Orange County

Will Efland's day come?

This Monday (May 23) the Orange County Commission will be holding a public hearing on a proposal to downzone most or all of the land in its planning jurisdiction. The purpose of this initiative is to stop suburban sprawl from overtaking the rural areas of the County. And I think we should all be in support of that goal. Preserving the remaining farm land in our community is not merely an aesthetic issue, it is also a national and regional security issue. (What will happen to the availability of food as the price of shipping our food across the globe increases?)

However, the County is missing the boat on one important issue. While we do need to find more sustainable ways to grow, we also need to ensure that we will have areas where we can grow sustainably. Rather than eliminating the possibility of new residences in the unincorporated areas of the County, we could be transferring the presently allowed density into a few, well-chosen sites. That is, we should keep the dwellings, but have them be in appropriate locations (where there is potential sewer-access, low-impact on streams, potential access to public transportation etc.)

Bill Faison's legislative theatrics

Chapel Hill Herald, Saturday April 09, 2005

It is odd to find a Democratic state legislator who, among his first prominent acts in office, would seek the means to elect a Republican to the Orange County Commission. Freshman Rep. Bill Faison has done just that by proposing a district representation scheme that would create a district in which Republican Jamie Daniel was the top vote-getter in 2004.

Odder still is the fact that Faison promotes this legislation without even an attempt at collaboration with the commissioners or with the other legislators representing Orange County, all fellow Democrats.

Faison has been called many things over the past few weeks but "team player" is not among them.

What Faison is up to is pure politics. Faison is well aware that Barry Jacobs won the Orange County vote in last summer's Democratic primary. Faison's margin in Caswell County was enough to give him a scant 647 votes victory overall. To win, he spent three times as much as Jacobs, over $100,000 more, an astounding $39 per vote (the state average is $12.94).

Erwin Trace: A challenge for local government

Chapel Hill Herald, Saturday, February 19, 2005

One of the more unusual ideas to hit Chapel Hill of late was the suggestion, adopted last year, that the town seek authority to purchase open space outside its jurisdiction. On the face of it, this was nonsensical. As Kevin Foy put it last September, "Citizens of Chapel Hill are citizens of Orange County, and Orange County buys land throughout the county. I don't think we have an interest in duplicating the efforts of the county."

But Foy went on to point out that the town's planning interest extends beyond the town line. Tactical purchases outside the town's extra-territorial jurisdiction can help Chapel Hill protect the rural buffer and provide additional open space. This was born out recently when the town opened the door to cooperating on the possible purchase of property along Erwin Road just northeast of the extra-territorial jurisdiction.

District Representation for BOCC

Today's Herald reported that a group from rural Orange County led by farmer Bob Strayhorn and state Rep. Bill Faison is pushing the BOCC to consider district representation. They point out that a large segment of Orange County voters feels that they are not represented under the current system. A petition to that effect with 1252 signatures was delivered to the commissioners.

This has been raised before but the commissioners were unwilling to act. My own thinking is that we should provide voting and representation systems that allow maximum representation of points of view while maintaining one-person/one-vote and effective government.

Cumulative voting could be another option to attain the same ends. Cumulative voting would allow a variety of constituencies to identify themselves and seek better representation. But there are problems with it.

Get women on board

Guest Post by George Entenman

Orange Politics folks would should be very interested in a project sponsored by the Orange County Democratic Women to get women on local boards and commissions. Read on...

Orange County Democratic Women announce an important public meeting
topic:Opportunities for women to serve on boards and commissions
guest speaker: Elaine Marshall, N.C. Secretary of State
date: Thursday, February 3, 2005
time: 7:30 pm
place:The Exchange at Meadowmont, Chapel Hill

About 5 months ago, the Orange County Democratic Women decided that it would launch a new initiative, the Boards and Commissions Project. Our goal would be to increase the number of women serving in a policy-making role in county government.



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