Project Build Volunteers at Forest Hills Park

A big shout out to the wonderful Duke students of Project Build! A small but mighty crew of undergrads came out on a swelteringly hot mid-August morning to join me, Tom and Mary Clayton, and my son, Tucker, in a much-needed rescue and maintenance of the pollinator garden surrounding the Forest Hills Clubhouse. They worked without complaint and in just a few hours the group was able to pull, prune and bag over a dozen bags of weeds, grass and garden debris. It was a pleasure to work with them and learn a little about where they came from as well as their previous experiences as volunteers for other organizations and communities. They are truly an impressive group of young people and a great (if short-lived) addition to our community. Many thanks to Project Build and Duke University.

Connie Semans

Reimagining 15-501 Corridor Study Public Workshop Set for June 26

If you regularly travel along U.S. Highway 15-501 between Durham and Chapel Hill, you know how congested it can be every day. To help plan for the future of this busy highway, resident input is now being sought for the Reimagining 15-501 Corridor Study.

The Durham-Chapel Hill-Carrboro Metropolitan Planning Organization (DCHC MPO) and the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) are co-hosting a public workshop and visioning activity for this corridor study on Tuesday, June 26 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Church of the Good Shepherd, 3741 Garrett Road, Durham. Parking is available in the church parking lot.

The purpose of this workshop is to seek input on this multimodal transportation study of the corridor from University Drive in Durham to Ephesus Church Road and Fordham Boulevard in Chapel Hill. Staff will be available during this workshop to answer questions and receive feedback. Residents are also invited to participate in a visioning activity during the workshop, which will begin with a formal presentation at 6:30 p.m.

For more information about the project, visit the Reimagining 15-501 Corridor Study website. Residents who are unable to attend the June 26 workshop are encouraged to provide their input on the interactive map located on the website by Tuesday, July 10. Interested residents may also follow the DCHC MPO on Facebook and Twitter for #reimagining15501 updates. 

Persons who require Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) assistance to attend the workshop should call (919) 560-4366, ext. 36444 or no later than 48 hours before the event. Persons who speak Spanish and do not speak English, or have a limited ability to read, speak or understand English, may receive interpretive services upon request prior to the meeting by calling (919) 560-4366, ext. 36444. Aquellas personas que hablan español y no hablan inglés, o tienen limitaciones para leer, hablar o entender inglés, podrían recibir servicios de interpretación si los solicitan antes de la reunión llamando al (919) 560-4366, ext. 36444. 

Proposed Changes to the FHNA By-Laws

In its May 13 meeting, the Forest Hills Neighborhood Association (FHNA) Board of Directors discussed and approved recommended updates to the FHNA by-laws.  These updates will be put forth for FHNA member discussion at the upcoming annual meeting & picnic at Forest Hills Park.  Following discussion, members will vote on approval of a final set of updates to the FHNA by-laws.

Here are the proposed updates to the FHNA by-laws that the Board has approved.  Proposed changes are highlighted in red text.  Here is also a 'clean' version (no redlines) with the proposed changes for those who prefer to read it in that format.

By far the most common change proposed is a removal of the redundant phrase 'Board of Directors of Directors'.  This duplicative term appears 73 times (!) in the current by-laws.  In addition, the proposed by-law changes include:

  • Incorporating information-sharing, forming social connections, and community-building in the purposes of the FHNA
  • Removing references to 'fixed' dates for holding regular Board meetings and the annual membership meeting
  • Expanding the maximum number of directors from eleven (11) to fourteen (14)
  • Establishing a residency requirement for voting on the election of directors and other FHNA matters
  • Specifying that all directors serve two-year terms, with the option to serve a second consecutive two-year term after the completion of the first term
  • Including updated language regarding the 'staggering' of directors' terms and voting procedures for directors at the annual meeting

FHNA members are encouraged to review the proposed changes, and I hope you'll attend the upcoming annual meeting and Sunday, June 3rd at the Forest Hills Picnic shelter for further discussion!  


Matt McDowell (FHNA Board member)

1540 Hermitage Ct

Neighborhood Protective Overlay (NPO) Meeting Wednesday, May 30


A group of Forest Hills neighbors have been working on a preliminary application to the city for a Neighborhood Protective Overlay (NPO) for Forest Hills.  We will be sponsoring a meeting to discuss the NPO process and its potential for Forest Hills.

An NPO is a planning tool that helps preserve the established physical character of existing neighborhoods as redevelopment and new investment occurs.  An NPO can include a number of different elements relating to density, housing type, tree protection, setbacks, as well as other design features.  NPO applications are only accepted once a year and the upcoming deadline is June 15.  Once the application is filed and it is shown to have substantial support from the neighborhood, city planning officials develop the NPO based upon consultation with the neighborhood.  The process can be lengthy with multiple opportunities for input from the community. 

The meeting will provide information on the NPO process, including specifics about the timing of applications, signature requirements, and the neighborhood’s role in developing an NPO.  Those involved with the development of the preliminary Forest Hills NPO will be present to describe the planning process that they have undertaken.  There will be opportunity for discussion and questions about the NPO process, including possible types of NPO protection that might be considered in Forest Hills.

Wine Raffle and Benefit Party


We hope you can join us at the Refrectory Cafe on Sunday, May 20 from 5-7pm for a lovely party benefiting the LIFE Skills Foundation.  LIFE Skills is an amazing organization that helps teens and young adults, especially those aging out of foster care, get the skills they need to make a successful transition to adulthood.

If you can't attend the party, please consider participating in our awesome WINE RAFFLE. We will be raffling off 14 different bottles of wine throughout the evening (retail value of each bottle ranges between $12-$70). You can buy one raffle ticket or many. All event and raffle ticket purchases are tax deductible, and you don't have to be present to win!

Tickets to the event are $30 per person. Raffle tickets are $10 each. For reservations and raffle ticket purchases, please email Nancy Pike.  Checks should be payable to the FHNA and mailed to Nancy at 7 Beverly Drive, 27707.

Calling All Ghouls & Ghosties

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Ongoing gratitude to a small but dedicated crew who volunteered to help run our 3rd annual Car Free Halloween on Hermitage Court and Carolina Circle. From permits to road blockades, the process and event is continuing to run smoothly. Volunteers reported nothing but good humor, cooperation and thanks by those in attendance. Approximately 500 glow sticks and necklaces were handed out during the 2 hour event (6-8pm). We continue to experience a fairly equal balance of both neighborhood and visiting trick-or-treaters and are thrilled that the car free zone has been so well received.

Connie Semans

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Big Sweep a Sweeping Success!

Big shout out to a small but dedicated crew who showed up Saturday morning to enjoy the glorious autumn weather and to help our semi-annual cleanup effort in the park. Led by our ever diligent Dwight Koeberl, this mighty group collected and removed an enormous amount of trash from the creek and surrounding area including several tires, sofa cushions and a wide assortment of other odds and ends. A huge thanks to Tania Dautlick of Keep Durham Beautiful for supplying gloves, trash bags and garbage pickers.

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Although it is unfortunate that we need to regularly scour the creek for debris, I look forward to the October Big Sweep event every year. It’s wonderful to get down in the creek after the underbrush and poison ivy has died back and the snakes have retreated for the season. The sky is framed beautifully by the natural buffer of vegetation on the banks and shady, quiet retreats, hidden from passers by, are found under tree canopies. The city virtually disappears and the world of critters feathered, furred and scaly looms large. It surprises me every time how mother nature continues to deliver small beauties and mysteries despite the onslaught of urban disturbances and pollution.

I am hopeful that in the future less effort will be required to keep our environment clean and healthy. In the meantime, maybe you’ll join us for our next park cleanup event and get a peek into the beautiful, hidden world in your own backyard.

Connie Semans

FHNA, President