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Hot Orange News & Analysis - April 2008

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Local Officials Stymied in Search for Gang Presence

Press the Image to Help Local Officials in Their Search

Photo of an Eve Carson Murder Suspect Being Arraigned

Since the arrest of the Eve Carson murder suspects, local officials have said nary a word as to whether or not the two suspects arrested have any association with the taboo “G” word… gangs.

Local officials have been in public denial about gangs in southern Orange for years despite official public state information that gangs do thrive here. They have ignored repeated exposure by Squeeze the Pulp over the past few years of official statements by the state and the federal government talking about Orange County gangs.

Local officials in the towns of Carrboro and Chapel Hill have refused to initiate public information programs educating citizens about gangs and identifying marks, such as clothing or neck tattoos. Local schools will educate about the ills of tobacco smoking but not gangs. The town of Chapel Hill canceled an annual festival rather than face down criminal elements taking over the crowds. Do anything but face the issues.

In the wake of a recent spree of crimes, Carrboro police have charged four young men and a teenage girl in a series of African-American on Hispanic muggings in Durham and Orange County. They’re also investigating at least three additional suspects in a recent Carrboro robbery spree. According to police, all of the suspects may belong to a gang.

In the words of Police Captain Booker, ”When this thing keeps growing in numbers, it's hard not to look at it that way. It has grown to eight people that we're looking at. It is a very strong likelihood that additional charges will be lodged, and some of those charges may be on brand new suspects.”

No word from Alderman Joel Hall Broun who two years ago ridiculed then candidate Ms. Katrina Ryan for suggesting that Carrboro had a crime problem.

No word from obedient Carrboro peevish pet food purveyors who yapped about warnings of gang presence in support of Ms. Ryan.

No word on the police investigation into the trafficking of Orange Progressive Cool-Aid by the Boa and the Councilors.

See N&O Crime Spree Story.

Chapel Hill Councilperson Refuses to Drink Orange Progressive Cool-Aid, Asks Probing Questions of Planning Board Chair

Press the Image to Hear Mr. Kleinschmidt's Praise for Density

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On 22 April 2008, Chapel Hill town Councilman Matt Czajkowski revealed once again that he’s not taking his political medication. He’s not drinking the Chapelboro Cool-Aid.

A public hearing was held concerning the proposed “Residences at Grove Park”, yet another higher density infill project for Chapel Hill. The proposal is to tear down 111 units on 12.9 acres and replace them with 346 units and 580 parking spaces. The site is located between Hillsborough Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. at 624 and 626 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. and at 425 and 429 Hillsborough Street

The developer is none other than Ram Development, the development group that is in partnership with the town of Chapel Hill in developing the town-owned Parking Lot 5 on West Franklin Street.

Councilman Matt Czajkowski had the audacity to question Mr. George Cianciolo (Chapel Hill Planning Board chair) with questions about why higher density infill is desirable for Chapel Hill, why growth for growth sakes is good public policy.

Further, Mr. Czajkowski showed disturbing logic in stating that “if more people are living in Chapel Hill but driving to work at RTP, what is accomplished by transit-oriented development? Certainly not a reduction in fuel usage or emissions”.

Finally, Mr. Czajkowski showed a complete lack of appreciation of planning poseur form (see Phictionary) in pointing out that Mr. Cianciolo was advocating for living near work and taking public transit while he doesn’t do so himself.

Consummate Chapelboro Cool-Aid drinker, executive director of yet another local tax-exempt organization, and on-again, off-again political power couple paramour, Mark Kleinschmidt showed the resolve of the majority of the board, stating that Chapel Hill is under a lot of pressure by developers who want to build similar properties. Speaking the language of a staunch property rights Republican, Mr. Kleinschmidt opined ”We as the town can't strip someone's private property interests from them. No matter how much we want to do that in some instances, we can't do it. It's a fundamental right that they have. We can't close the door on that. We did it for eight or nine months in the northern area and you remember what that was like. Everyone was screaming at us. We got sued.

No word from Mr. Kleinschmidt on whether or not the town being a partner with Ram Development on Lot 5 colors his reasoning.

Boa Votes for Local Transfer Tax, Mayor Chilton Uses Public Office to Help Out Fellow Developers

Press the Image to Hear the Boa Love of Development

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Tax-exempt expert, pollo asado eater, Carrboro developer & realtor, bourgeoisie rentier, black bag campaign poster expert, Carrboro mayor, and now water use guru Mr. Mark Chilton comes to the rescue once again of fellow developers/water profiteers (see Phictionary), with his bag of political magic tricks. Mayor Chilton uses his political office to hold a Boa vote on the local transfer/home equity tax.

On 22 April 2008, under the hypnotic gaze of Mayor Chilton, the Boa passed another in its famous string of non-binding and meaningless resolutions about issues not discussed in any Carrboro election.

Throughout the entire riveting discussion, not a single Boa member mentioned any of the following facts regarding the local transfer tax:
1) City schools need over TWO HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS in unfunded capital spending over the next five years.
2) Orange County has an impact fee for new homes. Unfortunately, that fee is not high enough to offset the capital burdens of a new residence.
3) OC has been in a steady growth pattern for the past 20 years and will maintain that path for the next 20 years.
4) County government doesn’t keep a future capital cost balance sheet.
5) Not one Orange County municipality requires a financial impact statement (municipal capital and operating costs) when making residential housing approvals.
6) Currituck County (with a local transfer tax since 1985) recently asked for a TWELVE THOUSAND DOLLAR PER HOUSE impact fee, almost three times the Orange County impact fee.
7) Despite assurances from county commissioners and luminaries, the tax is NOT dedicated to “schools and parks”.
8) Renters aren’t subject to the tax. Carrboro is two thirds renters.
9) Smart landlords aren’t subject to the tax. Landlords can sell the business owning title to their rental units, thereby avoiding any transfer tax.
10) The tax is highly cyclical. When the economy turns down, so do transfer tax revenues. Such revenues in Dare County (another model county cited) halved in the recent economic downturn.
11) Even with this tax, more scheduled imbalanced growth will bring us full circle to more unfunded capital debt for schools.

“Dance with bricks” trespasser and chief issue teaser Alderman Randee Haven-O'Donnell captured the Boa’s mood, saying that real estate is Carrboro’s biggest business, so business (sic??) should support schools and parks. (Sorry Pulpsters, there's no Phicitonary translation for this Orangespeak statement available.)

Chapel Hill Gentrifying Developer Advocates Capping Tax Rate Increases for Gentrifying Areas, Local Gentrifying Rentier Sinreich Declares Gentrification “Complicated"

Press the Image to Hear Gentrifying Winners' Response

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Greenbridge developer Ben Toben is building a 100 unit luxury condominium project with prices over $1,000,000 at the corner of Graham and West Rosemary Streets. (Pulpsters should note that the local stenographers prefer to speak about an average price (over $500,000) and not reflect how high the unit prices extend.) This site is near below median housing in the Northside and Pine Knoll neighborhoods. Post approval of the Greenbridge development, local affordable housing advocates are noticing that the introduction of luxury condos puts market pressure on the prices of local existing housing, raising the prices. Rising prices mean rising ad valorem property taxes.

Having gotten his profits approved by the town council without considering the tax effects of his development on neighbors, Mr. Toben now says “Why should Northside and its residents have to contribute more in taxes?” He calls for capping the property tax rate in areas he and his associates are gentrifying.

In response, local political analyst, former Chapel Hill Planning Board member, Orange Politics blog censor, “dances with bricks” anarchist, Carrboro Mayor Chilton backer, trustafarian disciple, and affected Northside bourgeoisie rentier (see Phictionary) Ruby Sinreich didn’t oppose Mr. Toben's Greenbridge project now or during the approval process, but instead commented in response to Mr. Toben's statements “The thing about gentrification is it’s complicated. Every day downtown is more valuable whether you build this or not.

See CHN Greenbridge Story.

Former Local Democrat Party Head Katz Hisses at Incumbent State Senator Kinnaird, Local Stenographers Yawn and Change Ad Policy

Press the Image to Hear How to Determine a Negative Political Ad

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In the past recent election cycles, the local steno pool (aka media outlets) have refused to print “negative” campaign ads. But what the term “negative“ means is in the eye of the beholden.

For example, the above ad was run in a local paper by parasitic fungal expert and, quite appropriately, former head of the Orange County Democratic Party, Barry Katz. This ad is considered not “negative”, i.e. the editors aren’t backing the candidate being exposed. (See Flame Pit - Katz Scratch Fever!!!.)

However, the below ad, was not allowed in April 2006 by the local papers because it was “negative”, i.e., the editors were backing the candidate being exposed.

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Councilpersons Greene and Kleinschmidt Protecting Civil Rights… of Public Micturator and Genital Exposer?

Press the Image to Hear Chapel Hill Town Council Protection of Civil Rights

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Civil rights are important to Orange Progressive politicians. Not in the manner of Dr. King marching in Memphis for the rights of municipal workers, but in the manner of browbeating municipal workers (the local police) not to do their jobs.

Local politicians often wonder out loud why more people don’t visit Franklin Street. You might get the chance to visit with an older gentleman in a wheelchair. He might lewdly solicit you if you're a young woman. He might urinate in front of you. Then again, he might just be content with exposing his genitalia to you.

The flashy Franklin Street fixture has been cited dozens of times for his questionable behavior. So what do Councilperson Sally Greene and Councilperson Mark Kleinschmidt do about this situation? Why they march right down to Chapel Hill Police Department headquarters and read the riot act… to the police.

The gentleman in the wheelchair has civil rights. He can’t be stopped from cruising Franklin Street sidewalks. He can’t be stopped from urinating at will in front of Kidzu.

Councilpersons Greene and Kleinschmidt appear to prefer to protect the rights of a serial lewd pervert over protecting the rights of young children.

No word on the affordable housing to be offered the Franklin Street flasher by the town council.

Chilton Surrogate Capowski Shills For Home Equity Tax

Press the Image to Hear Capowski Shill

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In the 13 2008 Chapel Hill Herald, former Chapel Hill Councilperson , Orange Progressive propagandist, and Carrboro Mayor political attack surrogate (akaWeaver Guy” on local political blogs and forums) Joseph Capowski shills for the home equity tax/local land transfer tax vote on 6 May 2008. Mr. Capowski is a chair of Orange Citizens for Schools and Parks, the ad hoc pro transfer tax group started by Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton and scheduled to evaporate after the vote. (See Hot Orange Chilton Story.)

In keeping with the objectives of fellow home equity tax shiller, tax-exempt expert, pollo asado eater, Carrboro developer & realtor, bourgeoisie rentier, black bag campaign poster expert, Carrboro mayor, and now water use guru Mr. Mark Chilton, Mr. Capowski is for the home equity tax. Not only is Mr. Capowski for the tax, he’s for southern Orange remaining a bedroom community that will keep on having to pay for developers’ profits. “Orange County's primary growth industry is residential housing with a great lifestyle, and this basic character should not be compromised by heedlessly seeking new industry that could lower our quality of life.

Mr. Capowski fails to mention fully burdened impact fees, fees that would come out of the pocket of developers like his friend, developer Mayor Chilton.

Mr. Capowski fails to mention the cyclical nature of transfer taxes that tend to lag at the time most needed.

Mr. Capowski fails to mention that the tax is NOT dedicated for parks and schools.

Here’s Mr. Capowski’s shilling in all its glory:

How should Orange County grow responsibly for its present and future citizens? In other words, how do we absorb more residents without destroying our great quality of life and becoming another casualty to too-fast growth that exceeds our infrastructure, with the result of crowded schools and highways, inadequate parks, and as we saw most recently, a water shortage?

Orange County is not like any other county in North Carolina. It ought not follow any abstract or state-provided growth formula. Where else do you have two employers, UNC and UNC Health Care, who pump in $2 billion a year in salaries and benefits, and another $1.1 billion in service and supply purchases? True, the university and Health Care don't pay property taxes, but they are responsible for the 30 percent higher median family income that Orange County enjoys compared to the state median income.

Our superior public schools and parks are the crown jewels that attract and retain our educated population, which in turn sustains our economy and the economies of surrounding counties. Generally, these are professors and scientists who are courted by universities around the country and often choose to live here to enjoy our quality of life. These amenities also contribute to our real estate stability, with steadily rising home costs without the boom-bust cycles that occur elsewhere.

Orange County's primary growth industry is residential housing with a great lifestyle, and this basic character should not be compromised by heedlessly seeking new industry that could lower our quality of life. That said, thoughtful commercial development is essential within the county's comprehensive land use plan. We are a renowned center of education and health care, and we should continue down this successful path.

Our growth demands that we build new schools and parks – and schools, by North Carolina law, are uniquely county functions. Historically, the one revenue source for school construction that county commissioners can control is the property tax, and it is already too high – high enough that many older citizens, who tend to be house-rich but income-poor, fear being taxed out of their homes. As a consequence, the county commissioners asked the legislature for another revenue stream, and after finally receiving permission, our commissioners have placed this question on the ballot for May 6: Real property transfer tax at the rate of up to four-tenths percent (0.4 percent) of value or consideration. Vote FOR or AGAINST.

This tax will apply to all real estate transactions in which money changes hands, including residential, commercial and unimproved properties. Gifts and inheritances are not affected. The county commissioners will apply the tax revenue to our county's schools and parks. Since the county is obligated to build schools, the question before us is not if we want additional taxes, but rather how do we want to be taxed?

Nobody, myself included, likes a new tax. So why do I advocate for it?

* The transfer tax allows property owners to enjoy increases in the value of their homes and businesses as long as they own them, without paying additional yearly property tax.

* The transfer tax payment is delayed until the property is sold, when the seller will receive revenue. Elderly people benefit here especially.

The NC Association of Realtors will spend a small fortune of statewide funds to fight this tax. You'll receive their handsome brochures and robo calls. Their fear is that if it passes here, it will spread to larger, fast-growth counties. This group is strongly opposed to increases in real estate taxes, even if these taxes are needed to pay for schools and other basic community services. It's nothing personal, high housing prices are bad for business. They argue, for example, that “this is not the time for a new tax.”

But what is their alternative? Don't build the next needed school? Keep raising the property tax to pay for it?

I chair a local grassroots group that believes that this tax is a necessity. We are funded entirely by local contributions. Please visit our Web site at 4schools4parks.com. We urgently need help to spread the truth about this measure. Can you help? Please send a check to Orange Citizens for Schools and Parks, P.O. Box 14, Chapel Hill, NC 27514. (Write your occupation and employer on the memo line.)

We urge Orange County voters to carefully examine the facts about the Land Transfer Tax and weigh the benefits and burdens of meeting part of our obligation to the future with this tax. Unfortunately, we cannot have it all without paying for it. Let's face it deliberately and fairly, together.

OWASA Declares End to Stage 3 Alert, Steno Pool Dutifully Silent on Will Interim Stage 3 Rates Be Levied

Press the Image to Hear OWASA's Rendition of the Pipes Are Calling

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At a 10 April 2008 meeting OWASA Directors rescinded the Stage 3 Water shortage notice and declared a Stage 1 Water Shortage. The reason? OWASA's storage capacity is now 70% full which represents 400+ days of storage (assuming no rainfall and average customer demand during the past 30 days). OWASA Directors didn’t say whether or not OWASA will still levy the high water rates that were effective between 28 February 2008 and 10 April 2008. (See Hot Orange OWASA Rate Pot of Gold Story.)

Local media stenographers have not asked the billing question. OWASA is silent. “Don’t ask, don’t tell”, alive and well in southern Orange.

Higher Paying, Tax Exempt, Non-Profit, Public Sector Jobs Grow While Private Sector Jobs and Wages Languish, Commish Jacobs Responds With Pledge of Living Wages for Buckhorn Village Retail Workers

Press the Image to Hear the Fine Public Sector State of the Economy (Not the Private Sector, Of Course)

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The good news, Orange County gained 10,000 jobs in the last decade. The bad news, 70% of them where dependent upon tax exempt, non-profit, public sector workplaces such as UNC-Chapel Hill and UNC Hospitals.

The good news, Orange County tax-exempt public sector jobs averaged $6,000 more a year in wages than similar workers in the Triangle region. The bad news, Orange County private sector for-profit jobs averaged $10,000 a year less in wages than their regional counterparts.

In the words of Mr. Charles Hayes, president and CEO of the Research Triangle Regional Partnership, a well paying tax exempt, non-profit group representing economic development interests in the Triangle, ”The question is, how long is this [economic development] model we have in Orange County sustainable?

According to the N&O, local leaders attending a luncheon presentation by Mr. Hayes (paid for by your taxes) displayed their deep understanding of economic development. In an amazing first exhibition of economic acumen, they conceded Orange County's small private sector is heavy on the retail and service industries. Then they quickly followed that revelation with another. They conceded that people who make pizzas earn less than those who make vaccines or drugs (the legal kind).

Commish Barry Jacobs is going after higher-paying jobs for Orange County. How? By driving away the Buckhorn Flea Market, assembling the Developer Dream Team, and providing water & sewer to his developer friends! (See Hot Orange Developer Dream Team Story.) Yes, Commish Jacobs is looking to a megaretail center near Mebane to create higher paying private sector for-profit jobs. According to Mr. Jacobs, the commissioners will “press the developers” to have retail tenants sign a living wage and health benefits document.

No word on how proud Mr. Jacobs is of the record of Orange County retail sales tax collections growing 2.3% over the past six years, one third the growth rate of the population (7.1%).

No word on how proud Mr. Jacobs is of the record of Orange County retail sales per capita, about 70% of Durham County and well below the state average.

No word on how proud Mr. Jacobs is of the record of Orange County tax base which over the past six years remains at 86% residential and 14% non-residential.

See N&O Job Growth Story.

Chapelboro Schools Ask Local State Legislators for More Money... From You, Not Developers

Press the Image to Hear Pleas for School Money

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Chapelboro school officials met with local legislators at their annual legislative breakfast on 7 April 2008. Cries were made for more money from you, but not from developers. The demand side was elaborately described from the standpoint of use (added pupils) with absolutely no mention as to how those new pupils arrived at the Chapelboro school doorstep.

Here are the expensive facts. Over the next decade, Chapelboro schools will need $199,000,000 in capital spending. Although only $14,000,000 was spent on Rashkis Elementary School in 2003, Chapelboro schools are spending $25,000,000 for Morris Grove Elementary (a duplicate school of Rashkis), scheduled to open in 2008. In 2010, elementary school No. 11 is needed, projected cost of $33,000,000, or an annual inflation rate of about 15%. By 2013, elementary school No. 12 will be needed, projected cost of $44,000,000, also at an annual inflation rate of about 15%.

Each elementary school handles about 500 students, so Chapelboro schools is projecting about 1500 new students each year as a steady demand in only five years. Part of the demand is created by a legislative mandate for smaller class sizes. However, another part is described as a demographic trend for families moving into Chapelboro rental housing. This coded phrasing is an Orange Progressive obfuscation of the fact that Chapelboro illegal immigration sanctuary policies are attracting immigrants with families now, hence the dramatically rising Hispanic population in the Chapelboro schools.

New student demand will show up in other parts of the system by 2013. By that time a new middle school and new high school are required. Cost? Over another $100,000,000 is needed.

Not one word was said about implementing a $12,000 per new housing unit impact fee such as Currituck County is seeking.

Not one word was said about how a local transfer/home equity tax doesn’t apply to renters who are creating this new demand in substantial part.

Not one word was said linking residential growth to net negative municipal revenue flows and the need for financial impact statements for developments.

See DailyTar Heel New School Story.

State Senator Kinnaird on Taxing Home Equity... And Your Little Dog Too!

Press the Image to Hear Ms. Kinnaird Speak Out on Need for More Taxes

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In the 8 April 2008 Daily Tar Heel, State Senator Ellie Kinnaird states that you are being fed misinformation regarding the proposed “home equity” tax (aka the local option transfer tax) (See Hot Orange Transfer Tax Story.) According to Ms. Kinnaird five counties have “enjoyed” the local transfer tax for years. For her their success story reads as “growth in the counties has not slowed, their ad valorem taxes are the lowest in the state and they have more money for schools. In fact, after the transfer tax passed, their ad valorem property taxes went down while their school funding increased.

No facts are given by Ms. Kinnaird, but fortunately, facts are available.

Dare and Currituck counties (along the coast) have had the local transfer tax the longest, since 1985.

Are homes more affordable there? No. Home prices in beachfront blessed Dare and Currituck Counties are among the highest in North Carolina and are more than double the state average. Higher home prices mean higher ad valorem revenues per houehold for the counties. In 2006, the average Currituck resale price was $581,878 with a median price of $380,000. The average resale price in Dare was $483,244 with a median price of $397,500. By comparison, the average 2006 resale price in North Carolina was $214,948, and the Triangle average was $233,763.

Are the tax levies per person less? No. Even with a “home equity” tax, ad valorem tax levies per person for Currituck and Dare counties are, respectively $1073 and $1293. That compares to $966 for Orange County without a “home equity” tax.

Are “home equity” taxes stable or growing? No. As reported in the Coastland Times of Manteo, Dare County Commissioners cut capital reserve fund expenditures to “adjust for a steep decline in land transfer tax revenue.” Dare’s collection of land transfer tax declined from a high of $15.13 million in FY 2005, to $10.74 million in FY 2006 to a projected $6.84 million for FY 2007.

Are impact fees to pay for capital infrastructure growth costs not needed there? No. Currituck County is seeking a proposed Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (APFO) which would force developers to pay “voluntary mitigation payments” of more than $12,000 per home, or make another form of contribution toward the local school system. Orange County has a SAPFO ordinance that forces the commissioners to build schools and doesn’t ask developers for a dime!

Ms. Kinnaird reveals that she is on the cusp of discovering the source of the costs of residential growth when she further says “[t]he choice is forever increasing property taxes to pay for our growth and the need for more schools and parks to accommodate that growth or a one-time tax that affects a family maybe only one or two times in their lives.” However, she falls off the wagon by failing to state who picks up the tab and who picks up the profits.

Ms. Kinnaird misses the plain and simple fact that the local transfer tax simply shifts the burden of new infrastructure capital off those making the profits (the developers) onto those who sell their homes. She wants to tax the capital gain of residents while allowing developers to escape with their income gains untaxed by the county.

In a jingoistic rebuttal, Ms. Kinnaird ends by stating that “the ad valorem property tax is a “home tax” already, just one that is hard on those with a fixed income.” Too bad, Ms. Kinnaird can’t tell the difference between an operational home tax (ad valorem property taxes), where one pays for services available, and a capital home tax (home equity transfer tax), where one is taxed on maintaining or building the value of a property without receiving any services from the county for having done so.

No word from Ms. Kinnaird or the Commishes on why there is (in the words of the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners) “a growing crisis” on how counties pay for infrastructure needs aka schools.

See Ms. Kinnaird’s letter in the DTH.

Carrboro Mayor Chilton Conjures Source of Water Demand Problem, It's Residents, Not Developers!

Press the Image to Hear Fellow Water Profiteer Reaction

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Hot off his magical act tour shilling the unpopular local transfer tax for Orange County commishes, tax-exempt expert, pollo asado eater, Carrboro developer & realtor, bourgeoisie rentier, black bag campaign poster expert, Carrboro mayor, and now water use guru Mr. Mark Chilton comes to the rescue once again of fellow developers/water profiteers (see Phictionary), with his bag of political magic tricks. At the 31 March 2008 meeting of the Orange County, Carrboro, and Chapel Hill municipal governments meeting attended by representatives of Chatham County and Durham County, Mr. Chilton waved his magic wand over the water problems facing local governments.

Mr. Chilton didn’t speak about conserving water by limiting local growth for developers. He didn’t speak about defining a carrying capacity for the region. Instead, he spoke about residents using less water. The answer is user conservation. ”We don't have a water supply problem, we have a water demand problem.” According to Mr. Chilton, Jordan Lake isn’t the answer to the region's water concerns. While calling for other municipalities to conserve and not tap an additional reservoir, he advocates OWASA (his town’s local water supplier) building an additional reservoir courtesy of local residents and not local water profiteers (the Stone Quarry reservoir, about the size of the University Lake reservoir) in the Jordan Lake watershed.

For Mr. Chilton, water demand is created not by those building housing (fellow water profiteers), but by those occupying housing (residents). This Orange Progressive nuance is matched by his insistence that adding high housing density in one area while temporarily lowering housing density in another area to offset the population increase in the former area until the buildout is completed in the former area, then increasing housing density in the latter area is somehow maintaining the status quo. (See Hot Orange Carrboro Density Story or Poet Lariat - DeNScItY... the magic of small town urbanism.)

No word on whether or not Mr. Chilton realizes the irony in his wisdom in his prestidigitation fingerpointing. The water captured by OWASA for Carrboro is in the Jordan Lake watershed, and thus, not only depletes the water available for Jordan Lake, but is, in essence, a tapping of Jordan Lake.

No word on whether or not Mr. Chilton, an expert in land options, has an option on a Joshua tree import business.

See Chapel Hill Herald Water Guru Story.

See Hot Orange Chilton Disses Durham Story.

Chapel Hill Mayor Foy Announces 10% Increase in Town Taxes, Just Another Nickel to Local Media

Press the Image to Hear Chapel Hill Town Budget Discussions



On 26 March 2008, during the annual Chapelboro school spring break when the citizenry isn't paying attention, Chapel Hill Mayor Kevin Foy started a public forum by announcing that Chapel Hill town taxes would be increasing for the FY 2008-2009 budget. Keeping up the local political mantra that ”quality of life has associated costs”, Mr. Foy mentioned the new Town Operations Center and the coming Aquatics Center, monuments that have doubled the town debt to $70,000,000 and significantly increased recurring operational costs. Mr. Foy neglected to mention the $500,000 spent on art for the remote Municipal Operations Center (not to be confused with Town Hall). That remote art spending equals ten annual tax increase payments ($100) on 500 affordable $200,000 homes.

For Pulpsters with a for-profit financial bent, service (aka yearly payments) on Chapel Hill's outstanding debt has increased from $2.4 million in 2004 to more than $6 million now. Without raising the tax rate, the budget would face a deficit of $2,800,000.

New town financial director, Mr. Kenneth Pennoyer, (See Hot Orange Finance Director Story) sugarcoated the proposed tax increase, calling it a 4.9 cent increase (based on the official tax rate being calculated on a per $100 of assessed value). Neither Mr Pennoyer nor the ever-vigilant local media noted that a 4.9 cent increase is about a 10% increase in the town tax rate. A nickel sounds substantially better than 10%. (For those keeping track, a nickel tax rate increase on a $300,000 house translates into $150 more in taxes over the current $1566. Remember, that's just town taxes. You pay an additional $3460 for Chapelboro schools and county taxes, for a pre-increase Chapel Hill municipal tax total of about $5026 on a $300,000 house.)

For-profit financial readers should note that the “nickel tax increase” also includes consuming an existing town fund balance of $2,700,000. Without that fund being available, the increase would have been “another nickel”, i.e., an almost 20% increase.

The Town Council should adopt the budget on June 9.

No word on whether or not the Town Council will connect decreasing housing affordability to the difference in the increase in town taxes (about 10%) versus the last UNC wage increase (about 3%).

No word on why a financial impact statement showing the effect on town taxes wasn’t prepared and discussed when the decisions to build these monuments were being discussed

No word on whether or not cumulative town residential property values have declined during the bursting of the nationwide housing bubble, thereby necessitating a further tax rate increase.

No word yet on how the town of Carrboro will fare with its FY 2008-2009 town tax rate that’s currently 25% greater than that of Chapel Hill (65.37 cents versus 52.20 cents).

See Chapel Hill Herald Budget Story.

Lowered Land Values From the Trash Transfer Station Process Benefit Friends of State Senate Candidate and Orange County Commish Moses Carey?

Press the Image to Hear the Doxology

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Only in southern Orange County can you tell a news story about a church moving and completely miss the underlying story of much greater import. As reported in the N&O, the ostensible story is that the St. Paul AME Church of Chapel Hill (St. Paul’s) is moving from its central location off Rosemary Street to distant Rogers Road area, home of the Orange County landfill and the once-declared spot for the trash transfer station once the landfill is full. See N&O St. Paul’s Story.

St. Paul’s move involves, as many politically connected real estate moves do in southern Orange, public largesse. In this case, St. Paul’s move is reported to involve improvements to publically-owned land available from the local Orange Progressive political triumvirs (the town of Chapel Hill, the town of Carrboro, and Orange County). In particular, the private St. Paul’s church may be getting water & sewer courtesy of the Chapelboro school board.

How? A new elementary school may be placed on a tract of publically owned land south of the Eubanks Road landfill, an area known as the “Greene Tract”. (This landfill area is ground zero for the environment injustice actions of the Orange County commishes.) But the local media reports only a feel good story of a coming church community center, an athletic field, and affordable homes.

Luckily, Pulpsters know that if you squeeze the pulp in Orange County, there’s so much more to tell, so long as you’re not a stenographer.

First, one should know who’s a most important parishioner of St. Paul’s, someone in a political position to help it receive a flow of blessings. That person is none other than Orange County Commish and State Senate candidate Moses Carey.

Second, an astute observer should ask the question, why is St. Paul’s moving in the first place? The reported reason is that it’s landlocked. That’s an odd statement considering all local politicians are favoring greater density and more urban design, moves that will landlock and overburden many existing churches. More importantly, St. Paul’s is right next door to the new high rise and high priced, grass roof development “Greenbridge”. So St. Paul’s current Merrit Mill Road land is worth a lot more now than just two years ago. It’s ground zero for a profitable sell-out for development of ”Greenbridge II”, as opposed to home to an affordable housing complex for St. Paul’s parishioners.

Third, one should look at what St. Paul’s and its friends have been doing. What hasn’t been reported by the N&O? What’s not part of the pre-arranged press release?

Part of the answer is that a friend of Commish Carey has been buying up parcels at the intersection of Purefoy Road and Rogers Road since 2003, some 20 acres all told. The map above shows where “X” marks the treasure spot.

The red parcels are the recent St. Paul’s purchases for its proposed “campus”. (See county GIS PINs 9870540416, 9870543735, 9870544583, 9870459243, and 9870545947. See Orange County GIS map system.) St. Paul’s purchased these five parcels, totaling about 20 acres, for about $650,000 in August 2007 (or about $32,000 per acre). That’s not a bad deal considering a similar parcel on Homestead Road, about a quarter of mile away, sold for $60,000 per acre two years earlier (2005). But the seller to St. Paul’s, Mr. Thomas C. Tucker didn’t do so badly either.

Mr. Tucker purchased 14 of those acres just four years earlier (2003) for about $300,000, or about $22,000 per acre. That’s a 50% profit in four years. He purchased the other two properties, about 6 acres, about two years later (2005) for about $25,000 per acre. That’s a 50% profit in two years! Such profit-taking is not unheard of in southern Orange, witness the 50% within months profit made off the optioned selling of what is now known as MLK Park to the town of Carrboro, a deal involving an employee/partner of now Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton.

The blue parcels represent land purchased by Habitat for Humanity of Orange County (HFH), yet another Orange County tax exempt organization. In December 2005, HFH purchased these 17 parcels (about 21 acres) for a total of about $420,000, parcels with there own environmental constraints being pushed through the system in an odd way. That’s a purchase about the same time as Mr. Tucker, a purchase at about $20,000 per acre. But then, these HFH parcels aren’t on the corner of Rogers Road like St. Paul’s purchases.

The green parcel represents the 104 acre, publicly owned Greene Tract (not 164 acres as reported by the N&O). Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Orange County jointly own the Greene Tract. In the past, the Chapel Hill Town Council said in a 2002 concept plan that it wanted to build affordable housing on 18 acres and keep the rest undeveloped. But public memory is essentially absent in transitory Chapelboro, where the local media rarely calls forth the detailed history of any subject, a role for which the Pulp is glad to fill in.

The yellow parcels represent the publically owned Orange County Solid Waste properties, which include the Eubanks Road landfill. While the red parcels and blue parcels were changing hands, Commish Carey lead the decision to place the new Orange County trash transfer station on Eubanks Road, in the yellow parcels. Already depressed by the landfill next door, also in the yellow parcels, the trash transfer station site kept land prices on Purefoy Road below the market elsewhere in Chapel Hill, even though the landfill was due to close soon.

In Mr. Carey’s words, “All roads lead to Eubanks.” When his church (St. Paul’s) collected Rogers & Purefoy Road corner from Mr. Tucker, the trash transfer station decision was final. It was going on Eubanks. Since the St. Paul’s purchase, a new search has been opened. Now it may not go there.

Fast forward from August 2007 to March 2008. After quietly purchasing the about 20 acre campus at the corner of Rogers & Purefoy in August 2007, St. Paul’s wants to build a “campus”. Under preliminary plans submitted, a 51,000-square-foot main building would hold a 600-seat sanctuary, a fellowship hall, classrooms, offices and a day-care center in the west wing. The east wing would house a community center with a gym, locker rooms, a teen center and senior center. On the rest of the campus, the church would build a four-story senior housing center with 50 units, about 30 affordable homes, an athletic field, basketball and tennis courts, and a cemetery. About 175 parking spaces will be built around the main building and serve the church, community center and senior housing building, because the new site is miles from existing parishioners. (So much for walkability.)

Chapel Hill town councilman and Task Force co-chair Bill Strom is typically reserved about the proposed campus. ”Personally, I was impressed with the broad range of programs that the master plan lays out, from traditional worship to the community center, day care, senior housing and lots of active recreation. It seemed to me like they were taking a really thoughtful approach to some of the environmental constraints on the site.” There are no details on the environmental constraints on the campus at the corner of Rogers and Purefoy.

For those who doubt that St. Paul’s campus announcement is part of yet another well orchestrated southern Orange political deal worked out well in advance of you finding out, you should ignore that at the same Task Force meeting Chapelboro school board members announced that they want to build the district's 11th elementary school on the environmentally sensitive Greene tract. It’s 2008 and they want to open a school there in 2010, yet they are just announcing the location in time for the May primary.

So what’s the rush? The Rogers Road Task Force has been trying to mollify the people along Rogers Road for ten years from the joy of living near their toxic neighbor, the Orange County landfill. Why the dual private/public announcements now?

Commish Carey needs to counter charges of environmental injustice leveled at him by the Coalition to End Environmental Racism (CEER). (See Hot Orange Environmental Injustice Story.) The filed USDOJ complaint of environmental injustice stands out on his resume like an ink stain on a white shirt. He’s running against Ellie Kinnaird for a state senate seat in a primary on May 6th. He needs cover. Besides, the legal use of public lands and public money to enhance his friends and his church would shore up his political base. Yes, the gagging smell of trash on Purefoy Road has been replaced by the smell of cash. All roads, including Dorothy’s yellow brick road, truly do lead to Eubanks, just as candidate and Commish Carey has been saying for over a year.

NOTE: Pulpsters should note that the above referenced N&O story is irredeemably garbled. Task Force attendees confirm that St. Paul’s isn’t talking about using the Greene Tract at all. It’s the Chapelboro school board that’s talking about using 14 of the 18 buildable acres of the Greene Tract to build an elementary school on a school site (ES#11) with extremely poor road connectivity, as can be seen from the map above, but with extremely high political connectivity.

ho/april_2008.txt · Last modified: 2008/09/17 17:54 by editor
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