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Applications open for Chapel Hill advisory boards, committees and commissions

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Chapel Hill Town Hall stands tall on Sunday, March 19, 2023.

The Town of Chapel Hill has opened an application for residents to apply to its 20 advisory boards, committees and commissions. 

The organizations present recommendations to the Town Council on policies related to sustainable transportation, historic preservation, affordable housing and other issues.

From now until April 1, applicants can complete a form where they can share their interests, experiences and demographic information that is pertinent to their membership. 

According to the Town's website, the Chapel Hill Town Council is looking for members from diverse backgrounds who are interested in Town governance. 

“The Town is looking for anybody who cares about their town and wants to get involved,” council member Amy Ryan said. “We would like our boards to reflect who lives in our town.” 

Transportation and Connectivity Advisory Board Chairperson Denise Matthews said she encourages Chapel Hill residents and those who live in the surrounding counties to apply to fill the board’s three vacancies.

She said the advisory board embraces the diversity of people's origins, experiences and backgrounds. 

“The main thing that we’re really looking for is interest and a passion for helping to create an inclusive, connected community because we primarily do recommend and advocate for comprehensive, safe, effective, equitable, and sustainable multimodal transportation and connectivity," Matthews said. 

Matthews added that advisory board members had a variety of expertise and interest areas, including mass transit, bicycle and pedestrian safety and greenway construction. She said she is currently focused on implementing the Town Council’s Vision Zero resolution to have zero cyclist and pedestrian deaths and injuries by 2031.

Matthews said there are no prerequisites to be on the board — the only requirement is a readiness to implement the board’s strategic plans. This includes the Chapel Hill Mobility and Connectivity Plan and the Pedestrian Safety Action Plan, which also incorporate aspects of Vision Zero.

“You don’t have to have a city and regional planning background or a transportation engineering background to be on the board,” Matthews said. “You learn a lot.” 

Cam Bussey-Sutton, co-chairperson for the Justice in Action Committee, said the committee is in the process of restructuring itself as it has five vacancies. 

“One of our first priorities is to seat a board with diverse perspectives that branch out into all populations of our community,” Bussey-Sutton said.

Bussey-Sutton said the nine-member committee serves as a liaison to the Chapel Hill Town Council, other departments and advisory boards.

According to its mission statement, the Justice in Action Committee is committed to racial and economic justice.

Bussey-Sutton said the committee plans to partner with the Community Policing Advisory Committee to revive the "Community Conversations" program. He said this would create a space for dialogue between Chapel Hill residents and Town Staff, including Chapel Hill Police Department Chief Celisa Lehew.

“We want people who are going to show up, who have an open mind, who are passionate and want to put in the work to serve in the community,” Bussey-Sutton said. “Not only is it a lot to help your community, but you also gain a lot from being on the Board and any Board in general.” 

Geoffrey Green, chairperson of the Board of Adjustment, said that the board is looking to fill its three vacancies with members who will make just decisions about Land Use Management Ordinance cases that come before them.

“It really just has to be somebody willing to be fair, to look at the facts of the case, to give the person who’s before us a fair hearing and to be willing to take the time to read the materials, to read the parts of the Land Use Management Ordinance that are relevant,” Green said.

Interested applicants can visit Chapel Hill's Boards and Commissions page to read about open positions and membership requirements for each board. Selected candidates will serve a three-year term and the Town will provide those who require it with childcare and transportation assistance.

@phoebemartel1

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