Ken Larsen's web site - Ephesus-Fordham Redevelopment Project
Bad News: We lost!
This is one of many urbanization projects that are recently being launched all over Chapel Hill. I got interested in this project after learning that it would build 7-story buildings in a nearby flood zone. That awakened me from a lifetime of apathy about local politics!
The principal drivers behind the urbanization of Chapel Hill are:
Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt - The Mayor regards E-F as an absolute necessity that must be done. [See this video from the October 28, 2013 Town Council meeting.]
Town Manager Roger Stancil (As town manager of Fayetteville he oversaw its population grow from 70,000 to 180,000.)
Economic Development Officer Dwight Bassett [See
video of his E-F pitch.]
[See this video of his E-F pitch.]
I disagree with the torrid pace of their plans and that not enough effort is being spent to ensure that the promised benefits can be delivered. I worry that traffic will become horrendous, flooding will become more frequent and severe, and the Town will be saddled with a mountain of debt that will have to be relieved by imposing higher taxes.
Main Ephesus-Fordham information
On February 4, 2014 I gave this 3 minute speech on the project to the Chapel Hill Planning Board. I followed that by playing this 1 minute video of flooding in Chapel Hill on June 30, 2013. While the video was playing, I quipped "I see two things: raging water and lawsuits. The lawsuits will be filed by homeowners in low-lying areas against the Town if the Town's storm water system can't protect them against upstream development that the Town approved."
this speech called the "EF Equation" at the February 18th Chapel Hill Planning Board
I gave this speech called the "EF Equation" at the February 18th Chapel Hill Planning Board meeting.
Reasons why E-F should be delayed and changed [I emailed this to the Mayor
and Town Council members and then spoke briefly about it at their March
6th 2014 work session, but it was ignored.]
Reasons why E-F should be delayed and changed [I emailed this to the Mayor and Town Council members and then spoke briefly about it at their March 6th 2014 work session, but it was ignored.]
etitionthat was ignored by the Mayor and Council.
Vince Wingate's speech (April 24, 2014 to the Town Council)
John Morris's speech on E-F finances (April 24, 2014 to the Town Council)
Vivian Foushee's speech on the Edsel (April 24, 2014 to the Town Council)
Del Snow's speech on Town Council rejecting Planning Board feedback (April 24, 2014 to the Town Council)
Kathleen Herr's speech on gaps in the plan (April 24, 2014 to the Town Council)
Brian Wittmayer's speech on plan's design flaws (April 24, 2014 to the Town Council)
Summary of Ephesus-Fordham -Diane Willis June 26, 2014
Progress of Ephesus-Fordham Implementation Plan
Creekside Drive (in 2014)
Background information/Related stories/Commentary
|Key info (from Chapel Hill's official town web site)|
|Small business impact|
Proposed long term solution
In fairness to the Town Council members, the Town has a precarious financial dilemma: The University of North Carolina (UNC) and its hospital enjoy non-profit status and as such are exempt from paying property taxes. They've been buying properties, and with each purchase there becomes less tax paying property. According to Fred Lampe, UNC currently owns about 40% of the property in Chapel Hill. My advice is to pursue limiting UNC's non-profit status.
I have learned that Durham has a novel solution to the mega-nonprofit issue: They prohibit Duke Hospital from buying off-campus property. They can only lease it. Brilliant! Chapel Hill should consider doing the same.
According to Council member Donna Bell:
UNC has their own police service, so they don't pay Chapel Hill for police service.
UNC has their own recycling program, so they don't pay Chapel Hill for recycling.
UNC had been partners with Chapel Hill in trash pickup.
Bottomline: UNC doesn't get a totally free ride, but neither are they paying full fare.
For future projects, the Town needs to migrate to 3D design that gives viewers a "virtual reality" way of exploring what has been designed. Verbal and text descriptions with 2D drawings are woefully inadequate and result in massive misunderstandings and antipathy over what a project will ultimately become. One product that looks worthy of investigation is SketchUp for Urban Planning.
Another money saver is for towns to do a better job of working together. There are over 18,000 towns in the United States. They're all holding meetings just like Chapel Hill - to debate issues like rules for zoning, affordable housing, flood control, traffic, signage, etc. That's a lot of duplicated effort! I'm not proposing that all 18,000 towns be identical, but currently there's way too much "re-inventing of the wheel". That's costly and drives up taxes.
Gearing up for the 2015 election
Turnout for the 2013 Town election was an abysmal 11.72% (click here to see those results). Apathy in that election was the principal cause of the poor Council decision regarding Ephesus-Fordham. Let's ensure that apathy doesn't prevail in the 2015 election. We must vote out those who voted poorly on Ephesus-Fordham.
|Chapel Hill, Our Town! - Ephesus-Fordham|