Planning & Transportation

Are we really still part of the Triangle?

So let's make some assumptions up front for this discussion. Let's assume that the TTA builds according to plans it's rail system (big assumption at this point due to the Bush administration's witholding of dollars). And let's assume this area continues to grow and becomes what we many folks really want it to be - a drawing point for the creative class and a great place to continue living. Well, while folks in Durham and Raleigh and even, gasp, Cary will be taking advantage of the rail line and touting themselves as a pseudo-urban mecca, we'll be over here with our wonderful but less than glamorous bus system trying to compete. So far, south Orange has the best planned development and the best public transit, but what happens when that isn't true anymore? Do all the cool single artists and video clerks move to Durham? Doesn't this put us at a competitive disadvantage in terms of attracting some of the people that add color and diversity to our towns?

It's a Mixed-Use Free For All!

On the heels of the impending destruction of University Inn in favor of another mixed-use development, we get news of yet another one planned for a tract out on Eubanks Road, across from the Northwood community. We're being surrounded!

I'm not at all opposed to the "mixed-use" concept in theory, but in theory it's supposed to strengthen communities by getting people to brush shoulders with each other, congregate, and increase foot traffic (and therefore walk-in sales for merchants). Chelsea (in New York) would be a good example of a strong mixed-used neighborhood, and also that neighborhood on the east side of Washington Square Park, I always forget its name. I'm having a hard time grogging how building self-contained pods on the outskirts of town accomplishes this, but I'm willing to be enlightened. Nevertheless, I'm getting the sneaking suspicion that "mixed-use" is a term being thrown around to gussie up development plans that may be technically mixed-use, but are certainly not embracing the spirit of the concept.

Have Your Say on UNC Development

There are lots and lots of meetings relating to UNC's development plans, but this Monday is one not to miss. The Chapel Hill Town Council will hold public hearings on two issues that will define the future deliberations about Carolina North.

1. The report of the Horace Williams Citizens Committee (HWCC). This committee was charged with the task of advising the Council on issues related the Horace Williams tract and the University's development of it. The HWCC has worked on this report for over a year. It contains detailed goals and principles, from the econmic and environmental impacts to constuction phasing, transit plans, and neighborhood protection. This report should be used in the future to provide some support to the Council by demostrating the community's goals for this land.

Red Lights Stopped

Here is my recap of tonight's Council meeting. There were jillions of people speaking on Red Light Cameras (RLCs), mostly in favor, including the paid and volunteer lobbyists from the ACS family. Many Council members made a point of saying how glad they were to be able to discuss this heated issue in a reasonable way in the past few weeks. Then after about two hours of hearing citizens and making speeches, they voted in favor of Mark Kleinschmidt's petition to terminate the RLC contract!

I would like to present the following awards:

Most righteous indignation: Edith Wiggins (Red Light Cameras, agenda item # 7)
Runners-up: Dorothy Verkerk, Mark Kleinschmidt, Jim Ward (in that order) .

Why does Edith seem to feel that this issue is such a personal affront to her? She & Cam Hill didn't impress by reading from prepared statements. This let the citizens who took the time to contact them or to come to the meeting in the snow know that their input was not a part of their decision-making process. (Although that was actually the case for the entire Council anyway.)

Got Cabin Fever?

Come on down at 7 pm to the postponed Chapel Hill Town Council meeting and warm up with lots of hot items on the agenda. (Sorry I'm getting a little giddy, I haven't been out of the house in a while.)

I still can't access the Town web site so I can't link to the agenda, but I know they will discuss red light cameras (hopefully ditching them), the latest report from the Horace Williams Citizens Commitee (hopefully adopting it), appointing someone to the Planning Board (hopefully Donna), and much much more. Come say "hi" to new Assistant Town Manager Bruce Heflin! He got out of public works just in time. ;}



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