Town of Chapel Hill
405 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Chapel Hill, NC 27514
phone (919) 968-2728 fax (919)
REVIEW SUMMARY MINUTES
SEPTEMBER 19, 2007, 7:00 P.M.
Chairperson Jonathan Whitney called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. Commission members present were Mark Broadwell, Mary Margaret Carroll, George Cianciolo, Chris Culbreth, Kathryn James, Gretchen MacNair, Scott Nilsen, Amy Ryan, Jonathan Whitney (Chair), Robin Whitsell (Vice-Chair).
Staff members present were Renee Zimmermann, Administrative Clerk and Kay Pearlstein, Senior Planner.
INNOVATION CENTER AT CAROLINA NORTH (File No. 9779-88-6375)
The Town has received a request for a Concept Plan
Review which proposes to construct an 85,000 square foot 3-story building on
approximately 7.4 acres on a portion of the University of North Carolina -
Carolina North campus. Vehicular access is proposed from Martin Luther King Jr.
Blvd. across from Piney Mountain Road. Parking spaces for 210 vehicle parking
spaces are proposed. The site is located on the west side of Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. north of Estes Drive and south of Municipal Drive (see area map
on back). The site is located in the Office/Institutional-2 (OI-2) zoning
district. The site is identified as Orange County Parcel Identifier Number
CONCEPT PLAN PRESENTATION
applicants for the University of North Carolina Innovation Center presented a
power point presentation of the proposed building, access, and parking
locations. A concept plan was presented for a research and office building to
be LEED Silver rated and designed for future growth. The applicants presented a
plan for the berm along Martin Luther King Jr., Blvd to be removed to make the
proposed building visible. The applicant stressed the significance of the Innovation Center to the University and Carolina North.
- Ruby Sinreich, a member of the Planning Board, believed that the
building would establish the entranceway to Carolina North early on without a
Master Plan in place. She noted that this location is extremely important at
the entranceway into the campus. She wanted to know where the internal campus
roads and green space are planned. She stated that a Master Plan was necessary
for understanding the proposal for the Innovation Center.
- Scott Radway liked the vision and idea that was presented with the Innovation Center for Carolina North. Mr. Radway described several positive aspects of the
application including: a) the current driveway to be used as access to the
Innovation Center; b) the proposed building “respects” Martin Luther King Jr.
Blvd.; c) parking is proposed behind the building; d) the building is
attractive and key to the location; and e) the building establishes a quality
building at the corner. He is encouraged by what he sees presented.
- A resident of Glen Heights is concerned about traffic and air
quality. He could not find information on bus operations with the proposal. He
encouraged the community to be innovative concerning parking and suggested
eliminating additional parking and traffic coming in to town from the inception
of the project. He believes that the development will meet the status quo
unless the Innovation Center is innovative with parking.
- Mike Collins, a Planning Board member, resident of Colonial Heights,
and co-chair of Neighborhoods for Responsible Growth sees conflicts between the
piecemeal approach and a Master Plan approach. He feels that the Innovation
Center Concept Plan presented before a Master Plan does not bode well for a
Comprehensive process. He believes that this application has the potential for
setting the tone for the rest of the campus process and this may not be the
best model for the Town to follow.
- David Zanaleta, a resident of Colonial Heights, was surprised to get
a notice for this project. There are no good traffic impacts and no commitment
to make a difference to traffic around town. The piecemeal way the project is
being presented with no transit planning is not friendly and transportation
will get worse. He is excited and interested by the prospect of the Innovation Center but wants better traffic plans.
COMMUNITY DESIGN COMMISSION QUESTIONS AND COMMENTS
- Commissioner George Cianciolo thinks that the Innovation Center is a great idea and it will benefit faculty, the community, and the region.
He noted that lab space is difficult to find and this project will help with
that. However he has concerns with impervious surface proposed to cover 75% of
a 7.2 acre area and only 15% is for the building. Most of the impervious area
is developed for parking. He wants to see a better and more creative solution
to parking - perhaps putting parking underground. He likes the idea of 75% of
the lot undeveloped with density, but not in parking either.
Commissioner Cianciolo believes this is a perfect site for a
transit station. He wants the University to encourage people to walk or ride
their bicycles to Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. to a transit stop. He further
suggested a bus that would loop through the campus taking people to the transit
stop. He believes the potential for an attractive site is possible but that it
is hard to know if this is the best building for the site until we know what
else is being proposed.
- Commissioner Gretchen MacNair believes that the building is out of
context and that it is difficult to offer comments when there is not context or
the building. She does not see information on proposed vehicular of pedestrian
traffic. She wants to see the building engage the street and make Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. more interesting for pedestrians. She suggests retail on the
- Commissioner Scott Nilsen wants to see a more innovative site
design. He stated that it looks like Research Triangle Park and needs to be
better integrated into the community.
- Commissioner Robin Whitsell suggests that the applicant pay
attention to neighbors concerns and also believes that the building looks like
it belongs in Research Triangle Park instead of Chapel Hill.
- Commissioner Amy Ryan wants to see overall planning of the whole
campus. She is concerned about impervious surface and site design. She would
like to see the project be innovative and “out there” rather than a suburban
landscaping on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. to retain the existing berm. She
stated that removing the berm destroys part of the Chapel Hill character along
this stretch of road and will add to the semi-highway feeling and enhances the
natural feeling of the area. Also, the berm helps create a pedestrian
streetscape which she pointed out is difficult to establish.
- Commissioner Kathryn James wants a more spectacular entrance. She
wants to know what the Silver LEED aspects the project is focusing on. She
wants to see a better effort made toward contributing pedestrian-friendly
aspects for the streetscape along Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. She suggests a
winding greenway path incorporated with the berm.
James believes that bus stops are being ignored, especially the southern one.
She recommends a better connection to the stop.
James wants information on tree protection and shared parking proposed by the
applicant. She wanted to know what was being proposed on the opposite corner.
- Commissioner Jonathan Whitney wants the architecture to be more
interesting. He also expressed concern with the impervious surface area
- Commissioner Mary Margaret Carroll wants to see the Innovation Center being innovative and did not believe that it was. She believes the
impervious surface is too great and to make transit easier.
- Commissioner Chris Culbreth wants to have more information for the
entire plan – how will the building appear form Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. He
also did not see any proposed outdoor spaces for the users of the building and
thought that should be considered.
Director of Facilities Planning for the University, stated that impervious
surface was being reduced from what currently exists on site. She stated that
the University intends to provide a transit stop and wants the relationship of
a transit stop to function with the building.
Runberg, Associate Vice Chancellor for the University, stated that there was an
urgent need for the Innovation Center facility. He explained that the
University needs to come to the Town now because of a critical time shortage to
select the architect of choice for the building. Mr. Runberg stated that he
would have preferred to present the Master Plan first, however, he did not
believe that the Innovation Center will be detrimental with what is being
proposed with the Master Plan.
Cianciolo wanted to know why the location changed from the Giles Horney site on
S. Estes Road. Mr. Runberg explained that as the cornerstone building the
Innovation Center is strategic and represents what Carolina North is all about
– mixed use and innovative. He explained that the University has done a lot of planning and this development will be transit oriented. He thanked the Commission and public
for their comments and his intention to have future meetings with the
Commission major concerns of this project including:
approach rather than a Master Plan for the Carolina North campus;
- Too much
parking and impervious surface coverage;
- Lack of
information on traffic impacts and proposed road network;
of a transit station and more information on bus routes;
of innovative architecture, site design, and blending architecture with
the character of Chapel Hill;
- A Master
Plan that would provide context for the building;
of an entranceway building to the campus yet no information on what else
is planned for adjacent locations;
on proposed LEED aspects for the building;
- Creating a
pedestrian streetscape along Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd;
on outdoor green spaces proposed for users of the Innovation Center and campus in general;
on tree protection;
on shared parking;
- View of
the building from Martin Luther King Jr. Road; and
- Removal of
the Martin Luther King Jr., Blvd. berm.
the Commission supported the use and lab space that will be created with the Innovation Center and are excited and interested to learn more about the proposal.
for: Jonathan Whitney, Chair
Prepared by: Kay Pearlstein, Staff