11 residents seek Chapel Hill Town Council seat

tgrubb@newsobserver.comJanuary 7, 2013 

  • What’s next? The Chapel Hill Town Council will review the applications this week, and hear from applicants and the public at a special meeting scheduled for 6 p.m. Jan. 14. The council could appoint a new member Jan. 23.

— Nearly a dozen people, including a musician, a biology teacher and a physics student, have applied to fill a vacant seat on the Chapel Hill Town Council.

Former member Penny Rich left in December to join the Orange County Board of Commissioners. Her replacement will serve until December 2013 and have a hand in several growth-development decisions.

Those who applied by Monday’s 5 p.m. deadline were:

• Sally Greene, former Town Council member

• Loren Hintz, Chapel Hill High School biology teacher

• David Jackson, consultant and real estate broker

• Gary Kahn, a Southern Village resident and retail merchandiser

• Jennifer Marsh, research director, UNC Center for Civil Rights

• Paul M. Neebe, musician and real estate broker

• Maria Palmer, former educator and minister

• Bjorn Pedersen, a UNC-Chapel Hill student majoring in physics

• Amy Ryan, Planning Board member

• Carl Schuler, Board of Adjustment member

• Aaron Shah, an information technology professional

Although the new member’s term will be short, it will be filled with big decisions and could give him or her an edge over other candidates in this year’s election.

The council is expected to deal with major developments this year, including the Glen Lennox redevelopment and Obey Creek planning process. The council also will help implement a regional transit plan, encourage developers to build more affordable rental and single-family housing, and continue the push to grow the town’s commercial tax base.

Plus, with the national economy still in a slump, the budget process this spring could be more difficult than in recent years.

Most of the candidates have been involved in local issues to varying degrees, including service on Chapel Hill and Orange County advisory boards. Greene is the only one who has served on the Town Council – from 2003 to 2011.

While the candidates’ backgrounds are varied, they do share some interests, including affordable housing and economic development, and how to guide Chapel Hill’s growth while preserving its unique character.

Grubb: 919-932-8746

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