Moving forward for the IFC

Last Monday night (March 21st, 2011) the Interfaith Council finally made it through the Special Use Permit process to present their plans for a Men’s Homestart-like Transitional Housing Facility.

The process of finding a location for a men’s facility has been going on for over two decades. In that time, many potential sites have been considered and each time discarded after vigorous complaint by potential neighbors.

This time, IFC has gone through the rigorous Special Use Permit (SUP) process with a higher level of scrutiny by town residents than most SUPs receive. The application has now been unanimously approved by all necessary advisory boards, including the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, Planning Board, Community Design Commission, Transportation Board, and Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board.

Those against siting the facility at 1315 MLK reiterated the same arguments on the 21st as they have been making since the site was selected. I have listened to those arguments and I do not agree. I understand that many have fears and some fears will only be allayed once the facility has gone up and neighbors see that the facility is a good neighbor.

Is the 1315 site perfect? NO, but is it OK? YES. We cannot let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Our neighbors in need of these services deserve more.


I completely agree. Thanks so much for articulating this, Molly.

I hope people can move on to a conversation about how to make the shelter and the neighborhood both as successful as possible.

I appreciate this Molly, and agree wholeheartedly.Picking the "best" site isn't a luxury that anyone gets - not the IFC, not the town, and not even the university. The question on the table is whether the proposed transitional housing facility is a reasonable use of the property. I think it is. I just don't believe the IFC is going to be a bad neighbor.  I have confidence that their staff, volunteers, and residents know how high the expectations placed upon them are, and I don't have doubts that the town will deal with any issues as they arise.

The most immediate neighbor to the location also agrees: "Not every neighbor in this sector of Chapel Hill has had the Inter-Faith Council as a neighbor for 30 years, but United Church has. We welcome them to be our neighbor again."More:

Thanks for this posting, Molly. I agree that it will probably take some time of operation for the scared homeowners nearby to realize they are not in danger. If their property values go down it would be the result of their own actions.But, out of focus at this time is the realization by all of us that the IFC homeless shelter as an overnight refuge is CLOSING. The new transitional Community House, when built, may have no overnight program or only a 17 bed emergency capacity.I will say as I've said before, the IFC is not responsible for this problem, and no one is standing in the wings to volunteer themselves as a solution. It will probably be quite a while before an approved Community House is built and going, and that's basically the time we have for an answer.We can say right now that the defacto plan is: underpass, jail, alley and bench. Long long ago there was the plan to house overnight homeless in churches. A few churches even did it, for a short while. Great relief on the part of all when the IFC opened the shelter on Rosemary.....well, not including our downtown merchants.So, what do we do? Who's responsible? Ain't nobody heah but us chikins... 

Last year I went to one of the monthly meetings of the 10-year plan to end homelessness advisory group and pleaded with them to help facilitate a community discussion. I've issued the same plea in communications with the town council. It's not happening. The topic is too controversial, the homeless don't vote or support economic development, and there is no easy solution. Homelessness is a community issue, but we've passed it off to the IFC as if it was theirs alone.  

"If their property values go down it would be the result of their own actions."I'm not so sure that statement is true. When buying a house, you usually look at what it around the house. Water treatment plants, power lines, parks, parking lots, abandoned buildings, etc. all have the potential to make a property less desirable. I'm sure a homeless shelter isn't going to be a selling point.

But, for example, the unfounded and unfair attacks from Parkside residents on Freedom House have served only to drag down both Freedom House and Parkside.  And that is the fault of those who are on the attack, not Freedom House.

Mark C.,This is a situation where you clearly have not spoken with the neighbors to quantify the impacts of Freedom House and the expansion.  The Pavics who spoke at the hearing moved because the expansion increased light, noise, and other impacts on their property.  Even the OC board of adjustment reduced their property value due to the impacts. Residents in Rainbow Heights with whom we have spoken have had numerous issues with Freedom House.  Perhaps you should walk around and talk to them before making a clearly uninformed statement.Please provide the basis for your statement.  Have you spoken with the neighbors yourself?  Do you have a study or set of interviews at your disposal?  Perhaps Carrboro can take on the emergency shelter upstairs at the proposed soup kitchen?  Will Raymond has mentioned that, but he doesn't participate on OP anymore.

Maybe you & your neighbors could substantiate yours?  Freedom house has been there for 30+ years and provides a critical service to our community.  You moved there when?  Professionals in the Substance Abuse Recovery field tell me that Freedom House is the only facility of its kind and helped thousands and thousands to find freedom from addiction. Is Freedom House perfect? I doubt it, but then again who is? 

Mark C.,Freedom House expanded a couple of years ago.  Their expansion increased the impacts to the contiguous neighbors in terms of light, noise, and traffic due to the larger number of outpatient clients that are being served. The public housing and the adjacent Parkside neighbors have had issues with leering, drinking, language used to children, and trash.  One neighbor reported in a public hearing in 2009 that his family had an encounter with a large group from Freedom House. Another reported seeing prostitution. The Rainbow Heights residents are fearful that discarded beer and licquor bottles are going to get them into trouble as a public housing residents.So there are a couple of take home points here.  The first is that this area is already impacted by at risk social services.  Just because the service is already there does not mean that you ignore the impacts when siting new facilities. The second point is that you are making strong claims for which you appear to have no basis.  If you have some facts which support your position that there are no impacts, then let's hear them.  You said "the unfounded and unfair attacks from Parkside residents", so please substantiate this.  You are an attorney, right?  And an elected official? Seems like you would have a basis for making such a strong statement.

The strongest claim I made is that y'all are attacking Freedom House, which you plainly are.  For evidence, I refer you to your own testimony at the public hearing two Monday nights ago.  I have acknowledged that Freedom House isn't perfect.  Can I help you set up a meeting with the folks that run the program there?  If need be, I am sure that the staff at the Dispute Settlement Center would be happy to facilitate the discussion. 

Mark C,Please cite the actual statements which you believe rose to the level of being an "attack".  What I heard was neighbors talking about existing impacts, which are legitimate conversations when talking about carrying capacity for a proposed development. This drive-by tactic of painting conversation a certain way without facts to substantiate your statement is not the correct way to carry on this conversation.

I have no interest in re-listening to the public hearing to pull out your quotes (and your neighbors').  It was painful enough the first time.  Besides, there is no need to go to the tape; you have characterized Freedom House as a bad neighbor several times on OP on this very thread.  I see that as an attack on Freedom House. If you aren't trying to attack Freedom House, then why not take me up on my offer to help arrange a facilitated meeting between Parkside and Freedom House?

Mark C,Most folks have a few increments between "praise" and "attack", but your comments indicate that you do not.  The neighbors laid out their case the other night in a civil and respectful manner. Please let us know when you are ready to substantiate your claim of an "attack", particularly now that you are repeating it more frequently.  Is it fair to say that anyone who does not support a particular project in Carrboro is "attacking" the other party?  Or is this categorization reserved for citizens whose position differs from yours?Thanks,Mark P.

So, that is a 'no' to mediation?

You haven't substantiated any actions which require mediation: no verbal attacks, no alleged assaults with a car, nothing.You continue to dodge legitimate questions.

First you said there were issues between Freedom House and its neighbors.  Now you say there is no issue to be mediated.I think having the parties meet to explore solutions would be constructive - assuming that the affected parties are interested in finding solutions.

@ Mark C .In the interest of helping those in need, why not step up and ask IFC to move the facility to Carrboro ? In the interest of fairness, then Carrboro would be carrying part of of the social services obligation instead of the  majority of these services being concentrated in a small section of Chapel Hill.  I know Mark Peters personally, he is not a mean spirted person and is not trying to attack anyone .

Carrboro has been the home of IFC's offices and distribution services for years. They are also home to Club Nova, directly across from the IFC offices. And IFC is planning to move the soup kitchen (a name almost as revolting as 'shelter') and their intake services to the IFC facility in downtown Carrboro. The day labor area is just a few blocks down. And they do all this within spitting distance of daycares  and an elementary school without incident.

I submit these maps as an example. This shows using roads and not the driveway, so I would guess it was less than the 57 second walk from the proposed Shelter to the Park and at least 10 minutes to Carrboro Elementary from the Soup Kitchen. 

Carrboro Map

Proposed Location Map

My issue here is Freedom House.  I think it is a great institution and I don't think it is being treated fairly.  Freedom House has helped and is helping thousands of people find a way to live without reliance on drugs and alcohol.  I think that is great. 

They do not allow addicts not getting treatment to reside in the facility, even in emergencies. Freedom House does a good job getting people off drugs and back into society.

Mark P,You stated "The Pavics who spoke at the hearing moved because the expansion
increased light, noise, and other impacts on their property.  Even the
OC board of adjustment reduced their property value due to the impacts." According to the OC Tax Assessor's records, the valuations for the Pavics' property were $237,942 for years 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008 and $292,701 for years 2009 and 2010.  The Freedom House expansion was approved in 2007.  So when exactly did OC reduce the valuation on the Pavics property?  



Mark,A reduction in valuation would only occur if it was requested by the owners and since 60% of taxpayers that applied for reductions in their assessments last year got them, I suspect the reduction was just as likely based on the downturn in the real estate market as to any proximity to Freedom House.

I don't really have a dog in the fight, but your response isn't fair George.  You asked for proof that an owner's property assessment had gone down, and Mark provided it.  You were not involved in the appeals process, so it isn't fair for you make a blanket assumption that validates your position.  For all you know, the only argument that the Pavic's made in their appeal was the proximity to Freedom House - - - to make a blanket statement that 60% of people got their reduced because of a real estate downturn, so they must have as well, isn't fair to the conversation.

Check the board of adjustment minutes.  The adjustment was added "for the proximity to Freedom House".

Mark,Would you please provide the link to those minutes.  The OC Board of Adjustment doesn't handle tax assessment appeals, the Board of Equalization and Review does.  But I couldn't find anything in their minutes for this property.

George, you are right that it is the Board of Equalization and Review. But it is right there in the minutes for the date Mark gave: a 5% reduction in value due to proximity to Freedom House. It is near the end on the last page at

Jan,Thank you for providing the link.  I had gone all the way back in the minutes to the month (August) which followed the month at which the decision was issued.  Mark is correct that the adjustment (5% decrease) was made based on the proximity to Freedom House.


I wonder whether the Board of Equalization is really even allowed to consider that issue given the terms of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

From the Freedom House Expansion SUP

Tonight, the Council continues consideration of a Special Use Permit
Modification application proposing to construct 18,300 square feet of new floor
area and 30 new parking spaces on the Freedom House facility. Freedom House, a
group care facility, is located on the west side of Martin Luther King Jr.
Blvd. between Parkside Subdivision and Homestead Community Park.  

This was not adding a ramp to a building.  You are going to have to be more specific with regards to your theory that ADA grants a facility the right to unlimited expansion and unlimited impacts to adjacent property owners.

I said the Americans with Disabilities Act, but I meant the Fair Housing Act. The Fair Housing Act says: "It shall be unlawful ... in residential real estate-related transactions to discriminate ... because of ... handicap ... Residential real estate-related transaction . . . means ... appraising of residential real property." Here's that text without my edits:42 U.S.C § 3605 - Discrimination in residential real estate-related transactions

(a) In general It shall be unlawful for any person or other entity whose business includes engaging in residential real estate-related transactions to discriminate against any person in making available such a transaction, or in the terms or conditions of such a transaction, because of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin.(b) ''Residential real estate-related transaction'' defined As used in this section, the term ''residential real estate-related transaction'' means any of the following:
(1) The making or purchasing of loans or providing other financial assistance -
(A) for purchasing, constructing, improving, repairing, or maintaining a dwelling; or(B) secured by residential real estate.

(2) The selling, brokering, or appraising of residential real property.

I'm no lawyer, have never played one on TV, and did not stay at a holiday inn express last night.  But, I'm not really sure waht on earth you're getting at Mark . . . in fact, I'm pretty sure that FHA is completely irrelevant to the conversation.Freedom House was not discriminated against by an assessor or board (unless you count having hurt feelings because a neighbor got their assessment dropped).  Also, while people are certainly temporarily living there, I don't think that Freedom House enjoys any form of protection under Fair Housing laws.  It's not residential real property . . . it's a commercial building in a commercially zoned area.  Yes, it's providing an inpatient rehabilitation service, but, again, it's not in any way, shape, form, appearance, or anything else what one would consider "residential real estate". 

I understand your question, Chris.  And I admit the connection is not an obvious one, so allow me to clarify by using race as an analogy (not because race is a factor in the Freedom House example, but because handicap and race are treated the same under the Fair Housing Act).So, for example, deflating the appraisal of a residential property because the neighbors are African-American would clearly be a Fair Housing Act violation.  Similarly deflating the appraisal of a residential property because the neighbors are disabled would also be a clear Fair Housing Act violation.  I believe that people recovering from substance abuse problems are considered to have a handicap under the terms of the Fair Housing Act, so I am fairly (but not absolutely) certain that reducing the appraised value of a residence (the former home of the Pavics) because it is close to people with substance abuse problems (Freedom House) would be illegal.  However, as I read the statute, deflating the appraisal of the property because it is near a parking lot or a large or unusual looking building would be lawful (if done without regard to what the parking lot/building were being used for).  So if I understand the FHA correctly (which I may well not), the legality of the Board's decision would depend on EXACTLY WHY they reduced the value (i.e. whether Board was acting on the proximity of recovering substance abusers or on the proximity of the parking lot/building or perhaps some other reason).I haven't read the case, but United States v. American Inst. of Real Estate Appraisers, 442 F.Supp. 1072, 1079 (N.D.Ill.1977), appeal dismissed, 590 F.2d 242 (7th Cir.1978) is cited on the internet as an example of a Federal Court decision holding that deflating appraisals because of the race of neighbors is illegal. 

I now understand how you arrived at your decision, Mark.  Thanks for clarifying.  Now that I understand, I'll still go out and say that I still don't think that FHA would be in affect.  First and foremost (again, please remember that I'm not an attorney, nor, quite honestly, do I have the time to do the research), you have to sell me that addiction falls under the heading of handicap or disability.  I'll conceed that "sickness" could be an appropriate term, but, frankly, I don't believe that drug or alcohol addiction would legally be described as an "handicap" or "disability".  I have some experience in venue management, and therefore some familiarity with ADA restrictions, and none of included accomodations for those with alcohol or drug addicitions.  Frankly and personally, I refuse to consider addicition as a "disability" or "handicap".Secondly, it comes back to my earlier posting, and that is that for discrimination to occur under FHA, I believe that you have to establish the neighbors (in this case, Freedom House) as a "residence" to establish that they have been disriminated against.  Again, I will argue that Freedom House fills no legal (or common sense) definition of what we consider to a "residence".  I think the wild card would be how does FHA apply in your race example if the complaint was about a neighboring African-American church (not residents).  If FHA comes into play in that scenario, then I'll agree that you've got a case there -- assuming one defines addiction as a disability.

but you would be a good one if you were.  I am also not sure about some of the finer legal points involved.  In any case, the violation, if there was one, is more or less a technical one re:Freedom House.  And I am sure the Board of Equalization would be quick to say that the reduction was because of the proximity of Freedom House, rather than because of the activity being carried out at Freedom House (substance abuse recovery).But I am surprised that they weren't a little more careful about how the decision was recorded in the minutes cited above (if only to err on the side of caution). As worded the minutes leave some room for interpretation about the Board's intent - and it was probably totally unnecessary to be ambiguous.  In any case, we're far from the topic at hand, so i will leave this topic here.  Also the text column available for further response is getting ridiculously narrow - at least it is  on my netbook.

Agreed with all of the above . . . that was a fun exercise of the brain.

Actually, George, you tend to bait people. So please stop. I know the Pavics and the facility does loom over their house. Also the people smoking at the backdoor of the facility in the evening is quite annoying.Until you come visit their property, you have no idea what you're talking about.

Steve,If you had continued to read the whole thread you would have seen that I pulled up the link suggested by Mark (and correctly given by Jan) and I acknowledged that Mark's assertion was correct in that the lowering of the valuation on the Pavic's property was indeed made due to its proximity to Freedom House. 

According  to public records the Pavics are happily ensconced in a more upscale subdivision since February so hopefully they’ll recover from the Freedom House invasion. You might ask, did they have to sell their Parkside home at a loss? No. They got more than they paid for it which is no small thing in this economy. Indeed, in this economy it is a big thing that they could sell the home at all.Having worked with the Orange County Tax assessor’s office for 28+ years I can tell you the Board of E & R would give you 5% off your proposed value for just asking, or passing wind. It is not clear from the meeting notes that there’s  something wrong with the people in Freedom House.  The most likely source of any discount would be the proximity of the residence to an institutional use building. It doesn’t matter whether the building was Coach K’s  granddaughter or Freedom House, there’s always a risk (on the developers part) to building a residence next to a institutional use.Bottom line, show up at a reval (staff or board) early and they’ll give you 5% just to get your behind out of the meeting and get on to the next case. Disclosure and hint: The Chair of that committee at that time is a good friend of mine.If there is a problem between residents they should take up Mark C's idea of mediation. Is it ok to smoke outside there?George a baiter? To quote my granddaughter, LOL. Here fishy, here fishy. 

Bottom line, show up at a reval (staff or board) early and they’ll give
you 5% just to get your behind out of the meeting and get on to the next
case. Disclosure and hint: The Chair of that committee at that time is a
good friend of mine.

Roscoe, please help me understand what you are saying.Are you suggesting that the reason which is legally stated in the minutes is false?  Is the hint that there is some admission pertaining to this particular case?And you are suggesting that a family who moves because they have been impacted by a facility expansion somehow negates said impacts simply because they have moved to a new house? 

Sorry I was not clear, Mark. My point was that using the 5% reduction in value for the parkside homeowner because of Freedom House reads more in to that decision by the E&R Board than was stated in the minutes. It was brought up by opponents to imply there was something wrong with the inhabitants of the property rather than the proximity of the expansion building to the parkside owner's home.My other point was that siting a 5% value reduction and then selling the property for more than the homeowner paid for the property is "MORE Info" that was needed in this discussion. Obviously someone thought the property was ok and bought it. I am suggesting that the family that moved was not financially damaged by the facility expansion, as they suggested, so impacts are relative.The reason stated in the minutes is not an issue of truth or false, but of relevance. I suspect the reason was suggested by the homeowner and not the E&R Board, and the adoption of that reason by the board with a 5% reduction reflects a whatever attitude on the part of the few board members that were there.

Yet another post where the substantive issues are simply waved off rather than being discussed.

There were a number of concerns raised with this site regarding overconcentration of at risk services, the proximity of the facility to other sensitive uses, the backroom deal that led to this site selection, the amount of public money that is going to fund this project which received no public input, and yet these are glossed over in this blog entry. 

But, out of focus at this time is the realization by all of us that the IFC homeless shelter as an overnight refuge is CLOSING. The new transitional Community House, when built, may have no overnight program or only a 17 bed emergency capacity.

IFC has always called this a "relocation". The "closing" talking point is not substantiated by IFC's statements nor by the fact that the facility in the new location will continue to have emergency shelter beds. The new facility is BOTH a transitional facility AND an emergency shelter. 

The most immediate neighbor to the location also agrees: "Not every neighbor in this sector of Chapel Hill has had the Inter-Faith Council as a neighbor for 30 years, but United Church has. We welcome them to be our neighbor again."

Among the at least 1,200+ adult citzens who oppose this project, there are many UCC members who oppose this project. At least one spoke out during the hearing and others have emailed the town.

The proposed site will allow sex offenders to stay in the emergency
shelter, but will deny sex offenders from receiving transitional
services - the worst of both worlds.  Is the UCC preschool discussing this issue with its parents?  Have they had any discussions with preschool parents?

It is interesting that the town council discussed 4 *temporary* library sites and there was no public discussion about siting the third at risk facility in one fifth of a square mile with a 60 year lease.  It is interesting that the shaping of CVS gets much discussion on OP and it is not even a publicly funded project and is not on public land and yet this shelter with $2.3M of likely funding on public land received no public siting process. The town won't even insure that the Homestead Park area will stop receiving at risk services after this facility is sited. The Homestead At Risk Campus is the "chosen area" for concentrating overnight at-risk services.In the future, perhaps we can break out some of the major issues and the political and $$$ motivations and actually discuss them.

On March 9, 2011, Mark Peters wrote a guest column entitled "Most Oppose Shelter" for the Chapel Hill News. The basis of his column was a UNC student survey of the neighbors surrounding the proposed site for Community House. The results of the survey were not published, prompting Mark to write "My theory is that it didn't pan out the way they hoped." In other words, he was accusing the students of squashing data because they did not yield their preferred results.Working through the institutional research board (IRB) at UNC, I now have a copy of the the proposal and the data collected by the students. I have had no communication with the students, however, from reviewing their proposal and their collected data, it is clear that they did not receive the response they expected. They expected a 30% response rate, but got a 24.8% return (124 out of 500). In social science research studies, less than planned for results frequently mean the statistical response is not significant, e.g., it is not possible to make any valid claims of meaning. Typically survey research likes to get a 33% response rate.So using data that would typically be excluded as meaningful, Mark proceeded to make certain claims. At the end of the column, he summarized by saying "The bottom line is that 80 percent of those who live within a mile of the proposed relocation oppose it."Not only is this claim unfounded based on inadequate data, it also fails to tell the story of the data that was collected. According to the students results, if safety restrictions were guaranteed, such as  increased police patrols, increased lighting in the park, emergency phones in the park, good neighbor contract, 34% of respondents would support the facility, 23% would need more information, and 42% would still oppose the move. This is a far-cry from 80% opposition. But as I said, the data is inconclusive.I understand Mark and his neighbors opposing this move. I doubt if there is a single neighborhood in this community that would collectively embrace any kind of social service agency. My purpose in posting this information is to correct any impression that UNC students run their research through a preconceived filter. That would be unethical and unprofessional. Original column:

In being fully transparent, we provided the survey materials from our public records request in their
entirety with the evidence on 3/21. The town will likely publish this
evidence soon. Question 2 asked what percentage support or oppose the relocation and 78% said that they oppose it.  

I doubt if there is a single neighborhood in this community that would collectively embrace any kind of social service agency. 

Herein lies an important mischaracterization of our neighborhoods. We
have social services, such as a large drug detox, a woman's shelter,
and public housing.  It is time for another part of Chapel Hill to do
their part.  The ultimate NIMBYs are those who support placing all of
the at risk services in one tiny area in someone else's back yard.  The
quoted statement completely ignores the existing services.

They expected a 30% response rate, but got a 24.8% return (124 out of 500).

Surveyors routinely calculate the margin of error based on the return
surveys and the response in section A.4.8 of the IRB materials was no
different.  They "hoped" for a return rate of 30% but did not make that
response rate a gating factor on publication of the results. 

My purpose in posting this information is to correct any impression that
UNC students run their research through a preconceived filter.

Terri's comments have not identified the rationale by the students not to publish.  Nor does it disprove my previously stated theory.  

Yes, there was a question that asked whether survey respondents supported or not having Community House on Homestead Rd and the majority said they did not support it. But one of the next questions asked what needed to be done to make the facility more acceptable (additional lighting, etc.) and the next question after that one, the one I described in my first post), asked how respondents would feel if those mitigations were put in place. Those are the numbers I reported on. Mark selected one question asked early in the survey that gave extreme support (80!) to his case of opposition. But that is falsification of the data when the more encompassing results were far less supportive of his stated position.There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that the students failed to publish their results for any reason other than the "no significant difference" effect due to getting less than acceptable returns. It is simply unacceptable to misuse data collected by young people just starting their professional lives and then villifying them in the process.   

Terri, you are misunderstanding and greatly overstating the importance of the response rate. A 25% response rate in this kind of survery is actually very good. The fewer number of respondents would contribute to a higher margin or error or fewer statistically significant differences between groups of respondents. But the conclusion is pretty clear: there is little doubt that a large majority of the residents oppose the shelter without any mitigation and that a smaller number oppose the shelter given extensive mitigation.I also think that it is unfair to say that Mark falsified the data when he cited only the question that best supports his case and you cited only the question that best supports your case.

Jan, you are misunderstanding the problem. Mark publicly accused the
students of hiding results that did not align with their personal
beliefs. And yet, in reviewing the results and talking with the IRB
manager, the failure to publish is obviously due to the low response
rate. (My doctoral work is in educational research and I've taken additional training in survey methodology but I confirmed my suspicions with an outside reviewer to make sure that my own biases were not influencing my assessment.) The researchers selected the total number of surveys to distribute
(500) in order to get an acceptable and representative return, assuming
that a 30% return rate would allow them to generalize the results. They
didn't get it. Non-significant results. It's basic survey methodology
101.You are welcome to think I am being unfair to Mark. I disagree. But please note, that my real issue here is with Mark's accusation that the students were hiding results. For him to then turn around and misrepresent their data was just an additional insult.

I should have been more clear that I agree that Mark's assumption that the students did not release their results due to bias is unfair to the students. But I have an extensive background in survey research (>10 graduate courses in statistics including a sampling course taught by the current head of the census and work history running many large-scale public health surveys). Your claim that they didn't publish the results because they received 125 responses instead of 150 is overblown. This would be true if they were largely interested in comparing groups of respondents (i.e. wealthy vs. poor, native vs. non-native, black vs white, male vs female, etc.). Then they would have some very small numbers indeed. But the larger claims, based on the whole sample, should not be affected much by having 125 respondents.The bottom line is that we shouldn't care or speculate why they didn't publish their results. Their data is the only data that exists and it is pretty clear. Residents near the proposed site are very concerned; their concerns can be partially addressed by steps that the IFC/town could take.



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