In a letter to the Orange County Organizing Committee read at Sunday's delegates assembly in Chapel Hill, Mayor Kevin Foy said he supports the group's goals but is not ready to endorse all its strategies for achieving them. Look for a story on the assembly in Wednesday's Chapel Hill News.
December 7, 2008
Dear Members of the Orange County Organizing Committee:
I appreciate the invitation to share with you some of my thoughts about your agenda, and I regret not being able to join you today. However, I have had the opportunity to speak to Ivan Parra and other members of the Committee, and I have a great deal of respect for the careful and thoughtful way the Committee is moving forward to engage the community in specific issues.
You have asked for my public reaction to certain items on your collective agenda which I will offer in a few moments. However, as we know, dialogue is about enriching the basis for forming ideas, so I hope you understand that I don’t hold these answers out as my rigid positions. In fact, I would welcome continuing to discuss these and other matters that affect our community.
The specific questions you asked:
1. Do you support the feasibility study of establishing a “housing wage” ordinance for Town’s employees and sub contractors by directing the Town Manager to continue working with OCOC in studying the issue.
I support affordable housing in our community for everyone, not just for town employees, because I am concerned that Chapel Hill will become a homogeneous, elite enclave, which would destroy the character of our town. So I am glad to consider all ideas that lead us to diverse housing options and diverse affordability ranges.
2. Support the implementation of a comprehensive market study to determine the Town’s affordable rental and home ownership needs over the next ten years.
I’m not sure what this means, although I am aware that some of our housing has tended to be too narrow. For example, we apparently have built too many one-bedroom units and not enough three-bedroom units. I see this as part of the evolution of our housing initiative. The Land Trust has been a leader in building affordable housing, but leaders have to find their own paths because there is nobody to follow. That sometimes means that adjustments have to be made, based on experience. So if a market study is the best use of resources in helping to guide how affordable housing is built, then that is probably a wise thing to do.
3. Support for OCOC’s public request for the scheduling of a Public Hearing, during the first 90 days of 2009, to discuss a moratorium on re-development at Glen Lennox for the duration of the NCD Designation Process.
I am not convinced that the NCD process is going to be sufficient to resolve the issue of Glen Lennox redevelopment. So I would prefer to focus on what best serves the community. For example, if the NCD process ends and it is still possible to raze Glen Lennox and build all-new, three-story buildings I think that would be a tragedy. So in that case, I don’t think a moratorium would have served a useful purpose.
I think the best thing for Glen Lennox is exactly what OCOC is doing: focusing public attention and watching the NCD unfold. The result of that is that many people will be well-informed when and if another proposal comes forward for Glen Lennox.
As to Glen Lennox itself, though, this is my perspective: many times over the past several years when developers have come to my office with plans for a new project, I have told them to go drive around Glen Lennox and see a place that this community values. It has mixes of use, including office, retail, and residential; it is affordable; it is modest; it is convenient; it is walkable. So I find it difficult at this point to envision why we would want to tear it down.
Again, thank you for allowing me to share my thoughts. I look forward to continuing this dialogue with you and the rest of our community.
Kevin C. Foy