The Vote on Lot 5

What does the vote on Lot 5 mean on Monday night?  The vote was to authorize the town manager to work with RAM to come up with a development agreement incoorporating the various aspects of the existing memorandum of understanding and, as I put in the resolution last night, incooperating council comments.  The latter was very important for me to do!  I had many items of concern to be a part of the D.A. in some form, or I will not approve it personally.  The N&O reported today that RAM “shot down” my affordable housing issue; at risk of being accused of bait and switch, they were not going to promise anything like that.   I voted for the manager to proceed with the hopes that this future development agreement will have my questions answered and suggestions within it.  If it doesn’t, I won’t vote for it.  The manager will have to work with RAM to come up with an agreement that the council can be happy with.  Is it over?  In my opinion, no.  Absolutely not.  In essence, what I did was say : ” Please go and craft a development agreement with x,y,z, and present it back to the council for approval, or NOT.”   That was the resolution.  I hear that once such things get approved for the manager to proceed with drawing up agreements, that basically all is said and done.  I don’t agree.  Maybe I have to see things in black and white or something but the council has to APPROVE the development agreement, and will either do that, or not in February.    What did I ask for, and what would I like to be included?

1.  affordable housing units at 21– no more negotiations on this number. No other negotiations regarding open space, etc.  No more surprises!

2.  affordable parking ON SITE, not 2 blocks away at the Wallace Deck.  Maybe across the street, but that’s as far as I go. We don’t have to have a parking space for every unit, but include any affordable housing on site.

3.  Permanent reduction of condominium association fees for affordable units.  It’s simple.  Are we getting affordable units or not?  High condo association fees make some units completely unaffordable.  This is an issue now for the council with upcoming projects.

4.  Details! Details! Details! on the performance bond–how much and it should cover the project “as designed.”

5.  Start and end date for the project.  We will be tying up our revenue stream from parking on lot 5 for years and should not have to suffer more losses if the project goes on and on….the developer should be fined for going over the agreed to date of completion equivalent to the revenue loss for the year.  The developer should lose all property rights if they do not complete the project within a reasonable agreed to time frame, as well. 

6.  Where are the details of the increased town services that will have to be provided for this project?  I did not see that in any of the financial analyses.  I want to see that projected to get a real picture of our financial situation.

7.  Make sure that the project is in fact LEED certified at best and go farther with using renewable energy.  This was a point that Jim Ward argued, and I will support this in seeing that this building, as others that come before the town, are held to the highest accountable standard for energy efficiency.

8.  Make sure that this development agreement is made available to the public at least 2 weeks in advance of a council meeting in which it is to be approved/not approved.  The public needs more notice of this!  (short notice with 500K to 7.25 million).   I didn’t know much more in advance than the public did.

If these minimums are not met in some form or fashion with the development agreement, I feel that this project is not in the Town’s best interests, and I won’t support it.  Consider this list to be not inclusive!  I will wait to see what agreement comes before us.


2 responses to “The Vote on Lot 5

  1. Those are great points.

    The lack of public review time is something that all local public bodies need to address.

  2. Thanks, Mark. There was an editorial today in the Herald talking about the hopes that the council won’t nickle and dime the lot 5 project. Here is the exerpt I refer to:
    “…we would urge the town council to stay the course and be daring. If they wait for every thing to be in place — as sometimes happens in this community — then maybe nothing will get down. Have a vision. Stick to it. Don’t nickel and dime it to death.”
    My response to that is, the “having things in place” before we rush to approve is what makes Chapel Hill a better place to live. The council puts great thought and time into approvals of projects, and if it takes a little time to get it right, so be it. We are in a unique partnership position here, and much money is at stake for the tax payers. I don’t think getting a project right the first time by taking great care is the wrong way to go. Hopefully we don’t have to nickle and dime the project, but one could argue that RAM “dollared and cents” us.

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