Monday, August 20, 2007

Even Carolina blue goes green

Green is even showing up where blue is the norm. UNC is stepping up efforts to build environmentally friendly buildings and turn toward green...

The Daily Tar Heel
August 20, 2007
Staff Reports

Carolina blue goes green

Green is good. Just ask Rameses, who was spotted donning a darker shade recently. Whether it's the UNC mascot or the extended community, green is a priority. Environmentally friendly buildings are popping up throughout campus and the town. Several high-profile projects also are getting the green light after years on the drawing board. Then there's the record-breaking amounts of money pouring into the University from the state and private sector, helping all Tar Heels put their greenest foot forward. Original article...

Monday, August 6, 2007

Cheery shopping versus shopping sprawl in Pittsboro

New shopping centers in the area don't have to be all asphalt parking spaces and concrete box stores. Most development now comes with a predictable sequence of construction steps - clearcut the land, remove all signs of trees and vegetation, build long lines of strip shopping stores or scatter big box stores all around a huge expanse of land, then at the end of the proccess come back and pave any remaining soil in the area with asphalt and concrete. To top it off, put up lots of signs, a few stoplights and a tower of store names on signs by the road and call it progress.

It's all about greed and profit. Builders make every effort to cut costs and maximize profits on any construction project and shopping centers are a showplace for the lack of interest in how the community and shopping should blend. If town planners and Boards of Commissioners don't require that trees be left or added back after construction, new areas end up with no greenery at all.

Look around at every new major construction project and you will find one or more builders that control the design and construction to carve out every penny of profit, then heads home every night to live in a mega-mansion and drives to the coast on weekends to a mega-mansion multi-floor beach home.

Read the commentary by Dan Cahoon published in the Chatham County Journal Weekly about development trends in the area and what happens when new development comes in...
Chatham Journal Weekly
August 6, 2007
Dan Cahoon

Shop till you drop at cheery shopping centers

Pittsboro, NC - There are many reasons why a shopping center or large paved area may be a bad idea for the area in question. Any development creates change in the landscape and what we see around us. Trees get downed, meadows and wetland plowed under. That would happen with any kind of development.

A shopping center would require the kinds of parking areas that concentrate runoff with other byproducts of current automobile use. Retail establishments require large amounts of water use and little of it is released in a pure state back into the environment. These types of effects upon our local environment and overburdened waste water treatment facilities are unacceptable to me and to many others.

I also like clean, well maintained buildings in which to purchase needs and luxuries, however, I do not care for over lighted, over air conditioned, over priced, understaffed discount and full priced retail establishments. They do not serve my needs and in the long run lead to urban and rural blight. They stop being cheery and wonderful after a few years and start looking seedy and useless.

I have shopped in these sorts of stores before and found many excellent customer
service representatives along with affordable products. I am not wealthy and so
pinch a few pennies occasionally. At my age though, I find quality to be worth higher prices. Junk is junk n0 matter what price.

I have also had many unpleasant experiences in those types of retail establishments both as an employee and as a customer. Outside interests rarely invest in local communities in a sustainable manner. Workers do earn standard minimum wages but the profits from these businesses leave the community and hurt local merchants.

Industry does not have to look like a factory or something like RTP. I actually find the park like atmosphere of some factories to resemble a campus. The industry the area in question is zoned for is not just for plants and big trucks. It could also be quiet research based industries that use green building and innovative facilities to save water and energy. These places can be managed in a way that helps people live the way they want and need, with less stress and more understanding.

We already have wonderful businesses in Pittsboro that are like this. We don't see them as an eyesore because they don't stand out like a sore thumb, or a Wal-mart, Marshall's, Dollar Tree, or giant hulking movie theater. The people who work there make sustainable wages and so stay in the area instead of moving away to get a "real" job.

Industry is a broad term that should be considered in context. The issue surrounding Pittsboro Place is one of zoning. Many people are alarmed at how fast zoning changes are being enacted. If the area is rezoned then there might not necessarily be a charming business and residential center built there. Some other developer might use the rezoning to outbid Pittsboro Place and come up with a different and not so charming "place".

This type of situation is about profit. The developers and land owners are hoping to cash in on investment. We understand. We like money. We need money, for living and the support of community. We want those local people who have invested to cash in, hang around and spend locally.

I hope we see some good sustainable development of the industrial area off of 64 East, soon! We are a great town for families and intelligent kind people to make home. They won't come here and settle and help us grow into the community we want to be if there is a failed shopping center and urban chaos like we see in Siler City, Ramseur, Cary and now Apex.

We also have large scale energy industry already in that area that needs room to grow. If you haven't seen the organic farm and
greenhouses at Piedmont Biofuels then you should go take a look. It is amazing and will change your outlook on Pittsboro Place. The bio farm and other facilities are the kind of industry we need, want and have. Original article...

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Recycling carried to a new level

Recycling lowers the urgency to find more new resources, helps reduce trash dumped along roadsides and in backyards, and has become a profitable big business for some. Recent news articles tell of copper tubing being stolen from construction sites and catalytic converters being removed from parked cars for precious metal content so thieves can "recycle" and sell materials. Home recycling helps reduce the volume of material going into landfills and often adds a little income for cities and towns.

Recycling has been a business for many years and junk yards are seen in industrial areas of many towns. "For the determined, scrap-hunting is a grueling, house-to-house quest. The worldwide hunger for scrap draws retirees and their trucks to the streets. The washtubs and faucets they haul across the scales might not make it into an Asian office tower, but the mad pace of building makes the metal more valuable everywhere" according to an article by Josh Shaffer and David Bracken.

Almost everything in our society produces volumes of waste, much of which can be salvaged and recycled -- packaging containing purchased products, newspapers and magazines, materials from buildings being demolished to make room for new ones, old cars and trucks. Even the food we eat offers the opportunity to "recycle" scraps to produce compost that can be re-used in gardens and around the yard.

Read more about this trend that is becoming a necessary part of our society and how it can produce a fortune for some willing to do the hard work to gather and sell byproducts of everything we consume...
News and Observer
August 4, 2007
Josh Shaffer and David Bracken, Staff Writers

Scrap metal: from trash to treasure
Hobbyists -- and thieves --cash in as demand spikes here and abroad

RALEIGH - An 80-year-old man with heart trouble spends his days bouncing over the Johnston County back roads, hunting for rusty farm equipment.

A thief sneaked into a scrap yard in Garner, made off with a bucket of old copper and immediately tried to sell it back for $100.

Just last week, 19 catalytic converters disappeared from a North Raleigh auto body shop. Over the past three months, more than 200 storm grates vanished in Durham.

Blame the invisible hand of scrap metal economics, which drives a global hunger for recycled junk that stretches to bridge-building in India and apartment construction in China. The tiniest, rustiest bit of metal discarded or stolen in the Triangle is wrapped up in a powerful global market that connects junkmen, recyclers and thieves with a construction boom in east Asia. Read more...