Environmental Impact Analysis Needed

Sharon Epstein wrote this letter to the Mayor and Council.

From:     Sharon Epstein <epsteinse@gmail.com>
To:          mayorandcouncil@townofchapelhill.org
Date:      Mon, May 18, 2015 at 7:22 PM
Subject: The need for an overall impact analysis of planned developments in Chapel Hill as well as Orange County and Chatham

I am a retired US Foreign Service Officer and returned to Chapel Hill in September 2013.  I also took a masters degree at UNC Chapel Hill in 1981 and returned to the Triangle over the years during the leaves of absence from my job in the countries in which I was assigned.  So I have seen Chapel Hill and the surrounding areas develop since 1981.

I have to tell you that  since September 2013in attempting to re-educate myself on area development, I have been in a state of shock.  Numerous commercial and residential developments are either in the works or have been proposed over the next few years.  But I haven’t been able to locate a current short-, medium- or long-term plan, backed up by professional impact analyses that provide data on the relationships among the planned developments and the combined effects of the developments on area resources such as traffic and transportation and other elements that contribute to quality of life and that affect property and income.

Instead, today for example, we will be looking at the proposed and in my opinion, gargantuan Obey Creek development without reference to any other anticipated development project:  how is it possible to discuss the changes that Obey Creek would bring in traffic and transit, for example, without looking at projections of changes that the other proposed development projects will also bring?!  How is it possible to discuss the financial benefits or costs of Obey Creek to Chapel Hill and its residents and businesses, without looking at projections of financial benefits and costs from the other proposed projects?  What trade-offs will be required, and which sectors, residents and businesses may benefit…or lose?

I urge you to delay final decisions on Obey Creek until objective professional impact analyses that should be carried out, can be defined in a scope of work on which the public has the chance to comment, and subsequently commissioned through a process of fair and open competition.

Does no one see that Obey Creek, a development of greater dimensions than South Point, will forever overwhelm and fundamentally change the Chapel Hill and Carrboro communities, even if other proposed developments are not addressed at this time?

Thank you for your attention.  Sharon Epstein

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