My Voting Record:
- For affordable housing, new downtown apartments, new large developments with amazing preserved green space and trails, new for-sale townhomes.
- Against: Building on our preserved parks and green space, large apartment buildings surrounded by parking lots, housing people on our coal ash dump, unworkable single family zoning changes that don’t address our problems.
Bonus Photos: The embarrassment of Chapel Hill’s decaying parks.
I NEED YOUR HELP!!!
This is the latest in my “Why I’m running for Mayor” newsletter series. I need donations, volunteers, or if you just want to put a sign in your yard, shoot me an email (email@example.com) or give me a call (919-903-3146) and don’t forget to check out my website (adam4chapelhill.com).
In recent years, those with vested interests in continuing pedal-to-the-metal development here in Chapel Hill have found themselves pushing wildly unpopular projects. These projects have led to large clearcuts, luxury apartment buildings surrounded by parking lots, high-priced investment-driven duplexes in our single-family neighborhoods, and building on land purchased for preservation with voter-approved park/green space bond funds. Developers and their proponents seem to think any compromise means fewer projects and a hit to their bottom line.
To keep the machine of progress moving, the development crowd seems to throw as much mud as possible at anyone who seeks compromise in the hope that some of it sticks. I have witnessed residents who made mildly critical comments about a proposed development be belittled as not having legitimate concerns. “It’s just neighbors — they always complain,” is an excuse for not listening to opponents I hear frequently.
If someone brings up a worry that equity in parks and preserved green space access is critical in a warming world, especially for our more modest neighborhoods currently without generous parks and forests, they are “standing in the way of more housing” or they are “afraid of change.” Or there’s always the classic argument that new development will somehow “diversify our tax base” and bring in new revenues even though we are already paying the highest average property taxes in the Southeastern United States and just raised Chapel Hill’s property tax another 10% this year, despite all the development – housing and commercial – that’s happened already.
Well, I strongly believe in new commercial development, new housing like townhomes and downtown apartments, and even new larger well-designed townhouses/apartment projects — and, during the nearly two years I’ve served on the Town Council, I’ve voted for multiple projects containing thousands of new housing options — many of which are affordable and/or include commercial space. But I also strongly believe in new parks and park facilities, substantial new preserved green space, accessible natural surface trails and paved greenways, and keeping parks, such as our public tennis courts, in decent repair.
Pitting our parks and preserved green space against development doesn’t have to be an either/or. But making room for both means rejecting some development that doesn’t meet the vision I and many other residents have for Chapel Hill — a future where we don’t lose our green space but enhance and preserve our parks along with financially responsible connections that enable all our residents to walk in 10 minutes or less to a park or preserved green space. It’s also a future where kids who live in affordable housing can just as quickly get to the woods and parks as kids in our nicest neighborhoods.
That’s why I voted for the South Park development — over 800 apartments and townhomes, but coupled with an amazing 80 acres of preserved forests, creek and green space with multi-use trails. That’s why I voted for 150 new apartments downtown with new commercial space, over 50 new super-affordable apartments that are walkable to both downtown and Umstead Park, 119 new smaller-size townhomes on Homestead Road, and millions of dollars in investment in great new affordable projects with hundreds of new housing units, including Habitat for Humanity’s Weaver’s Grove. In fact, the only two affordable housing projects I opposed are both being built on green space and park land purchased by voter-approved green space preservation and park bonds. That’s because I believe everyone, regardless of their income, deserves a great park. If you want to know the kind of development I oppose, look no further than Barbee Chapel Apartments — a massive 350-unit multi-story project surrounded by a parking lot and with minimal green space.
It’s time for more responsibility in Chapel Hill in our development. We are going to grow, but we need to grow in the way we want, by also expanding the green space, parks, natural surface trails, and other great amenities we have that make Chapel Hill a great place to live. Another luxury apartment building replacing yet another previously affordable complex on Ephesus Church Road or sacrificing our kids’ fishing ponds for housing just isn’t the way to go. And it’s telling that our biggest move on development this year was to eliminate single family zoning restrictions in Chapel Hill rather than doing the hard work to expand our park system for current residents and the thousands more we are already welcoming.
Check out my key votes — I’ve listed them along with my issues on my website:
The Embarrassment of Chapel Hill’s Decaying Parks
Here’s a few photos I shot recently of our tennis courts at Cedar Falls Park (falling apart) and our skate park (also rotting and falling apart – we allocated $500,000 this year to shore it up, but that’s a fraction of the $1.5 million plus it will take to build a modern skate park of the same size that NC communities from Cherokee to Apex seem to manage to build for their kids.)
Cedar Falls Park Tennis Courts
Chapel Hill Skatepark (See what other communities provide for their kids)