Roger L. Stancil, Town Manager
J.B. Culpepper, Planning Director
Gene Poveromo, Development Manager
Public Hearing: Woodmont on NC 54 East - Zoning Atlas Amendment: Conditional Rezoning Application (File No. 9798-04-71-8729)
May 12, 2008
The purpose of this public hearing is to consider an application from Capital Associates for a conditional use rezoning to rezone the properties from Neighborhood Commercial (NC) or Residential-2 (R-2) to Mixed Use-Village (MU-V). We recommend that the Council enact the attached Ordinance amending the zoning atlas as proposed by the applicant.
DESCRIPTION OF THE APPLICATION
Zoning determines the type and intensity of uses and development that are allowed on a piece of land. An application for a Zoning Atlas Amendment for rezoning involves a change to the current zoning, and thus the permitted types and intensity of land uses.
The application proposes to rezone 35.54 acres south of NC 54, between Barbee Chapel Road and Little John Road. The applicant has also submitted an accompanying application for a Master Land Use Plan (to construct 573,300 square feet of floor area) and a Special Use Permit (for 183,000 square feet of floor area and 404 parking spaces). Please see the accompanying memoranda for information regarding the proposed Master Land Use Plan and Special Use Permit applications.
The site is identified as Durham County Parcel Identifier Numbers 9798-04-93-2035, 9798-04-92-0930, 9798-04-82-9499, 9798-04-82-6093, 9798-04-81-1816, 9798-04-71-8729, and 9798-04-82-6534.
CONDITIONAL USE REZONING REQUEST
In Chapel Hill, a rezoning may be requested in two ways: general use and conditional use rezoning requests. A general use rezoning request is to change the zoning to a different zoning district in which any of several kinds of developments and uses are permissible. A conditional use rezoning request is to allow development and uses only with approval of a Special Use Permit. The applicant, Capital Associates, has submitted a Conditional Use Zoning application, a Master Land Use Plan application, and a Special Use Permit application.
The Council has adopted two resolutions (attached) stating the Council’s expectations with respect to rezoning applications. The first Resolution outlines the Council’s desire for the submission of an energy management plan with the Special Use Permit application associated with a rezoning. The second Resolution states the Council’s desire that the Special Use Permit associated with a rezoning application include an affordable housing component. For additional information on the applicant’s response to these expectations, as adopted by the Council, please refer to the Affordable Housing and Energy Management section in the Staff Report attached to the Woodmont Special Use Permit memorandum.
BOUNDARY OF PROPOSED REZONING
The Staff Report incorrectly identified the boundaries of the proposed rezoning, including the two parcels at the southern end of Little John Road, which are not proposed to be rezoned. The Zoning Atlas Amendment map has been corrected.
Opportunity for a protest petition to a proposed amendment to the Zoning Atlas is provided for under North Carolina statutes. If a sufficient protest petition is filed with the Town Clerk at least 2 business days prior to the date of the public hearing, the proposed rezoning(s) shall not become effective except by favorable vote of not less than three-fourths of the Town Council. Copies of protest petition forms and additional information are available from the Planning Department or the Town Clerk. A copy of the signed statement certifying mailed notice and posted sign verification is attached.
We will report to the Council at tonight’s meeting whether we have received a valid protest petition.
The zoning designation of a property determines the range of land uses and development intensities permitted on the property. Article 4.4 of the Land Use Management Ordinance establishes the intent of Zoning Atlas Amendments by stating that, “In order to establish and maintain sound, stable, and desirable development within the planning jurisdiction of the Town it is intended that this chapter shall not be amended except:
Article 4.4 further indicates:
It is further intended that, if amended, this chapter be amended only as reasonably necessary to the promotion of the public health, safety, or general welfare, and in conformance with the Comprehensive Plan.
The Council has discretionary authority to approve or deny a rezoning request. This application is for a conditional use rezoning, which means that it is accompanied by a Special Use Permit application. We believe it is appropriate for the Council to consider a specific Special Use Permit proposal application in tandem with a rezoning hearing for the same property. If the Council does not find the Special Use Permit proposal to be an acceptable use of the property, we would recommend that the Council not approve the rezoning request.
ANALYSIS OF THE APPLICATION
Analysis of an application to amend the zoning atlas is organized around the requirement of the Land Use Management Ordinance as stated in Article 4.4 of the Land Use Management Ordinance. Article 4.4 states that the Land Use Management Ordinance (including the zoning atlas) shall not be amended except
a) to correct a manifest error in the chapter; or
b) because of changed or changing conditions in a particular area or in the jurisdiction generally; or
c) to achieve the purposes of the Comprehensive Plan.
Each of these requirements, with respect to this proposed rezoning application, is discussed below:
A) An amendment to the Land Use Management Ordinance (rezoning) is necessary to correct a manifest error in the chapter (zoning atlas).
Staff Comment: We believe the information in the record to date can be summarized as follows:
B) An amendment to the Land Use Management Ordinance (rezoning) is necessary because of changed or changing conditions in a particular area or in the jurisdiction generally.
Staff Comment: We believe the information in the record thus far can be summarized as follows:
C) An amendment to the Land Use Management Ordinance is necessary to achieve the purposes of the Comprehensive Plan.
Staff Comment: We believe the information in the record thus far can be summarized as follows:
To support the objectives of the NC 54 East Entryway Goals (a component of the Comprehensive Plan) – “Streets and parking should be designed to promote easy, safe pedestrian and bicycle traffic, and to inhibit fast traffic in both residential and retail/office segments of neighborhoods.” The main spine road through the site is purposefully narrow with on-street diagonal parking to discourage fast traffic. Additionally, the Woodmont development plan includes a network of pedestrian trails within the site, a significant portion of which will be constructed with Phase One of the development, and four loaner bicycles and bicycle racks at the Phase One office buildings. Shower facilities will be included in all of the larger Woodmont office buildings, including Building E in Phase One.” [Applicant’s Statement]
“Promote transit facilities, including preserving the potential for regional transit in this corridor. These Objectives encourage expansion of the service to outlying areas, and promotion of transit-orientated land use patterns. Woodmont is within ½ mile of a future light rail station. The development is committed to assist in extending the CHT existing routes eastward to serve the Woodmont area. Woodmont plans call for a Chapel Hill Transit route along its spine road, with bus stops appropriately located within the development. An important related point: The proposed density of development on this site will foster public transit use, whereas development of this site exclusively as medium density residential properties would not.” [Applicant’s Statement]
To support the objectives of the Comprehensive Plan – “Encourages desirable forms of non-residential development. Phase One of Woodmont will help provide additional high quality office space that will complement and help balance the mix of uses within the larger Meadowmont mixed use zone of which it is geographically a part. Currently, the larger Meadowmont mixed use zone is heavily weighted toward residential and retail uses…” [Applicant’s Statement]
“Support of start-up businesses. The numerous small businesses and restaurants at Medowmont Village will benefit significantly from the addition of density on the Woodmont site… Within Woodmont, office space will be available for both mature businesses and young businesses… Included will be corporate office space in the larger buildings and office space for smaller, newer, tenants in the smaller buildings.” [Applicant’s Statement]
“Retain existing businesses. Recent experience has shown that native firms of significant size have in some cases moved out of Chapel Hill due to lack of suitable Class A office space.” [Applicant’s Statement]
“Work with housing providers to develop affordable housing in Chapel Hill. Capital Associates and OCHLT have committed to partner to include high quality residential units that meet the workforce affordable housing goals suggested by the Comprehensive Plan and specified by the Town Council. Capital Associates has also committed to work with the OCLT to address long term maintenance and affordability issues. The workforce affordable units will compromise 15% of the total residential condominiums units and will include a mix of one and two-bedroom units.” [Applicant’s Statement]
“Implement a comprehensive parking strategy. One of the key elements of this objective calls for structured parking where feasible. Woodmont plans to provide a significant amount of under-building parking, much of which is to be on two levels, to eliminate “sprawl” parking and reduce impervious surface… Woodmont also intends to develop only 90% of its ultimate potentially-needed parking initially. Any portion of the remaining 10% would be constructed only if, and when, there is demonstrable demand for those additional spaces, on a building-by-building basis. With a successful transit plan, ridesharing promotions, shuttles to connect to Meadowmont, it is hoped and expected that none of the last 10% of parking will have to be built.” [Applicant’s Statement]
“Increase the Town’s tax base in a manner that supports community values. At completion, Woodmont’s initial phase will as over $35 million (in 2007dollars) to the tax base… This Comprehensive Plan objective also calls for analysis of projected net revenues as part of the land use decision making process. We will be pleased to work with the Town to produce this analysis.” [Applicant’s Statement]
To support the objectives of the NC 54 East Entryway Goals (a component of the Comprehensive Plan) – “Streets and parking should be designed to promote easy, safe pedestrian and bicycle traffic, and to inhibit fast traffic in both residential and retail/office segments of neighborhoods.”:“The NC 54 East Entranceway Goals clearly enumerates that proposed projects should “avoid placing driveways on the main collector road (ie, NC 54). Since the applicant intends for the main entrance to Woodmont to be a major intersection on NC 54 East, the applicant’s plan is in direct conflict with the second stipulation 10 of the Attachment 2 from the Planning Department staff.” [Citizen Statement]
Promote transit facilities, including preserving the potential for regional transit in this corridor: “The applicant provides no evidence that Chapel Hill Transit has any plans or funding to extend service to the applicant’s proposed project. In fact, no plans or funding are available in the Chapel Hill Transit budget for service extension.” [Citizen Statement]
Support of start-up businesses. “This is a hypothetical justification, and no evidence is presented that supports the purported benefits to Meadowmont business. To the contrary, few, if any, start-up businesses immediately lease Class A space. Class A space is typically utilized by mature businesses. The architecture of Class A office structures always prioritizes design and visual appeal over cost, and sometimes over practically – a Class A building can be considered a monument and a testament to the success and power of its tenants. In most areas, Class A office space typically commands the highest rents for office space in a community.” [Citizen Statement]
Retain existing businesses. “The applicant offers no evidence or foundation to support such a claim.” [Citizen Statement]
Work with housing providers to develop affordable housing in Chapel Hill. “The most recent proposal for Woodmont offers far too few residential units for a project that can truly be considered MU-V, much less a significant contribution to affordable housing.” [Citizen Statement]
Increase the Town’s tax base in a manner that supports community values. “The analysis has not been submitted into evidence. To the contrary, this community desires to retain the character of a village, not of a city. Extremely large, Class A office space does not match the overall community values of Chapel Hill.” [Citizen Statement]
Additional Information: We note that the Land Use Plan, a component of the Comprehensive Plan, adopted on May 8, 2000, identifies a portion of the site as Low Residential (1-4 units/acre), and a portion of the site as Medium Residential (4-8 units/acre).
Planning Board Recommendation: The Planning Board met on March 18, 2008 and April 1, 2008. On April 1, 2008 the Board recommended denial of the rezoning application. On April 15, 2008 the Board agreed to reconsider their recommendation and at the April 29, 2008 meeting the Board voted to continue its decision until the May 6, 2008 Planning Board meeting. We anticipate that we will distribute the Summary of Action for the May 6, 2008 meeting at tonight’s public hearing. The Summary of Action for the April 1, 2008 meeting is attached.
Staff Preliminary Recommendation: We recommend that Council enact the attached Ordinance, rezoning the properties from Residential-2 (R-2) or Neighborhood Commercial (NC) to Mixed Use-Village (MU-V). We believe that the rezoning could be justified based on finding C as described above in the applicant’s statements of support.
Upon review of the Comprehensive Plan, we believe the proposed development provided with the accompanying applications would achieve several Comprehensive Plan objectives identified in the following major themes of the Comprehensive Plan:
The attached Resolution would deny the rezoning request.