Chapel Hill residents enjoy our town’s vitality, diversity, good schools, natural beauty, college town character, and livable scale. It’s a good place to live, raise a family, and operate a business. But Chapel Hill’s good qualities are threatened by gentrification and misguided town policies pursued by our local elected officials.
In 2015, Chapel Hill residents joined together to elect new leaders because past decisions had put what we love about our Town at risk. We helped to elect a new Mayor and several new council members because so many voters wanted change. A majority of voters shared our desire to pursue responsible growth that will avoid paralyzing traffic congestion, prevent the loss of tree canopy and loss of locally-owned small businesses and shopping, and address the challenges of overcrowded schools, expensive housing, and escalating taxes.
As a result of the 2015 election, we’ve seen our Town government become more responsive to resident input and we’ve seen some progress toward making the Town more livable, such as the Town’s purchase of the American Legion property to create a new community park. But we don’t yet have a council majority that shares our vision or concerns. That’s why this election is every bit as important as the last one.
We need new council members who will consider the costs as well as the benefits of new development; who will advocate for long-range planning and for developing needed infrastructure before barreling ahead with new projects that our bus system, roads and public services cannot support.
CHALT invites you to work with us to implement the principles described in our platform below.
Protect and Improve What We Value About Our Town
1. 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 and teachers.
2. Protect and enhance the quality of our streams, natural landscapes, parks, recreational trails and wildlife habitats.
3. Protect the quality of life in Chapel Hill’s residential neighborhoods, where we live and raise our children.
4. Make it easier for citizens to get information about town government. Heed the considered advice of town-appointed boards and advisory groups.
5. Keep faithful to our character as a tree-lined university town with a diversity of residents, locally owned businesses and buildings at a comfortable human scale.
Solve Traffic and Transit Problems
1. Increase affordable public transit, e.g. bus service through out the county and region.
2. Ensure that new development does not worsen traffic congestion by building in needed infrastructure.
3. Use traffic models to project the town-wide traffic impacts of development, instead of piecemeal planning.
4. Provide safe routes to bike and walk. Implement the bike plan.
5. Include the cost of associated traffic and transit improvements in the benefit-cost evaluation of proposed developments.
6. Improve access to parking and bus transit to make Chapel Hill more convenient for residents and more economically attractive.
Maintain High Standards for New Development
1. Require new development to pay its own way. Favor development that strengthens town finances by generating more tax revenues than taxpayer costs. Use an economic model to estimate the costs new development will impose on the town and the new tax revenues it will generate.
2. Require new development to follow principles of good urban design in order to create a coherent, attractive, and vital public realm. Solicit design guidelines from local experts and advisory boards.
3. Conduct future-conditions floodplain mapping as practiced by other N.C. cities to assure that new development does not make flooding problems worse.
Promote Housing, Work, and Shopping for Residents of All Income Levels
1. Create effective incentives and requirements to maintain and increase the town’s stock of housing for those who work in Chapel Hill and for those with moderate incomes.
2. Change current policies and zoning, which are causing rapid elimination of housing for moderate income families.
3. Recruit commercial, research and light industrial enterprises that can provide a range of employment opportunities and new tax revenues greater than the accompanying increases in town costs.
4. Assure that the town’s retail mix includes stores that provide everyday necessities at moderate prices, rather than the current trend toward upscale retail.
5. Protect thriving, locally owned businesses from being driven out.
Spend Our Money Wisely
1. Make provision of basic services and maintenance of infrastructure the highest town spending priority.
2. Begin annual funding for town obligations and necessary services, such as retired employee health costs and replacement of old buses, rather than pushing these costs off into the future.
3. Re-examine and reverse town funding of expensive and open-ended consultant contracts and of costly new administrative positions.
4. Work with UNC to minimize further removal of property from the town’s tax base and to maintain an appropriate level of in-lieu-of tax payments for town services to the university.
5. Hold budget workshops to improve citizen understanding of and participation in budget decisions.
Note: The CHALT platform was developed and finalized in December 2014 by interested citizens in numerous meetings which reached a consensus. The platform will evolve as issues arise and new people join our cause.
Our trust in our staff and Town leaders diminished further during subsequent Town-led planning efforts for Central West, Ephesus-Fordham and Obey Creek. In each of these planning processes, we witnessed citizens’ well-researched recommendations being ignored. Town leaders and staff consistently promoted an urban model of high-rise, high-density development, without ever articulating how the town as a whole would benefit. Adding millions of square feet of new buildings are bringing worse traffic to our already-congested roads and overwhelming our impaired streams and inadequate stormwater facilities.
Every cost benefit analysis conducted by the Town has shown that the costs associated with new growth—especially residential growth—will exceed the new revenues growth may bring into the town.
CHALT advocates for a future that will honor and protect Chapel Hill’s small town character, longstanding values of inclusion and environmental stewardship, and commitment to our public schools and quality of life.