Chapel Hill speaks out on the Downtown Development Initiative.

The Chapel Town Council has a big meeting tonight. I meant to blog about it in advance, but since I didn't I will start this thread and hope to post live comments as it goes along.

Here's the agenda. I'll stick with this at least through the Public Forum on the Downtown Development Initiative.

  1. Ceremonies:
    1. None.
  2. Public Forums and Hearings:
    1. Public Forum: Draft Chapel Hill 2035 Long Range Transportation Plan Socio-Economic Projections. (Staff Presenter: David Bonk, Long Range and Transportation Coordinator) [Estimated Time: 15 minutes]
    2. Public Forum: To Consider a Potential Change in Cablevision Public Access Fees Paid by Cable Television Customers. (Staff Presenter: Catherine Lazorko, Town Information Officer) [Estimated Time: 10 minutes]
    3. Public Forum: Downtown Development Initiative.(Presenter: Mayor pro tem Bill Strom, Negotiating Team Chair) [Estimated Time: 30 minutes]
  3. Petitions by citizens and announcements by Council members. [Estimated Time: 10 Minutes]
    1. Petitions by citizens on items not on the agenda.
      1. Inclusionary Zoning Task Force regarding the Task Force Report.
      2. Petition from Citizens for the Preservation of Lincoln Arts Center.
      3. Petition regarding the Completion and Priority of Widening Shoulders on Particular Roads.
    2. Petitions by citizens on items on the agenda.
    3. Announcements by Council members.
  4. Consent agenda: action items (R-1). (Any item may be removed for separate discussion at the end of the Council meeting.) [Estimated Time: 5 minutes]
    1. Nominations to various boards and committees (R-2).
    2. Resolution Amending Council Calendar (R-3).
    3. Telephone Franchise for BellSouth – First Reading (O-1).
    4. Resolution to Accept SAFER Grant Award and Amendment to 2006-2007 Budget (R-4) (O-2).
    5. Adoption of Composite Countywide Plan for Parks and Trails (R-5).
    6. Report on Developing Public Information Sign Program and Improving Street Name and Directional/Information Signs (R-6) (O-3).
    7. Clarification to the 2006-2007 Community Development Program (R-7).
    8. Request for Expedited Processing of a Concept Plan Proposal and a Special Use Permit Application for the Bradley Ridge Development (R-8).
    9. *Process to Appoint Members to the Hollow Rock/Erwin Road Property Park Planning Advisory Committee (R-8.1).
  5. Information items. (Any item may be removed for separate discussion at the end of the Council meeting.) [Estimated Time: 5 minutes]
    1. Quarterly Report.
    2. Report on Budget Process.
    3. The Peoples Channel 2006-06 Annual Report.
    4. Response to Petition requesting Bicycle and Parking Overlay Zones on Several Streets in Meadowmont Area.
    5. Report on the Operations of the Street Scene Teen Center.
    6. Orange Water and Sewer Authority Quarterly Report. (Continued from November 6, 2006 Meeting)
    7. Follow-up Report on Merritt’s Pasture Maintenance. (Continued from November 6, 2006 Meeting).
    8. *Update on Wireless Initiative.

Main Discussion

  1. Comprehensive Annual Financial Report. (Staff Presenter: Kay Johnson, Finance Department Director) [Estimated Time: 20 minutes]
  2. Fairway Hill Subdivision: Application for Preliminary Plat Approval (Staff Presenter: Gene Poveromo, Development Coordinator) [Estimated Time: 30 minutes]
    1. Continuation of a Public Hearing for a Preliminary Plat Approval at Fairway Hill Subdivision
      1. Swearing of persons wishing to present evidence
      2. Introduction of recommendation by the Manager
      3. Presentation of evidence by the applicant
      4. Presentation of evidence by citizens
      5. Comments and questions from the Mayor and Town Council
      6. Applicant statement regarding proposed conditions
      7. Motion to adjourn hearing.
    2. Consideration of resolution to approve a Preliminary Plat Application for Fairway Hill Subdivision (R-9a, b, c; d, e, R-9f would deny).
  3. Acceptance of Bid for Homestead Park Aquatics
    (R-10). (Staff Presenter: Bruce Heflin, Assistant Town Manager) [Estimated Time: 15 minutes]
  4. Southeast Chapel Hill/Southwest Durham Collector Plan (R-11). (Staff Presenter: David Bonk, Long Range and Transportation Coordinator) [Estimated Time: 20 minutes]
  5. Process for Revision of the Comprehensive Plan
    (R-12). (Staff Presenter: Gordon Sutherland, Principal Long Range Planner) [Estimated Time: 20 minutes]
  6. Appointments: [Estimated Time: 5 minutes]
    1. Orange Water and Sewer Authority Board of Directors.
  7. Petitions:
    1. By the Mayor and Council Members.
    2. By the Manager and Attorney.
  8. Reserved for discussion of consent agenda items if necessary.
  9. Request for closed session to discuss property acquisition, personnel, and litigation



I just logged on to start a thread live blogging the forum- guess you beat me by five minutes Ruby!

The council chamber doesn't look very crowded. Will a lack of folks speaking be taken as acceptance or apathy toward this project?

First up is CH Transportation Planner David Bonk with with the regional 2035 Long-Range Transportation Plan for Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and Durham. I think I was on a committee about this back when it was the 2025 plan...

This is actually very important stuff as it includes the potential route for fixed guideway transit as well as possible station areas and related projections about how housing and emplyment will grow here. Carolina North will have a huge impact on the success or failure of regional transit in Chapel Hill.

It is actually extremely crowded Ruby. Must just be the tv angle.

Glad you're on the scene in person, Tom! I can really only see the middle of the front rows from my sofa... ;-)

Haha we can tag team it. You can give the play by play and I'll be the sideline reporter.

The Mayor just asked if anyone wanted to comment on this "arcane" topic. I beg to differ! Transportation is vital and (while vague) the maps are proposing some thing that is easy to understand visually. The future is hottt.

Someone's actually commenting! I missed his name, but he made a very good point about the fact that these 2035 projections show the town growing at its edges and not at the center. This is a real concern. We need to have serious stations downtown.

And now Town Info Officer Catherine Lazorko is up to discuss Public Access Cable programming.

There are a ton of people standing in the back. This is about as crowded as I've seen the chambers before- it was more crowded when the gay haters from out of town came but other than that I think this might be the densest crowd I've seen (other than the front rows which people perpetually avoid for whatever reason.)

Lots of people who aren't the usual suspects too. It'll be interesting to see what they're here for.

Chad Johnston, director of The People's Channel is speaking now about TPC's activism and their budget. He does great work. Go Chad!

Well I guess I'm wondering what everyone who is here or watching this is wondering: what's on the People's Channel after 11 PM!?!?!

The growth is definitely asymmetrical along the corridors. I'm sure my neighbors would be surprised to find out that the Town considers the area abutting their backyards is a high-density development area.

We had a citizen come befre Council asking that the cable fee increase not go forward because of the filth she viewed the other night on Channel 8.

Bill Thorpe gave the woman a hard time because she called MLK Airport Rd. Very awkward. Noticeable grimaces among many in the room.

Mayor Foy seems somewhat resigned to the fact that 2C, downtown development, is going to take a lot of comment.

Bill Strom isnow introducing the DDI. It's pretty unusual for a Council Member to introduce an item instead of a staff person. This may be because Bill's negotiating team has been working on this since long before Manager Stancil was on hired.

Strom is reviewing the log history of meetings, charettes, hearings, etc on this project. I was personally involved in the design charette in 2002 and was pretty excited about the potential discussed then.

Bill is also building the case for a thorough review of the development process, I'm guessing partly to rebuff some of the coming criticism and also to defuse the $7.3 million shocker.

Here's the question I would ask if I was there in person:

The effectove transit is key to the success of a walkable and vibrant downtown. How are transit facilities being incorporated into this plan? I remember once hearing that the parking space could host a transfer center. Is this still a possibilty? How can the DDI support the local and regional transportation network?


Now the manager is doing his presentation about the DDI.

Lots of great details including floorplans, etc on this page:

The first speaker, Bernadette Keefe, is a strong supporter. She lives near Lot 5 and was on the Streetscape Master Plan Review Committee with me (and GeorgeC.)

First up, a downtown resident speaks about how downtown will benefit from this as it currently dead at some times of the day. She talks about all the great resources that are in close walking distance of lot 5 (where the DDI proposes to build a high-rise retail and housing facility). She says the town needs more residents to support these great amenities. I'd have to agree with this.

Now Will is up. I've got a dollar that says he's opposed to this.

"I'm not opposed to change downtown, but..."

Will cites the Height Monster and the cost.

Next speaker says we should trust the free market and not subsidize this project. Hmm.

Hey, it doesn't work out financially or align with the goals of the downtown plan.

Next speaker:

....Concern for creating a precedent of large buildings downtown. Tall buildings will destroy the spirit of Chapel Hill....We destroy the spirit and we're like everyother town in NC....

The next speaker says "we need to decide what we want downtown to be... a quaint village or a generic big city."

I hear this a lot, which is weird because the one thing the Council certainly has done is laid out a vision for a pedestrian-friendly, resident-friendly, transit-friendly, economy-friendly, and environment-friendly downtown.

Speaker cites Rosemary Village of how large developments should be hidden out of the way so they don't visually confront us so much. Wonder if developer Tom Tucker who is up next will agree.

Liz Parham of the Downtown Partnership is speaking for Tom. I expect she will support this.

Chad Johnston, Executive Director of the People's Channel, has educated Chapel Hill citizens and council immensely about the complexities of media law going thru State and National legislature. In these dark years with a FCC hell bent on allowing fewer owners of media we're lucky to have a humble expert who works hard to understand what's going on and can explain it to us.

The mission of the People's Channel helps fulfill a community value of Chapel Hill - rich resources for all citizens. 78 cents a month is a small price for us to pay to have a place that not only broadcasts community made media but will teach you how to-do it with their equipment!

Ruby, the cost jumped 15-fold. The Town said we weren't going to use TIFs to fund but the funding is essentially TIFs in all but name (removes property taxes from the fund). RAM repudiated their own PROMISE to eat construction costs. Wallace Deck, a major benefit of doing this project, is off the table.

Come on, this project is off the track... With the number and scale of changes in the financial underpinnings alone we should take our time to digest the consequences...

Will I was a member of the Downtown Small Area Plan committee. I honestly can't speak to the financing or the specific plans, but this TYPE of thing is pretty much in line with the town's goals.

The business folks are lining up to support this project even though the "business" justifications are shaky at best. Liz claims we need a plaza for the public to meet on - great, can we build a park instead of blowing what will start as $7.3 million but you know will grow...

The 137 new units (21 affordable) is a minor increase compared to the private developments already being discussed..

Josh Gurlitz is speaking at length (as usual).

Tim Jensen up next!

Tom want to live in this project... But can he justify the monetary outlays for one floor of a parking deck... He wants to buy milk downtown - doesn't want to walk up MLK - yet there's no grocery store component to Lot #5.

Tom speaks of the desire of many people (including himself) to live in a place where they can get to work easily (including by TTA) and meet their basic needs (including a grocery store) within a reasonable walk.

I couldn't agree more!

Next: Anita Badrock.

But you can get a gallon of milk at Kerr Drug.

And Will, certainly the chances of us getting a grocery store downtown would be increased by having a critical mass of people living there.

It's funny that Tom, Liz, Anita are all skipping over the increase in cost and the loss of the Wallace deck component.... Anita: "Is RAM a development a good partner?" RAM's Cumming's PROMISED to eat the escalating construction costs - but that didn't last... Anita talks of the taxes brought in by this project but the taxes for the foreseeable future will be redirected to paying off the debt....

Come on Tom, there's private developments on the table that far exceed the contribution of this project.

Anita makes a case for the business/economic benefits.

Now Scott Radway. How long do you think he'll talk past the red light?

I guess it's a grow at any cost world.

45 minutes :)

Whoops, especially when those costs are passed on to the community at large.

A 15-fold increase in costs is a minor change in the finances? Youch.

I think it's 6 in favor and 3 opposed so far.

Radway: "it's time that Chapel Hill gets on with the task being a small city..."

Ew, who is this lady talking like we need a "Mickey Mouse" or a "Broadway" to bring people downtown? Feh.

Laurie Paolicelli? She's the head of the Visitors Bureau.

Gack! "Multi-use center"...that's not the Lot #5 development sketched out this evening. A bunch of boutique "shoppes" is not going to attract folks from the lure of Southpoint. Now, if Council would just put back in the "affordable" local business component.

"Is this the kind of place you and your families would live..." "I think most of these quarters would end up student housing" (students like Tom? Hmmmm).

I'm not a student Will.

I'm sick of people acting like "normal" people don't live in this kind of housing. They need to visit Park Slope or Brooklyn Heights! Many urban areas are crawling with happy, healthy, middle class families. They just don't live in Chapel Hill *now* because we're too auto-centric.

It's funny but as this guy is covering the possible outcomes of having students housed here my mind started wandering towards the newest kind of NCD - a condo-development split in two ;-)

Alan is up with the wayback machine....

Tom, sorry, wrong demographic? Single (at least you didn't mention a room-mate) professional more appropriate?



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