Chapel Hill is Open to All—Except Alexan’s New Residents

Commentary by Matt Bailey

At a recent Chapel Hill Town Council meeting, a council member proclaimed, “I don’t want another Alexan popping up.”

Alexan is the new apartment and retail building next to Whole Foods. It was originally named Village Plaza apartments. That sentiment was echoed by several other elected officials behind the dais for all to see on live TV.

The timing of the comment during this official government meeting is troubling, because some of Alexan’s first residents were moving into their new homes there that very day.  Do we really want elected officials telling our newest neighbors, “we don’t want you or your new home in our town?”

Ironically, just a few weeks ago, those same town leaders declared January 20th a day of kindness and respect. They took to social media proclaiming, “Let’s listen and strive to be inclusive and diverse on all levels.”  How is telling our newest residents that we don’t want their home here being inclusive? Do we only have to listen to folks who have $450-thousand to purchase a single family ranch in Booker Creek?

Here’s a thought. Instead of telling people you wish their new home was never built, why don’t Chapel Hill Town Council members go visit Alexan and get to know their new constituents? Ask them why they chose make Alexan their home. What do they like about the building and its amenities? Do they live there so they can walk or bike or catch the bus intend of driving? Are they graduate students, retirees, or young professionals hoping to start their own business here someday?

Would they have moved to Chapel Hill if there wasn’t a place like Alexan to call home?

While they’re at it, town leaders could get Alexan residents signed up for Chapel Hill’s excellent email updates, connect them with town government on social media, and even encourage them to share their needs and dreams for our community at town council meetings.

If Chapel Hill’s elected officials were sincere about “listening” and striving to be “inclusive on all levels,” back on that day of kindness and respect, perhaps they could start by respecting and listening to people who actually chose to make Alexan their home.

After all, if you’re only inclusive with people who live in the same kind of home as you do, you’re not really doing inclusiveness right.