Chapel Hill: Opinion

March 28, 2014

Your letters, March 30

Last year, local nonprofits, Carrboro town staff, and local businesses helped create the first ever Open Streets event in Carrboro.

We can do better!

Like Terri Buckner, Jan Sassaman and David Neal, (March 16 commentaries) I agree that recycling is important for our community.

But after looking at the data and listening to the “real-life” experiences of residents from across the county, I disagree that the currently proposed roll-cart service model and tax district are the best recycling solution for the county’s unincorporated areas.

Unfortunately, decisions to separate town and county recycling prevents the county, as a whole, from benefiting from economies of scale and a tightly integrated recycling program.

Throwing a rope around the rest of county – which is composed of two very different recycling user groups (57 percent curbside vs. 43 percent convenience center users) makes it almost impossible to provide a single solution that is cost effective, equitable and practical.

Working together to evaluate different models or finding a way to tie in loosely to town recycling contracts should be explored in order to provide convenient and cost effective methods of service to a greater number of property owners.

We should not be content with a high-priced, status quo solution that meets the needs of 57 percent of the payers. We can do better!

Jeanne Brown

Chapel Hill

Horns of a dilemma

Unprecedented growth is posing a severe challenge to Chapel Hill and Carrboro, and the direction it takes will have a major impact on affordable housing.

At least 10 major new residential and commercial projects, worth hundreds of millions of dollars, are in the pipeline awaiting Town Council approval.

You would think there would be enough housing available to satisfy the needs of our community. There is, but not affordable.

Chapel Hill is sitting on the horns of a dilemma: rapidly rising rents of apartment units coupled with increasing prices of new homes and commercial property. Even renting an apartment is out of reach for many mid-to-low income workers.

With the demand for rentals soaring, apartment owners and developers are seizing the opportunity to renovate and upgrade their properties and then hiking rents. Sticker shock applies to apartments rentals now ranging from $1,400 to over $2,000 a month.

Low-income residents applying for HUD subsidized housing are confronted with long waiting lists: three or more years waiting time, and that’s optimistic.

Should we kiss affordable housing goodbye? There is reason for hope.

Realizing the need for affordable rental housing, the Town of Chapel Hill is proposing a one-cent property tax increase to subsidize rental housing. But the devil is in the details which haven’t been disclosed yet. Community Home Trust has affordable homes for sale, but financing is problematic with banks reluctant to approve mortgages.

For families desiring to live in Chapel Hill, The American dream of owning their home may be just that, a dream and nothing more. Even renting in Chapel Hill is but a dream for many.

Walt Mack

Chapel Hill


Why do Chapel Hill residents assume a district-wide correction to traffic and stormwater problems will make the problems worse? Why do educated people who are early adopters of technology changes reject area engineering changes that can improve what we currently have?

Most homes near me off Legion Road have French drains and sump pumps to deal with heavy storms. Homeowners with frequent problems may need these.

Individual Special Use Permits (SUPs) can only deal with the land involved, but a stormwater district can deal with the area situation. “Small area plans” are rational.

Hearsay reports that a business owner along 15-501 complains about having to “look across the street” at taller buildings. Fordham Boulevard is that multi-lane street with center medians that some claim they cannot cross on foot, though I do so all the time.

Finally, the residences and businesses proposed are not just “for profit.” They are to bring goods and services to Chapel Hill because we have a deficit of moderate housing and stores. Those who agree to build take risks as the town does. They deserve the predictability and flexibility of form-based zoning. If the town wants to reserve the right to amend the codes under certain conditions, write it. But “just do it” before all possibilities for expanding our tax base go elsewhere, as they have been doing.

Lynne Kane

Chapel Hill

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