Factcheck – Questions and Answers

Who is the American Legion in Chapel Hill?

Our post has been in Chapel Hill since post-World War I. We formed in August 1919 and created a post on Rosemary Street, near the site of the Bank America building.  Our vets actually cut down local trees to build our first home, a log cabin!  We closed that site and moved with our naval artillery piece to a new site way out of town and in the “country.”

That then country setting, on 35 acres, had no neighbors.  Well, maybe you might count the dairy cows that were nearby.  Our post home is now encircled by houses, a school, hotels, and office buildings. So much for a country setting.

Our mission is to help veterans. Be they old-timers from World War II, Korean conflict (nice phrase for “war”), Vietnam, a series of police actions, Iraq, Kuwait, and on into 9/11 and our current conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan. Our organization is best suited to help veterans with unmet needs, assistance in our community, service to our community, and veterans education and benefits. We also strongly support Scouting. The American Legion has Veteran Service Officers in each post and in Winston-Salem. Let us help you get the information you need. Our post building serves all of our local veterans who are members of the American Legion or its Ladies Auxiliary.  We are also the home to the local Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Why are you selling?

Just like your home, the post is our home.  It ages and needs upkeep and repair, and, like your home and your family, you need to be realistic.  Is your home more costly to upgrade to meet your current needs?  Our home is no different.  We are continuing the wisdom and legacy of the thousands of Chapel American Legionnaires that considered Post 6 their home.  It is time to rebuild and create a new home “out in the country.”

Why not just rebuild your building? 

We would love to, but we do not have the finances needed to restore and improve our post building.  Our wealth is in our land.

Isn’t this lot of money for each of the post members?

No member of the post may benefit personally from the sale of the post.  The money is never shared or given to members for personal benefit.  It is used for the operation and maintenance of the post home and property, development of programs, support of veterans and their families, payment of post financial obligations, and such other things as approved by the Post Executive Committee and post membership.

Why don’t you partner with someone, like the town wants to do?

Easier said than done.  If you think rezoning is going to be hard, it would be the same with working with a “partner.”  And, partnerships may start well, but would it work long term?

Why not partner with the town for a park?

When a town council changes membership, everything changes.  Existing agreements are open to new interpretation.  Not only that, when a publicly funded project’s use offends some members of the community, restrictions on use by the American Legion are sure to follow.

Did you ever consider other options?

Yes.  We considered leasing Legion Road frontage property to the town for a fire station. The nearby affordable housing tract was selected for the fire station.

We need more parks.

There are several parks in town now that are ready for redevelopment.  There is also a large undeveloped park near Morgan Trail.  It is much larger or the same size as our property and it is unused and inaccessible.

There are no like properties in town, especially wooded.

Maybe not.  There are other undeveloped large tracts in Chapel Hill.

Why the rush?

We have been considering our options for over four years.  Three years ago we created a Revitalization team of members to consider our options. Their recommendations were considered in September 2014 and the members decided to consider sale as an option.  Learn more

Why was the consideration of the Right of First Refusal hurried?

First, there was no binding Right of First Refusal as a contract.  An offer of the right was made by the post, but the town council did not countersign and agree to the offer.  You can find this information on the town website under town council minutes.  However, the members of the post decided to give the town the opportunity to purchase the post at a reduced price of $9 million dollars.  We gave them 60 days to decide and that was after we received a contract offer to purchase the post property.

But, the town did not have enough time to decide with just 60 days and no warning.  Isn’t that unfair?

First, about 18 months ago, our leaders met with the town planning department.  We asked a simple question.  “If the post was to sell its site, what would be the desires of the town?”  We reminded them (and they us) of the Right of First Refusal.  We then took that information and sought interested developers that could build a project on our property that meet the town’s vision.  Is that not the function of a town planning department?

The Woodfield design does not match the town’s plan.

The design you have heard about and as proposed by Woodfield and Associates is a reflection of the town’s desires for property use.  It was shared with the Planning Department early on and modified to meet the town’s desires.  The town requested some changes, an access road near the school, and park area changes.  It was this design that was shared with the town council when they decided to pass on their “right of first refusal.”

The plan is wrong for post property.

The property is bordered by a large nursing home, the Sheraton Hotel, the Europa Center, a Quality Inn, and the Epheses-Fordham development zone.  Two story and larger buildings are our neighbors and more are planned.

What are you going to do if the Town Council rejects the rezoning request?

That is a question for Woodfield and Associates.  We have a contract with them.  They are working with the town.


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