small, single-storied or mobile. Except residents of *dind-ding* Chandler's Green fought vociferously against it and said they did not pay the high cost of their homes to look out on a "housing project." Thank god the county gave them a beautiful view of ballfields and pavement instead (hee-hee). In fact, at the forum on of its organizers, Mae Masciansica (sp?), said that's exactly what Habitat was looking to build, "a project." Poor, elitist fool. I guess it's hard for the silver spoon crowd to differentiate between low-cost homes and Cabrini Green. Anyway, I guess they believe that if we should build affordable houses anywhere, then it should be nowhere close to large public parks (Cedar Falls), schools (ECHHS), gorgeous nature (Duke Forest), or a convenience store and cozy array of little restaurants (Cedar Village). Shit, why should our tax dollars pay for great public amenities if people of moderate incomes get to use them also (guess where my tongue is).

And as much as these people argue that they're not elitist and defend affordable housing, then why are they so incredibly defensive about it. Read the Herald's article about the forum — Mae Masciaciasomething accused Sally Greene of being "scared" to come. WHAT? Were the "friends" scared to follow fair planning protocol when they scheduled their two-hour smear on this year's elections. After all the bitching that went on about the shortcomings of the towns Land Use Management Ordinance at that damned forum, how can you slight someone for 1) performing their civic duty and 2) tweaking and examining LUMO during the performance of their duty????????

Anyhoo, the biggest laughable act these folks pulled off was their accusation before and after the meeting that Neil Offen, the Herald's editor, told candidates and residents not to go to this forum during his regular 5:30 address on WCHL. WRONG — I heard the address, all he said was "I don't expect that many of the candidates will show up." Well, Neil know local politics so he knows that four of the twelve were stuck in Town Hall for the evening and Woody Barfield never shows up. That's five of the twelve right there, so how is his prediction biased against the "friends." Plus, anyone with a little knowledge about the "friends" knows that they're pushing an unpopular agenda, and all of this year's candidates are, ostensibly, pro-affordable housing. Would you want to be there if this was the case and you're a candidate. (*note: Offen did not say this at all, the one and only comment he made about the forum is the one placed in quotes) I'm not sure how politically prudent it is to spew a bunch of bullshit about the editor, whose professionalism would never allow him to make any sort of statement suggested by the "friends," of the paper that has given this year's race the most coverage.

Defensive, defensive, defensive … does little for anyone's credibility. I should be glad that Schworer has these people in his pocket, it says a lot about his unfitness for office and hopefully others will realize so as well. After all, it is only a small fraction of the votes he'll need to win. At least it was good to see Cam not pander to these folks and call them out for being misinformed about LUMO and otherwise misinformed and stupid in general. Rudy Juliano came off surprisingly well, Schworer was the loosest I've ever seen him and even had some good jokes, but his performance predictably smug. McSwain, uh …...... he's a nice guy, and he's driven through Chatham County recently. Terri Tyson pointed out that merger is indeed a town issue, and she will oppose it tooth and nail. No shit merger's a town issue, that's why we have an elected School Board who know about this issue more than anyone, including you. It's their job to handle it, we've entrusted it to them, the council has no place butting in.

"Where's Woodrow" didn't show up, of course, and Bachmann missed her second forum in a row — I wonder what's happening there

there are ways to do affordable housing better than others. Larkspur has affordable houses intermixed with the 400,000$ plus houses and disguises them well. For instance all the houses are 2 story and look of similar design from the front. Parkside clustered most of their affordable houses right behind the batting cages and made them 1 to 1 1/2 story houses in a 2 story community -- not good.

I can see either intermingling or having smaller numbers of habitat homes but don't think it outrageous to figure out what the "right" number of houses is. I don't think affordable housing should have an invisible flag that says "this is affordable housing".

Wow Ruby, great job of being succinct in your demonstration at how utterly ridiculous this "forum" and "friends" are.

Let's see, can the town ignore I-40 noise? Oh yes, we will buy everyone earplugs. Either that, or all Chapel Hillians can stage a coup d'etat up at the General Assembly building in Raleigh since the NCDOT holds dominion over what goes on with I-40. Come to think of it, we're talking about an INTERSTATE, right, so maybe Chapel Hill can use some funds to line the pockets of Norman Mineta up on Capitol Hill. Other than that, I dont' know how anyone is going to prevent passengers from driving through the town's corridor of 40. But, when I drive down 40 through where it sits in Chapel Hill town limits, I see very few buildings or homes. Where are the accusations that Chapel Hill clearcuts its natural noise buffers coming from? I'm still skeptical that placing this community on Sunrise Road means that the tree buffer will be destroyed along I-40. Does this necessarily mean that Chandler's Green, still about 1/4 mile away from I-40 at its closest point, will hear anything?

Yes, non-profits should be able to build with public funds! Non-profit allocations have been part of the town's budget for much longer than Chandler's Green has existed because that is what we in town have wanted! If you take that strong an issue with the will of the residents, I would suggest crawling back underneath whatever laissez-faire rock you emerged from. Asses.

— Oh yeah, where in the hell did these people come up with this drivel about Habitat having no public accountability. The originally proposed density of the project has been drastically reduced at the behest of the town's task force who responded to PUBLIC CONCERN over the project. Oh, and poor little WASPS, are you concerned over the developments being "out of character" with Chandler's Green (as is if this was some sort of infill project, it's not). Then tell me, exactly, how Chandler's Green kept in character with the older Carol Woods community that extends out to Sunrise Road and is plainly visible from Chandler's entrance. It's a retirement community of densely packed townhomes, it looks nothing like your conglomerate of $500,000 houses. Y'all are the newbies in that area, don't think your checkbooks make you more important.

Dear God, the tax question makes me want to choke on my own vomit. Sure taxes have steadily increased over the last few years — but the TAX RATE has not. Is town council supposed to be some mystical entity that can stop the natural cycle of inflation that occurs everywhere. On one hand, if it weren't for all the new developments, like Chandler's Green, that have appeared over the last fifteen years, then property values might not have spiraled so high. And doesn't this tell you disgustingly insipid "friends" something. Chapel Hill is a hugely desirable place to live — good folks (with exceptions, wonder who they are?), good atmosphere, good nature, good schools. Taxes have increased over the last 15 years because people have been buying in to this good thing (although all this buying in has possible become a bad thing, in my opion anyway). With all this boom around, we have also created many jobs (again though, the municipal workers need a little bit more money so they can actually live here, IMO). The jobless rate in town is about, or less than, 2%. Read a town data book before coming up with questions like this. Chapel Hill is not "recession proof," but I think we've weathered the storm well and must take the necessary steps to ensure that our town is still on top and even more beautiful and providing than before by the time Bush and the repercussions of his stupidity leave us. After all, why did the "friends" move here. For more info, go to investinchapelhill.org and actually READ people. Bonds give the town permission to cycle debt, it does not mean they will do it, or do so immediately. The town has a pretty good fiscal record of managing these things, at least IMO.

Glad to see that only five of the twelve Town Council candidates showed up.

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