Infill vs. sprawl
Two unrelated articles (Jennifer Strom's "Chathamites Rally to be Heard" and Donna Barkley's Front Porch column, "Squeeze Play") in the Jan. 28 Independent illustrated the complicit forces driving the Triangle's runaway sprawl situation. Barkley wrote wistfully of her family's search for housing in a vibrant, charismatic, medium-density community near downtown Durham, where demand unfortunately exceeds supply. Meanwhile, in Chatham County, Strom updated readers on a rural community's resistance to car-centric, homogeneous mega-developments geared to upper-income commuters.
Developers say that prospective home buyers overwhelmingly desire large-lot, single-family housing physically segregated from shopping and services. Yet the limited residential alternatives provided inside Raleigh's beltline and in and around downtown Chapel Hill and Durham hardly suffer for willing occupants. Lack of housing options is partly responsible for literally driving families to profligate land and energy consumption in the place of our lost farms and forests. Of course the housing industry favors conversion of green space; current development incentives artificially reduce costs in these settings in relation to infill, and the barrage of inflexible codes and standards in town discourages higher-density, mixed-use alternatives. However, the status quo has resulted in real societal costs in the forms of degraded air and water quality, exacerbation of drought, traffic gridlock, loss of community, isolation of the elderly and disabled, and the loss of opportunity for regular, unstructured physical exercise, among other adverse impacts.
Families and other home-seekers need more housing options within our core towns if we are to preserve surrounding green space and rural communities for everyone's benefit. How sad, after experiencing the joys and conveniences of a walkable downtown lifestyle, that Barkley and her family may have to settle for just "an okay neighborhood" due purely to short supply. The demand for more choices is clear! Increased supply depends on the vision and determination of our planners, elected officials and developers, and also on the cooperation of our existing downtown neighbors.
John Edwards says ("Southern Showdown," Jan. 21) the South will be won over by the candidate who knows what our "lives are about." That may be true and, if so, shame on us for being sucked into casting our vote for someone warm and fuzzy, who uses his boyish charm to convince the hometown crowd that he is more than man enough to move into the White House. If I wanted someone soft and comfy, I would be campaigning for the Pillsbury Doughboy. According to Edwards, folks south of the Mason-Dixon line are just not issue driven. Bull hockey! Just wait till we lose our jobs and realize that Mom's monthly prescriptions add up to more than her Social Security check and see how issue driven we are.
It's not too late to take another look at that New Englander who has inspired many not just to consider a change in administration but a change in America. Let's face it: Change can be tough, upsetting and require effort. So it may appear easier to go down the gentle path of least resistance when taking a hike over rocky terrain is really the way to go. Right now our country is chugging along, full speed ahead, going in the wrong direction. It won't be easy to turn her around. But turn she must if we are to reclaim a position of respect in the community of nations and re-direct ourselves to meeting the current needs of our citizens, as well as future generations.
With its phenomenal growth (including Northerners escaping snow and high taxes) the Southern block will make a difference in this election. The question is, will we make a change? This contest will be won by a combination of Yellow Dog Democrats, swing voters and the newly inspired. Only Howard Dean has shown the ability to garner support from all three of these ranks.
One thing's for sure, Edwards is no Washington insider. Soon after squeaking by with 51 percent of the vote to claim Lauch Faircloth's seat, he started running for president. So North Carolinians haven't received a day's work for a day's pay, and that's an issue we can all understand.
A film about Cary's history, referred to in the Jan. 28 profile of Darrell Stover, was created by filmmaker Kenny Dalsheimer, members of the Friends of the Page-Walker organization, Davis Drive Middle School teacher Cindi Baker and 100 of her eight grade students.
The film project was facilitated by Stover and the Town of Cary employees.
A production glitch caused last week's movie calendar to be replaced with one from the previous week. We regret the error.
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