Election 2007: IndyWeek Endorsement,Booker Creek and the Incumbents

Friday, October 26th, 2007

X-posted from my campaign website.

The Indy found fault with my style of dissent. I’m a big guy, have a deep voice and am passionate about my well-researched issues. I believe I’m respectful in my appearances before Council (example). Folks have told me that I’m tough but fair. The Indy’s criticism, no matter how emotionally worded, is, in the end, subjective – their job, to shape opinion.

The Indy’s suggestion that I wanted to despoil Booker Creek further is not supported by either the facts or any reasonable inference (as I discuss here).

What inference could the Indy draw about the incumbents – Sally Greene’s, Cam Hill’s, Bill Strom’s – willingness to put development above the health of Booker Creek?

Well, no inference is required as the record clearly shows that all three were willing to contribute to Booker Creek’s ills for the sake of economic development.

I’ve attended many Council meetings over the last 6 1/2 years. Once there, I usually stay to learn about the issues before our Town. That’s why I know that Bill, Cam and Sally voted June 30th, 2004 to approve Eastern Federal’s 10 screen, 38,000 square foot, nearly 200 parking space theater directly adjacent to Booker Creek.

As noted in these minutes from Jan. 27th, 2003’s SUP (special use permit) approval that details this project’s variances:

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Council finds, in this particular case, that the following modifications satisfy public purposes to an equivalent or greater degree:

1. Modification of Subsection 13.11.1 and 5.5.2.1 to allow a minimum of 154,242 square feet of livability space.

2. Modification of Subsection 14.6.6 (a) to allow less than a five-foot landscaped strip between portions of the buildings and adjacent parking areas.

3. Modification of Subsection 14.6.7 to allow a minimum of 490 parking spaces.

4. Modification of Subsection 5.5.2.2 to allow impervious surface areas associated with this development to encumber 24% of the Resource Conservation District.

Said public purposes being (1) the provision of higher intensity infill development, (2) the promotion of greater pedestrian mobility, (3) the provision of increased landscaping in the parking lot, (4) the provision of less impervious surface area, and (5) the provision of improved quality with Best Management Practices.

The resource conservation district was established by Chapel Hill

To protect streams and to reduce the frequency and amount of flood damage to property, the Town enacted the Resource Conservation District (RCD) ordinance in 1984, with revisions in 2003. This ordinance and other measures taken to reduce flooding and flood damage, are necessary for the Town to participate in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

RCD provisions severely limit or eliminate structures and development in areas likely to flood. These measures pertain in areas including FEMA’s 100-year Floodzones, (areas that have a 1% chance of flooding every year, or in other terms, properties that have a 26% chance of flooding within a 30-year period), as well as smaller streams which have not been rated by FEMA. RCDs also protect or improve the water quality of streams by reserving vegetated areas to slow and infiltrate stormwater runoff and to remove pollutants from runoff.

Yet, in this case, the incumbents Greene, Hill and Strom voted a rather large exception for a movie theater.

Now, you didn’t have to be at these meetings, as I was, to know about the series of votes these three made to build on Booker Creek. A simple Google will quickly turn up that fact.

Speaking of facts, why would the Indy try to extrapolate, without evidence, that I wanted to despoil Booker Creek further when three of the incumbents the Indy endorsed – Greene, Hill and Strom – actually voted several times to reduce critical RCD protections to build a 10 screen theater?

Maybe because the facts shouldn’t get in the way of a good story – and the story the Indy is selling is “don’t vote for Raymond in 2007”. The reasons were superfluous to the ends.

What about Jim Ward, who consistently voted against the proposal, as I recall, based on environmental concerns? The Indy thought he was too soft on the environment in 2003, but now he has “proven his meddle”.

Wonder if they considered Jim’s concern for Booker Creek as part of that proof?

More on the history of Eastern Federal’s development woes.

Election 2007: Candidates Line Up

Thursday, July 5th, 2007

Filing for office begins noon July 6th and ends noon July 20th.

Confirmed candidates for Chapel Hill Council and Mayoral races are:

  • Kevin Foy, current incumbent Mayor.
  • Sally Greene, 4-year incumbent Council member, ‘blogger.
  • Cam Hill (yes, quite a scary snapshot but there was no official site I could find), another 2003 winner and incumbent Council member
  • Bill Strom, another incumbent and current Mayor Pro-Tem (foiled, it seems this round in his quest for the Mayoralship)

As far as current Council members, that leaves Jim Ward yet to declare.

According to local political pundit and Chapel Hill Herald columnist Tom Jensen “this election is probably going to be a snoozer in Chapel Hill” (OP) because “it will be an uphill battle since incumbents rarely lose in Chapel Hill and I don’t think anyone on Council has done anything to outrage any broad segment of the citizenry.”

Interesting spin from Tom but maybe he’s right – no one will rise to the challenge.

I helped Bill, Sally and Cam during the 2003 election, so this year presents some interesting contrasts. Strangely enough (cough, cough), Bill, Sally and Cam represented the Town in the RAM Development/Lot $$$5 debacle.

One might assume that they saw this as a career enhancer – it’ll be interesting to see how their white whale plays during the election cycle.

Tom, maybe possible contenders, like the Neighborhoods for Responsible Growth (NRG) Mike Collin’s or frequent OrangePolitics poster and the Planning Board’s George Cianciolo or a few more locally active folks will be scared off by the awesome weight of incumbency.

We’ll see, as July 20th is a short two weeks away.

In the “cooler” (at least according to WCHL‘s Ron Stutts) ‘berg of Carrboro

are on deck. Current BOA members Joal Broun and Alex Zaffron haven’t officially said which way they’ll jump though I’ve read that Alex might pass.

Who else might run?

In Carrboro, folks are looking North to Katrina Ryan, a 2005 candidate that more than a few folks thought deserved Dan Coleman’s seat.

Carrboro’s NTA (Northern Territories) have more than a few possible candidates to draw upon, including the newly announced Lydia Lavelle. Lydia, who is coincidentally a partner in Foy and Lavelle (yes, that Foy), threw her hat into the appointment ring with Dan and the Village Project’s James Carnahan.

Will James or former well-liked candidate David Marshall make a run? I haven’t heard though the cool ‘berg of Carrboro would be well-served by their entry.

[UPDATE:] Someone asks “Is that all the potential candidates I can think of?” Not really, but I figure time will tell and, hopefully, we’ll all be pleasantly surprised.

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