As you will recall earlier on my website here, I had various personal stipulations to approving a development agreement between RAM Development Co. and the Town for developing Lot 5. These personal requirements are listed below, and in bold, I have offered my current response based on what was presented to the Council and the public a week ago—the draft development agreement.
1. affordable housing units at 21– no more negotiations on this number. No other negotiations regarding open space, etc. No more surprises! Affordable housing is at 21 units.
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. The Development Agreement presents a map with suggested areas for “affordable” parking which are all “within a block” of this project. While I support the efforts at locating parking nearby, I still cannot get over the idea that our lower income residents will be trudging through the rain to and from their cars while their immediate neighbors scoot right on down to the covered parking. Clearly in Chapel Hill we support affordable housing mixed in with regularly priced homes, as exists in communities like Larkspur. This way neighbors feel like neighbors without a financial division. Not including parking onsite, at least for half of the units, is not equitable to me. If RAM were to propose no affordable units at all and had those 21 units as regularly priced, wouldn’t they have included spaces for those 21 units? Would they have reconfigured their plan totally such that the numbers of units actually matched the numbers of parking places or better? I contend they would have. I think that the Town and RAM need to come to some agreement on what parking exists there and provide parking for at least half of these affordable units, in the same building. I appreciate the effort to locate parking close by. I just have a problem with the very obvious social and physical division.
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. This was a great compromise and I appreciate the agreement laid out in the development agreement, and look forward to the study that RAM has agreed to pay for to determine how best to keep these units affordable.
4. Details! Details! Details! on the performance bond–how much and it should cover the project “as designed.” Performance bond numbers are not there but I understand the project is covered “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. There is a stated start date and end date and financial ramifications of not being completed on time.
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. I do not have these details, but I did not request that they come in the development agreement itself. I will ask again with a projection for costs of increased town services.
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. RAM needs to agree to this, and not only if it is economically feasible in the project’s budget as they have indicated. Buildings such as these account for the majority of CO2 emmissions in our nation and the world. We are going to be facing many such development/redevelopment projects coming soon in Chapel Hill, and it is our responsibility to ensure that buildings that outlive us remain a part of a sustainable community with the most energy efficient designs possible in our time. To require less is not responsible. I would like to request that RAM remove the language “if feasible within the project’s budget” or else I won’t approve it. We need to set an example. We need to adhere to our CRED goals, and all eyes are on us now in project approvals as UNC prepares for Carolina North. As Jim Ward stated, if we cannot require these standards of ourselves, then how can we require UNC to do the same? I agree.
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. Thanks to getting this to the public in a timely manner.
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.