Let them eat cake

In today's Chapel Hill News, Fearrington Village Resident Lola Spritzer wants to have her cake and eat it too. She moved out into the country not because she couldn't afford living in town, but because she "loved the rural-like atmosphere of Chatham County." And yet now she "can't accept" the inconvenience of having to drive 30-minutes to get what she needs.

We moved to this area 10 years ago because we loved the rural-like atmosphere of Chatham County. But growth is inevitable. So it is with a great sense of loss that I accept the upcoming housing developments, the increase in population and the denuded two-lane country road that was once U.S. 15-501.

What I don't accept is the long-distance driving we face week after week. Wal-Mart, if the rumor becomes a fact, would be just down the road. So considering the high cost of fuel and the wear and tear on the car, I'll swallow my reservations, ignore the barbs from my friends and enjoy the convenience
- My View, Chapel Hill News, 7/20/05

Well she can kiss that "rural-like atmosphere" goodbye because the suburbs are coming to her! She could have saved a lot of time and just moved to Meadowmont or Southern Village, but unlike Mohammed she insisted on moving the mountain instead - local environment and economy be damned.



Yet again, I do not understand why Orange County does not invest in building up, instead of spreading out. The Eastgate or MLK (Airport Rd.) area could be built up and the country areas could be saved from construction. There would still be lots of money to be made, and it would not effect the downtown area, but I guess I must be missing something.

Ms. Spritzer complained that one of the things she dreaded about going to New Hope Commons was having to deal with 15-501. Well, even if we were to build up the Eastgate or MLK areas as Robert suggests, not everyone can live there and not every store can be in multiple sites. So people are always going to want to travel to other locations and the issue we still haven't come to grips with is how you move people effectively from one location to the other. Even when we come up with possible solutions we are almost always dependent on NCDOT to implement them. By the time we convince them to do so, assuming we can convince them to do so, the funding is usually another 5-7 years down the road. We need to become much more proactive in our transportation planning as it relates to future development and we need to figure out how to move these plans forward without being at the mercy of NCDOT and the politics of State budgets.

Growth may or may not be "inevitable" but it's shape, location, and extent are not. All of these are largely the result of political decisions and the economic self-interest of folks who'd like to turn a quick buck on the Lola Spitzers of the world.

I hope we don't demonize the Lola's of the world during our fight against Wal-Mart.

Please don't crucify me for asking, but is anyone thinking that the best outcome we can hope for here may be to get a more socially responsible box store in a less environmentally challenged location?

If we're all part demon, part saint, like Woody Allen I usually prefer "the half that eats."

Good point. The traffic situation in this part of the triangle is a mess. I grew up 30 miles from the nearest mall, grocery store, movie theater, or fast-food chain. To me, the idea that everyone has to have a Big Box store, or even a grocery store in their neighborhood is ludicrous.
Moreover, if people like "Lola" were made to understand how much EXTRA they pay by frequenting the Wal-Marts of the world, perhaps they would frequent smaller shops located closer to their homes. The small savings on a set of knives or a lawn mower are nothing compared to the extra taxes and insurance premiums you pay for each of Wal-Mart's employees.

I know in the past that Costco was considered a "good" big box store. They pay a living wage, health-care, etc. I'm not pushing for a new store, but if we're looking for least amount of damage...

Dare to dream. If only.

Ruby, I agree with you on this one. Rural living is wonderful (I grew up on a farm a million miles from nowhere--it was an hour's drive to get to a real grocery store) but you have to recognize that rural living sacrifices convenience for privacy, land, pace of life, wildlife, etc.

I find it very interesting that many of these communities---Governor's Club, Fearrington, etc---market themselves to retirees, many of whom do not want to drive long distances , and who would prefer the convenience of public transportation and/walking to amenities. I don't understand why someone who wants to be close to amenities would buy a home that isn't close to anything, and then be unhappy? People need to put more thought into their living choices and how they play out on a practical basis based on their priorities.

I was chatting with a friend in Chatham County this morning and the piece in the CHN came up. He observed that the point of view that she expressed would probably drive the "Chapel Hill types" crazy. He went on to expound on his point, but I'm sure most here can develop it for themselves, even if you aren't sure what "Chapel Hill types" are!

We also talked about something that is evident in several recent threads, the fact that the political boundaries that we have do not serve as boundaries for our interests. My friend's anger with the idea that the "Chapel Hill types" are trying to tell Chatham County people what kind of stores they should have might be justified if you totally negate the fact that political boundaries are not respected by traffic, pollution, etc. We are in fact a region, and what's done in one political jurisdiction does affect neighbors, intended or not.

It appears that we must create more efficient regional mechanisms that have the ability to deal with our mutual interests and challenges rather than go to war with each other because it is believed that one doesn't respect the decision-making authority of one entity or legitimate concerns of another entity. Maybe too, part of the problem is how we go about expressing these concerns and interests. Whatever is the meaning of "Chapel Hill types," the impression seems fairly entrenched in the minds of some, which then seems to make those minds closed to what's said by those they believe are "Chapel Hill types."

Carrboro, Orange County, Durham, Durham County, and Chatham are all governments that, like Chapel Hill, have a responsibility to represent the interests of their citizens. Do they have a responsibility to care what I, a citizen of Chapel Hill think? I would hope that they would care when I clearly have a compelling interest in the ramifications of their decisions. So who then will represent our best interests at the level of the region, the State of North Carolina? I don't think so. We need new solutions.

This whole situation reminds me of a Henry Nouwen quote from his "Life of the Beloved:" "Instinctively we know that the joy of life comes from the ways in which we live together and the pain of life comes from the many ways we fail to do that well."

We certainly don't want to demonize the Lola's of the world but we would be remiss if we did not point out that her perspective is narrow, selfish and ignorant. On the other hand, I'm sure she is kind to small animals.

Instead of being referred to as "Chapel Hill types" being driven crazy, perhaps we should simply refer to ourselves as the "Chapel Hill crazies" because we must be crazy to think that Chatham or Durham politicians give a hoot about what Chapel Hillians think or want. Does anyone think we have any leverage with the officials in those two counties and, if so, what is that leverage?

People like Spritzer do not want to sacrifice. They want the "rural life" (which isn't rural at all) and they want to shop in a store that sells everything from shotguns to baby clothes so they don't have to haul their asses out of their car (note: I held back from saying "SUV").

She says "destroying competitors" is irrelevant for her because businesses for her are "few and far between". Holy arrogance. She is totally oblivious on how it would affect others. ARRRRRRGH! She admits Wal Mart treats many horribly but she doesn't care because she needs somewhere to shop?!

So what happens when you don't' sacrifice? What happens when you say, "I think I will buy these shoes instead of saving the money for my child's education?" You sacrifice the future instead. She dose not want to sacrifice. She wants "gadgets"!

That woman is selfish and she is going to get a lot of letters.

And if she thinks Chapel Hillians are bad she should come to Carrboro. :^)

Ok. Rant off.

I don't see what's wrong with Lola thinking she should have convenient shopping opportunities. She moved to the country and the suburbs moved in on her. If she has to put up with the headaches of the suburbs, surely she should get some positive trade offs. Mixed use.....isn't that the smart growth way?

While I don't agree with her desire for a Walmart, I see this as an opportunity to bring Chathamites and Orangeades together. We both need economic development and we can do it more wisely if we collaborate. If you check out Chatham Online, you'll find most of the folks who post there are opposed to this retail center proposal. What they want is responsible land use plan. Its not just Orangeades criticizing Chatham's lack of a growth management strategy--it's their own citizens.

So to answer Mary's question: I believe the land owner has the right to develop its property, and I believe the residents of Chatham and the other counties who draw from Jordan Lake have the right to unpolluted drinking water. Furthermore I believe that Orangeades have the right to keep heavy traffic loads out of our watershed (Smith Level). Can we find mutual ground....I really hope so.

That(Terri's comment above)'s just what the get-together on the 28th at Dockside (6pm--food, 7pm--meeting)--- is designed to accomplish. Y'all come (just a friendly reminder in case anybody forgot).


Just a quick note - an article just appeared on the New York Times site asking how Costco became the Anti-Wal Mart. It requires registration.
Some few points:
Costco's average pay, for example, is $17 an hour, 42 percent higher than its fiercest rival, Sam's Club. And Costco's health plan makes those at many other retailers look Scroogish. One analyst, Bill Dreher of Deutsche Bank, complained last year that at Costco "it's better to be an employee or a customer than a shareholder."

Mr. Sinegal begs to differ. He rejects Wall Street's assumption that to succeed in discount retailing, companies must pay poorly and skimp on benefits, or must ratchet up prices to meet Wall Street's profit demands.

Good wages and benefits are why Costco has extremely low rates of turnover and theft by employees, he said. And Costco's customers, who are more affluent than other warehouse store shoppers, stay loyal because they like that low prices do not come at the workers' expense. "This is not altruistic," he said. "This is good business.

I, for one, will be very glad when Wal-mart comes to Chatham County. This will hopefully slow down all the Carrboro folks who cut through rural Orange County to get to the New Hope Commons Wal-Mart and keep them in their own backyard. Maybe we folk in the county can go back to living in relative peace from the lunatic city shoppers who speed down our roads daily. If 21,500 cars will be diverted to Smith Level Road, then those of us on Erwin and Whitfield roads will certianly regain some quality of life. Good Luck, and don't forget to plan a bus route to the new store!

Fred Black:

When people say "Chapel Hill types" in a negative way, what do you think they mean? I have my own ideas after living in Durham for the past six months, but I'm curious what you think.

Chris, I think that some mean that "Chapel Hill types" are people who think that they know best about everything and aren't afraid to share their opinion about what everybody should do. And typically, they have an easier time telling you what they're against than what they're for.

It is hard to believe anyone would want to freep IN FAVOR of Wal-Mart, but the other choice is that almost everyone WANTS a Wal-Mart. Either way, it does not bode well.
As for the poll, it was gone by the time I went looking as well.

Did anybody see that online poll in the Chapel Hill News that had about 83% of respondents saying they 'can't wait' for WalMart in Chatham vs. 15% saying 'no thanks'? 900 responses, which seems like a good number for this size paper. Does this reflect actual public opinion in the area?


I can't speak to Walmart, but I think the general public has a higher opinion of Southpoint Mall than the Chapel Hill Town Council does, to use an example that might be relevant.

Steve, I have been watching the poll and it seems like it had a big pro-Wal-Mart bounce over the course of a couple of days. My guess is the poll got 'freeped' (freeped is a term used at dailykos.com when folks are asked to swarm en masse to a CNN or MSNBC poll) by an organized group supporting WM.

Unfortunately, "freeped" comes to us by way of The Free Republic gang. Everyone "freeps" polls now, so it is possible that it occurred. I belive that the webmaster could tell if a whole lot of people were arriving from the same page. Either way, there is no reason we can't freep right back.

I'm just amazed people would bother 'freeping' a poll in the Chapel Hill News (do the words 'get a life' mean anything?). Is anyone organized to support Walmart besides Walmart itself?

You might not have noticed, Steve, but Walmart is pretty well organized.

It just seems like an amazing level of attention to detail. I can't even find the Chapel Hill News' poll. Don't you usually need to register/log in to vote in those?


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