It's a Mixed-Use Free For All!

On the heels of the impending destruction of University Inn in favor of another mixed-use development, we get news of yet another one planned for a tract out on Eubanks Road, across from the Northwood community. We're being surrounded!

I'm not at all opposed to the "mixed-use" concept in theory, but in theory it's supposed to strengthen communities by getting people to brush shoulders with each other, congregate, and increase foot traffic (and therefore walk-in sales for merchants). Chelsea (in New York) would be a good example of a strong mixed-used neighborhood, and also that neighborhood on the east side of Washington Square Park, I always forget its name. I'm having a hard time grogging how building self-contained pods on the outskirts of town accomplishes this, but I'm willing to be enlightened. Nevertheless, I'm getting the sneaking suspicion that "mixed-use" is a term being thrown around to gussie up development plans that may be technically mixed-use, but are certainly not embracing the spirit of the concept.

As for this particular developer's troubles with the town, I have some sympathy if it's true that a few years ago he offered to pay to run the water-sewer line out there and install the pump station if the town would chip in some of the cost, and was rebuffed. Now that the town is running the same infrastructure to the area to service their new facility, now they want him to pay part of the cost and are willing to lobby OWASA to change it's rules so he can be made to pay? On its face, it doesn't seem very nice.

It's Economic Development and Fishing Week at orangepolitics.org!

Total votes: 171

Comments

Wow, I had not seen that article, thanks for posting. How does this development meet a mixed use criteria by throwing in a few townhomes?

And so our mayor wants to figure out how to make the developer pay for extending the water and sewer service to this property? Well if the town is getting charged at the rate OWASA charged the homeowners off Piney Mountain road to hook into services, then I can understand our Mayor's desire to get some help paying the bill. OWASA charges more than any utility company I've ever encountered. I can't even figure out how they come up with their charges--they charged those homewoners something like 15,000--20,000 to hook up water and sewer. OWASA is a unique utility anyway, (who owns OWASA? To whom or what do they answer?) and its existence means that our town government has no responsibility for providing water and sewer to our community---a bit scary when you think about it. That's one of the services most of us probably agree should be part of our local government's responsibility.

Who owns OWASA and to whom do they answer? Great question, I am sure I will be corrected if I am wrong. OWASA has a 9 member Board of Directors. Five are appointted by the Chapel Hill Council, two by Carrboro Board of Alder whatever, and two by the County Commissioners. They serve 3 year terms and no more than 2 terms. That may have changed.

So to some degree Chapel Hill controls OWASA. I recall some years ago the CH Council threaten to replace its five members with councilmembers if OWASA continue with an issue, which if I recall had to deal with Chatem County wanting water.

As for the fees they need to charge those rates because they are buying land out in the Cane Creek area at 7 to 8 thousand dollars an acre. All in the name of protecting the watershed! (wink, wink) By the way this land is removed from the tax rolls and lost forever as a tax revenue.

Patrick Mulkey

 

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