What should we be watching for in 2014?

A lot happened in local politics in Orange County in 2013 and Orange Politics covered much of it (as noted in a previous post). There's bound to be quite a bit of action in 2014 as well. Kirk Ross had some ideas over in the Chapel Hill News about issues to watch for. What do you think will be the big stories? What should we all be paying attention to?


I'll be watching the Chapel Hill Town Council for some movement and action on truly streamlining the Town's arcane and chaotic development processes. This issue has been a theme we've seen from many members of the Council now, and I'm hoping 2014 will be the year we see some action to get some clear and accessible policy on the issue.I also hope, aspirationally, that the Council will use this as an opportunity to streamline the various citizen input processes that often accompany development processes. In 2013, we saw a different process for every single development, with citizen committees in some cases (Central West and Obey Creek) that were not at all identical, and another with an entirely different process (Glen Lennox). It's incredibly hard to get citizens to engage meaningfully when there is no standard process that's easy to understand, and it doesn't lend much confidence to town government when there is persistent confusion over what the process is and will be. 

The Glen Lennox redevelopment -- whose planning area includes the surrounding, closely associated single-family neighborhood -- had a detailed community process in 2010, '11 and '12. Penny Rich and I were the two Council liaisons. It was during those discussions that I first brought up the idea of using a Development Agreement for the redevelopment, because Penny and I had found the Carolina North D.A. process had worked well (especially given the challenges). The Glen Lennox events that you saw in 2013 were not small area planning (as was Central West), but the first phase of the Development Agreement process. If Obey Creek proceeds to the D.A. phases, then you could see meetings with some similarities to those held on Glen Lennox. Neither Obey Creek nor Glen Lennox are intended to be true small area planning processes, but they serve that purpose in some ways. I don't believe that we want a "one-size-fits-all" process for every part of town.   Ed Harrison

Will I or not?


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