CHAPEL HILL – Later this month, Chapel Hill Town Council members will appoint one person to fill the seat left vacant by Penny Rich when she joined the Orange County Board of Commissioners. Eleven residents applied to be considered for that spot on the Council.
All week long, WCHL will be profiling each of those eleven applicants. We continue today in Part 2 of our series, with Loren Hintz and Paul Neebe.
Chapel Hill High School biology teacher Loren Hintz is a UNC grad who’s lived in Chapel Hill since 1992; this would be his first time on the Council, but he’s been involved in town government for years.
“I was chair of the Transportation Board and have served on the Bicycle and Pedestrian Task Force,” he says, “and when this opening came up with Penny Rich (leaving), I thought it was a good time for me to serve.”
Hintz says he thinks Chapel Hill is moving in the right direction and he’s mostly content with the Council as is, but he’d like to see town officials become more proactive in identifying and solving problems—rather than only responding when citizens complain.
And especially in the wake of Chapel Hill 2020, he says he’d like to see the Council do a better job implementing the recommendations of the town’s various boards and task forces.
“I was on the Fordham Boulevard Task Force,” he says, “and most of the things we requested be implemented eventually were, but it took a long time…
“People put a lot of time into those efforts, and I think it’s important that the Town Council try to implement them as quickly as possible.”
Hintz has applied for vacant Council seats twice before, most recently in 2008. He says he brings a great deal to the table: a background in science, an understanding of the needs of local students and parents—and more than three years’ experience serving in the Peace Corps in Central America.
Also running for the open seat is Paul Neebe: a real estate broker, a university instructor, and a Juilliard-trained, internationally recognized classical trumpeter. He’s lived in Chapel Hill for thirty years and currently serves on the town’s Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Board.
With that varied background, he says he’s ready to bring numerous ideas to the table.
“The tax increases have been out of proportion compared to the other counties, we seem to be having more and more (of a) lack of low-income housing…we should have more bikeways and greenways in Chapel Hill, I’m really for that…and of course the town is growing, (but) you still want to keep the small-town atmosphere,” he says.
Like Loren Hintz, Neebe says he’d like to see more effective communication between the Council and the town’s advisory boards. Beyond that, he says he wants Chapel Hill to commit itself to being more of a bike-friendly town than it already is.
And he also says he wants to promote affordable housing, partly by promoting commercial development and shifting the tax burden away from property owners.
“And then hopefully that would make things more affordable for people to buy, because (right now) the taxes are so high it makes houses more expensive,” he says. “Also for people renting: if it’s going to cost less for someone to buy a house and rent it out, then (renting) is going to be more affordable.”
Whoever is appointed to the seat will serve out the remainder of Penny Rich’s term, which expires in December—but Neebe says he’s also interested in running for another term as well.
Paul Neebe, Loren Hintz, and the other nine applicants will have the opportunity to address the Council at a special meeting on Monday, January 14, at 6:00 p.m. in Town Hall. The Council will then meet on Wednesday, January 23, to consider making an appointment.
WCHL will continue profiling each of the eleven candidates throughout the rest of this week.