Developers want more say?

Let me see if I've got this straight: Real estate developers want more say over real estate development?

The council is planning a 12-member committee with two Planning Board members, one Transportation Board member, one Sustainability Committee member, one Justice-in-Action Committee member, one business community representative and five citizens at-large. The petitioners, many of whom work in real-estate related fields, want to add six more members to represent: small businesses, downtown businesses, development professionals, large businesses, UNC-Chapel Hill and UNC Healthcare.

- OrangeChat: Business people want more representation on development task force, 5/4/09

I see.



Here's a link to the petition: here are the first four or five pages of signers as best I can make out their names:Griff Graves, real estate attorneyNancy Gabriel, former Chapel Hill Planning Board memberDoug Guthe, Scott Maitland, past Chamber of Commerce PresidentDave Ballentine, real estate developerTommy Watts, realtorLia Williams, realtorBill Williams, spouse of realtorMarc Pons, Chapel Hill TireScott Radway, development consultantJean GreerTom Higgins, real estate attorneyGeorge KoszalkaBeverly WilliamsKaren LewisTerry Woodfin, decoratorChris Woodfin, Blue CrossMichael RosenbergMark Hance, builderMike LewisGary Giles, architectRob Maitland, real estate attorneyPamela St. JohnStephen B Miller, attorneyErin Shalley DanielJon DeHart, mortgage brokerRobert JohnsonBruce Ballentine, real estate engineerAndrew HoogeNicole StrebelPaul StrebelThomas R. Holt, real esate attorneyPaige Jennings Zinn, marketing execGeorge Draper, downtown Chapel Hill landlordBillie PearsallBurt FoxJudith Tintinalli, medical doctorJoel I Levy, accountantJeremy Salemson, mortgage brokerWayne R. Hadler, real estate attorneyEric White, realtorDave NelsonMichelle Martin, realtorLee GlennOmar Zinn, real estate developerCarol Ann Zinn, real estate developerAdam Zinn, real estate developerCliff ButlerLauren Rivers, advertising agentGeorge Vanberg, UNC ProfKeith Pearsall, commercial insurance agentDana Pearsall, realtorKim Woodard, realtorCharley S?Barbara Levine, realtorNata Bozymski?, realtorJodi Bakst, realtorMichael Fox, realtorDianne Stabler, realtorCathy Walker, realtorDede Hall, realtorBarbarar Pipkin, realtorJohn Cowell, realtorVirginia Joines, realtorDonna Lloyd, realtorBi??a Huch?Vici Cook, realtorSusan Goldstein, realtorJennifer Williams, realtorLarry Tollen, realtor

Hey Mark or anyone else out there.  Can you tell me where I can learn more about the Aidan Court controversy? Jim

Jim, You might try searching the archives of the CHH or CHN using "Aydan Court", which is the correct spelling.  Also, I question whether the Council's decision was controversial other than to the developer and those working with her.  The decision to NOT rezone the property was done on a 9-0 Town Council vote and had been recommended by a 9-0 Planning Board vote (by way of full disclosure, I am currently the Chair of the Planning Board).  The developer was proposing 58 residential units on a property that abuts the environmentally-sensitive New Hope Creek Waterfowl Impoundment.  The proposed development would have required a waiver for the Town's Land Use Management Ordinance (LUMO) which currently allows building on up to 25% of the steep slopes.  The developer's plan would have built on 59% of the steep slopes.Some may call it controversial - many others don't.

Although the signatures on the petition seem to be heavily weighted toward the real estate community, the proposed representation the petition requests seems fair and well thought out.  I think both the local business community and UNC have a stake in answering the questions related to whether/how Chapel Hill should grow and where and when that growth should occur.  The Council obviously agreed in their action last evening.

It strikes me that unless we have the various stakeholders involved in this process, it it will have less credibility.  Isn't this exactly what citizens asked UNC to do when we started in on CN again for whatever iteration it was?

to avoid a powerful bloc on the committee. These people represent a lot of the same interests. The rest of the committee may represent a lot of other varied interests that could be overwhelmed by such a bloc. Also, it's not to big a leap to notice that these folks have not had much to say on the broad issues of sustainability, unless it affected their bottom lines. Obviously, this is happening all across the country - now that everyone is a sustainability booster - as business interests gird themselves to prevent  the dramatically changing realities of dwindling resources, pollution, and an uncertain energy future from affecting the way they want to do business. We'll hear about the poor, neglected economic leg of sustainability's three-legged stool & about the depth of their concern for affordable housing, & how they even have installed a compact fluorescent light bulb at their office. What we are not likely to hear from them is a commitment to a living wage, to switching to a clean energy future, and preserving water quality.

Mark,I understand what you're saying but we need to start the process with the assumption that everyone who serves on this task force, while they may have a particular interest they serve, is doing so with the intent to see Chapel Hill grow successfully while maintaining its quality of life.  If people don't come to this task force with that objective then the effort is doomed before it's even begun.  Since the Council will appoint task force members I believe that they will seek to appoint those people who they believe can retain their objectivity even while interested in promoting their particular interests. Let's not assume the worst before we've even started. 

who is to say that anyone who signed the petition will even be selected to serve.  And looking at the list, many of the people I know who are on there are at times miles appart on some of our fundamental issues. This group will never have a constructive debate on critical issues if each menber thinks that they have a monopoly on the "truth,"  whatever that is!I hope that the Council and the selected members do just as you suggest, George. 

A lot of these names have been in Chapel Hill a LONG LONG time.  My parents
bought  Bruce Ballentine's house in 1977 when we 1st came to CH.  I
went to high school with Omar and Barbara Levine and Pipkin's kids. 
 There's a huge difference between saying these folks should have a seat
at the table as opposed to the idiot owners who are ruining our
downtown from Fayetteville.  I have other (more recent) friends on this
list as well.  I honestly believe they have 1) a different,
interesting, and valid perspective than many of our town leaders and 2)
an interest in what is best for our community foremost (because they
are a part of our community).  Don't dismiss them just because of their

It doesn't seem like there is any harm in publicly acknowledging the nature of their interests in Chapel Hill's growth.  I assume they don't find this embarrassing or anything.

Forgive me if this is slightly off-topic, but it does pertain to input on development.  Does the county or any of the towns have in place any requirements about the preservation or mitigation of damage to historic properties? I know the federal government has oodles of legislation attached to federal money (such as the National Historic Preservation Act), but didn't know if there were any local guidelines for development.

The CH Council has a public hearing scheduled for the Fall regarding an adjustment to LUMO to discourage the demolition of historic structures.  I have a paper copy of the proposed ordinance change in hand but I can't seem to find it on the town website.Otherwise, I'm not aware of anything like NHPA that applies to private developments in NC.  Maybe ask the state Office of Archives and History?

You can't demolish a building in the Chapel Hill Historic District or in the Carrboro Special Appearance District without first obtaining a Certificate of Appropriateness from either the Chapel Hill Historic District Commission or the Carrboro Appearance Commission.  But it is not clear whether either of these bodies can deny you a Certificate simply because you want to demolish a house.  But I am not an expert on this.  I think Chapel Hill has some special rules, but they mostly cause a delay, rather than completely precluding demolition.  I suppose the changes that Jason mentioned are intended to deal with that problem.Hillsborough aslo has an Historic District and they have similar rules.

Is this only for buildings on the Nat'l Historic Register or for any building in a historic distric? And if there are no standing structures, is there a mechanism to see if there are potentially unknown sites there (e.g. a building once lived in by someone of local importance, a prehistoric site, or an example of unusual or historic architecture)?

This would be the case for any construction or demolition project in the CH Historic District or Carrboro Special App. Dist. - even something as simple as building a fence I believe.  I don't think there is any type of archeological analysis required, however.UNC sometimes does archeological digs before building new buildings depending on whether there is any indication that something notable was formerly on the site.  I believe a dig was done around Graham Memorial Hall (and perhaps some others) when the building was renovated a few years ago.  The site was once a tavern - one of the first taverns ever built in Chapel Hill, owned by Buck Taylor, a colorful local character: I think the archeologists found some interesting stuff, although I do not know the details.Also, generally speaking, NCDOT has to do that type of research before undertaking any major construction projects.  I am not aware of such a study being done on any project in Orange County (although there probably have been some and I am just ignorant).  Here is an example of one such study done in Chatham County on the former community of Lockville near where US-1 crosses the Deep River: meg download).

As I understand the law (and obviously, I am not a lawyer), "structure" in a local ordinance would not cover an archaeological site.  Even an historic structural foundation, for example, would not be covered by the ordinaces governing our local historic districts if it is subterranean.  The ordinances are designed to protect the appearance of structures, not historic/prehistoric data that might be gleaned from an excavation. The town of Bath has ordinance requring archaeological survey prior to development beyond the scope of the NHPA; you might investigate their rules.  I'm sure they had to have enabling legislation, but I have no idea if the legislation was town-specific or if it's something we can use locally.  At one point, the Office of State Archaeology was working with Orange County to develop a local ordinace here but I haven't heard anything about it recently.  I can give you the contact information for the person from the state who was working on it if you're interested.

This is more about buildings than land, unless the land in question is/was a burial ground.  In order to encourage a heightened awareness and appreciation of local architectural history, a small group of Carrboro volunteers is reaching out to owners of property that might be designated "historic" in terms of age and pedigree.  This is a town-endorsed program.  Info and applications are available at  Initial reactions included some fear of appearance-related regulations (paint, landscaping, etc.), which is not at all what the Historic Plaque Program seeks to impose.  We took a look at NHPA registration and decided that route would be far more trouble than we had in mind. 


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