Chapel Hill: Opinion

Your letters, Feb. 26: Town’s false compromises, and more ...

Town’s false compromises

In response to written Planning Board questions regarding the proposed Ephesus/Fordham rezoning, Chapel Hill town staff replied: “We respectfully hesitate to add robust sustainability requirements into the proposed regulations for fear of discouraging property owners from improving density in the district thereby unintentionally eliminating potential environmental benefits.”

This is one example of the false compromises and diminished standards contained in the current rezoning proposals.

The town’s recent economic development efforts are signaling a shift in strategy to competing on cost with other communities. Stated another way, we don’t want to make it too difficult or costly for developers to build here, otherwise they won’t. We should not sacrifice our high quality of life in a race to the lowest common denominator. We can promote more efficient economic development and demand world-class standards.

Michael Porter, professor at Harvard Business School, identifies three competitive strategies: cost leadership, differentiation, and focus. Chapel Hill is not well suited to compete on cost, but rather on differentiation and focus. Chapel Hill is home to our state’s flagship university. This “Town and Gown” relationship is our focus which has drawn an educated and sustainably-minded population. We enjoy an exemplary public school system, natural beauty, diversity, historic fabric, and thriving local businesses that create a unique place in our increasingly homogenized country. All these qualities are why we have chosen to live, work, and play in Chapel Hill, and why many others seek to do the same.

The Ephesus/Fordham plans have great potential, however the town needs to make sure the details accentuate, not compromise our values and competitive advantage. The Planning Board and other residents have raised many valid concerns about the current details of the Ephesus/Fordham plans. Hopefully our Town Council and staff are listening to the constructive feedback, and will adjust course accordingly.

Brian Wittmayer

The writer is the chairman of the town of Chapel Hill, Sustainability Committee.

Bike riders’ fair share

I support a slow down zone in Carrboro as long as we begin to do two other things along with this change.

First, bike riders must pay their fair share. Every bike will need to have plates and a yearly registration, as well as a yearly safety inspection. Also, since they don't purchase gas which contributes money to the road system, they will need to pay a yearly “use fee” of $20.

Second, the police must begin to stop and ticket bike riders that are violating the rules of the road. Running stop signs, crossing into oncoming traffic, riding on sidewalks, not stopping for pedestrians in crosswalks, no turn signals, etc.

If I see these things happen, I'll admit that the local leadership is interested in fairness and not just carrying on the “bikes good, cars bad” dogma. I assume my ideas won't get any traction, but at least we'll know where the heart of the leadership really is.

Rob Reece


Secondary-street plowing

I’d like to suggest that Chapel Hill re-consider its strategy for plowing secondary streets after an ice storm.

Those who live on level streets can usually navigate their way to the nearest plowed thoroughfare, but the opposite is true for those who live in a neighborhood where a hill blocks access to drivable roads. Long after those who live on level roads are going about their lives, we, who live in a hilly part of town (I live in the Pinebrooke neighborhood) are locked in because the insurmountable hill on Wesley Drive remains unplowed.

I'd like to suggest that after the main roads are plowed, the small connecting hilly streets are cleared as quickly as possible.

John Rosenthal

Chapel Hill

A big, little paper

Roses to the Chapel Hill News for keeping us up to date on important local issues.

Recently, I have been particularly grateful for coverage of the state legislature's intervention in the the process that produced new rules for Jordan Lake. Coverage of candidates in elections has also been helpful, and how good it is to have a place to discuss issues such as ads in the buses about American involvement in the conflict between Israel and Palestine. I also appreciate the occasional commentary on an international issue with no local angle (Ellie Kinnard on the military-industrial complex, Jan. 5).

It nurtures photographers by giving tips on taking good photos and provides a place to share them. And the cartoons are good, too. A big little newspaper.

Judith Ferster

Chapel Hill

Thank you from Cornucopia House

The community rose to the occasion to help all those affected by cancer through their participation in the 14th A Chocolate Affaire, the signature fundraising event of Cornucopia Cancer Support Center. We are grateful to everyone involved. Your support through sponsorships, attending, auction bids and donations are crucial to ensure that anyone journeying with cancer gets the support and resources they need to fight the fear, frustration and fatigue that can be so prevalent on the cancer journey.

We are grateful to our 18 sponsors, the 27 restaurants that donated the delicious desserts and savories, the 80-plus organizations and individuals who contributed the extraordinary live and silent auction items, and to the 300 people who attended and gave from their hearts in support of Cornucopia's vital mission. You provide the hope, the energy and the power for each participant to keep moving forward.

Lois Boynton

The writer is the chairwoman of the board of directors of the Cornucopia Cancer Support Center