Priscilla Murphy's blog

Chapel Hill 2020, Carolina North: Serious Questions

In the context of concern about development of neighborhoods proximate to Carolina North, about last night's (3/20) session: 

A threat?  There's much to be wary of, not the least the strong implication that unless we accept fairly sweeping increases in commercial use and density in the very near future along MLK, Estes, 15-501 and 54, we will bring down the wrath of economic gods on us -- making property values plummet and real estate taxes skyrocket.  Of course, the consultants do not use such threatening terminology, and words like "modest" obscure the true extent of alterations in critical neighborhoods. 

Lining the corridors?  The dice are heavily loaded in favor of thinking first in terms of transportation corridors to serve commercial interests and on that basis planning neighborhood changes to best serve those corridors.  This is being framed as if it's the rest of the town saying "leave us alone and just develop along 'major corridors."  A politically savvy spin, pitting potential NIMBYs against each other, but there's more going on than that.

Planning for the Carolina North "Apron" -- Carts and Horses

Does anyone remember how all those charts and graphs of Carolina North never showed much about what lies outside the campus -- i.e., the rest of the town and county?  I remember thinking, "hey, the world doesn't end along the MLK/Airport Rd. median strip!"    Town planners seemed much exercised about the general town-wide impact of CN, but there seemed to be a general shrug about the impact on proximate neighborhoods except from the point of view of bus and bicycle lanes. 

Overcrowded Schools, New Home Construction, and Existing Inventory

It's being reported that school overcrowding "threatens" a moratorium on construction of new homes in Chapel Hill and/or Orange County. Meanwhile, the number of "for sale" signs for existing homes in our neighborhoods are proliferating, as old listings languish and new listings appear.

I was unable to find (after an admittedly quick search) current stats for the number of houses on sale in the various school districts or for the average time a house sits on the market -- probably not numbers that local realtors consider very happy. (Did find reference to an approx. 9% vacancy rate for Chapel Hill, but not certain what that includes -- commercial? residential? both?)

However, it doesn't take a lot of scrutiny to know that there are an unprecedented number of existing houses for sale -- far more than are likely to be built new in the next year, I'd bet. And in the likely event that every one of those houses -- or even half of them -- were sold to families with children by September, the schools would have a difficult time accommodating them.

Library and Museum

Another bit of woolgathering speculation, this time prompted by headlines about the closing of the Chapel Hill Museum and letters linking it with the funding voted for library exansion as an either-or choice. 

In the town where I grew up, one room of the library was devoted to town history, a full gallery of maps, artifacts, letters, photos, etc.  In the process of visiting libraries for some academic research, I discovered that many town libraries house town-history collections of varying scope, often showcased around the building if not featured in a specific room.

The Mill on the Carolina North Floss

As we watched the oily horror spread through the Gulf, some fiendish homeowner's demons launched a shock-and-awe assault on the homefront, leaving us at one point without hot water, air-conditioning, television, all kitchen privileges, or garage door opener.  We particularly missed the A/C as six behemoth heaters and dehumidifiers blasted hot air throughout kitchen and living room.   Our savings have taken a breathtaking hit, soon to be eased somewhat by a low interest credit union equity-line-of-credit.  (We need more credit unions and fewer ... but that's another blog.)

The link between the oil spill and the pushme-pullyou of A/C vs. floor-drying machines hit me like that hot slap of air on emerging from an air-conditioned building into 98-degree heat -- and it did so as I was looking across Penobscot Bay at 3 windmills on an island. And I'd noticed several others have popped up, more or less one at a time, around the Boston area, NH, and Maine. 



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