Durham County

05/06 What You’re Saying: James Kane, Howard Sykes, Tony Madejczyk, Joe Exum, Josh Ravitch and Bernadette Pelissier

Support the NPO

I write in support of the Neighborhood Protection Overlay proposed for Old West Durham. Although I am a relatively new member of the community, when my wife and I bought our house on Rosehill Avenue in 2015, we did so with the intent to raise our family here.

In the two-plus years that we've been here we've seen so many massive remodels, teardowns, and trees cut down that it's scary to think about the future of the neighborhood without some protection from overdevelopment. Some of these new homes have so much bulk they fill up nearly the whole lot with structure and pavement. If I wanted to live with baby trees, tiny yards, and McMansions I would have moved to some planned community in the suburbs.

The thing that strikes me most though is the home prices and rents have skyrocketed to levels that are big metropolis-like. It's shocking that 1,200 sq. ft., 100-year-old homes that many new buyers consider "fixer-uppers" still fetch in the $400K range, with no shortage of offers. This in turn impacts the rest of the Durham market and contributes to gentrification all over town. More modestly sized homes keep this neighborhood more affordable, contribute to the overall character, and hopefully help to maintain and encourage diversity.

Similarly, the NPO allows for accessory-dwelling units that can increase housing density, provide affordable housing, and allow for expansion for extended families.

I see this NPO as a win across the board. The only downside is for developers or those who want to overbuild on their lot. It seems the needs of the majority should outweigh the vocal minority – and it's better for the city of Durham overall.

James Kane

Editor’s note: This letter was sent to the mayor and Durham City Council and is reprinted with the writer’s permission.

Vote No on NPO

I’m hoping that the Durham City Council will vote the Old West Durham Neighborhood Protection Overlay down. I believe it is bad forOld West Durham and particularly bad for the city in terms of the precedents it sets. I moved to the city of Durham 23 years ago and chose Durham in part because I felt it was likely to improve, which would help my property appreciate and because it did not have the heavy restrictions that some places have.

I believe the zoning that Durham has in place has encouraged investors and homeowners alike to come in, replacing some of the abandoned, run-down eyesores which were in Old West Durham. I think this revitalization of Old West Durham and surrounding areas is part of the reason values have appreciated more there than in other Durham neighborhoods.

Please don’t discourage revitalization by enacting the NPO. Please don’t encourage lots of additional NPOs led by small groups of homeowners by approving this NPO. Let people decide what restrictions they want when they purchase property. Don’t force new restrictions on owners after they have made their buying decision by approving the NPO.

Just vote the NPO down.

Howard Sykes

Editor’s note: This letter was sent to the mayor and Durham City Council and is reprinted with the writer’s permission.

Yeah, go ahead and pray

I agree with the letter writer who asked that we all pray more for a reduction in gun violence. Because there's no better way to counter loud angry protests than to tell your fellow Americans to simply shut up and pray.

And while you're praying, consider this: what does the NRA know about guns that we don't? Why does the NRA ban all guns at their conventions? Why can't our schools, public spaces and homes be as safe as any NRA convention space?

We need more education. The mainstream media seems to be more interested in playing up conflict and drawing up opposing sides instead of calmly dispensing facts? What are the different gun types? What do different bullets do upon impact to their intended (or sadly, unintended) targets? Only now we learn that a single assault rifle round is nearly always fatal when compared to a 9mm? How much training does a U.S. soldier get on weapons of war compared to an angry guy with a credit card?

But yeah, go ahead and pray. That’s how we got to where we are now.

Tony Madejczyk


Demonizing Israel

An open letter to the Durham City Council:

“We learn from History that we do not learn from History.” (Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel)

Today, the most obvious consequence of your April 16 decision to approve an anti-Semitic rant against Israel began to come to fruition. Throughout history, when governments endorse anti-Semitism, the people follow their lead.

This was true in Europe during the Inquisition, down through the so-called Enlightenment period, and culminating in Nazi era Germany. The U.S. State Department defines anti-Semitism as demonizing Israel; applying a double standard to Israel; and delegitimizing Israel. You seem to naively believe that anti-Semitism only involves swastikas and concentration camps. But just like discrimination against people of color involves more subtlety than just dropping the "N" word, but goes into job discrimination, red-lining housing, etc, so does it go with anti-Semitism.

When you follow the lead of an extremist anti-Semitic organization and single out Israel among the literally two dozen nations that have police exchanges with the U.S., including such bastions of civil rights as Indonesia and Haiti, you are being anti-Semitic, and tacitly encouraging your constituents to follow your lead.

You proudly proclaim that all citizens of Durham are deserving of respect. If this is in fact what you mean, then show it by your actions toward all citizens. You owe the local Jewish community a public apology and some words to calm down fears and make us feel as welcome here as the rest of your constituents...

Josh Ravitch

Chapel Hill

An eye for an eye

Guess who said, "We must revolutionize their institutions, habits and manners"?

Hint: this person advocated suspension of civil rights and the use of troops to supervise elections to accomplish these goals.

If you guessed Caiaphas, Marx, Stalin, or David Duke, you guessed wrong. The quote is by Thaddeus Stevens, the firebrand abolitionist whose hatred of the South was unequaled in the Republican Congress of 1865. He led impeachment procedures against President Johnson and with the election of Grant divided the South into 10 military districts unleashing federal troops to "reconstruct their institutions, habits, and manners." Given the brutality with which federal troops "reconstructed" native Americans, one can only imagine the atrocities committed in "reconstructing" the South.

The aftermath of the Civil War left a humanitarian disaster of biblical proportions. The loss of population alone was staggering accounting for over 20 percent of white males between 20 and 24. In economic ruin, the South would endure the humiliation of 12 years of military occupation. This was not a battle for white supremacy, this was a battle to survival Sewell's hegemony and the tyranny of the majority.

From this perspective, if we could relive history instead of rewrite it, would we pray "Rescue us from becoming the evil that happened to us"?

Joe Exum

Snow Hill

Greene is a leader

I support of Sally Greene for Orange County commissioner. Sally has a long history of commitment to our community and seeks to find best practice solutions to our challenges. She takes a systems perspective to affordable housing: she understands that affordability also requires transit and a living wage. Her leadership in passing Chapel Hill’s inclusionary zoning ordinance has made a meaningful impact in creating affordable housing.

I look forward to Sally bringing her skills, experience, and passion to the whole of Orange County.

Bernadette Pelissier

The writer is a former member of the Orange County Board of Commissioners.

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