By Adam Searing, Renuka Soll, Elizabeth Sharp, David Adams, and Breckany Eckhardt
Adam Searing is running for Chapel Hill Mayor and four of us – Renuka Soll, Elizabeth Sharp, David Adams, and Breckany Eckhardt — are running for Town Council. Together we are united for change in Chapel Hill.
This election is about two different visions for Chapel Hill’s future. There is a group pushing Chapel Hill into extreme urban density, and there is our group – a group who wants Chapel Hill to grow thoughtfully as a green, modern college town.
Over the last eight years, we’ve lost our way in Chapel Hill.
Eliminating single-family zoning erodes this community without providing the benefit of more affordable housing. A healthy community is one where neighbors connect, share, and care for each other. Based on the writings from the Urban Institute, and even according to our town staff, infilling our family neighborhoods is unlikely to result in more affordable units. Who wins? Developers. We should restore single-family zoning, mainly as many of the neighbors affected are some of Chapel Hill’s more affordable neighborhoods.
Chapel Hill is getting paved over, and the Complete Communities plan pushed by our local government is accelerating this. Drive down 15-501 by Trader Joe’s and see the many ugly, concrete luxury high-rise apartments, multi-story parking garages, and traffic. Growth doesn’t have to look like this.
We can grow as a charming, modern town that meets the needs of our people. We can listen to ordinary people instead of out-of-state developers and consultants with profits to make and ideologies to push. We can build the right kind of housing, affordable housing, designed for families and students. We can work with UNC and the UNC Health system to help accommodate growing staff, student and faculty needs.
Our town budget is in bad shape. When we can’t fix our roads, need to lease instead of build a police station, can’t buy the police cars we need, and we have to worry about the state of the town budget. What is the first step in fixing it? Eliminate the millions spent on fancy consultants who deliver expensive, jargon-filled plans.
Parks, recreation, and greenspace have been “underfunded” for over a decade. We have seen massive growth in apartments and housing but have not built a single park in 15 years. We can’t maintain our existing facilities – tennis courts are in disrepair, park benches are rusting out, our Cedar Falls bathroom facilities are precariously still on septic, and we certainly don’t have enough fields or pickleball courts.
We have so many park repairs, upgrades, and other needs that it will take 25 years of the “Pennies for Parks” funding to address the current list. Pennies won’t cut it. We need to prioritize parks. The town’s Complete Communities framework does not have a plan for parks. It just loosely adopts the idea that, somehow, parks should exist. We can do better.
We need sincerity and transparency from our leaders. Our current town leadership eliminated single-family zoning through a “text amendment,” which means they didn’t have to inform the residents of the change (unlike a zoning change requiring notice.) Citizen petitions, like those signed by 1,000 residents to preserve Legion Park, are ignored. Boards and Commissions, like the Parks and Greenways Commission concerning the Greene Tract and Legion Park, are excluded from decision-making.
Look around you. Do you like the recent “progress” you see? If you like the vision of a green, modern college town better, help us enact it by voting for our team of candidates.
Many undecided voters turn to their friends for advice on which candidates to vote for. Emailing and talking to your friends about us and the election can help us tremendously.
Together with you, we can bring new leadership with a new vision to make Chapel Hill a modern college town where we can take pride.