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Chapel Hill developer's letter draws response

Sunday’s guest column by Carol Ann Zinn has generated several responses. Zinn recently sold land off N.C. 54 to the UNC Foundation at a major financial loss after failing to win approval for her Aydan Court condominium project (See story here). In her column, she said Chapel Hill’s development process is influenced by no-growth activists and forces developers to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars modifying plans in a lengthy review process that has no guaranted outcome and drives up housing costs.  

Here are a few excerpts from letters that have come in this week. Look for the full versions of these letters Sunday in The Chapel Hill News and at

From Suzanne Haff: "Ms. Zinn has designed and built many wonderful residential communities around Chapel Hill; but, in my opinion, she made a poor choice when she purchased this property –  not a very buildable parcel – and then proceeded to hammer the town with request after request to modify the topography – until it lost all its uniqueness, needed fancy and costly mechanics to control run-off when completed. ...  There is no right as far as I know to do whatever you want to the natural terrain when you purchase a piece of property. She gambled she could convince the council otherwise  and she lost."

From Del Snow: "Carol Ann Zinn is, in fact, an experienced developer with many projects that have been approved in Chapel Hill. Before purchasing the proposed Aydan Court property, she, more than most, should have been clearly aware of all the constraints of the state-designated Significant Natural Heritage Area and the three major ordinances that would have had to be overturned for any development to occur. At every point in the process, these issues were pointed out in staff reports. Our town ordinances are in place to protect our environment, our future, and us. Why did she decide to keep pouring money into a losing proposition in order to force an approval?"

From: Kristina Peterson: "Ms. Zinn should get past this long temper tantrum she’s been having. The development review process does not need to be made easier for flawed development proposals. I am grateful for all the citizen groups and their leaders who give their time freely and generously to support our interests. What would Chapel Hill look like if we hadn’t had heroes like them throughout the years?"


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