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Planning Board Chair To Seek Carrboro BoA Seat

CARRBORO –  A member of Carrboro’s planning board is the first to throw her name into the hat for the special election to fill Mayor Lydia Lavelle’s former seat on the Board of Aldermen.

Planning Board Chair, Bethany Chaney says she wants to focus on the affordability of the town if she’s elected.

“If we can’t attract and retain people that can live here, can also afford to buy the products and services that we offer here in Carrboro, and that can work here, too, we lose out,” Chaney says.

Chaney grew up in Chapel Hill and has lived in Carrboro since 2004. She graduated from Chapel HillHigh School and got her BA in interdisciplinary studies from UNC. She later went to Northeastern University where she received a general studies MBA.

Chaney was elected to the planning board in 2011. She’s in the final year of her first term and has served one and half one-year terms as chair. She says here time served has familiarized her with the procedures of advisory boards and local government.

“We don’t want to micromanage at the board level,” Chaney says. “But, we also want to help facilitate people doing their jobs well, doing it in the spirit of our vision, and to the letter of our ordinance.”

She says she’s noticed how important community involvement is when decisions are made.

Chaney also has nearly 20 years experience in the non-profit sector where she says she can bring knowledge of where there are underutilized areas into which the town can tap.

“For example, there are economic development and community development or affordable housing resources out there that are really better utilized for and targeted towards nonprofits or to private developers to use,” Chaney says. “If we have a better sense of where those resources are and the timing of those resources, we can plan in advance to encourage nonprofits and for-profit developers to go after those resources and put them to use here in town.”

The special election for the vacant seat on the Carrboro Board of Aldermen will be held May 6 during the North Carolina Primary. The filing period is February 10-28.

http://chapelboro.com/news/local-government/planning-board-chair-seek-carrboro-boa-seat/

Planning Board Chair Responds To Call For Resignation

CHAPEL HILL – Chapel Hill Planning Board Chair Del Snow says she’s not going anywhere despite a second call for her resignation.

“Quite honestly, I don’t want to get into a battle of words with Mr. Pease over this,” Snow says. “So, I guess I’m not going to go through it like a teacher correcting an essay. If other people want to point out his errors, he can discuss it with them.”

She says the errors can be found in a letter Town Council member Gene Pease wrote to Snow in response to a letter she previously wrote to the Council. She says the letter expressed the concerns the Planning Board had over last week’s approval of the Bicycle Apartments.

“They’re not just my opinions, and to suggest somehow I can influence a very self-confident group of diverse people is silly,” Snow says. “These are people all appointed by the council and they’re professional.”

Pease responded to her letter with a lengthy reaction that ended in a call for her resignation.

“I waited and this thing was festering with me,” Pease says. “The email she sent last week just kind of was the tipping point I guess. I felt I needed to speak up.”

Snow says the points he addressed in his response were not completely correct.

“I thought it was unfortunate, but I will leave that to other people to discuss with him,” Snow says. “There were errors in there, but as far as I know, the Planning Board decided on their own not particularly under my leadership.”

The main concern Pease addressed was the fact that he does not believe Snow can correctly serve as the Planning Board chair when she is suing the Town over another development.

In late October, residents of Chapel Hill sued the Town over the Charterwood project—which abuts Snow’s property—after the Council approved the development in September. The lawsuit stated that the Superior Court of Orange County should review the Town’s decision and that the development would be an inconvenience to its neighbors.

“Just because I’m pursuing my legal rights in a case along with other people that I am not in charge of, and I did not vote, I recused myself, it doesn’t mean I’m not qualified and impartial in other cases,” Snow says.

And, she says the lawsuit is not an opinion-based concern.

“The lawsuit against the Town is based on procedural errors,” Snow says. “It’s certainly worse to approve a case through errors in procedure than anything else.”

Snow says her time on the Planning Board is not spent inserting personal opinion, but instead reviewing the facts about the individual developments.

“I would say that I evaluate applications based on their specific merits,” Snow says.

Snow says she will continue to serve as chair until her term expires in June. She will then have two more years on the Planning Board.

To see the letters and hear comments from Pease, click here.
http://chapelboro.com/news/planning-board-chair-responds-to-call-for-resignation/

Second Public Official Says CH Planning Board Chair Should Resign

CHAPEL HILL – Yet another public official has asked for the resignation of Chapel Hill Planning Board Chair Del Snow.

 

“I feel the chair of the Planning Board has stepped over the line of suing the Town over a development agreement that she disagrees with,” Chapel Hill Town Council member Gene Pease says. “I think it’s inappropriate and I don’t think she can be unbiased in her decision making in future developments while there’s a pending lawsuit where she’s one of the leaders in the lawsuit and organizing the neighborhood.”

In response to a letter by Snow to the Council asking why the Bicycle Apartments were not delayed further in a vote last week, Pease replied with a letter stating her personal opinions too often make way into the Town’s planning decisions.

“I don’t have an issue with any advisory board or commission member disagreeing or not agreeing to any kind of development agreement,” Pease says. “I don’t have any issue with a citizen suing somebody or the Town over a disagreement. I think those are all our rights.”

In late October, residents of Chapel Hill sued the Town over the Charterwood project—which abuts Snow’s property—after the Council approved the development in September. The lawsuit stated that the Superior Court of Orange County should review the Town’s decision and that the development would be an inconvenience to its neighbors.

Pease says as a member of the Planning Board, and especially the chair of the Board, it’s hard for him to see how she can be a part of that lawsuit.

“I’m not comfortable with not speaking up on it,” Pease says. “I think there’s an ethical line that’s been crossed. The essence of my email back to her (Monday) was to ask her to resign her position on the Planning Board.”

He says he feels it’s important to understand how far is too far.

“I don’t have an issue with any other Planning Board member unless they’re a participant in a lawsuit on a development issue against the Town,” Pease says.

Snow’s letter regarding the Bicycle Apartments stated that the Council brought up “legitimate concerns” about the project that should have been answered with “fact-based data” but instead were overlooked and the development was approved.

However, Pease stated multiple times in his response that “fact-based data” has often been a request from Snow. He says that term is often misused “by amateurs trying to sway an argument that is primarily based on their personal bias.” He added that “in our town the term has been greatly overused.”

“They use a word about not being against development, but being for smart development,” Pease says. “When I talked to them about being able to define that, I can’t get a clear definition of what they mean.”

He says these requests often don’t leave any options to further Town development.

“They don’t want our taxes raised,” Pease says. “They don’t want our services cut. But yet there’s a group in town that consistently rallies citizens and close neighborhoods to speak out against development. I can’t figure out how to have the balance in town we need.”

In late December, former council member and current Orange County Commissioner Penny Rich wrote a letter to Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt stating Snow should hand in her resignation.

Click here to read the full story.

Snow had appeared before the Board of Commissioners earlier in the month to voice her objections to the County bus and rail plan. In doing so, she identified herself as the Planning Board chair and cited the Board’s opinions on long-range transportation planning.

Rich argued this amounted to an over-reach of power, but Mayor Kleinschmidt appeared at the next Planning Board meeting to clear the air of the conversations he said were occurring through local media instead of face to face.

Mayor Kleinschmidt stated it was perfectly fine to have an opinion, and fine to credential oneself when the time is appropriate. However, he made it clear that the Planning Board is an advisory board and that the final say goes to the Council.

Click here to read the full story.

Pease says he’s had this concern for some time, but it wasn’t his place to speak up during the conversation over Snow’s visit to Orange County. He says since he wasn’t at the meeting, he didn’t have first-hand knowledge of what took place.

“I waited and this thing was festering with me,” Pease says. “The email she sent last week just kind of was the tipping point I guess. I felt I needed to speak up.”

Regardless of the Mayor’s comments and what role Snow says she is able to play on the Planning Board, Pease says he doesn’t see her performing that role properly anymore.

“I’m not at all complaining or it bothers me that we got sued,” Pease says. “That’s the right of somebody to do that. But to be part of the development process, I don’t know how somebody that’s suing us could be unbiased in future recommendations to the council and that’s where I think an ethical line’s been drawn.”

Snow was not available for comment on the matter Monday evening.

Click here to read Del Snow’s letter to the Town Council.

Click here to read Gene Pease’s response to Snow.

http://chapelboro.com/news/second-public-official-says-ch-planning-board-chair-should-resign/