Chapel Hill: Opinion

The Conversation: Scott Batson, Terri Buckner, Judith Ferster, Johnny Lloyd, Joni Pavlik, Javier de Ana Arbeloa and Sara Skinner

Roundabout good for safety

Regarding “ Obey Creek meetings generate many ideas, questions,” (CHN,

Modern roundabouts are the safest form of intersection in the world. Visit for modern roundabout FAQs and safety facts. Modern roundabouts, and the pedestrian refuge islands approaching them, are two of nine proven safety measures identified by the FHWA, (

The FHWA has a video about modern roundabouts that is mostly accurate (

Scott Batson


Density bonuses

Regarding Travis Crayton and Molly De Marco’s guest column, “Increased density is the right choice,” (CHN, )

One of the great byproducts of properly increasing a town’s density is it's capacity to create sub-communities.

When this happens neighborhoods become more closely knit as a natural function as close neighbors see each other more frequently while out and about and no longer having to travel to other areas for food or dining, recreation, shopping, etc.

This also helps people’s wallets and lessens environmental impact as residents now can drive less or simply walk to nearby venues, not to mention the time saved by all this as well. Yes, how valuable is your time these days?!

Johnny Lloyd


Community character

Guest columnists Travis Crayton and Molly De Marco write “And when those who oppose greater density talk about ‘maintaining the character of the community,’ what is it that they actually mean by that?” (CHN, ) For several years now, residents have been explaining what they mean.

They (we) mean the walkable, bikeable community we still have remnants of; they mean the friendly, close-knit community where you can run into neighbors and friends at the grocery or out walking; they mean the environmentally friendly town that cares about controlling stormwater and respecting wildlife; they mean shopping at locally owned businesses (those remaining).

The more density that gets added, the less of these quality of life we have. I think everyone wants the same thing when we describe the qualities. But some of us have lived here long enough to see that development has taken away from the “character of the community” while others act as if it was never here and more of the same is going to introduce it.

Terri Buckner


Both sides correct

Regarding the articles and letters on growth and density in the 1/25/15 and 1/28/15 issues:

These two packed issues of the Chapel Hill News may look like a debate, but actually both sides are correct.

As Crayton and De Marco say in “More density (is) the right choice,” higher buildings closer together fight sprawl, foster diversity, and support downtown.

But Chapel Hill Alliance for a Livable Town is also right that the new planning paradigm the town has adopted to streamline the process for developers (the form-based codes) has not incorporated enough of the well-known requirements of smart growth. The codes need to be completed to protect vegetation and surface water, open space, connectivity (pedestrians, bicycles, cars, transit, and habitat), inclusion of all income levels, storm water management, and energy efficiency.

Even instituting these principles will not prevent all change in a growing state, but responsible change will keep the town livable.

Judith Ferster

Chapel Hill

Keep LEAP in one location

Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools’ recent decision to split the LEAP program between Smith and Phillips Middle Schools is a blow to diversity in gifted education.

NONE of the 13 rising sixth graders assigned to Phillips are girls. Typically, more girls join the program in middle school. But how likely is it that a girl who tests into the program will want to join a class where she is the only girl?

And what kind of education are those boys getting? Already, in our son’s fourth grade LEAP class, we have observed that the boys often do not listen to the girls’ opinions, even when the girls have the correct answer. If LEAP is split, the Phillips cohort of boys will have even less practice working in teams with girls. When they grow up, will they be prepared to work with girls as equals at the University and in the workplace?

In a recent survey of LEAP parents, the school district asked for suggestions about how to increase representation of girls and minorities in LEAP. Here’s your answer: keep LEAP in one location, so that girls and minorities at least stand a chance of having an affinity group within the program.

Javier de Ana Arbeloa and Sara Skinner


REAL help for small business

Twenty-one years ago, my husband, Ray, and I moved to Chatham County. In talking to our friendly neighbors, we were told that Chatham County was the “center of the universe.” That might be a slight exaggeration, but it’s true to say that it fit our hopes and dreams to a tee.

So, we decided to take roots in Deep Chatham, but it was fate that brought us to an old grocery store and gas station on “Center” Grove Church Road. It was built in the 1920s on what then was the main highway between New York and Florida. In 1974 the main road moved to the east and the store became abandoned.

In 2001 we purchased the old homestead and store through the estate sale of Harold Williams. We rebuilt the empty shell of the red brick store with an eye to starting a small business down the road. But, there was work to do with the roof that had fallen in and the floor that was rotted out.

We dug out the cellar by hand and used a jack hammer to break up the hard Chatham County rock. Several large rocks refused to budge and now are part of a temperature controlled wine cellar. The red brick walls, concrete floor and roof are supported by recycled pipe from a well drilling business and steel beams are from an old bridge in Sanford.

In 2011 we opened unWINEd for business, but not without first having done our homework. We took a course and learned basic business skills from one of North Carolina’s best kept secrets, NC REAL Entrepreneurship. It’s an interactive, action learning approach to running a business based on real life lessons from small business owners. Many small business centers throughout the state teach it, or you can take an online version of it. Details about REAL Online are available on the REAL website (

Armed with our newfound knowledge and a polished Chatham County gem, we opened unWINEd (, serving and selling exclusively North Carolina wines by the bottle or the glass. We also carry cheese, crackers, salami and chocolates, all from North Carolina except for the French olives. As soon as a creative local farmer figures out how to grow olive trees in NC, we’ll add that item as well.

If you have an idea, some good luck and REAL business knowledge of how to make your plans into profits, you might be the next successful, small business owner. Take advantage of the help that’s out there for someone wanting to start a business such as REAL Entrepreneurship. If you can’t find a job ... make one.

Joni Pavlik