SUMMARY MINUTES OF A PUBLIC HEARING
OF THE CHAPEL HILL TOWN COUNCIL
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 19, 2006 AT 7:00 P.M.
Mayor Kevin Foy called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.
Council members present were Laurin Easthom, Sally Greene, Ed Harrison, Cam Hill, Mark Kleinschmidt, Bill Strom, Bill Thorpe, and Jim Ward.
Staff members present were Deputy Town Manager Florentine Miller, Assistant Town Manager Bruce Heflin, Town Attorney Ralph Karpinos, Town Information Officer Catherine Lazorko, Planning Director J. B. Culpepper, Development Planning Coordinator Gene Poveromo, and Acting Town Clerk Sandy Cook.
Mr. Sparrow, an ordained Baptist minister, protested LUMO regulations being placed on his property, noting it was not in the Town limits when he purchased it and he conducted a “medical missionary” business from his home. He requested that his property be exempted from LUMO regulations that restricted the use of his property for parking by UNC employees and hospital patients.
Mayor Foy informed Mr. Sparrow that the Council’s procedure was to receive and refer petitions to the staff for a response at a future meeting.
COUNCIL MEMBER WARD MOVED, SECONDED BY MAYOR PRO TEM STROM, TO RECEIVE AND REFER THE PETITION TO THE MANAGER. THE MOTION WAS ADOPTED UNANIMOUSLY (9-0).
Item 1 – Public Hearing: Land Use Management Ordinance Text Amendment: Modifications to Housing Floor Area Restrictions for Major Subdivisions and
Planned Development Regarding Payment-in-Kind for Affordable Housing
Planning Director J. B. Culpepper explained that the Text Amendment proposed was in response to an application from the developer of the Bradley Green Subdivision to allow for payment-in-kind for affordable housing. She stated that in order to comply with the Land Use Management Ordinance (LUMO) regulations for Housing Floor Area Restrictions, the application included two size-restricted dwelling units limited to 1,350 square feet for 30 months following issuance of a Certificate of Occupancy.
Ms. Culpepper stated that the approval of the Bradley Green Subdivision included a stipulation as an alternative to providing the two size-restricted dwelling units. That alternative, she said, was that if the regulations changed to allow payment-in-kind for affordable housing, then sewer improvements and widening and improvements to Ginger Road might be used to satisfy all or some portion of an in-kind payment alternative.
Ms. Culpepper stated the staff recommendation was enactment of Ordinance A, which would provide specific language to guide the value of the payment-in-kind for affordable housing. She noted that Ordinance B did not reference the value of the payment-in-kind.
Kelvin Green asked that the Council support the payment-in-kind text amendment.
John Sehon, immediate past president of Habitat for Humanity for Orange County, stated that at the previous hearing some Council members had indicated that providing improvements to Ginger Road would be superior to providing the two size-restricted $400,000 dwelling units. He said that Habitat was concerned that enactment of Ordinance A, which would require that after the in-kind payment the developer pay the Town the difference between the two affordable homes and the actual costs of improvements, the developer would have no choice but to build the two size-restricted $400,000 homes. Mr. Sehon said Habitat was urging the Council to enact Ordinance B and accept the payment-in-kind offered by the developer as fulfillment of his affordable housing requirement without any additional funds owed. He said that would help Habitat avoid significant infrastructure costs for the development of Sunrise Ridge.
COUNCIL MEMBER WARD MOVED, SECONDED BY COUNCIL MEMBER EASTHOM, TO RECESS THE PUBLIC HEARING TO MAY 8. THE MOTION WAS ADOPTED UNANIMOUSLY (9-0).
COUNCIL MEMBER WARD MOVED, SECONDED BY COUNCIL MEMBER EASTHOM, TO REFER ALL COMMENTS TO THE MANAGER. THE MOTION WAS ADOPTED UNANIMOUSLY (9-0).
Development Planning Coordinator Gene Poveromo noted that this modification included 810,000 square feet of new floor area; demolition and replacement of Davie Hall; expansion to Boshamer and Kenan Stadiums; relocation and improvement to the Ground Facilities; replacement of Skipper Bowles Drive tennis court with parking deck/tennis court; relocation of parking spaces from the Bell Tower Deck to the Craig Parking Deck; and construction of a reclaimed water storage facility.
Mr. Poveromo stated they recommended that the Council review this Concept Plan, receive comments from the Community Design Commission and citizens, and adopt a resolution transmitting comments to the applicant.
Anna Wu, speaking for the University and the UNC Health Care System, presented an overview of the Concept Plan. She noted that the recent updates to the Campus Master Plan were guiding the modifications to the Development Plan. Ms. Wu said that some of the projects were new proposals, and others were revisions to previously approved projects.
Ms. Wu displayed a site development map that showed the location of the 29 site development permits that had been issued to date. She then displayed a map that indicated the 14 projects proposed under this modification. Ms. Wu stated that overall the projects included academic, research and office buildings, infrastructure, athletic facilities and pedestrian improvements. She said the three parking deck proposals relocate previously approved spaces and stayed within the cap of approved spaces.
Ms. Wu stated that the 14 projects represented an increase of approximately 1,000,000 square feet. She said none of the projects meet the requirements for expedited review, and two had been identified as perimeter transition area projects. Ms. Wu then provided a brief overview of each of the 14 projects:
A-22 Replacement of Davie Hall
The replacement of Davie Hall is planned to be a 25,000 square-foot footprint with three floors for a total of 75,000 square feet. This building will restore the streetscape and pedestrian connection along Cameron Avenue to the Arboretum by setting the building away from the street. It will also provide updated classroom, research and office space for the Department of Psychology.
0-5 Addition to Alumni Center
This project is a small addition to the existing Alumni Center to provide more office and meeting space. The addition would be approximately 12,000 square feet.
ATH-1 Boshamer Stadium Improvements (PTA)
Planned improvements include: additional seating, concessions and toilets, a new batting tunnel, field and landscape improvements, lighting improvements, circulation changes and a field maintenance building. Pedestrian and streetscape improvements on Ridge Road between Boshamer and Henry Stadiums are also included in this project.
ATH-2 Kenan Stadium Improvements
Planned improvements include additional box seats on the south side of the stadium and new seating areas on the east side. Additional toilets, concessions, a structured concourse and a pedestrian connection to Rams Head Plaza are also included. New seats would total 8,804 and new building area would total 125,000 square feet.
P-12 Tennis Deck Site
This deck would be on the site of the tennis courts on Bowles Drive. The deck would provide parking on two levels with new tennis courts on the top of the deck. These new tennis courts will be accessible from the new open space created by the new Ram Village residence halls. This deck will accommodate the remaining 230 unassigned permit parking spaces.
A-20 School of Information and Library Sciences
The School of Information and Library Sciences (SILS) will be housed in approximately 125,000 square feet on the south side of Blythe Drive. This facility will provide a consolidated location for the SILS program near complementary users on campus and will address the current deficit of classroom, library, and office space for the school.
1-7 Reclaimed Water Tank
This tank is a joint project with OWASA to provide a reclaimed water system on campus, just south of the Manning Steam Plant. A water storage facility is a necessary component of this overall project.
1-6 Grounds Facility (PTA)
This project will provide administrative office and storage space for the Grounds Department. The Grounds Department is currently located in temporary facilities slightly north of the proposed site. The total square footage for these buildings and structures is approximately 48,000 square feet. The proposed site is south and west of Mason Farm Road and is on the site currently occupied by Odum Village buildings #700 - #711.
R-5 UNC Imaging Center
The lmaging Center will allow the Medical School to centralize all the MRI and other imaging processes in a single location; they are currently scattered throughout campus. This building will connect to the Lineberger building on its south side and be approximately 330,000 square feet.
0-4 Medical Office Building
This new office building on North Medical Drive will provide space for a portion of the Medical School faculty and staff who currently occupy Medical School wings B, C, D, E and F. This will allow future redevelopment of this area for hospital expansion projects. It will also help meet the demand for Medical School faculty offices that already exists on campus. The building is currently planned to be 180,000 square feet.
P-11 Craige Parking Deck Expansion
This expansion would add three new levels to the existing Craige deck. Approximately 990 parking spaces that were previously approved for the Bell Tower site (890) and unassigned spaces from other parking projects (100) would move to the Craige deck.
P-4 Bell Tower Parking Deck
In order to preserve an appropriate scale of development in the Bell Tower area, the design has been refined. A key decision that keeps a balance of building and open space in this area is to reduce the size of the approved 1600 space parking deck by 890 spaces for a new total of 710 spaces in Bell Tower. These spaces will shift to the expanded Craige Deck and a connector road that had been planned from the deck to Manning Drive will be eliminated.
A-21 Bell Tower Academic Building & R-1, 2, 3
This update to the Bell Tower development shows the latest configuration of research buildings 1, 2, and 3, a smaller parking deck (P-4) and a new academic building (A-21) to screen the parking deck from the green space. The design also includes a pedestrian bridge across South Road. A-21, the only new footprint in this area, will house research and office support services in approximately 80,000 square feet.
A-14 Dental Science Building
Approximately 175,000 square feet of additional space is planned for this building; the existing Dental Office Building and Dental Research Building will be demolished. An 84,990 square foot building was approved at this location in the Development Plan. The larger facility currently planned will allow the School of Dentistry to increase its enrollment by 50% to meet the health care needs of North Carolina. This facility will provide the research, academic and clinical science capacity to educate more dental students.
Ms. Wu said in addition to the notification to the Town and to over 1,000 residents of tonight’s meeting, the University had presented these plans at a community meeting on March 21 and to the Laurel Hill Garden Club on April 11. She said they plan to submit a full application later this spring and return to the Council in the fall for further discussion. Ms. Wu stated that in March the University had offered to provide the Council with a tour of the development plan projects that had reached completion, and tonight again extended that invitation.
Joe Capowski stated that he was a resident of Coolidge Street, which was adjacent to the southwest corner of the campus. He quoted several statements made several years ago by UNC officials and others regarding the health affairs area and its effect on the surrounding area, as well as other statements that had been made regarding the lack of “human space” in this area.
Mr. Capowski said after a decade this area was worse than ever, and continued to deteriorate in the areas of noise, traffic, congestion, unsightliness, difficulty for people to walk around, and outdoor human spaces. So far, he said, planning had not worked.
Mr. Capowski said he was afraid that what was presented was not planning; rather it was utilitarian placement of large buildings with little regard for their cumulative impact. He said it was a shift of more high-intensity campus functions towards the southeastern and southern areas of the campus.
Mr. Capowski quoted the third principle identified by the Horace Williams Citizens Committee regarding the Carolina North property: “We may reach a point where the cumulative impacts of growth are such that no amount of mitigation would be possible and still retain the charm of the Town and the quality of life that both the citizens and the State expect.” Mr. Capowski noted that although that principle was written with regard to Carolina North, it applied today to the Health Affairs area of the campus.
Mr. Capowski said they were still waiting for NCDOT to improve South Columbia Street, and asked that this development plan modification be conditioned on the South Columbia Street improvements being finished before any of these new buildings could be staffed and used.
Kimberly Brewer, a resident of Purefoy Road, speaking as a member of the neighborhood adjacent to the south campus, a professional planner, and a member of the UNC Advisory Committee that helped to develop the Master Plan. She stated that over the past five years the south campus had become a major construction zone. Ms. Brewer noted that 13 of the 14 proposed modifications were located on the south campus. She stated that although the total number of parking spaces had not increased above the cap, many had been relocated to the south campus.
Ms. Brewer said traffic was an issue before the construction boom, and, as predicted, it had worsened during the boom. She said that this modification would further worsen the traffic impacts. Ms. Brewer requested that the Council approve only the proposed modifications that were contained in the original Master Plan adopted by the Council, and only contingent upon the improvements to South Columbia Street and the addition of traffic calming improvements in adjacent neighborhoods.
Ms. Brewer also asked that the Council not approve the additional square footage that was beyond what was approved in the original Master Plan, unless and until the University could show that the traffic impacts could be fully mitigated. She said they could very well reach a point where the south campus could not absorb the development, and this modification may put them at that point. Ms. Brewer asked that the Council carefully consider that so that point was not reached.
Ms. Brewer agreed with Mr. Capowski’s comments regarding the aesthetics of the south campus, saying it had become a “hodpodge of concrete.” She added that the Development Plan did not appear to offer an orderly phased mechanism to implement the Master Plan, but merely a way for the University to inform the Town and neighbors of its latest development plans and projects. Ms. Brewer said each time the University proposed modifications the surrounding neighborhoods were impacted. She said they needed more continuity and more certainty in the planning process.
Mayor Foy said the Master Plan was not adopted by the Council but had been adopted by the University, adding it had a goal of making south campus more human-centered. Mayor Foy said they don’t see that happening, and asked for a response. Ms. Wu said that the last five years had seen intense construction, and she knew that it was hard to see where the end goal was. She said when you had as many disturbed sites as they did, you had to look past the exposed dirt to imagine what it would look like beyond that.
Ms. Wu said beginning in the fall significant changes would be noticeable, particularly in the area of the Bowles parking lot where Ram Village was under construction. She said when the construction was completed and the open spaces restored you would see a huge change in that area. Ms. Wu said ITS/Manning was expected to be completed at the end of 2006, at which time the streetscape would be extended on Manning Drive that currently ran in front of the new residents halls further west on Manning.
Ms. Wu said it was incremental, and all of the planned connections were not yet in place. She said she believed the transformation would start picking up the pace in the next two to three years as they moved out of this intense construction phase.
Ms. Wu said this was one of the reason the University had encouraged tours for the Council. She said when you see the Rams Head Plaza and the Science Complex and some of the other new spaces you could see how the campus would improve. Ms. Wu agreed that right now it was difficult because of the construction and detours for pedestrians and vehicles. She said they did their best to provide information to the public, but they did see completion of these projects coming.
Ms. Wu said the construction may seem chaotic, but it was a planned process and it took time. She said they understood people’s frustration about the construction and disturbances.
Mayor Foy asked about the parking spaces being relocated to south campus. Ms. Wu explained that the original plan contained a proposal for a deck at the end of Manning Drive, which was approved for 1,500 parking spaces. She said that deck had been deleted and had asked that some of those spaces be diverted to the Jackson parking deck and some to the Cobb parking deck, but that did not total all of the 1,500 spaces that had been approved. Ms. Wu said when she referred to the “unassigned” parking spaces proposed to be relocated in the tennis court parking lots, she was referring to 230 of those spaces not previously diverted from the 1,500 approved. She added the remaining 100 would go into the expansion of the Craige deck.
Mayor Foy asked, regarding the deleted deck that Ms. Wu had referred to, if she was saying it was deleted from the Master Plan or the Development Plan. Ms. Wu responded it had been deleted from the Development Plan, adding they had proposed to build that deck in the first plan, but under Modification #1 had removed it. She said it remained in the Master Plan, but they did not see it being built in the foreseeable future.
Mayor Foy said in order to be clear, Ms. Wu was saying that some of the 1,500 parking spaces approved for the Manning deck, now deleted from the Development Plan, were being shifted to the Craig deck. He asked if that expansion to the Craig deck was included in their Master Plan. Ms. Wu said the expansion of the Craige deck with the three additional levels had been considered when additional design work was being completed. She said in the second modification they had asked and the Council had approved that the 1,000 spaces from Venable be combined with the 600 spaces in the Bell Tower. Ms. Wu said once they had looked at the design for that area which included a new chiller plant, parking deck and research buildings, they realized it was far too much development for that area. She reiterated that all of the shifts of parking spaces necessitated by changes in the Development Plan remained within the 1,500 cap approved for additional spaces.
Ms. Wu stated that the Dental Sciences building would include a bridge across the intersection of South Columbia and Manning to the plaza at Thurston Bowles. She reminded the Council that a student had been killed at that location, and that the intersection had a tremendous amount of pedestrian traffic. Ms. Wu said they had always anticipated with the development of that corner the ability to construct a pedestrian network that would link the medical research campus all the way to the genetic medicine building.
Council Member Easthom asked if this plan reflected the changes recently announced at East Carolina University (ECU) regarding the dental program. Ms. Wu said it did, adding that even though a new dental school was proposed at ECU there would continue to be some enrollment growth here.
Mayor Foy said there were two speakers who requested that the South Columbia Street improvements be linked to the Development Plan Modification approval, and they had received communications from other citizens regarding that. He said the Council had a strong preference for those improvements to be made, noting there was a precedent on the Council, using as an example the construction of the superstreet, that roadway improvements be linked with new construction on the theory that the roadway system needed to be settled in order for them to understand how it would work. Mayor Foy said that was something that the Council would consider.
Council Member Kleinschmidt asked which two areas were identified as perimeter areas. Ms. Wu replied the improvements and additions around Boshamer Stadium and the ground facility at Hibbard Drive. Council Member Kleinschmidt said those two areas were not referenced by the neighbors who spoke, and asked what if any discussion had taken place about them. Ms. Wu said when they met with the Laurel Hill Garden Club they had explained the Boshamer project including the new facilities to be added in order to begin a discussion.
Council Member Kleinschmidt asked about the grounds facility. Ms. Wu responded that project was a relocation of existing facilities to a new permanent site, noting it had occupied the site now under construction for genetic medicine. She said because it was proposed to be relocated on the edge of the campus, they had felt it appropriate to propose it as a transition area project.
Council Member Kleinschmidt asked about the impact of the ECU dental school on UNC, which had proposed a new 175,000 square foot building. Ms. Wu said the actual student numbers were still being considered, but they did expect some increase in enrollment and that would necessitate the addition of faculty. She said what they were doing was replacing outdated office and research space, and providing new and expanded facilities.
Council Member Kleinschmidt asked if she saw that as a perimeter project. Ms. Wu said not in the sense that there were other University buildings between that site and the property line. Council Member Kleinschmidt said with the way the road network operated in that area the impact on the Westside neighborhood might be worth exploring more closely.
Council Member Kleinschmidt said when the Manning deck was deleted from the Development Plan and the spaces were transferred, he was disappointed because he had never liked the idea. Now, he said, he was disappointed that those spaces were being shifted into the interior of the campus. Council Member Kleinschmidt said he continued to believe it was not proper to move those spaces. He said the 1,500 space cap had been approved with the original development proposal was reached in part with the understanding that many of those spaces would be located on the periphery of the campus next to a major interchange at Manning and 15-501. Council Member Kleinschmidt said that had made it more tolerable for citizens to accept, but as we move them more interior to the campus it becomes more problematic and he did not like that approach.
Ms. Wu stated they would consider Council Member Kleinschmidt’s comment about the Dental building being considered as a perimeter transition area project. Council Member Kleinschmidt said he understood why it had not been included before.
Council Member Ward said when this came back to the Council, he wanted to understand what kinds of things were built into the project budgets to make sure that the University was keeping up with the infrastructure needs of the transit system, whether it be bus shelters or other bike and pedestrian amenities. He said in many cases where the volume was heavy, the facilities were inadequate.
Council Member Ward said in the process of construction of many of the projects, it would require the demolition of many buildings. He said he wanted to know what was being done to keep that demolition material out of the landfill, and how it was being recycled for reuse. Council Member Ward said a lot of the construction was on the southern part of the campus, which was the watershed. He said if it was just during construction with all the raw soil exposed or the more permanent creation of impervious surfaces, he wanted to understand what was being done regarding stormwater issues and the watershed.
Council Member Ward asked the staff to report on how the Town was following the stormwater requirements associated with OI-4 relative to the water quality and volume.
Council Member Ward said that one of the improvements noted for Boshamer Stadium was a goal to improve the pedestrian flow along Ridge Road, and asked that the University consider including in that survey of connectivity the bike and pedestrian connectivity with the Coker Pinetum which shared a boundary with the neighborhood, the stadium and Ridge Road.
Council Member Ward said regarding the traffic impacts with changing the location of the parking spaces, he would like to understand what the shifts of those parking spaces do to the performance of the Manning/Fordham intersection and the South Columbia/Manning intersection, which were the closest to those parking shifts and concentrations.
Council Member Ward asked what the implications were in regards to the partial tunnel collapse on Pittsboro Road. He asked about the impact on surrounding buildings and the integrity of that tunnel. Ms. Wu said they were coming to the Historic District Commission in May to ask for a Certificate of Appropriateness to demolish Nash Hall, which sat on top of that utility tunnel. She said they had worked with the Department of Cultural Resources as part of that discussion.
Ms. Wu said the building had been vacated and occupants relocated to other facilities. She said they had plans underway to construct a new tunnel and that work would begin once the Manning steam tunnel was on line. Ms. Wu said work was progressing well on the correction at Pittsboro Street, noting they had received NCDOT approval.
Council Member Harrison asked how functional the Craige deck would be while construction was taking place, noting adding three levels was drastic. Ms. Wu said their initial feasibility study showed they could maintain about three-quarters of the deck in operation while under construction. She said they did not now have the project scheduled, and the funding needed to be finalized. Ms. Wu said they had completed engineering studies to determine how to add those three levels to the deck.
Council Member Harrison asked what would happen to the one-fourth of the current users of the deck that would not longer be able to park there during construction. Ms. Wu replied that parking would be redistributed to other locations. Council Member Harrison asked if that deck was used primarily by staff. Ms. Wu responded yes.
Council Member Harrison said that mobility issues on the south campus had been mentioned. He said he believed it was going to be difficult for people to get from transit stops to where they needed to go. Council Member Harrison said he believed the University would have to rethink those transit routes and stops because new streets would be created giving people new places to go. Ms. Wu said it was true they had not anticipated the difficulties caused by the closing of Pittsboro Street. Council Member Harrison said that should be good training for what this would be like. He said it looked as if this would be a difficult part of the campus to get around in, and difficult for people to move from one side of campus to the other with this much going on.
Council Member Harrison said he agreed with the comments made regarding the improvements to South Columbia Street, noting the Council would do whatever it took it get it built. He said it should not be something that had to be continually brought up, because it should have already been done.
Council Member Greene said regarding the scale of south campus and Manning Drive in particularly, the development was enormous. She asked what were the ultimate plans for Manning Drive, asking if they planned to shrink it in size. Ms. Wu said there were no plans to reduce the width. She said that as buildings moved closer to the road, it served to calm the traffic, but that was accompanied by including the appropriate streetscape in the project. Ms. Wu said when you approach the top of the hill and see the new residence halls, that did signal to drivers that they needed to slow down in that zone.
Ms. Wu said when all of the projects in that area were completed, from the new residence halls to East Drive, they would have shifted the sidewalks inbound and added planting strips with bollards and street trees, channeling pedestrians to appropriate intersections. She said that would take place in stages, but when completed would make a significant improvement to safe pedestrian access.
Council Member Greene asked if they had thought about a median strip down Manning Drive. Ms. Wu said they had considered that, but with the turning lanes and existing curb-to-curb dimensions they could not add medians. She said their traffic team had spent a lot of time discussing the feasibility of that with NCDOT, but in the end they had opted not to widen it but to narrow the lanes and add planting strips and bollards and chains as an approach to traffic calming.
Council Member Greene said the future road planned parallel to the south, which she understood was not part of this plan and was indefinite, was nonetheless of great concern to the neighbors, and they were anxious to understand more about it and to participate in that process.
Mayor Foy asked if the other new road, referred to as Blythe Drive, was connected to this Development Plan. Ms. Wu said that would connect Skipper Bowles to Hibbard Drive. She said it would be completed in the next year or so, noting the utility tunnel was located there and the road would be placed on top of that walkable tunnel. Mayor Foy said the School of Information and Library Science would be located on that road. Ms. Wu said that was correct.
Council Member Hill said looking at the aerial views of the campus, it appeared that the overall theme of the Development Plan was that concrete and masonry were good and trees were bad. He said he looked at some of the photographs and could not determine what area he was looking at, even though he was very familiar with the campus. Council Member Hill said the campus was becoming unrecognizable.
Council Member Hill said the University should be proud of its ability to raise funds and put up buildings, but he believed that planning was completely absent. He said he believed their strategy was to overbuild this area to the point that it would not work any longer, and that any objections the Council might have to Mason Farm and expansion of those streets would be hard for them to render. He said adding 600 parking spaces to the Craige deck would impact Country Club Road and South Road to such a degree as to be unworkable.
Council Member Hill said the differences between the Manning deck, the Cobb deck and the Craige deck were huge as far as adding traffic to the interior of the campus. He believed that at a minimum the idea of tying the improvements to South Columbia Street to this plan made sense, he said.
Council Member Hill asked how old Davie Hall was. Ms. Wu said it was built in the 1960s. Council Member Hill said it had always been considered unattractive, and now it was scheduled for demolition. He asked how that fit in with the University’s concept of sustainability when they planned to tear down a 40-year-old building, noting that the same applied to the demolition of Odum Village. Ms. Wu responded that the decision to replace Davie Hall rather than renovate it came from an analysis that indicated that addressing the deferred maintenance items was coming very close to the replacement value of that building. She said that facility was out of date with a lot of accessibility issues and code issues, and they saw the opportunity to improve that site.
Council Member Hill asked if the new building would be larger. Ms. Wu said it would be close to the same size, noting Davie Hall was 72,000 square feet and the new building was planned for 75,000 square feet.
Council Member Hill asked how the additions to Kenan Stadium were funded. Ms. Wu said they were funded through athletics, with no State appropriations. Council Member Hill said he understood that some of those additions would include box seats, meaning that someone would pay extra for those seats. Ms. Wu said she was not familiar with the pricing plan for those box seats.
Council Member Thorpe said he was curious as to how the University felt about the concept plan process. He said the process allowed the Council to ask any question they wanted to because there was no project in front of them. Council Member Thorpe asked about the placement of the water tower. Ms. Wu said the proposal was to site it just south of the Manning steam plant and just north of Blythe Drive, which would begin to aggregate some of their infrastructure sites together. She said the water tower had height requirements related to the pressure needed, and one of the reasons they proposed to site it there was that it was next to the walkable tunnel and Mason Farm followed that alignment. Ms. Wu said that site was also central to the location of the chiller plants, and because of the height they needed to be conscious of the flight paths for the health care system. She said that area already contained tall structures related to the steam structure so it was the most appropriate site.
Council Member Thorpe stated that with the new seats added to Kenan Stadium, that the University communicate to the NCDOT that the University would not receive approval until the improvements were made to South Columbia Street. He said those new seats would add to the traffic woes.
Council Member Thorpe commented that the University supported national championship teams, mentioning the men and women’s basketball programs and the fact that the women’s coach, Sylvia Hatchell, had won National Coach of the Year honors. He said with all the success achieved by the University, when the Council invited a University team or group to appear before it to receive the Town’s congratulations he believed they should have the courtesy to accept.
Council Member Thorpe also commented on the cost of attending a football or basketball game, noting it was out of reach for many of the Town’s citizens. He suggested that the University consider a reduced rate for Town residents, and possibly reserving some seats for Town residents since many times games were sold out.
Council Member Easthom echoed the sentiment regarding the shift of the parking spaces to the south, as well as the timing of the South Columbia Street improvements. She said at minimum a traffic impact analysis or some sort of study of the implications of moving the spaces should be conducted. Ms. Wu said that analysis would be included in the traffic analysis when they submit the application.
Mayor Foy said one of the things that was of concern to the Council that the University should consider was that the Master Plan did include attempts to make the south campus more like north campus, and he would want to show the work being done in that regard now or begin doing some of it with this development plan. He said that would help not make it look as if all the “good stuff” was being deferred and all the big buildings were being built now.
COUNCIL MEMBER KLEINSCHMIDT MOVED, SECONDED BY COUNCIL MEMBER WARD, ADOPTION OF RESOLUTION R-1. THE MOTION WAS ADOPTED UNANIMOUSLY (9-0).
Mr. Poveromo stated this proposal was for a multi-family development of 24 buildings with 48 dwelling units on 19.41 acres. He said the site was located between Ginger Road and Interstate 40, east of Sunrise Road, and north of the recently approved Bradley Green Subdivision. Mr. Poveromo said the proposed access was from Ginger Road and from Amesbury Drive in Chandler’s Green Subdivision.
Mr. Poveromo said they recommended that the Council review this Concept Plan, receive comments from the Community Design Commission and citizens, and adopt a resolution transmitting comments to the applicant.
Susan Levy, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Orange County, said they were striving to achieve a livable sustainable neighborhood of quality affordable homes. She said their objective tonight was to provide details that addressed traffic calming, house design, the homeowners’ association and restrictive covenants, and landscaping. Ms. Levy said they also wanted the Council’s feedback on five major components of the project: the general layout, the use of Ginger Road, noise constraints, attached single-family homes, and the density/number of units.
Ms. Levy described some of the families now living or who soon would be living in Habitat homes. She then described the reason for the need for such housing in Chapel Hill:
Ms. Levy stated that in the 2005-2010 Consolidated Plan for Housing and Community Development Programs in Orange County, the Town of Chapel Hill states that one of its highest priorities is to “facilitate the construction of new or substantially rehabilitated housing units that are affordable to families earning less than 60 percent of the area median.” Ms. Levy said that Sunrise Ridge offered a golden opportunity for the Town to meet that priority.
Mr. Sehon noted they had continued to work with the neighbors although they were accused of not doing so. He said they did get off on the wrong foot with the neighbors and took responsibility for that, because they did not go out and seek input from the neighbors before they requested the initial funding. Mr. Sehon said since then they had negotiated with the neighbors and the Mayor’s Committee on the 17 points used as guidelines for development of this property, they had informed the neighbors of progress and had listened to their responses, although they had not always agreed.
Mr. Sehon described the original concept plan and the problems they had accounted. He said since then they had identified additional goals to be met:
Mr. Sehon stated that the Community Development Commission (CDC) had commented on the plan, and their comments were included with the Council’s materials. He said they believe they had not met the requirements for Sunrise Ridge, which were:
Mr. Sehon said although they were accused of not listening to the neighbors, many of the changes addressed concerns expressed by the neighbors.
Rosemary Waldorf, a Habitat volunteer, addressed the concept of density. She said in reading the comments made by CDC members, she noted that some of the members had commented that this proposal was too dense. Ms. Waldorf said she believed that density needed to be evaluated not on perceptions but on the density permitted by the zoning of the site and on the design of the project including the design sensitivity to neighbors.
Ms. Waldorf said the perception that the project was too dense should not go unchallenged. She said the permitted density was four units per acre, or 78 dwelling units, and the proposal was for 48 duplex homes, or 2.5 units per acre. Ms. Waldorf said it was true there were several neighborhoods in the area that were lower than 2.5 units per acre, but there were others that were much higher, citing Carol Woods and numerous nearby multi-family units as examples. She said within the context of affordable housing, this was a suburban design and therefore not really dense.
Ms. Waldorf noted that the Comprehensive Plan emphasized providing affordable housing in Chapel Hill and that it was so important that the Town might consider certain exceptions to facilitate it, such as reductions in setbacks, frontages, yardage requirements, cutting back on curb and gutter requirements or right-of-way requirements. She said none of that had taken place with this proposed development. Ms. Waldorf said Habitat had tried hard to be sensitive to the neighbors and to provide a quality environment for the people who would live in this development.
Ms. Waldorf said she was particularly attuned to the Council’s current interest in affordable housing, noting she served on the Town’s Inclusionary Zoning Task Force. She said that Task Force had not finished its work and did not know what the Town might eventually adopt, but it had become clear that if they were to have a legally defensible and economically feasible inclusionary zoning ordinance they would have to think in terms of a density bonus. Ms. Waldorf said that meant granting permission to provide more housing than the underlying zoning permitted.
Ms. Waldorf said as a practical matter community wide, if the Town were going to get more affordable housing then it would have to be open to more density. She noted that developable space was scarce, and opportunities for creating more affordable homes would be in multi-family developments and in redevelopment. Ms. Waldorf emphasized that Sunrise Ridge was neither of these, and in fact was well below the density permitted for the site.
Ms. Waldorf encouraged the Council to look upon this proposal favorably, and asked that they bear in mind that Habitat was probably the only agency that was consistently able to bring homes to the community for persons in the 50 percent of median income bracket.
Josh Gurlitz, a member of Habitat’s volunteer design team, said the design team consisted of planners, architects, land use planners, and landscape designers. He described neo-traditional design planning was popular some years ago, noting this type of planning came from a strong sense of preserving the land and for social interaction. Mr. Gurlitz said it was now being rediscovered, and included characteristics such as homes closer together, homes closer to the street, a grid pattern of streets with no cul-de-sacs and no dead-ends, shared recreation space, sidewalks, and safe ways for people to get around the community.
Mr. Gurlitz displayed a slide of a neo-traditional project located in Greensboro, pointing out the grid pattern of the site, how close the buildings were together and how close they were to the street, and that there were sidewalks on both sides of the street. He noted that the houses were within 25 feet of the sidewalk, most of the houses were two stories and the houses were close together. Mr. Gurlitz described a similar project in Columbia, South Carolina. He said he provided this information because he believed it was important to understand the concept of the design and to see examples of how similar concepts had been applied and withstood the test of time. Mr. Gurlitz pointed out that Southern Village was the poster project for this type of design. He exhibited slides of Southern Village, pointing out the homes and their proximity to the streets, the sidewalks, and other amenities.
Mr. Gurlitz said they had started with the idea of using neo-traditional design, but had other design objectives as well:
Mr. Gurlitz pointed out on a map the location of the RCD and the location of the creek on the site. He said they had opted not to disturb anything in the RCD. Mr. Gurlitz also pointed out the sound contour line on the site.
Mr. Gurlitz said as Chapel Hill moved ahead, there would be infill development. He said that this development and this group of planners had decided that the Town should adhere to the kind of neo-traditional planning that had created good communities elsewhere, that preserved open space and decreased the amount of impervious surface and did not mirror urban sprawl.
Mr. Gurlitz said the plan was quite simple because it responded to the environmental criteria they had set, in that it did not disturb the RCD and did not intrude into the noise district. He said the homes were arranged close to the street with sidewalks on both sides, and ample room for street tree plantings. Mr. Gurlitz said that each of the attached homes had double-track driveways, meaning that the only paved area was a track for the tires, which preserved grassy areas. He said off-street parking was provided, but at a minimum.
Mr. Gurlitz said the designs for these homes would vary and provide variety along the street. He said the homes would have front porches, providing socialization between the sidewalk and the privacy of the home. Mr. Gurlitz said the distance between the structures was not very different than the distance in adjacent subdivisions.
Mr. Gurlitz said the things they had accomplished with this plan included:
Sandra Cummings, Danny Benjamin, and Steve Herman with the Sunrise Coalition provided a PowerPoint presentation opposing the project.
Ms. Cummings said this process had begun more than four years ago, and for the neighbors it had been a nightmare. She said she and her neighbors were disillusioned and disappointed with the development process that had consumed them. Ms. Cummings appealed to the Council to look at this project objectively and critically, and to support their right for neighborhood protection.
Ms. Cummings said they oppose this project for a number of valid reasons, and believe that the present plan was in many ways worse than the previous one. She said members of Habitat had called them inflexible and unwilling to compromise. Ms. Cummings offered a number of ways they had attempted to settle the differences between the developers and the neighbors:
Ms. Cummings asked, who was unwilling to compromise? She said that Habitat had time and again refused to meaningfully involve them in the project and for two-way dialogue. Ms. Cummings said over the course of several meetings Habitat may have listened but there was no give and take. She said Habitat would only take direction from the Council, and they were pleading for the Council to assist the neighbors.
Ms. Cummings said it was true that Habitat had made some changes to the plan, but they believe it was due more to the necessity of the environmental constraints of the land than their desire to compromise. As an example, she said, Habitat had moved the access to Ginger Road not so much because of neighborhood concerns for safety but because providing access through the RCD was cost-prohibitive. Ms. Cummings said Habitat was not aware that the RCD was there when they purchased the property so financially it had not been figured into the project. She remarked that if they had done their homework they would have known that 70 percent of the land was not buildable, which had resulted in a density that was not acceptable.
Ms. Cummings said they believed that the project did not meet the guidelines of LUMO and zoning requirements as they had understood them when agreeing to the 17 guiding principles. She asked the Council to evaluate the plan as if a for-profit developer was proposing it, and as if it were being built in their own neighborhood. Ms. Cummings asked that the developer address the concerns of the CDC, and that they be encouraged to actively involve the neighbors in the planning process so that when the plan came back to the Council it would be one they could all support.
Mr. Benjamin provided a summary of the CDC comments:
Mr. Benjamin said he was surprised to hear Habitat state they had met with the neighbors. He said he knew of only one meeting that had been held at Carol Woods, and he would like Habitat to provide him with the dates and times of other meetings that may have taken place.
Mr. Benjamin said that density was the primary flaw in this project. He said this was not a proposal for 48 units on 19 acres, but 48 units on 6 acres. Mr. Benjamin said when Habitat had first proposed building duplexes, they had wondered what experience Habitat had in that area. He said they had searched the Internet and found the following statistics regarding Habitat duplexes:
· Over 100 Habitats randomly contacted
· 0/100 have a development with duplexes
· A development of duplexes was a departure from a successful Habitat model of single-family homes
· This proposal was significantly larger in scope than any Habitat development of duplexes they were able to locate in the United States
Mr. Benjamin then provided a description of the existing neighborhood on Ginger Road. He displayed an aerial view of the property, pointing out the location of the proposed development and the home currently adjacent to it, and the location of Ginger Road. Mr. Benjamin commented on how close the development would be to that existing home, noting the buffer was minimal.
Mr. Benjamin noted that the neighborhood had no input into the planning for the duplexes, no input in the Ginger Road access, no input into the high density put forth by the plan, no input into the developer’s vision for the Homeowners Association for the plan, no involvement in the sound study, nor any input into the Concept Plan. He asked that the neighbors be allowed to work with Habitat to develop a project that they could all be proud of. Mr. Cummings said they wanted a project that would work in the long term, and they were concerned about the expertise and long-term management of duplexes.
Mr. Herman focused on the noise issues, stating he did not believe that Habitat was “being straight” with the Council. He said when the issue was first raised by neighbors, Habitat argued that since several Chandler’s Green homes were also adjacent to I-40, it proved that highway noise was not a barrier to residential development. Mr. Herman stated five reasons why that statement was false:
Mr. Herman said people with options could select to live in areas that did not have noise issues, but the Habitat clientele did not have those options. He said it was wrong to build affordable housing units in a area where the noise levels were excessive.
Mr. Herman said the Council had requested a noise study, but the results of that study were withheld for almost a year. He said the results revealed projected noise levels that exceeded federal standards for human habitation and would render such a development ineligible for HUD funding. Mr. Herman said Habitat’s response was to reject the HUD standards and to seek alternative sources of funding. He said they find that unacceptable. Mr. Herman said that the federal standards were not about funding sources, but about creating healthy and sustainable environments. He said they believed Habitat was acting irresponsibly by ignoring those standards just because they did not fit Habitat’s plans. Mr. Herman said the plans should be changed to fit the standards, not the other way around.
Mr. Herman stated the sound report formulated its own definition of the boundary of the 67 dB limit between habitable and non-habitable areas of the property. Because none of them were acoustical engineers, he said, they had asked Seymour Freed, a retired Civil Engineer living in Carol Woods and a local expert on I-40 noise, to look at the sound study. Mr. Herman said Mr. Freed would speak shortly, noting a copy of his report had been distributed to the Council. He said Mr. Freed’s report showed that the methodology and conclusions of the sound study was biased in several ways, all of which served to under-represent the true magnitude of the noise problem on the property. Mr. Herman said one CDC member had agreed with their recommendation that an independent and impartial review of the sound report was appropriate in this case.
Mr. Herman said they were disappointed that the study failed to address the impact of clear cutting trees on the transmission of highway noise to adjacent properties. He said they had specifically requested that from Habitat and their request was virtually ignored.
Mr. Herman said the Sunrise Coalition asked that the Council pass along to Habitat specific recommendations made by the CDC:
Robin Whitsel, Vice Chair of the CDC, said she was representing herself and not the CDC. She said she was one of the CDC members who objected to the density of this project, and believed that single-family homes were more appropriate and preferable. Ms. Whitsel said as a CDC member she had asked Habitat to consider a greater level of cooperation with the neighbors.
George Cianciolo, a resident of Chandler’s Green, said he was speaking for himself and not as a member of various advisory boards. He said he was concerned that the project was in a poor location for affordable housing. Mr. Cianciolo said it was a vehicular-dependent location, and was not located within walking distance of any grocery stores, banks, pharmacies, or general retail operations, nor was it located on a bus route or on a site that was likely to be on a bus route.
Mr. Cianciolo stated this was a high-density development on the eventual edge of Town that, other than for a planned development such as Southern Village, probably made no sense. Having said that, he remarked, it was one of the few if not the only site left in Chapel Hill where someone could afford to build truly affordable housing.
Mr. Cianciolo said concern tonight was with the proposal for duplexes and the proposed density and size. He said the maintenance of duplexes and yards would provide challenges not present with single-family homes. Mr. Cianciolo said he was also concerned that living in duplexes would present different challenges for those living there. He said another concern was the fact that Habitat had no experience with duplexes. Mr. Cianciolo said he hoped that Habitat would rely on the experience of other Habitats or developers who had built such homes.
Mr. Cianciolo said his remaining concern was one of size. He said the largest Habitat development he could identify that contained duplexes was in Lancaster, Colorado, which was 31 duplexes on 9.7 acres. Mr. Cianciolo said Sunrise Ridge was proposed for 24 duplexes that resulted in a size comparable to the largest Habitat project to date. He said this would be built by an organization that had no hands-on experience dealing with duplexes.
Mr. Cianciolo said he would be a lot more comfortable with this development if Habitat had conducted a pilot project with two or three duplexes on the Rusch Hollow site. With no such project to evaluate or learn from, he would ask that Habitat reconsider building one of the larger duplex projects in the country, and reduce the number of proposed duplexes by at least five or six units.
Mr. Cianciolo said that this project must be successful, noting that failure would be disastrous for the residents, the neighbors, for Habitat, and for the community as a whole.
Robert Campbell said that more community involvement was necessary before this project was approved. He said those who lived in the area knew about the property, the trees, the potential for flooding, and other issues. Mr. Campbell said that lack of communication was dividing the neighborhoods rather than bringing them together. He said Habitat had purchased more property in his neighborhood, ballooning the neighborhood, but keeping them separated by that lack of communication and lack of community involvement.
Mr. Campbell asked the Council to encourage Habitat to listen to the neighbors, and to do a “walk through” of the area so that they would be familiar with the territory. Mr. Campbell said when you develop a property and leave, you should make sure it was left better than when you arrived.
Seymour Freed, a retired Civil Engineer and a resident of Carol Woods, provided the Council with a memorandum entitled “Sunrise Ridge: Why Construction Should Start 490 Feet from I-40 Centerline.” He said he had written that memorandum in response to the report by Stewart Acoustical Consultants mentioned by Mr. Herman. Mr. Freed said the report stated that the “magic line” for acceptable future sound levels would occur 335 feet from the centerline of I-40. He said there were three serious errors contained in the report that had resulted in an estimate that was 155 feet too low. Mr. Freed said the magic line should be 490 feet, not 335 feet, and noted the three errors contained in that report:
· Using the same simplified traffic noise model (TNM), traffic volumes, speeds and terrain as the Stewart report resulted in a year 2015 prediction of 67 dBA at a distance from vehicles to observer of 365 feet. Thirty feet must then be added for the distance from the vehicles to the center of I-40, making a total of 395 feet.
· The criterion used by Habitat for their magic line was whether an existing home qualified for consideration of a noise barrier by NCDOT. Habitat assumed a 67 dBA noise limit, despite stating that noise “must approach or exceed” this limit. NCDOT and the FHWA define “approach” as to be within 1 dBA of noise value for the activity. The universally used NCDOT standard for noise impact is 65 dBA, not 67 dBA.
· Habitat used year 2015 as its design year. This is a HUD standard but Habitat opted not to comply with HUD, but instead to use NCDOT rules. The design year, by NCDOT and FHWA noise barrier standards, is 20 years after construction began. This means that the design year should have been 2026, not 2015.
Mr. Freed concluded that the TNM model of year 2026 I-40 noise predicted 66 dBA at 460 feet. Adding the 30 feet to the magic line, he said, brought that total to 490 feet by NCDOT Noise Abatement Criteria. Mr. Freed said it was correct that Habitat had chosen to comply by NCDOT standards, which was their right, but it had not done so. He said to comply with NCDOT barrier standards the magic line of construction should start at 490 feet from the centerline of I-40, not at 335 feet as stated by the Steward report.
Linda Rimer, an employee of the Environmental Protection Agency, said she had submitted a document for the Council’s information. She noted it was not to be taken as an “official” statement of the EPA, but rather as a description of activities and policies that have been evolving since the early 1990s. Ms. Rimer noted the EPAs mission was to protect human health and the environment. She said she had been asked to speak tonight to address why current EPA policies support the kinds of developments that Sunrise Ridge demonstrates.
Ms. Rimer said in the late 1980s to early 1990s, the EPA became aware of the pattern of urbanization that had occurred and continued to occur in this country, and the challenges that created to the EPA in its ability to fulfill its mission. She said this urbanization was destroying open space, reducing biodiversity, destroying habitats, diminishing air and water quality, and diminishing water quantity.
Ms. Rimer said that the EPA had little to no authority to address those issues and address that type of urbanization. While acknowledging that there are federal policies that influence development, for instance highway and transportation policies, these changes in the landscape are due largely to decisions made at the local level, she said.
Ms. Rimer said around 1998 the EPA began to explore ways to influence this local government decision-making. She said the EPA created the Smart Growth program to research the impact of sprawling development on air, water and land. She said a Smart Growth Network was created to gather and make this type of information widely available through publications and the Internet.
Ms. Rimer said the Sunrise Ridge Development demonstrated many practices that help to protect the environment. She said the fact that it is more compact than traditional development meant that more open space was preserved, along with all the benefits that open space provides, such as water quality and quantity, air quality, climate protection, and preservation of habitat and biodiversity. Ms. Rimer said the greater environment of the region was also enhanced because the RCD and jurisdictional wetlands were not disturbed in any way.
Ms. Rimer concluded that she believed this development supported the concepts of sustainable development, good environment, and good economy for all the people.
Aaron Nelson, executive director of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce, said he was representing the unanimous opinion of his 35-member board of directors by speaking in support of the Sunrise Ridge Development. He said the Chamber, on behalf of their 900 members and the 50,000 employees that those members represent in the Triangle, was committed to growing a supply of work force housing. Mr. Nelson said their members’ ability to recruit and retain quality employees, and the Town’s ability to recruit and retain quality employers was predicated on having a sufficient supply of work force housing proximate to employment centers.
Mr. Nelson stated that they were concerned about the impact that the lack of work force housing has on the community, its impact on transit and transportation infrastructure needed to be built, its impact on air quality and its impact on civic participation, which diminishes precipitously as people’s commutes grow longer. He said the need for an increased supply of work force housing was clear, noting the least expensive new home sold in Orange County this year was $420,000.
Mr. Nelson said that by definition Habitat’s proposal was out of character for the community because they wanted to build affordable homes, noting the Town’s character was to build unaffordable homes. Mr. Nelson said Habitat’s character was consistent with their aspirations and was what they wished for the community.
Mr. Nelson said the Sunrise Ridge Development was fully consistent with the Town’s Comprehensive Plan, and with the expressed desires of this Council and Councils before them. He said to protect the environment and to protect the rural buffer they must go dense with the land within Town boundaries. Mr. Nelson said the population would continue to grow and to accommodate that growth in the most appropriate way we must go dense. He said to keep it affordable and keep costs down we must go as dense as possible with the land available.
Mr. Nelson said on behalf of the Chamber of Commerce, its Board of Directors and its members, he was formally asking the Council to approve the project and to advise Habitat to continue with its efforts to build more affordable housing in the community.
Robert Dowling, Executive Director of the Orange Community Housing and Land Trust, clarified the position of the Land Trust in regard to the Sunrise Ridge Development. He stated that they had discussed with Habitat the possibility of participating with them in the development of Sunrise Ridge, but had not participated in the development of the current plans and had not had any substantive discussions with Habitat about the land Trust’s involvement. Mr. Dowling said Habitat’s time had been consumed with the Concept Plan, and he expected that as the months went by that the Land Trust would have substantive discussion about their potential involvement in the project.
Mr. Dowling said his first concern was always to build homes that they could sell. He said unlike Habitat, when they build a home they have to hire a general contractor and take out loans.
Mr. Dowling said he preferred the current plan from Habitat, noting he believed it addressed some of the concerns expressed by the neighbors, although that was not what we had heard tonight. He stated the homes had been moved further from I-40, they would not disturb the RCD, they had reduced density by adding more land, and they have done all of the units as duplexes. Mr. Dowling said the neighbors saw that as a negative, but he considered it a positive. He said one of the challenges of affordable housing was long-term maintenance of homes, and single-family homeowners did not have the luxury of a homeowners association, but had to rely on themselves. Mr. Dowling said with duplexes, you had the advantages of having dues paid to a homeowners association who would make sure that maintenance was provided.
Mr. Dowling said providing affordable homes was not easy work, and this process had been trying for Habitat. He said the challenges posed by the neighbors had actually strengthened the proposal, and would increase Habitat’s resolve to make this a successful project. Mr. Dowling said Habitat had a good track record and this project warranted Town support.
Mayor Foy reminded the public that this was the beginning of the process, and that it was a public process and was designed to engage all of the community. He said any approval of this project had a long way to go, including review by advisory boards, staff scrutiny, and community discussion before it came back to the Council. Mayor Foy said this process included a Concept Plan that provided interaction with the developer, which was what they were doing tonight.
Council Member Kleinschmidt said he was looking forward to seeing the range of incomes these homes would address, adding he hoped that Mr. Dowling would be part of that discussion. He encouraged Habitat to use duplexes as a model here, noting he believed it was significantly different than the duplexes in Northside, for instance. Council Member Kleinschmidt said the problem with duplexes in Northside and the reason for the moratorium was that you would have a small house, then you were adding something three times as large next to it and calling it a duplex, and that was ruining the character of the neighborhood. He said those houses then became rental housing for students. Council Member Kleinschmidt said this project was nothing like the Northside duplexes. He said these homes were homeownership opportunities, and that virtually eliminated the traditional arguments against duplexes.
Council Member Kleinschmidt said he was concerned in the earlier plan about how the homes were squeezed into that easternmost part of the property, and was pleased that they had since been able to acquire more land. He said in evaluating the clustering of the homes they had to look not only at what was available but also at the potential and how much land could be saved. Council Member Kleinschmidt said he believed they had achieved that here.
Council Member Kleinschmidt said he was particularly pleased that they were avoiding the RCD, which was a big concern a year ago. He said the fact that they had been able to move the road and it was cheaper for them did not matter to him, noting he was just pleased to get it out of the RCD.
Council Member Kleinschmidt stated he wanted to learn more about the driveways, noting he was not entirely convinced that the pavers with grass in between was the right way to go. It would be very different and he wanted to understand the concept, he said.
Council Member Kleinschmidt said he believed Habitat had been responsive to the concerns expressed by the Council during the first Concept Plan review. He said he believed that Mr. Freed’s comments on the noise study deserved a response, and was looking forward to hearing that.
Council Member Greene said she was glad to hear about the context of the new urbanism and particularly about the differentiation in styles of the houses, noting she still had concerns about the cookie cutter look in the drawings. She said the development had an elegant simplistic quality to it and the current plan was an improvement over the original plan, noting the reasons mentioned by Council Member Kleinschmidt.
Council Member Greene said she wanted to have some understanding that the development would have some texture to it and not look like an apartment complex. She said she was confused about the HUD regulations, what they stated or did not state, as well as the Town’s noise regulations and how they might affect this development. Council Member Greene said she would like Habitat to respond to the HUD guidelines and the comments made about those regulations not being followed.
Bob Reda, a member of the Habitat Board, stated he would be happy to have their consultant available when they make their formal presentation. He said, to their knowledge there was no mandatory noise level within Chapel Hill. Therefore, what they had done was work with the best numbers available. Mr. Reda said they had placed sound equipment on the property and taken measures in order to make their findings.
Mr. Reda said they had held many discussions with HUD both in Greensboro and Washington, and they had indicated that the calculations they used were over 30 years old, and had no funding to update the calculations. He said HUD had admitted much had been learned in that time regarding sound and how it traveled. Mr. Reda said because of that, they decided to use the figures provided by NCDOT, which was 67 dB, to minimize the disturbance to the homes.
Mr. Reda said for the members of the CDC who had noted noise as a concern, an equal number noted it was not a concern. He said regarding the comment made about luxury homes providing better construction to minimize the noise, he stated that the average monthly heating or cooling bill for a Habitat house was $25.00. Mr. Reda said that told him those homes were well constructed, and they would not only hold hot and cold air but would reduce outside noise as well.
Council Member Ward echoed others in saying that he hoped as this plan was defined that the Land Trust would find a way to participate, which would benefit the diversity of that neighborhood. He said he wanted to understand the noise issue better in terms of what that would mean to the residents living there. Council Member Ward said he wanted to feel confident that the neighborhood was being created in a place where the noise was not an irritant.
Council Member Ward noted it had been said that these homes should not be built there because of the lack of urban services, in particular public transit. He hoped that even though there was no transit service there now, the developers would take that into consideration and build it in a way that bus service might eventually be extended to that community.
Council Member Ward said he supported the addition of an active recreation area, and that it included access to pedestrian and bike amenities that would make it safe to get to and from it. He said he would like to see the ability for the Town to extend its greenway system into this development, noting it currently paralleled most of I-40.
Council Member Ward said regarding parking, he wanted to see an alternative design that provided for fewer curb cuts. He said he understood the value of limiting the parking to tire track footprints, but wondered how well it would work in reality.
Council Member Ward said the design before them tonight seemed to break up the side yards of these homes more than he wanted to see, noting that the open space between houses was unusable. He said that area was a prime place for children to play, so if the houses could be moved around to create some useable play areas it would make it a more friendly place for people to call home.
Council Member Easthom said she would treat this Concept Plan in the same manner as any other proposal and give it the same amount of scrutiny. She stated that regarding neighborhood involvement, she had been concerned about statements about the lack of two-way conversation about the current plan. Council Member Easthom said she would like to encourage a community meeting or an informal meeting between Habitat and the neighbors to address some of the concerns expressed this evening.
Council Member Easthom said she was sensitive to the noise issue, and would agree that an independent noise study be conducted. As far as the appearance of the development, she agreed that on paper it did have a cookie cutter look, and would like to see something different. Council Member Easthom said regarding the driveways, she was not a big fan of tire track driveways and would like more information about that. She said she believed it would be a maintenance issue.
Council Member Easthom said she had read a statement from the NCDOT that as far as a buffer between a development and a highway, that a 200-foot buffer of dense vegetation could reduce noise by 10 dB. She said that was significant, and as part of the exploration of this issue she would like that looked at.
Council Member Harrison said that six of the nine CDC members commented on the friction between the neighbors and Habitat, and believed that the majority of comments should be acknowledged. He said when Chandler’s Green was discussed, the neighbors had broken down the developer’s resistance and the developer had broken down the neighbors’ resistance, which resulted in a meeting of minds. Council Member Harrison said it was an example of getting together and creating something that was working. He said the perception of a majority of the CDC, whom the Council relied on for their opinions, was that there had not been a meeting of the minds in this case.
Council Member Harrison said he was the only Council member who had supported mediation requested some months ago by the Sunrise Coalition. He said he stood by that position.
Council Member Harrison said regarding design issues, the CDC had noted the use and maintenance of the common areas, and he believed more work needed to be devoted to that to remove the “cookie cutter” effect mentioned by two of the Council members. He said this was “clustering” because of ordinance requirements, and it was not as creative as it could be. Council Member Harrison said some additional creativity should be applied to move things around to make more common areas useable for the residents, as well as how those areas would be maintained.
Council Member Harrison said another concern was the cross sections of the streets, noting he was not clear about how much parallel parking could be placed on a local street. He said these streets were standard local streets, which were 27 feet wide and designed for two-way traffic moving through with parking on one side. Council Member Harrison said there was a limit to how much parallel parking such a street could tolerate.
Council Member Harrison said it was not an area he would rank highly for getting a bus through. He said it was not on a bus line, and was not ideal for access by Chapel Hill Transit. Council Member Harrison said it also was not an ideal place for affordable housing, because it was not close to transit or other amenities the residents would need.
Council Member Harrison said the shifting of one of the units which took place after the Concept Plan went before the CDC allowed for the addition of unrequired perimeter buffer along Ginger Road. He said that would enhance the look of Ginger Road and the internal street. Council Member Harrison said this project was very much an experiment, and internally the applicant would have to be sure to do this project right.
COUNCIL MEMBER EASTHOM MOVED, SECONDED BY COUNCIL MEMBER WARD, ADOPTION OF RESOLUTION R-2. THE MOTION WAS ADOPTED UNANIMOUSLY (9-0).
Chapel Hill Bible Church Park
Ms. Felganhauer noted that a public meeting had been held at the Church on April 17 to explain the plan to interested neighbors and others. She stated that the University was committed to addressing the neighbors concerns, and would continue to monitor the use of the lot as well as any potential problems brought forward by the neighbors. Ms. Felganhauer displayed slides that included a location map, an aerial map of the surrounding areas, a chart highlighting the park and ride demand in the area, the location of other park and ride facilities, existing transit routes, and several photos of the site.
Ms. Felganhauer stated that the Traffic Impact Analysis just completed indicated that this proposal would have no significant impact on traffic. She noted that the lot would not be used on weekends or for other UNC events, as per their agreement with the Church.
Kevin Hewison said the meeting on April 17 brought out a number of concerns, with traffic and potential noise and air pollution being the most mentioned. He said when you move into a neighborhood with several churches you expect that they would be good neighbors. Mr. Hewison said when one of them suddenly becomes a parking lot for 241 vehicles, the nature of the neighborhood would certainly be changed.
Mr. Hewison said the neighbors were also concerned about other larger changes in the neighborhood, such as the Wilson Assembly and a large office building at the end of Old Sterling Drive, would change the nature of traffic in the area. He said this was one more change to be added, and he believed this park and ride lot proposal needed to take that into consideration when talking about traffic impacts.
Mr. Hewison said another concern was the potential impact on existing bus services. He said if there was an express service operating from that site to the campus, it would be attractive to many, including him. Mr. Hewison said it would also be attractive to people who lived outside the neighborhood, and they were concerned this would act as a magnet. He said it could result in increased street parking throughout the neighborhood, as well as the use of other parking lots belonging to nearby businesses or organizations. Mr. Hewison said the impact on the local community was a concern because they would be forced to become parking police.
Mr. Hewison said he was concerned because they had not heard from the Church how they plan to monitor parking which might overflow from the Church. For example, he said, the University had indicated it would monitor its parking, but there were another 400 to 500 spaces there and the Church had not indicated how it would control parking in those areas.
John Hutchinson, developer of Presque Isle, said the map provided by the University did not indicate nearby large developments or office buildings, including one that was under construction. He asked how the neighborhood was suppose to fend off illegal parkers, and why they should have to. Mr. Hutchinson said the Church was gaining $48,200 per year but the neighbors would have to provide the monitoring. He said the bus access would be “extremely” attractive to commuters, and would not be limited to just the 241 users of the park and ride lot.
Mr. Hutchinson asked if the Council was focusing on the entire picture of what was taking place in that area, noting the Wilson Assemblage, the Residence Inn, and this proposed park and ride, with no traffic light proposed for the Erwin/Sage intersection until 2009. He added that they had no assurance that a traffic light would be placed at the entrance to Lowe’s and the Wilson Assemblage entrance. Mr. Hutchinson said then they have to take into consideration the inclusion of the already obsolete superstreet planned for that area.
Harvey Krasney apologized for a statement made to the CDC regarding an existing ordinance that prohibited commercial parking in a residential area. He said his information was incorrect, but he believed there should be such a rule.
Dr. Krasney said he agreed that there needed to be a park and ride lot for commuters coming in from Durham, but not in this neighborhood. He said UNC had had four years to locate an existing site elsewhere, as suggested by the Council in 2002. Dr. Krasney asked if they had sought rights to use a fraction of the large parking areas at New Hope Commons or Patterson Place, or other space in the Garrett Road area. He said he believed the University had not looked elsewhere because they wanted to take the easier and cheaper way out, and without a doubt some of that expense would come from tax dollars.
Dr. Krasney stated that the University should think about what it was doing to the surrounding neighborhoods, which totaled 12 by his count. He said they were already fighting traffic congestion caused by the explosion of growth in the area. Dr. Krasney said the Council recently approved two more developments, Wilson Assemblage and Dobbins Hill, with 450 parking spaces and a bank. He said the traffic consultant said there would be no significant increase in traffic, but he asked if any of the Council members had visited the area and viewed the traffic congestion at peak hours.
Dr. Krasney said on April 29, 2002, the Bible Church had submitted a letter to the Town requesting 317 additional parking spaces, noting that due to current space constraints and due to their anticipated growth, space in their lot was very tight on Sundays and was growing more tight on weekdays. He said if that was the case, how could they afford to give up 241 spaces to the University. Dr. Krasney said the letter had indicated the next phase of growth for the Church would be the addition of an athletic gym, which he said would attract people at peak hours. He said of those 317 spaces granted in 2002, he understood that only 70 had been built out to date.
Dr. Krasney stated that perhaps the University anticipated building and paving those remaining 247 spaces approved for the Church, and for the Church to add to those 247 spaces when a gym was built. He said if that happened, that would amount to an additional 500 vehicles being added to their neighborhood to contend with at peak hours, as well as with more mass transit. Dr. Krasney said mixed use could be an asset to the community but it could also be a burden, and that would be the case particularly in the Erwin/Sage area. He urged the Council to draw the line on more facilities that would result in more unmanageable traffic in these neighborhoods. Mr. Krasney said the University needed more park and ride lots, but not in residential neighborhoods.
Andy McWilliams pointed out that he was a commuting biker to campus, a University employee and a resident of the neighborhood. He said the most direct route for commuters to take coming from 15-501 was to turn onto Old Sterling Road and then into the park and ride lot. Mr. McWilliams stated that would mean 250 additional cars on a road with no lines or markings that was frequently used by pedestrians and bikers, including many children. He said that road was not built to handle that type of traffic, including the additional buses. Mr. McWilliams said the safety of those residents would be in jeopardy, and asked the Council to carefully consider that.
Joanne Watson said that 23 bus runs a day were projected to serve the 241 parking spaces proposed. She said that parking permits were proposed for the parked cars, but no permits were proposed for the riders. Ms. Watson said that would allow for any local or non-local persons to access the bus at that location. She said that at peak travel times that would be an attractive and express service to many.
Ms. Watson said she understood there were nearly 3,000 employees living in this area of Durham who had no easy access to a UNC park and ride lot, and only 241 permits would go to these employees. She said while the park and ride lot would be monitored by the University, there was real concern that others would park in the surrounding neighborhoods and make use of the express bus service from this lot.
Ms. Watson said with the addition of the Wilson Assemblage and Dobbins Hill, a bank, an office building and a hotel, she wondered if there had been a unified approach to study the traffic impacts of these combined projects. She said that Erwin Road was seriously congested with speed restricted to 35 mph, but that restriction was mostly ignored. Ms. Watson said her children were unable to safely cross the street to play with neighboring children, and with the effect of these combined projects as well as the park and ride lot the problems would only increase.
Brent Clark, representing the Chapel Hill Bible Church, said this was clearly a congested area, and the Church was eager to work with the neighbors and the University to address these concerns.
Council Member Kleinschmidt said he was confused about the bus routes. Ms. Felganhauer displayed a map of the existing bus routes. Council Member Kleinschmidt asked if any change to the existing bus routes were proposed. Ms. Felganhauer responded no, but said they were proposing to add a dedicated line for this lot, which would travel directly to the campus.
Council Member Kleinschmidt said he did not think this was the best location for a park and ride, although he understood why it was attractive to the University. He said he believed that people would not cut through Eastowne to get to the lot, rather they would travel to Sage Road and turn there. Council Member Kleinschmidt said if he had a permit to park there, he supposed he would go out of his way, but it did not appear to be an optimum area. Ms. Felganhauer stated that many people travel down that corridor and head to one of the other park and ride lots. She said the lot was close to the corridor, and both the Town and the University had been searching for a site for a park and ride lot in this area for several years.
Council Member Harrison said this was a corridor where a park and ride was needed, but the Town had missed the opportunity to provide one in the Lowe’s parking lot and may have missed the opportunity at Eastowne as well. He said this area of 15-501 at I-40 was in need of such a lot, but aside from this Concept Plan he would like to see documentation on how many spaces were needed in this corridor. Council Member Harrison said he knew that the Friday Center lot was at maximum, as well as NC 54.
Council Member Harrison asked about bus movement through the site. Ms. Felganhauer said the bus would travel 15-501 to Eastowne and Old Sterling and stop at the existing bus stop, then go back out to Sage Road to 15-501. Council Member Harrison said that no traffic light was now proposed for Old Sterling and Sage, but there would eventually be one at Lowe’s required by the Wilson Assemblage. He said he was unaware that the traffic light at Erwin and Sage Roads was three years away. Ms. Felganhauer said the traffic impact information they had recently received indicated installation was planned in 2009 and was associated with the TIP project to realign Weaver Dairy Road. Council Member Harrison said in the long term that would be a better location for the buses to turn.
Council Member Harrison asked, regarding monitoring the lot, if the University intended to provide oversight for twelve hours each day. UNC Police Chief Derek Poarch responded that it was their intention to have an officer out there daily, but would not commit to having an officer there for a 12-hour period. Council Member Harrison said that needed to be a stipulation added to the project by the Town.
Council Member Harrison said the transit system could not control who rode the bus, and asked how the issue of neighborhood parking by commuters would be controlled. Chief Poarch said it was their belief that the dedicated route that would have 20-minute headways from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and then again from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. would not be attractive for many persons commuting to Town when that headway slowed to once per hour. He said they would have officers in that area during those times to help control it, but it was certainly true that they could not control who rode the bus. Chief Poarch noted that they had been told that some of the neighbors wanted to walk to the lot and ride the bus, so they would be added to the ridership of that route as well. He said he understood the residents concerns regarding neighborhood parking, and believed there would have to be some partnering between the University and the Town as far as enforcement of no parking on Town streets.
Council Member Ward said he was glad to hear that the University recognized that people would use this route even if they did not use the park and ride lot. He said as this plan matured, he would like the University to identify elements where pedestrian and bike safety could be improved, and that a pedestrian crossing should be included at Sage Road to assist people in accessing the lot.
Council Member Ward said that adding this type of intensity would require the addition of a traffic light at Sage Road/Erwin Road, and it could not wait three years. He asked that the University explore that and move the date of installation up if possible.
Council Member Ward said he would be interested in hearing the details regarding screening, as well as safety issues such as lighting.
Mayor Foy inquired about the target gate for opening the lot. Chief Poarch said they would be prepared to begin use when the project was approved and when Chapel Hill Transit was prepared to service it. He said their discussion with the Church was to use the lot on a year-to-year basis, and their transit year started in August. Chief Poarch said they would like to make use of the lot until March or April to see how it worked. He said if it was not working they would discontinue use of the lot.
Council Member Easthom said it was noted that the traffic statement showed no impact. Ms. Felganhauer said the traffic impact analysis showed no impact from this project. Council Member Easthom said there were 241 spaces for 241 cars, and wondered what the usage was of that lot during the week and how that was weighed against the analysis. Ms. Felganhauer said the analysis was done according to the Town’s Traffic Impact Analysis guidelines, and a full document would be submitted when they brought the plan forward. Council Member Easthom said she would wait until they received that document, noting she found it hard to believe that 241 cars would have no impact.
COUNCIL MEMBER THORPE MOVED, SECONDED BY COUNCIL MEMBER KLEINSCHMIDT, ADOPTION OF RESOLUTION R-3. THE MOTION WAS ADOPTED UNANIMOUSLY (9-0).
Item 5 – Concept Plan: Intellectual Property Technology Law (IPTL)
Office Building at Meadowmont
Mr. Retschle said this proposal called for a Master Land Use Plan Modification for two reasons: that the Meadowmont Land Use Plan called for a restaurant in this location of 12,000 square feet, and they were proposing an office building of 14,000 square feet. He noted that the 12,000 square feet for the restaurant site was for a one-story building, and the 14,000 square feet they were proposing for the office building was a two-story building, so the footprint of the building was actually smaller.
Mr. Retschle said one of the nice things about this site was they would share a driveway access with the proposed Castalia development to the north, and would share the cost of construction and maintenance of a common access road as well as a shared dumpster facility. He said that would eliminate the need to cut an access road at the existing curb cut, which would have been detrimental to the specimen trees at that location.
Mr. Retschle said the site layout was compact and preserved many of the rare and specimen trees around the perimeter. He said they were requesting a total of 38 parking spaces on the site, two fewer than what was required by ordinance. Mr. Retschle said 16 of those spaces were beneath the building, resulting in a decrease of impervious surface from what was currently allotted in the Meadowmont Master Land Use Plan. He said the impact of this proposal was less than what it would have been had a restaurant been placed there, particularly with regard to the number of vehicle trips per day.
Mr. Retschle displayed several slides that indicated the traffic flow within the site, and the screening of the parking from adjacent roads. He also pointed out the retaining wall located north of NC 54.
Bill Egan with J. Davis Architects, the developer, displayed the site plan, noting the positioning of the building was significant so that it would present itself well to the inbound approach from NC 54. He said because of the fall of the land they were able to propose a two-story building with parking beneath the building, giving it less of an impact on the site. Mr. Egan said the third story was the parking level, but they would use framing elements to screen the garage itself. He said a porch feature would be added to reduce the look to two stories, and would provide an architectural element that was in scale with the long vista on the inbound approach.
Council Member Kleinschmidt said the site of this building was extremely significant, and he had the same problem with it as he had had with the Castalia proposal. He said he admired the applicant for its attention to protecting the existing trees and its concern for the vista, but when he saw this building and that proposed for next door, it undermined the plans for Meadowmont which was to be an urban environment. Council Member Kleinschmidt said the positioning of this building and that of the Castalia proposal replicated the problems located across the street at The Exchange. He said it brought a suburban office park into Meadowmont and it was not designed to be that way.
Council Member Kleinschmidt said he did not like that, even though he appreciated the things the applicant had done. He said he would like to see that, but not here. Council Member Kleinschmidt said he believed it undermined the principles of Meadowmont, and when looking at this project along with everything else present, he did not believe it worked.
Council Member Greene said the Planning Board had just seen a new Concept Plan for Castalia that would be before the Council in June. She noted they were divided about that project, adding that the driveway connection had the building placed in the back part of the lot, which the Planning Board had asked them not to do. Council Member Greene said as a pragmatic matter she would advise the applicant here not to rely on the approval of a shared driveway access, because it was not clear how the Council would respond when Castalia came before it with their revised Concept Plan.
Council Member Ward said his reaction to the building itself was lukewarm, but he had no ideas to relay at this time. He said as far as how the building and the parking worked on the site, he believed it was appropriate. Council Member Ward said regarding the architecture, he would need to see other options before he could offer an opinion.
Mayor Foy said the site was a difficult one, and was originally planned for a restaurant. He said he did not see how a pedestrian could get to it, and one of the principles of Meadowmont was that a person could live there and walk to work. Mayor Foy said unlike other places in Town where that was less likely it was possible in Meadowmont, but he did not see how that could be accomplished here. He asked how someone would walk there and how would people riding the bus get there.
Mayor Foy said he had wanted it placed closer to Barbee Chapel Road, but given that steep slope it would be impractical. He said it was clear that the site was not designed with any kind of transportation system in mind, and that made it a somewhat flawed design. Mr. Retschle said it was not intended for more than 35 people to work there at its capacity, and noted that the terrain coming from Summit Park was not vertically challenged, so pedestrians could walk in that location. He said they had planned to connect their sidewalk with that area. Mayor Foy asked if he was saying people could walk from Summit Park into the site. Mr. Retschle responded that was correct, noting that was an accessible route to the public land.
Council Member Kleinschmidt said the people who worked in this building would presumably walk to the Village Center for lunch, and asked how they would get there. He said it appeared they would have to travel through the parking area of Castalia. Council Member Kleinschmidt said his point was that this project did not integrate with Meadowmont. He said the people who worked there would want to go to lunch and he would prefer they not be required to drive. Council Member Kleinschmidt said he did not see how this building was integrated with Meadowmont and the Village Center, and the sense of a live-work community it projected.
Council Member Easthom said as a new member of Council, when this project came back she would like more information on the Castalia project. She said she wanted to make sure she understood the meaning of the shared driveway and other amenities.
MAYOR PRO TEM STROM MOVED, SECONDED BY COUNCIL MEMBER KLEINSCHMIDT, ADOPT OF RESOLUTION R-4. THE MOTION WAS ADOPTED UNANIMOUSLY (9-0).
The meeting was adjourned at 11:20 p.m.