Author Archives: jmcclintock

An Open Letter to the Town Council

This letter was presented to the Town Council on March 26.

To:  Chapel Hill Town Council
From:  Concerned 2020 Stakeholders
Re:  Specific Requests to Council for Improving the 2020 Process
We, the undersigned 2020 stakeholders, would like to respectfully ask that Council consider the following actions to address stakeholder concerns and ensure the success of the 2020 Comprehensive Plan:
(1)   Endorse the completion of the goals and objectives section for the June vision document;
(2)   Allow each theme group to choose two stakeholder representatives to join the co-chair discussions tasked by the Manager and the 2020 leadership with achieving consensus on conflicting theme group goals in the June vision document;
(3)  Remove input from the Future Focus event maps, surveys, and conclusions from the June document and agree that work related to land use recommendations be continued in the subsequent implementation phase; and
(4)   Develop, with stakeholders, a new process for creating the land use portion of the plan after the June document is complete. Include opportunities for comprehensive, analytical discussions of the impacts of proposed changes town-wide and to key growth areas to ensure that town goals and objectives are met in a balanced manner.

A letter is attached, detailing our experience with the 2020 process and our reasons for requesting these changes.
Signed, Jeanne Brown and 40 stakeholders
March 25, 2012
An Open Letter to the Chapel Hill Town Council:
The purpose of the 2020 Comprehensive Plan is to hear citizens’ vision for the future and write a vision plan and land use map to make that future a reality. The Town Manager says we are on our way to completing the Comprehensive Plan vision and framework document in June. With utmost respect to the Manager, the Town staff, and the 2020 leadership, many 2020 stakeholders feel that our work to date is far from finished and does not answer the fundamental question the Town Council wants to know: How much and in what way do we want to grow?
As we near the June deadline, we think it’s important for you to hear citizen input on the process, unfiltered by the voices of the 2020 leadership.  Here’s our take Continue reading

2011 Community Forum a Success

Over ninety people joined the candidates at St. Joseph’s Methodist Church on Rosemary Street to talk informally with the candidates and then to gather in the sanctuary to hear Moderator Eleanor Murray pose questions to the assembled eight (out of nine) Town council candidates.  The questions ranged from responsible growth to Town labor practices and equity for the Rogers Road community. Continue reading

Carolina North Utility Work to Begin

This story appeared in the Sept 11th Chapel Hill News.

We are not out of the recession yet, but with a Corps of Engineers permit in hand, UNC is busy getting the utilities in the ground for a new campus, Carolina North. Judging from the University’s announcement released last week, a great deal of land could potentially be cleared outside the airport footprint, affecting forests on the large 1000 acre tract in northern Chapel Hill and Carrboro. Continue reading

What’s Ahead: The new Comprehensive Plan

Jeanne Brown delivered this thoughtful petition before the Council broke for the summer.  Food for thought.

June 27, 2011
Mayor Kleinschmidt and members of Town Council:

Good Evening:  It is exciting to hear that the Initiating Committee report will be reviewed tonight – setting the stage for public discussion and formulation of Chapel Hill’s new Comprehensive Plan.

This year Council has faced many ad hoc development decisions. Based on recent comments by developers, council members and citizens, I believe that everyone agrees that the new Comprehensive Plan will provide an updated guiding document for council, developers and citizens.

But creating a new Comprehensive Plan is not all that is needed. As citizen groups watched Aydan Court and similar development decisions unfold, it has become clear that the Concept Plan and Development Application Review processes need to be improved and strengthened in order to avoid similar situations in the future.

To begin with, a publicly created and vetted Comprehensive Plan is only effective if it is used as the basis for guiding staff, council and developers from initial Concept Plan discussions through building of approved projects.

Council Woman Donna Bell expressed the concerns many of us share when she observed that the Aydan Court project had first been proposed as a project that “spanned the entire property” and then had been “whittled down” from there. Continue reading

Council Votes to Deny Aydan Court Rezoning 5 – 4

Thanks to your help, on Monday night, June 20, the Chapel Hill Town Council voted to protect Jordan lake and to adhere to our land use ordinances.

In a 5-4 vote, Council members Bell, Greene, Ward, Rich, and Harrison rejected the proposed rezoning change for the Aydan Court 90-condo luxury development. The video tape of the many hour public hearing can be seen here.

We won this close vote because of your willingness to get involved by signing the petition and emailing their concerns to the  Council.  Our community spoke loud and clear that this was the wrong project for such an environmentally sensitive area, and our voices were heard.

We thank the Council members who recognized that this project was poorly conceived, and voted to protect our wildlife and drinking water:  Donna Bell, Sally Greene, Jim Ward (all three of whose seats are up for re-election this year), Penny Rich, and Ed Harrison (who most forcefully advocated against the rezoning).

The story in the Chapel Hill News captured the story.  However, one statement was not correct.  A second vote will not be required since the rezoning was denied.

Together we have made a difference!

Why we need to protect this East Chapel Hill Natural Heritage site

The developer for Aydan Court  proposes to build 90 condos on a Natural Heritage site on the edge of the eastern entrance way to Chapel Hill on Highway 54, east of Meadowmont.  The Council denied a rezoning two years ago.  On June 20th the Town Council will again decide whether to rezone this land. Please urge the Council to deny this rezoning for these reasons.

This property is part of a much larger Significant Natural Heritage Area and is adjacent to the Upper Little Creek Wildlife Impoundment, on the edge of the eastern entranceway to Chapel Hill on Highway 54, east of Meadowmont.

  • Approving this proposal would set a precedent that any property in Chapel Hill can be rezoned to meet a developer’s goals, including Charterwood, Obey Creek, or your neighborhood.
  • The Town’s land use map zones this property for low density, or “open space,” which should remain until the Town’s comprehensive plan is revisited later this year;
  • The property contains critical wildlife habitat and is adjacent to sensitive wetlands and public game lands for hunting and fishing; The Wildlife Commission recommends a 150 yard buffer and the proposed condos would be less than 100 feet from the state hunting areas;
  • Removing 70% of trees will cause erosion and runoff that affects an already impaired Jordan Lake, which supplies drinking water to half a million people;
  • The proposed development does not comply with the Town’s steep slopes ordinance;
  • The market for condominiums in Chapel Hill is already saturated.

For all these reasons, we encourage you to send a message to the Town Council requesting the Town to deny the rezoning and to sign the petition on this page.  Please forward this link to your friends.

Aydan Court Reprise

On the evening of May 25, just when it appeared 5 Council members were ready to deny the rezoning, the Council decided to delay the vote and continue the public hearing.  The case was made by the Mayor that since a 5 – 3 vote on a rezoning would require two votes anyway, the Council might as well wait.  In addition Council Member Czajkowski  said there was information on R1 the Council needed to see since that is the existing zone.   However the matter  before the Council is whether to grant the requested rezoning to high density.  We believe the Council must vote on the merits of the developer’s request to build 90 condos on a Significant Natural Heritage area adjacent to a water fowl impoundment.

If the developer’s zoning request is denied we think it more likely she would seek a compromise option rather than to seek a single family option.  The public hearing was continued until June 20, but there is a plan to move the hearing to Tuesday, June 21st because of the heavy Council agenda. Stay tuned.

Campus to Campus Bicycle Path

A committee of NRG has worked with the town staff and UNC since 2009 to push forward a mostly off-road bicycle path between UNC campus and Carolina North.  The Carolina North Agreement memoralized the commitment that was made between Chapel Hill and UNC and outlined steps for identifying a route.  That work has been completed shown in this  Map of selected route.

What we need now is a framework and a plan outlined by elected officials to move to the next steps of design and funding.

It is disappointing to learn that this item is not scheduled for public discussion but appears on the consent agenda.   The Manager’s Memo suggests putting the Connector into the Transportation Improvement Plan, which is not destined to receive any funding given DOT funding reductions. We don’t object to this action, but we call for more public discussion.

We want the Council to make the Campus to Campus Connector a priority.

Give input on Carolina North Permit Application

In the course of planning Carolina North, the new campus planned on the Horace Williams Airport property, UNC is applying for a 50 year permit from the Corps of Engineers. The Corps has responsibility for changes affecting wetland, streams and rivers.

The period for public comment ends 5 pm Monday May 9th.  Any comments received will be considered by the Corps to determine whether to issue, modify or deny a permit for the proposal. Comments are used to assess impacts on endangered species, historic properties, water quality, and to assess the need for a public hearing. UNC must receive a permit approval before proceeding with construction for Carolina North.

Study the maps as there are many water courses affected by the project.  The permit application affects Bolin Creek and 12 unnamed tributaries, Crow Branch and 5 unnamed tributaries, and 1 unnamed tributary to Booker Creek.

Click on the file in this table to see the Corp’s public notice.  See the entire voluminous permit application at the UNC web site.

Comments can be sent by email before Monday at 5 pm to Andrew Williams, at

2011 Creek Action Tour

Earth Action Day is April 9th!

Join the 2011 Creek Action Tour organized by Friends of Bolin Creek and the Towns of Chapel Hill and Carrboro to promote healthy creeks and responsible growth.  A map with complete tour information can be found at  A small scale map is below.

This year’s Creek Action Tour takes place next Saturday from 10 – 12 noon, and  showcases projects that improve our water quality in our creeks, and ultimately our drinking water.You can choose from nine different free events on the Tour, including a puppet adventure at the Botanical Gardens, a demonstration rain garden at McDougle Middle School, a stream restoration project at Baldwin Park, floating islands that clean water and more.

Highlights include:

  • “The Story of the Haw” is a 30 minute Haw River Assembly adventure with puppets and song, telling  the story of our vast watershed. 10:30 and 11:30am
  • McDougle Middle School students will show a video of their rain garden and lead a “design your dream house” impact game
  • Neighbor Alex Millager designed and built a backyard rain garden.  Learn how you can build one.
  • A tree planting ceremony at 9:30 am kicks off the tour at Baldwin Park, where a large stream restoration is underway.  The work done by our two towns with federal, state and North Carolina State University support to help improve Bolin Creek, an impaired stream. The project is described here.
  • Map of Venues for Creek Action Tour