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The Daily Tar Heel

Chapel Hill Town Council meeting combines celebration and business


Chapel Hill citizen Kim Piracci delivers a passionate call for climate action on behalf of the town council, regardless of financial concerns, at the Town Council meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 25th, 2019.

Wednesday's Chapel Hill Town Council meeting began on a celebratory note, honoring the 200th birthday of the Chapel Hill government. Shortly afterwards, Chapel Hill Town Council Member Karen Stegman recognized the 50th anniversary of Cat's Cradle in Carrboro.

Stegman shared her reflections on Tuesday night’s Carrboro Board of Alderman meeting, where she and Carrboro Board of Aldermen member Bethany Chaney presented a proclamation honoring the anniversary of Cat’s Cradle in both of their communities. 

“It was really lovely and a packed house of local musicians and folks involved in the music community, and it was just great to get to honor what an important institution the Cradle has been for our community for over 50 years, and hopefully 50 more,” Stegman said.

Then the Town Council moved onto other business with Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger acknowledging the success of the Peoples Academy's second class. 

The Peoples Academy is an initiative that aims to encourage community engagement and allow constituents to learn about and connect with their town government. The program runs for five weeks, and bi-weekly classes provide opportunities for participants to learn, connect and lead. Participants gather to engage with services, connect with community members and gain important knowledge that will promote their leadership within the community.

Riza Jenkins, a participant in the Peoples Academy, was featured in a video broadcast at the meeting.

“I really loved how the program was thoughtful in terms of engaging individuals from all different walks of life. So, we had retirees in the community, we had people who were single, who were married, who have children or don’t have children, so it was really great that the program was thoughtful in terms of our diverse community,” Jenkins said. 

One of the meeting’s other key agenda items was UNC Health Care’s request that the council consider supporting a land development initiative that includes draining a pond on its property, stream restoration and water quality improvement. 

During their presentation, a UNC Health Care spokesperson emphasized this organization is not for profit and intends to reinvest any profit made from the project back into its health care system.

Upon hearing the proposal, Town Council Member Hongbin Gu asked about the profit margins UNC Health Care would consider reasonable for a project like this one. In response, representatives said they do not believe this is a question that should be answered at this time.

Former Town Council Member Ed Harrison, who served on the council for 16 years, spoke at the meeting. Harrison communicated his interest in the protection and preservation of Chapel Hill’s land. He requested that the council hold off on a resolution because he prefers more time to discuss the matter with council members. 

During his time on the council, Harrison had a reputation for being a leader in creating new environmental rules and programs and in protecting open space, a reputation he maintains as a community member. In an 8-1 motion, the Council voted to revise UNC Health Care’s development proposal.

The meeting also featured an update on engagement results for the draft focus area maps and principles from Charting Our Future, a Town project designed to “protect what the community loves and add what it needs by rewriting its Land Use Management Ordinance and refining the Future Land Use Map.” 

There was also open discussion regarding action on a petition to annex properties at Sunrise Road and Ginger Road, potentially authorizing the town manager to proceed with financial planning for the West End parking deck.

The Council has one more meeting before taking a recess until January.


@DTHCityState |

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