Magic 25

Catherine Lazorko, Chapel Hill’s information officer, sent me this email to Council from Town elder Roscoe Reeve. Roscoe recalls how the 25 bed limit for shelters was set. As suspected, it was somewhat arbitrary though based in an intent to make the approval process less onerous for community-oriented facilities.

Thanks Catherine!

From: Roscoe Reeve
Sent: Monday, January 11, 2010 11:03 PM
To: Town Council
Subject: The Magic 25 Number for Shelters

Dear Mayor Mark and Members of the Council,

I have followed your deliberations, this evening, on the 25 cap for shelters in the LUMO and can, perhaps, clear up its origin.

I was a member and Chair of the Chapel Hill Planning Board that created the 25 cap for shelters in the early 1980’s.

The cap was proposed by staff in the process of creation of the LUMO, a very long and complex process of study and meetings. There was never any discussion or rational for the number 25 as a cap appropriate to a shelter. The interest of the Board was to create (as Mark and Sally implied tonight) a number of permitted uses in appropriate zones so that standards would be clear and that long and expensive deliberations, such as the SUP process, would not impede needed public uses (shelter, school, day care, church, etc.). We thought that if things were appropriate in a zone, as determined by Council’s approval of the tables within the LUMO, arbitrary political passion would be discouraged, the famous “crap shoot” referred to tonight. Especially since schools, churches and private charities could ill afford a lengthy approval process governed by the whims of NIMBY. At that time there was a Council member who would not vote for the approval of any development application where the applicant did not meet personally with him, and in some cases the applicant would have to agree to a personal request of the Council member as arranged at that private meeting. And of course we board members were perplexed when totally complying development proposals were still voted down because a neighborhood didn’t want the development and they raised hell with the Council. Silly us.

In other words, we were all for getting basic development permitted uses so that the development process was logical, based on development standards, and could be completed in a time that did not bankrupt the applicant. Silly us.

I hope this in some way provides explanation for the 25 shelter cap. We assumed that shelters bigger than 25 would need to have a SUP. The number 25 itself was not studied or considered.

With warm regards,




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