No commitment yet
Please don’t be misled by Sunday’s CHN article on the vote by the majority of Orange County commissioners to seek more money for light rail.
The board did not vote to commit more county funds to the project. We adopted a motion respecting the public’s 2012 vote to enact a half-cent sales tax to advance bus and rail service. We also reiterated our support for light rail.
But we declared, “the MOU (memorandum of understanding) does not express an obligation, moral or implied, to fund the Durham-Orange Light Rail project beyond currently authorized levels if further investigation proves the financial burden to taxpayers would, in our judgment, compromise Orange County’s ability to reasonably fund other, more critical goals and functions of government.”
In a separate vote, we directed the manager to seek an independent analysis of the financial assumptions underlying the plan and to pursue the sort of cost-cutting value engineering that GoTriangle promises but has yet to publicly deliver.
And I repeated a challenge to GoTriangle to be specific about prospective contributions from outside entities, which inexplicably grew in size from one meeting to the next.
We further directed the manager to initiate discussions to renegotiate the rail-funding split with Durham, given that more track, more costs and more economic development opportunity are added within our partner county’s jurisdiction by sensibly extending the service to NCCU.
The board resolved to visit our own, county transportation priorities ahead of making an April decision about committing more funding to the D-OLR or other public transit projects. We will not take any further action on light rail until we have more clarity on the facts – an obligation GoTriangle must do better to help us achieve – within a shifting state and federal funding landscape that is uncertain at best.
The writer is a member of the Orange County Board of Commissioners.
Protect handicapped car owners
Thank you Paul Popish for your comments (CHN, Dec. 11) referring to my letter in the Dec. 7 issue of the Chapel Hill News about my car with a handicapped tag being towed at Carr Mill Mall.
You suggest that I contact Disability Rights North Carolina. Thank you for the suggestion. I had already done so and received a brochure, “Parking: A Guide to Getting Your Space.” However, I was informed that because of limited resources “we cannot take your case for individual representation.”
I have also sent a letter to Nathan R. Milian, manager of Carr Mill Mall, and to Mr. Paul Greenberg, president of Carr Mill Mall Limited Partnership in Maryland. I also expect to hear from the mayor of Carrboro after she confers with the Carrboro town manager.
I am not seeking remuneration, but I am seeking a change in Chapel Hill and Carrboro laws regarding the towing of handicapped cars. I am also seeking an addition to the North Carolina statute that will prevent the towing of handicapped car owners without a ticket unless in the interest of public safety.
What kind of a community have we become that allows the towing of a handicapped person’s car? Having lived in Chapel Hill over 60 years, I witness on a daily basis an increasing lack of consideration for the welfare of others. Many are even rude, expressing the attitude that if it doesn’t affect me, it is none of my business.
Is this the way we want to be as an individual, a family or a town? Each of us has the ability to make a positive change in the lives of others as well as our own.
More rapid for some, more delays for others
Well-used fare-free transit already exists along Chapel Hill’s north-south corridor. But collective transport proponents want to make it more rapid at the expense of personal transport users by appropriating a general travel lane for dedicated bus use.
Traffic will be denser in the remaining general use lane, resulting in longer delays. The article’s illustration shows a single lane for non-bus vehicles; even bicyclists will be subject to lengthier queues. The bus only lanes will be unused most of the time with 12 buses spread over 16.4 lane miles.
Why should bus patrons be given travel time priority? Their externalities are substantial. Considering the entire Chapel Hill Transit system, each bus user is responsible for about the same fuel use had he or she driven a conventional car alone. And the heavy 2-axle buses damage pavement more than heavy trucks.
The fare-free system has already demonstrably converted many would-be walk and pedal-powered travelers into practically “chauffeured motorists.” Urban Bus Rapid Transit promises to increasingly entice pedestrians and bicyclists to become mere “end users.”
Lloyd Farm’s lost potential
Regarding the news story “Carrboro rejects Lloyd Farm development in split vote” (CHN, Dec. 10)
It’s too bad it took five years and who knows how much cost to get to this point. The concern about stormwater is an interesting one, given that the developer agreed to exceed the required mitigation of capturing a 25-year rainfall event to capture a 100-year storm. You’d think that alone would help the neighbors deal with the current runoff. Plus, the tax revenue gained from the increased property value could have gone a long way toward the town’s need to get a dedicated stormwater utility – or at least lessen the necessary fee burden on residents to pay for one.
Carrboro, of course, makes its own decisions. But its decisions do impact everyone in Orange County. This project would have invested $80 million plus into the tax base. That would have raised over $700,000 in county property taxes every year (and just under $500,000 in Carrboro annual property taxes.) In addition, the developer would have made an almost $750,000 payment in lieu for affordable housing (which equals 15 percent of the housing bond just passed) and over $350,000 in impact fees for the schools. There would have been over 350 jobs created for construction, and over 120 jobs in the retailers on the site.
Coming on the heels of Chapel Hill’s decision to buy out an $80 million developer at the American Legion site, the lost potential revenue for the county (not to mention the towns) is huge. Ironically, that makes it harder to be able to afford the light rail cost increase both these towns want the county to absorb.
Trump’s fine idea
I was a Bernie supporter till the bitter end. I voted for Hillary. I would not have voted for Trump had he been running unopposed.
However, Trump’s questioning of Boeing’s potential multi-billion dollar price tag for Air Force One seems like a fine idea to me. Why not?
Runaway government spending has been a problem for decades and the Boeing deal was no-bid.
It’s about time someone had the brass to ask a few questions.
Redistricting not brain surgery
The designing of voting districts should not be political but simply decided by the number of eligible voters.
In this day of computers it should be easy to have voting districts that are roughly square or rectangular (5 percent variation) and contain roughly the same number of eligible voters (again 5 percent variation) regardless of previous voting records, race or whatever. This would truly reflect the will of the people and be true democracy. Am I dreaming?
Let’s hear from you
Please send up to 300 words to firstname.lastname@example.org. All submissions, online comments and posts to editor Mark Schultz’s Facebook page may be edited for space and clarity.