Equality NC Action Fund Endorses in Chapel Hill Races

For the first time, Equality NC Action Fund has issued endorsements in key municipal races throughout North Carolina, including Chapel Hill. According to the announcement, they "evaluated candidates using multiple factors, including responses to an LGBT issue-based questionnaire, candidate interviews, public position statements, and past voting records."

Other municipalities included in this year's endorsements are Asheville, Charlotte, Durham, Fayetteville, Greensboro, Kure Beach, Raleigh, and Wilmington.

In the race for Chapel Hill mayor, Equality NC Action Fund endorses Mark Kleinschmidt for reelection.

In the race for Chapel Hill Town Council, Equality NC Action Fund endorses the following candidates:

  • Donna Bell
  • Michael Parker
  • Lee Storrow
  • Jim Ward

Read more about these endorsements here.



Don Evans-Obey Creek took 6 years to get aporved. That's hardly minimal fuss. It's an odd cycle. Anti-development candidates come in and make the proccess extremely arduous. The result being that only established firms with large capital reserves can possible grind out the proccess. Then the same people who created an enviornment where only somebody of Perry's gravity can compete are horrified that Perry is a major player is development. 

I have issues with the proccess that approved Obey Creek. However it's difficult to take CHALTs criticisms on good faith when, as has been ably demonstrated by numerous commentators here, CHALT seems to use the same rhetorical technique with each proposed development (again, concern trolling). 


Wasn't a large part of the delay the thrashing about over the 80 acres of conservation land the town back peddled on? I think that the reversal of a promise of conservation lands made by the town should be arduous. 

Perhaps the reason you see the same rhetorical arguments is that the same problems are reoccurring again and again? Could it be that the "trolling" is that the TC exhibits the same behaviors and thus elicits the same responses?

Roger is a red herring. He is a developer. His corporation’s sole purpose is to make money, and that is the way the system we live in works. The TC is supposed to represent the interests of the electorate and the issue is that many people think the TC has repeatedly failed in that regard.

i think if you examine Roger Perry's career including his dedicated service to UNC including Board of Trustees chair you'll see he's not just a developer. And if he's just a red herring why did I see references on a CHALT site to "East-West candidates" earlier this fall.  Come to Chapel Hill, serve the University, build buildings, then prepare to be pilloried by NIMBYs

Pilloried? Really? Poor Roger. You truely have me worred about him. Do you think he'll be OK?  Are you suggesting that he expects special dipensation because of his links to the University?

By red herring, I mean Roger is a distraction. The issue is not any individual service or business; all should be treated on an equal footing within their capabilities. The issue is the TC and its confusion about who they represent.

I did not say that CHALT PAC has been around since the mid-80s. My point was that it is the latest organizational iteration put forth by people have been banging this same drum since the 80s (not that they don't have new members). If that was unclear in my previous post I apologize but I have been consistently referring to CHALT as the 'latest iteration'

Sounds like a distinction without a difference. eom.

Really informative to read the back & forth here. Thanks to all who contributed.

One question that keeps coming to me is; What municpalities would we hold up (or would CHALT hold up) as being worthy of emulation? Or which municpalities have gotten it right?


Hi Mark,

This is just my opinion, I am not answering for CHALT or any candidate.

I think each town is different. Each has its own tension between growth and stability, each has different levels of income and values. Some are mill towns, some are hubs for politics, some are bedroom communities and some are college towns. Some are more than one thing at the same time. To me comparing one to the other for the purposes of politics is a distraction. I do think that the exercise of visiting other places as a source of ideas for land use, social programs and strategic partnerships, and morphing those ideas to the unique situation is a good one, but "getting it right" is not something that can be packaged up and emulated. I think that one characteristic that we should demand from any leadership is a clearly articulated plan to manage cumulative growth.

This brings me to a point I saw someone make elsewhere; Chapel Hill/Carrboro is developing in all areas simultaneously, North (The Edge), South (Obey Creek), East (Ephesus Fordham), West (potentially the Lloyd Farm and downtown (140 West and the Granville towers), yet I haven't seen any sort of master linkage or grand plan/strategic vision, before you point to Chapel Hill 2020, I see that more as a set of heuristics than any sort of plan (sustainability is not a "plan"). As a result of lacking a plan and vision of how things will look and operate when all of this development is completed development seems disconnected, ad hoc and arbitrary, which again I think contributes to the general feeling of uneasiness. 


Tony - you make good points on the inherent incomparability between unique municipalities. But the notion that municipalities can get almost all of what they want from development (short of no development) is difficult for me to accept. So, without there having to be an identical munipality out there to see as a model, I wonder which municpalities have threaded the needle with a commercial/residential mix that satisfies most of their citizens? My suspicion is that folks in different municipalities may be beating each other up for not achieving the unattainable.

Well I agree in a way. This is one of those situations where you know success by the universal lack of happiness. In fact I see that as the "glass half full" assessment of your original question.

Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Orange County are so lopsided on their dependence on property taxes that I think there is a really good case for much more commercial. That is one of the problems we face that are unique and we need to find our own way. I attenuate that sentiment by saying I think that Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Orange County can be much pickier than most on the type and tenor of the commercial development they permit.

I think that Carrboro and Orange County have not leveraged their strengths in this area and I hope to see new leadership begin to take an active role in recruiting and setting the bar a bit higher by negotiating less with generic developers and more with companies and industries themselves. By stepping up the efforts on entrepreneurship and keeping those that are successful.

1. "Ensure that new development does not worsen traffic congestion"  We cannot tell employers that they must hire people from only our community. We cannot tell people living outside CH that they cannot shop, dine, attend football games, basketball games, plays, camps, art events, concerts, etc, here. The world does not work that way.

2. “The town has not negotiated with developers on behalf of the citizens..” NCGA has severely limited the ability of every municipality in the state to ‘negotiate’ with developers.

3. “the town has stood by while developers have taken existing affordable housing off the market and replaced it with higher rent units..”  And how do you think the town could have stopped this?? Because the town is slow to approve NEW projects it has become very profitable for owners of older developments to upgrade existing residences and charge higher rents.  Want to stop this? Speed up the approval process and let the new stuff be built.

4. That the council may not negotiate as much affordable housing as you claim you want is not the same as the accusation that the council is ‘eliminating’ affordable housing. And no one builds inexpensive housing on expensive land. Banks will not give you a mortgage in that scenario. Land in CH is VERY expensive, partially due to the limitations of available land created by the rural buffer.

5.“..Town Council members consistently vote for development that includes 75 percent or more housing...”   Housing precedes retail. Opening a retail business without the presence of enough customers to support that business results in business closure. Housing has to come first.

6. “Sure, the official policy is CHALT supports development that "benefits the town", but in practice the logic is as follows:

1. Only new developments that "pay their own way" should be allowed.

2. Only new developments that don't increase traffic should be allowed.

3. Any new residences cost more in taxes than would be collected.  (They had a guy come and give a talk!)

4. Therefore there shouldn't be any new apartments or houses of any sort built because they would both increase traffic and raise taxes.

5. Therefore there shouldn't be any new retail built because it would increase traffic.”

I repeated this because it is so accurate.

7. “The CHALT supporters I've read all seem to think that the recent increase in development is some sort of nefarious plot by the current town council, not realizing that the pace of development is a factor of the economy.” Development is not only a matter of the economy, but of our General Assembly, who have long passed laws that favor development and developers. Even to the extent of passing a bill last session, proposed by a down-east lawmaker, that forced Durham to build water lines for development projects down 751. This after the people of Durham had voted against doing so.  Another example of limited town power--several weeks ago, a long N&O article on Chatham Park ended with comments from the developer; if the town of Pittsboro won’t approve their requests they could always go to the General Assembly and get Chatham Park chartered as a new town.  Yet another example : a few years ago NCGA issued threats to exempt UNC building plans from the Town’s approval process. Got room for one more? In recent discussion on the bill that would have killed the town's requirement for non-discrimination in housing for LGTB, some legislators were overheard to say if this didn't get done they were willing to pull the charters of any town that had such local laws. (Think of Charlotte, Raleigh, and CH without a charter. CHALT is so focused on Chapel Hill it has lost sight of the bigger picture.  NCGA gives developers what they want, and one town cannot stop that. Chapel HIll is doing very, very well considering the limitations on town power. We are a Dillon rule state; the town has only the power delegated to it by the General Assembly.

8. “I think these are citizens that are upset with the deafness of the town council to their concerns.”  CHALT members are not the only citizens talking to council. 

9. “Chapel Hill Alliance for a Livable Town doesn't advocate halting all development. “ Again, the only time anyone in town hears from CHALT is when they are against something, and that ‘something’ involves growth and change.

10. “I think history has shown that clustering low income housing has repeatedly been an abject social failure. “  Just something to think about. When one demographic is perpetually chopped into small pieces and parceled out in many different directions, that demographic does not coalesce and develop a leadership to step forward and speak for it. 

11. “While I agree with your assertion about walkable communities, My cursory view is that the commercial residential mix is insufficient to sustain a reduced vehicle community and the high rents are high making the walkable aspects affordable to a small number.”  This is ONE development we are talking about here--one development cannot meet  the town’s every need. This town is going to have vehicular traffic as long as there are cars.

12. “TC seems to be more interested in pushing things through than being representatives for issues and thinking about quality of life for the longer term, which also amplifies the concern in my mind.”  The Obey Creek process lasted 6 years.  No one can describe that as the council being in a rush to approve.  An approval process that long can never be described as a push for "Better, faster, cheaper." OR as a desire to “approve projects with a minimum of fuss.”

13. “The issue is whether those goals should be met by building out every remaining square inch as soon as possible or by taking a more moderate approach to growth.”  What may appear as “building out every remaining square inch as soon as possible” is simply a product of how little un-developed land remains within the rural buffer. It is going to go fast because there’s simply not much left. 

14. “It's the individuals who are running for election, not the group.”  No matter what is said, CHALT-endorsed candidates present the appearance of running as a slate. And they coordinate their activities, strategies and tactics together via email. 

Just a quick note: Southern Village is 300 acres with 90 acres of green space. That is not ‘dwarfed’ by 35 acres of Obey Creek, even if you add the 85 acres of open space.

Hi Vicki, You take so many of my quotes out of context then mix them up with assertions of your own it is difficult to respond. I suggest you do some more research; it should answer most of your questions. I do not represent CHALT so I will not respond to your comment there, except to say I agree with them that the current TC has done a poor job of voter representation and has been ill prepared for the development they have approved. I expect you will vote you conscience and hopefully that will help to make you less upset.

Some of your statements are not clear to me especially about vacant land in the rural buffer, but you know OWASA is prohibited from bringing water and sewer there so I would not worry too much about that. As far as limited land to build on, that is the issue isn’t it? Do you want to take up more land as a bedroom community and export the sales tax base, or do you want to carefully consider the retail and commercial potentials develop and attract good businesses so people live and work in their community?

A couple of comments;

First, you do know that that Orange County/Chapel Hill is first or second in per capita income and somewhere down in the seventies or eighties in county sales tax income don't you? What does that tell you about the ratio of commercial and residential, or demand for commercial? Recently the sales tax side of the ratio has increased but at least some of that increase is the higher sales tax rate and the recovery such as it is. Vicki, the numbers show housing has already preceded retail for decades, but we are still waiting for the retail. I suggest we need to do better in the regard and building additional +80% residential is not sustainable from a tax perspective.

Second, are you suggesting Obey Creek, EF the Edge etc. were approved by the TC under duress from the NC Leg or the developer’s threat to take it to the NC Leg? I was not aware of that and it was not publicized well if that is the case. It not clear to me if you think all of this development is truly a good idea or if you are somehow resigned by the NC Leg decisions on 751. Are you a lobbyist? Do you have some inside information on this? If so I would be very interested.

Third, I think that the reference to the size of Obey Creek is the size of the buildings and total square footage is larger than South Point mall, if you like what is going on over at South Point, then you'll love Obey Creek.

Fourth, I guess you did not read or understand anything about the history of “better, faster, cheaper”, if you had I do not think you would be arguing that time necessarily equals a quality decision, in point of fact time and resources can also lead to very bad decisions. Understand please that in design there are essential complexities and accidental complexities. Essential complexities cannot be overcome by time or resources and the only solution is a rigorous engineering process using independent subject matter experts and lots of creativity and thought. Accidental complexities are most often ones created by ignoring or trying to bypass the essential ones. The process at Obey Creek and other projects has been less than rigorous and although there has been lots of data, the data has been compromised by the lack of diversity in sources. Most people agree that Chapel Hill’s Form Based coding is far from mature and does not cover land use; therefore there are huge potential gaps in understanding complexity between physical structures vs. impacts to surrounding areas. The TC has relied upon data from the developers themselves and if that is not an accidental complexity, I do not know what is.

Since I you know who i support and endorsed  and plan to vote for CHTC, here goes the same for the school board, Gregg Gerdau,  Rani Dasi, Margaret Samuels, and Pat Heinrich. Gary Kahn



Community Guidelines

By using this site, you agree to our community guidelines. Inappropriate or disruptive behavior will result in moderation or eviction.


Content license

By contributing to OrangePolitics, you agree to license your contributions under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.

Creative Commons License

Zircon - This is a contributing Drupal Theme
Design by WeebPal.