Sunday, August 31, 2008

SOLD: to the only bidder

The .25 acre teardown lot at 2721 Cooleemee was sold on 8/22/2008 for the same price it was purchased 9/28/2007. The speculator of 2007 paid the taxes and for the house to be land-filled, thus losing money in the deal (not unlike the owners of many middle-person speculative  teardown lots in these parts).

The land has been on the market since the house was torn down earlier this year. The cottage was a rental home for many many years, and was on the market for possibly a year before its sale in 2007 for $50K less than asking price.  Same thing happened again in this sale market. 

The new owner has a home-design sign in front. If you google the name on it you get this:

Creepin Castles, Batman. 

Monday, August 25, 2008

NIBMY, LULUs, NOPEs and CAVEs dissected

The Social Functions of NIMBYism

United States Community / Economic Development Features Government / Politics Land Use

25 August 2008 - 5:00am
Author: Matthew J. Kiefer

Matthew J. Kiefer observes the full flower of NIMBYism today- no longer just satisfied with their backyard, NIMBYs have become NOPEs (Not On Planet Earth). This article originally appeared in Harvard Design Magazine, Spring/Summer 2008.

Opposition to new development is fraught with so many acronyms that you need a lexicon to decode them. The catch-all term is NIMBYism, sufficiently well known to merit an entry in the Oxford English Dictionary, which identifies its first use in a 1980 Christian Science Monitor story. The term arose to describe opposition to large infrastructure projects undertaken by public agencies or utility companies, such as highways, nuclear power plants, waste disposal facilities, and prisons. (These are known as LULUs, Locally Undesirable Land Uses) It has now extended outward in concentric circles of opposition, each with its own acronym: NOTEs (Not Over There Either), NIABYs (Not In Anyone’s Backyard), BANANAs (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone), and even NOPEs (Not On Planet Earth!). It is also possible to find references to CAVE people (Citizens Against Virtually Everything) and NIMTOOs (Not In My Term Of Office).

In any event, opposition to development has long since entered its second phase, targeting not just LULUs, but also ordinary development projects. It is now a standard feature of the development landscape, a form of ritual performance art. As a citizen activist and author of a NIMBY handbook unapologetically observes, “Everyone is a NIMBY, and no one wants a LULU.”

Interesting read. Whatcha think?

So far in Raleigh Central this month, Boylan Heights got the message for Central Prison's new hospital when the trees went down, Sunnybrook Road residents awoke to find blasting notices for a 200 ft water reuse irrigation tank in their backyards, and Glenwood Brooklyn learned of new CASA plans. We have heard "we did what the law requires" a lot in these weeks.

The scale of new development projects and our ability to measure their impacts have also increased over time. As the burgeoning land use regulatory regime has gradually supplanted planning, the effectiveness of public agencies in establishing publicly accepted templates for growth has also diminished. Perhaps more importantly, we have come increasingly to rely on private actors to build public infrastructure as a component of their large-scale development projects.

These factors combine to almost mandate wider citizen participation in development decisions. While civic engagement may be dwindling generally, it has undoubtedly risen in the development arena. Filling the vacuum left by minimalist government, atrophied land-use planning, and an eroding social contract, NIMBYism is the bitter fruit of a pluralistic democracy in which all views carry equal weight.

I beg their pardon.

When it gets to the heart of it, the author does say this:

First, although it goes against the grain of every project proponent’s deepest instincts, to overcome their sense of oppression, the neighbors must be invited to actually influence development outcomes within the bounds of feasibility. Ceding some measure of control over the design of the project eliminates the “zero sum game” negotiation that characterizes most approval processes. It often leads to creative solutions and empowers the problem-solvers and constructive participants more than the extremists.

and this:

A second element is compensation. Every project has impacts, and most fall disproportionately on an identifiable subset of people within a narrow geographic radius, who generally believe, whether they state it publicly or not, that they are entitled to some special consideration for allowing some broader social need to be met at their expense.

And the grand finale:

NIMBYism serves many social functions. In an improvised and very democratic way, it forces mitigation measures to be considered, distributes project impacts, protects property values, and helps people adjust to change in their surroundings. It is a corrective mechanism that, if allowed to function properly, can even help to preserve a constituency for development. We owe the continued existence of many memorable places, from Washington’s Mt. Vernon to the Cape Cod National Seashore, to the efforts of past NIMBYs. In fact, if the forces that animate NIMBYism – attachment to place, increases in homeownership, and public participation in government decision-making – were waning, we would lament this more than we now bemoan NIMBYism. Though it’s not so easy to do, the only constructive approach is to accord development opponents the presumption of good faith and to engage with them.

Is worth a read.  Good faith would go a long way in the actions this past month. 

R E S P E C T ... 

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Right to Privacy

Privacy has many faces

Archived Thursday, August 14, 2008

The White County NEWS

A town divided - Helicopter debate heats up in Helen

by Kristen Mangum

About 100 people attended a public meeting about the helicopter business in Helen on Tuesday, Aug. 12.
White County News

A city is at odds, and a helicopter tour business marks the dividing line.

At the request of Eric McMillan, owner of Scenic Helicopter Tours in Helen, a public meeting was held in the city Tuesday, Aug. 12.

Approximately 100 people filled the Helen City Commission chambers at city hall.

Each person wishing to speak had three minutes to voice their opinion on the helicopter business, which began operations in the city earlier this year. Some exceeded their three-minute allotment.

Delbert Greear, who had attended previous commission meetings to voice his opposition of the business, was the first to speak.

“Enough is enough,” he said, adding that Helen is a “noise-sensitive area” and that he would continue to protest until the helicopter operation ceased.

When asked by Helen Mayor David Greear how many times on any given Saturday he sees or hears the helicopter, Delbert Greear said about 40 to 50 times. He said the helicopter flies 500 to 600 feet above his home in Helen.

Others, like Nancy Greear, said she was “very much opposed” to the business.

“The noise is devastating and the invasion of privacy unacceptable,” she said.

She noted her residence was in the “direct path” of the helicopter, which she said often flies over at five-minute intervals and many times late at night.

Nancy Greear also briefly mentioned environmental impacts and revealed that New York stopped allowing helicopter flights around the Statue of Liberty.

“I think if they're too noisy for New York, then they're too noisy for us,” she said.

“We are too small. This area's too congested. It's totally unacceptable.”

Helen resident Teressa Holtzclaw called the business “intolerable.”

Holtzclaw accused McMillan of making threats and bullying.

“I wish Mr. McMillan success,” she said. “In another line of business.”

Holtzclaw's address was met with both applause and jeers from the big crowd in attendance.

For every complaint, there was a positive remark about McMillan's business.

Helen businessman Art Connor told commissioners he was “personally glad that we have a helicopter tour in town. It has been a plus for my customers, a plus for the activities that I can direct them to.”

“And I can honestly say that I have never heard of so many people hearing so well,” he said.

“I hear the helicopter occasionally, I hear motorcycles occasionally, I hear trucks occasionally, I hear drunks walking down the street occasionally.”

“Correct me if I'm wrong, but are we a tourist town as we advertise ourselves, or are we a bedroom community of some mystical place?” Connor asked.

David Greear told Connor he did not believe “there was a single person in this room that he needed to remind that we're a tourist town. I think we need to be reminded that people live here.”

Connor was undeterred.

“As a business owner, with approximately 100 rooms, I've had zero complaints - not one,” Connor said.

He also was met with applause.

Dick Gay, owner of the Helendorf River Inn, did not share Connor's sentiments.

In fact, he previously sent a letter to the city reporting complaints from guests about the helicopter.

“I would ask the commission to see if they could alter the flight patterns and time of operation,” Gay recommended, referring to alleged night flights made by the helicopter.

Yet another proponent, Bill Adcock, felt “if you haven't seen Helen by air, then I don't think you've seen it.”

Several others, both in favor and against the business, addressed the commission. One opponent made reference to the helicopter noise as sounding like a “war zone,” while a supporter described McMillan as “respectful” and said “everyone should stop complaining and thank God we have ears to hear it.”

A compromise?

Following more than an hour of discussion, in which nearly two-dozen people spoke, McMillan addressed commissioners about some of the public's concerns.

Dressed in a suit and tie and accompanied by his wife and parents, McMillan also was joined by his attorneys.

McMillan said he was willing to try and reach a compromise.

Attorney Spencer Carr, of Carr and Gibbs in Clarkesville, defended his client.

“He's totally within his rights to fly that helicopter at 50 feet down Main Street, 12 times a day, 12 times an hour, should he choose so or desire,” Carr said.

“He can continue to operate how he wants to, but that's not why we're here.”

He revealed McMillan was trying “to be a good corporate citizen and to be a good citizen.”

Carr reiterated his client requested the public meeting “in the spirit of compromise.”

Carr, however, felt opponents at the meeting were not of that same spirit.

“The most disheartening thing I heard was [when] Mr. [Delbert] Greear said ‘we are not here for compromise.' Well, what a great spirit to come to a public hearing.”

“We're here for compromise,” Carr said.

Delbert Greear compared a compromise to being stabbed by a knife and pulling it out only halfway.

Carr touched on the complaint about the number of flights. He said even if 45 to 50 flights are made a day that's only five to six flights an hour during an eight-hour day.

As for the flights at night, McMillan said he made someone at the city (not during a commission meeting) aware that he would be doing later flights during the July 4 weekend. Other flights at night, he said, are personal flights he takes on his own after business hours.

McMillan and his representation suggested adjusting the flight pattern by cutting out his Chattahoochee Route and limiting the hours of operation.

The Chattahoochee Route follows the river and comes back around to the helicopter's headquarters at 865 South Main Street.

McMillan said that was his most popular flight.

“As myself,” McMillan said, “it's my helicopter, it's my business and if I want to fly at night personally I'm going to do it.”

“I'm not going to go out and do tours or generate income, but I enjoy [flying].”

“Now, I am willing to cut this tour out,” he said. “That tour constitutes a lot of money to me, that tour constitutes a lot of advertising for me. It's my highest exposure.”

The commission told those in attendance that it would take the information it heard into consideration.

State Rep. Charles Jenkins attended the meeting as well. While he did not address the commission, he sat in the front row for the entirety of the nearly two-hour meeting.

Following the meeting, Jenkins told the White County News he attended the meeting as a “fact-finding” assignment.

“I would hope that they could reach a compromise,” he said.

David Greear called the subject “an emotional subject on both sides of the issue.”

Last Updated: Thursday, August 14, 2008

Friday, August 8, 2008

Let me point you to ...

... this article and discussion over at New Raleigh.

Fallonia is a big fan of walkable and accessible living, which is why she designed her life around the same 5 mile diameter. And she loves going downtown again. The bus stop at the corner that goes there hopefully will return soon.

The question becomes how to open up areas to living / walking / busing and biking and not destroy the homes of the "pioneers" who settled in the core years ago when it was not the vogue. Very few intown dwellers chose to live here because it was a great value. They chose to live here because of a match with their values.

City dwellers have always had a good sense of character, or are characters themselves. Raleigh will not be Raleigh for long without them. The trick, my dearies, is to find that balance point.

Reality bite of the day:

Because we don’t have that (some of our peer cities do), we are left with this: a developer proposes a whole big pile on their own parcel, and they try to get 5 votes on Council. And who can blame them? Our city has provided no viable alternative for either the developers or the neighbors. The uncertainty costs everyone money and time, and no one knows what will happen next. It’s all just a matter of political gamesmanship.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Doing Durham

The State of Things on WUNC radio rebroadcast this interview today. Andy Rothschild has a vision and energy for Durham that understands the relationship between the city revitalization and entrepreneurs, artists, biotech, business, and and economic development. His company is changing the face of Durham. It was comforting to hear someone talk of making space for the "creative class" in the redevelopment of the city core.

Meet Andy Rothschild
Monday, August 04 2008 by Frank Stasio and Susan Davis

Scientific Properties is Andy Rothschild's Durham-based development company. He specializes in mixed use space that supports artists, musicians and writers as well as retail and private businesses. But, the company's name comes from his initial interest in biotech companies. Rothschild is a medical doctor who left his stethoscope behind to be a part of his adopted city’s revitalization. Host Frank Stasio meets Andy Rothschild today on "The State of Things." This program was originally broadcast on Monday, May 19, 2008.

Some select points:

  • We need a local base that will support and sustain the real estate that is created.

  • Real estate is not created in a vacuum. We are creating a platform for locally owned businesses and local residents.

  • Making space for the "creative class" in the redevelopment of the city core is essential to its success.

  • Successful redevelopment involves looking carefully at your city, asking "what are the assets and threats to our area?"

  • City redevelopments are resulting in a look of sameness spreading thru our cities because of the prevalence of national brands. Sameness is not the way to differentiate your city. 

  • We will not have an urban center until we have a breadth and depth of residents populating the town. 

  • Nothing can do more to green your area than to revitalize your downtown. 

  • Everybody needs to be a part of the reinvestment in their communities ... for our ongoing benefit. Cities and counties need to do every thing possible to encourage responsible development projects. Everyone who has a seat at the table ... not just the government parties, but also the those doing the work, should be part of this process.

  • Incentives should aligned in a strategic way with these goals. There is no smarter investment you can make than revitalizing and repopulating your city. Big questions of all of us, broader political bodies are needed to help provide infrastructure for sustainable growth.

    Great interview, a lot of knowledge passed on about redevelopment strategies in our unique southern cities. "Buildings are not enough." Vision, now that's another thing entirely.

  • Monday, August 4, 2008

    What Others Are Doing ...

    This from Wilton CT:

    Zoners consider refining regulations
    Written by Justin Reynolds
    MONDAY, AUGUST 04, 2008
    How big can an accessory apartment or building be on a lot? How long should temporary signs be allowed to stay up? What are the criteria to determine whether an older home is historically significant or could be torn down to make room for a McMansion?

    Aiming to refine zoning regulations, the Planning and Zoning Commission met last week to debate recommendations put forth by Glenn Chalder, consultant with Planimetrics, who is also helping the commission draft a new Plan of Conservation and Development.

    Mr. Chalder said if a property owner seeks to add an accessory building on his or her property, current language in the regulations limit the property owner to construction of either 25% of the main building’s square footage or 750 square feet. He said the town should consider changing the language to state the size of the accessory building should be limited to the lesser of those two numbers.
    Commissioner Doug Bayer said for some properties the 25% number could lead to “gargantuan” buildings, and suggested lowering the percentage but accepted changing the language to the lesser value of the two options.

    If a building that “makes sense” for a property works out to 800 square feet instead of 750 square feet, the resident could apply for a special permit, Mr. Chalder said. For most people, this would be enough to deter from seeking the larger building as they would not want to come before the commission, Mr. Chalder said.

    “I think you could go with a little more square footage,” Mr. Chalder said of the 750 number.

    Commissioner Marilyn Gould suggested increasing the number to 900 square feet and the other commissioners agreed.

    Other regulations

    Mr. Chalder suggested the town look into hiring a third party to independently review buildings and give their opinion as to whether certain buildings fit criteria as being architecturally or historically significant.

    They’ll either say it clearly is significant, it clearly isn’t significant or they’ll have no opinion, he said.

    Ms. Gould said work had already been done by the Wilton Historical Society in 1989 when the organization hired an architectural historian who reviewed 343 structures. Ms. Gould said the society had hoped to review 100 additional houses.

    “All of our very livable houses of the 1950s are teardowns,” Ms. Gould said, adding houses built in the ’50s and ’60s are important in Wilton’s history. “Any history has to be maintained.”

    Ms. Pratt said preserving architectural history is a nationwide problem.

    Sunday, August 3, 2008

    More on Glen Lennox

    Today's article in the N&O outlines the forces at work in Old v New.

    "People are on guard for not having Chapel Hill become a generic place," Mayor Kevin Foy said. "Not everything is open for redevelopment."

    "This is almost a test case; it's a line in the sand for how Chapel Hill is going to grow," said Ernest Dollar, executive director of the Preservation Society of Chapel Hill. "There has to be a delicate balance to preserve the idealized Chapel Hill that people come here for but still grow as a town. And I think that unwise growth and unwise development could really hamper and destroy the things we love about this town and brought us here."

    Molly McConnell figured she'd die in Glen Lennox. "Really, I thought this was my last stop before God," she said. But now, she said, she's thinking about finding a new place for herself and her beagle, MercyMe Lily Grace Happy Dog.

    Foy said the public outcry shows how many people feel about the neighborhood. "Glen Lennox has become one of the iconic places in Chapel Hill, not because of its architecture and not because of its layout, but because of the people who have lived there and the life experiences they've had over the last 50 years," he said. "When you take that and say we're going to take out every trace of that neighborhood, I think people are justifiably appalled."

    Glen Lennox Apartments opened in 1950 to address the housing shortage after World War II. Early residents included veterans, married students, retirees and new families -- much the same as its residents today.

    The decision to rebuild Glen Lennox was something Grubb said he wrestled with for a long time. He remembered the fervor of the community from his days at UNC-Chapel Hill's law school and anticipated the reaction to the proposed plans to be strong.

    But Grubb and his team of architects had a vision: Build a great urban development and help the town grow.

    Grubb was at a board meeting in Raleigh a few weeks later when someone said losing Glen Lennox's green spaces and quaint homes would be a loss for Chapel Hill.

    "It really hit me, and so I kind of said, 'Well gosh, my momma probably hates the plan we came up with,' " he said.

    Developer Roger Perry, who built Durham's Woodcroft and Chapel Hill's Meadowmont projects, said Grubb Properties may have "underestimated the community's psychological ownership" of Glen Lennox.

    He said he empathizes with some of the difficulties Grubb has faced.

    "What is always troubling to people in my business is people who are not rational and not interested in building consensus and not willing to understand practical realities," Perry said.

    The company will participate in discussions about the neighborhood's designation as a conservation district but still intends to come up with a new design. This time, Grubb said, they'll take their time. "I think there's a great opportunity for it [Glen Lennox] to become as special as it used to be," he said. "It doesn't have to happen immediately."

    Friday, August 1, 2008

    Current Events with Long Term Consequences

    Grubb Buys Palm Apts. (News & Observer)

    The sale closed late last week. And Grubb, who is president of Grubb Ventures, says he plans to continue operating Palms' 212 units as rentals. But it's safe to assume he has bigger plans for the 39-acre property. Eventually.

    Grubb has specialized in snatching older properties in thriving Raleigh neighborhoods and turning them into something grander.

    Letter to the Editor: Colorful Community

    Regarding the July 31 article "Grubb buys Palms Apts.," I would urge Gordon Grubb to spend some time at the Palms Apartments before he decides to redevelop them and possibly displace the current community.

    The Palms is like a mini-United Nations. There you can find refugees from Congo living next to Montagnards, who live around the corner from henna-tattooed women from Egypt. These diverse people bring a rich culture to our schools and our neighborhood.

    Another example of what makes Raleigh Raleigh ... any ideas where our rich culture can flourish after all of Raleigh's best kept secrets are gone?

    Working people are being priced out of the Whitaker Mill Road neighborhoods, the Oaks effect has modest homes on Pine and Avon selling for teardowns, residents of Country Club homes do not know how long their leases are really for, Glen-Lennox residents in Chapel Hill are scattering as they search for small apartments.

    In the business world, Glenwood Professional Village gave way to Glenwood Gardens. The Methodist Building and Raleigh Townes Apartments will become something upscale at Glenwood and Wade. The Koger Center became Glenwood North and a wrecking ball party demolished the 35 year old "Kogerama" building, heralding "the construction of a new state-of-the-art five story building and parking deck."

    “We are pleased to have an opportunity to celebrate this wonderful redevelopment," said Grubb, President of Grubb Ventures, LLC. "Not many people get to see a building being razed, so the event will be exciting for everyone in attendance."

    Fallonia is glad she missed the invitation.

    They are good people and they do good work. The only problem is that the upscaling of every cubic inch of old Raleigh is creating a new Raleigh ... one in which only the very well off can run a business or work / live nearby. Yes, Fallonia has been spoiled rotten being able to take her position ITB for granted. But not any longer; she is paying dearly for the privilege now.

    The Community Conversation presentation from late June by Don Rypkema still speaks (see blog post here for further links). This excerpt is from the Sustainable Dubuque (Iowa) project:

    Sustainability is defined by a community’s ability to meet the environmental, economic, and social equity needs of today without reducing the ability of future generations to meet their needs.

    Sustainable Dubuque is a holistic approach to making our community sustainable. Our model involves a three-part approach that looks at:

    • Environmental and Ecological Integrity
    • Economic Prosperity
    • Social and Cultural Vibrancy
    Each of these pieces is important individually and helps contribute to a sustainable community. Here is how the model works:

    When you have policies and programs that address Environmental and Ecological Integrity with Economic Prosperity, you have policies and programs that are viable.

    When you have policies and programs that address Environmental and Ecological Integrity with Social/Cultural Vibrancy you have policies and programs that are livable.

    When you have policies and programs that address Economic Prosperity with Social/Cultural Vibrancy you have policies and programs that are equitable.

    However, when a community creates polices and programs that address all three pieces, such as Sustainable Dubuque, you have a community that is viable, livable and equitable.

    Are we going to get it, forget it, or be got by this?