Platform

 

XYZ is concerned about the recent path of development in Chapel Hill. Historically the pace and extent of new development was balanced against a desire to maintain the uniqueness, diversity and natural beauty of our neighborhoods and town. Over the last few years this has changed. New high-density projects have been built or proposed with little consideration of their appropriateness for our town. Recently Town Council has abdicated its responsibility for planning by applying ‘form-based zoning’ to a large area of Chapel Hill. This allows developers to initiate projects that meet certain minimal standards without any input from citizens or even review by Town Council. The result of these changes has been a proliferation of projects that feature extremely expensive apartments and high-end national chain stores that provide little benefit to Chapel Hill citizens of moderate means. This might be acceptable if the new projects substantially increased Town tax revenues, but in fact the opposite will happen and these projects will be a drain on Town resources. XYZ has a different vision for the future of Chapel Hill, one that is embodied in the key points of our platform.

 

 

Here is our list of what needs to be done:

 

1. Protect and Improve What We Value About Chapel Hill

  1. Schools:  Support the high quality of Chapel Hill schools, among the Town’s most important assets. Assure that growth does not outpace the availability of quality school buildings.   (details)

  2. Protect the quality of life in Chapel Hill’s residential neighborhoods, where we live and raise our children.

  3. Environment:  Protect our streams, green spaces, Neighborhood Conservation Districts (NCDs), rural buffer, and wildlife habitats.  (details)

  4. Diversity:  Keep faithful to our identity as a tree-lined University Town with a diversity of residents, locally owned businesses, and buildings at a comfortable human scale. (details)

  5. Promote sustainability.  (details)

 

2. Solve Traffic and Transit Problems

  1. Look at the big picture by using Town models to project the Town-wide traffic impacts of development, not just piecemeal planning.

  2. Solve existing traffic problems before approving new development that will worsen congestion.

  3. Revise Town zoning and development plans if no realistic solutions to the projected congestion problems can be identified.

  4. Include the cost of associated traffic and transit improvements in the benefit-cost evaluation of proposed developments.

  5. Improve access to parking and bus transit to make Chapel Hill more convenient for residents and more economically attractive.

  6. Copy what works in other cities and towns.  Good examples are Minneapolis and Bogata.

  7. Provide "Complete Streets" (video)

 

3. Require New Development to Pay Its Own Way

  1. Fair share:  Do realistic cost-benefit analysis for proposed new developments to ensure that they pay their share for required infrastructure additions (schools, sewer, water, police, fire, roads, transit, stormwater, green space, and bike/pedestrian paths)  (details)

  2. Use an economic model to estimate the Town’s costs associated with new development compared to the new tax revenues generated. Approve the kind of development that will strengthen Town finances by generating more added tax revenues than added taxpayer costs. 

  3. Replace the current piecemeal planning approach based on  focus areas with consideration for the best future for the whole community.

  4. Flooding:  Conduct future conditions flood plain mapping as practiced by other NC cities to assure that new development does not worsen existing flooding problems.  (details)

  5. Review:  Do post-mortems on recently completed developments to verify that they delivered the promises that were made.  Analyze recently completed projects, such as Greenbridge, East 54, and 140 West Franklin, to determine the actual costs and benefits of new high-density development. Compare the actual costs and benefits with what was projected at the time each project was approved.

 

4. Provide Housing, Work, and Shopping for Residents of All Income Levels

  1. Affordable housing:  Create effective incentives and requirements to maintain and increase the Town’s stock of housing for the work force and for those with moderate incomes.  (details)

  2. Zoning:  Change current policies and zoning, which are causing rapid elimination of housing for moderate income families.

  3. Jobs:  Seek investments in commercial research and light industrial projects that can provide a range of employment opportunities and also new tax revenues that exceed the associated increases in Town costs.

  4. Affordable shopping:  Develop policies to assure that the Town’s retail mix includes stores that provide everyday necessities at moderate prices, rather than the current trend toward all upscale retail.  (details)

 

5. Spend Our Tax Money Wisely

  1. Infrastructure:  Make provision of basic services and maintenance of infrastructure the highest Town spending priority.

  2. Liabilities:  Begin annual funding for Town obligations and necessary services, such as employee health costs and replacement of old buses, rather than pushing these costs off into the future.  (details)

  3. Re-examine and reverse Town funding of expensive and open-ended consultant contracts and for costly new administrative positions in the Town Manager’s office.

  4. Negotiate agreements with UNC to minimize further taking of property out of the Town’s tax base and to increase in lieu of tax payments.

  5. UNC partnership:  Negotiate agreements with UNC/UNC Medical to lessen the tax burden on Chapel Hill residents. (details)

  6. Budget:  Hold budget workshops to improve citizen understanding of and participation in budget decisions.

  7. Copy what other U.S. towns are doing well.  There are over 18,000 towns in the U.S. and there is too much duplication of effort.  Money can be saved if towns would copy what others are doing well.

 

6. Improve the Openness of Town Government

  1. Transparency:  Make information on Town planning, operations, and finances available and easy to find on the Town's web site.  Respond expeditiously to citizen requests for information. (details)
  2. Clarity:  Ensure that plans for proposed developments are presented in a fashion that are easily understood by the public. (details)

  3. Democracy:  Ensure that public participation is restored to the development process.  (details)
 

 

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