NRG Candidate Forum


Wednesday, September 23, 2009 - 3:00pm


Chapel Hill Town Hall, 405 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd

Via e-mail:

Neighbors for Responsible Growth (NRG) will hold a candidate forum for the
eight Council candidates on Wednesday, September 23 at Town Hall from 7 - 9
pm.  The event will be televised on the local channel and moderated by
former Mayor Jonathan Howes.  All are invited.



What are 2 things you love about Chapel Hill & how would you safeguard them? (A good question!)Most answers are variations on diversity, community, &/or environment. (Don't forget about mom and apple pie, too!) I was surprised to see that Jim Merritt appeared to be reading most of his answer. Matt Pohlman had one unique answer: downtown. --What would you to make it easier for people to be informed and get involved with local government?Dehart: Social networks.Easthom: the town's new web site. would like to see more done with Carolina North coming up.Pohlman:
"simplify." does not explain what needs to be simplified or how to do
it. thinks the new web site is "fantastic" but could use more
technologies to foster dialog.Rich: Likes the web site, but it
needs improvement. Use networking, messaging (ie: e-mail), try meetings
at different times & places. Real time updates. --Regional cooperation Harrison: "I can see Durham from my house" (joking)Merritt: sharing informationPease: transportationRaymond: take more reponsibility, eg: solid waste -- When do you think the town should circumvent existing regulations (like comprehensive plan and LUMO)? Easthom: public purposes like affordable housing, not rural bufferPohlman: maybe rethink the regulation. when there's an outcry. Rich: be careful before changing rules. comprehensive plan needs updating. only when there's public input & advisory board recomendations. DeHart: circumventing is like cheating. --How/whether to change the development review process?Merritt: Developers want it faster, put them on advisory boards.Pease: SUP process is not working well, unpredictable. update the comp plan, stick to ground rules. Raymond: would like improvement, needs more clarity, predictability. examples: RSS-C was supposed to be for affordable housing used for "luxury condos." TC-3 was spproved with not enough public comment.Harrison: 4 yrs ago described the process as "a crapshoot." process works much of time, votes against when it doesn't. needs better and earlier acess to information, using technology. teamwork: joint review at boards, staff collaboration. --What is the most important unfiinished business with the Carolina North development agreement?Pohlman: CN is exciting. transportation infrastructure is a major undertaking, it's unifinished business. will be dealt with my collaboration b/w town & uni.Rich: 3 concerns: traffic (wants light rail), parking, preserving the 750 acres. Need to review te dev agreement in 3 years. DeHart: CN will be good for town and uni. transportation is the biggest issue, also preserving the rest of the land.Easthom: impt to note that there IS unfinished bus. transp impact analysis, greenway & bike path plan, fiscal polan for cost sharing--What is your vision for the role of bike and pedestrian facilities? Pease: difficult b/c we don't own all the roads. eg: DOT keeps moving S. Colombia St back, even though it's the mayor's top priority. Raymond: improving this is key to future growth. sustainabilitycmte looked at transit, but was missing descussion of pedestrian issues. CN wil generate a lot more cyclists. Ppl will use neighborhood for cut through.Harrison: platform includes connecting to ourselves & neighboring communities. strategicly placed facilities (at pinch points, not everywhere.) sounds planning, money, persistence.Merritt: infrastucture is underdeveloped. need more in major corridors. HOV lanes to prevent gridlock. --highrise development downtown and major corridors. how does this mesh with what citizens say they value? (This question is very strangely phrased. what DO cisitzens say they value? did you ask them?)Rich: density is important, but needs to be done well, not just for its own sake. can help preserve resources, btu if done wrong can decrease quality of life.DeHart: greenbridge is innovative, that's how new construction should be. aesthetics re very individual.Easthom: wants development done with balance, environmental and visual. eg: save trees in Glen Lennox to balance East 54. affordability for families. expand tansit.Pohlman: people value greenspace, historic parts of town. "appropriate higer density development does not sacrifice what makes our town great." density > sprawl. --what will help with affordable housing?Raymond: town policies need to not make problems worse. eg: RSS-C on Hillsborough St, Lot 5, Greenbridge. needs flexibilty. need to fill the gap for working people.Harrison: council about to receive the Inclusionary Zoning ordinance, which will allow them to be more orderly about incorporating aff hsg into new development. town should help homeowners pay for maintenance. use less land to save costs (near transit, etc).Merritt: most affordable housing available are 1-bedroom condos. need more family-oriented units. council shoudl talepaymentin lieu instead of condos.Pease: not opposed to condos if they are big enough and affordable for families. --audience questionsDelores Bailey (EmPOWERment, Inc.). How would you change affordable housing?- Pohlman: property tax burden, need to reform pmt in lieu- Raymond: explains pmt in lieu- DeHart: is a mortgage banker, housing is close to his heart. ppmt in lieuMichelle Natal. how to protect environmentlaly fragile areas?-
Raymond: his neighborhood overlooks creeks, has a personal interest.
need to perserve green corridors. CN ecological study, permanent
conservation.- Harrison: town has made the biggest stream buffers
in the state. inventorying natural areas - town staff is not doing this
well. Estelle Mabry. How will counil policies affect Northside, demographically and physically? -
Merritt: it's already been affected by the large number of students
living there. thinks %75 of the neighborhood are students.
differentiate investors and homeowners.- Rich: Northside is one of
the 6 NCDs. sad that family homes are being turned into investment
props. greenbridge may raise the value making Northside less
affordable. make sure Greenbridge keeps promises to the neighborhood.Nora (?). how to protect creeks and water supply?-
Easthom: need to consier water quality when evaluating developments.
cooperate with OWASA. water conservation tools after construction, make
sure HOAs allow it.- OWASA has a 50-year plan. it's very conservative, we don't need to tap into jordan lake. 

for expressing the fact that we do not need to tap into Jordan Lake.

Will Raymond also stated that earlier in the night.


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