TO:                  Mayor and Town Council


FROM:            W. Calvin Horton, Town Manager


SUBJECT:      Closure of a Section of the Rosemary Street Right-of-Way


DATE:                        November 21, 2005





Adoption of the attached resolution would order the closure of a seven footwide section of the existing 45 foot wide right-of-way of Rosemary Street adjacent to the Wallace Parking Deck.  Please see map (Attachment 1).




On September 12, 2005, the Council authorized the Town Manager to initiate the steps necessary to close part of the Rosemary Street right-of-way adjacent to the Wallace Parking Deck.  This right-of-way closure would provide area necessary for construction of the proposed Downtown Development Project on the Wallace Parking Deck site.


On October 10, 2005, the Council adopted a resolution calling a Public Hearing on November 14, 2005 to receive comments on the proposed right-of-way closure. Notice of the hearing was mailed to property owners in the vicinity of the requested street closure, published in a local newspaper and posted along the section of right-of-way under consideration.  Please see Attachment 2. 


According to State law, G.S. 160A-299 a Public Hearing and prior notice to adjacent property owners are necessary before closing a public right-of-way.  Under the statute, the Council may close the right-of-way upon determining that:


“Closing the street or alley is not contrary to the public interest, and that no individual owning property in the vicinity of the street or alley or subdivision in which it is located would thereby be deprived of reasonable means of ingress and egress to his property.”


If the right-of-way is closed, the ownership of the property would revert to the Town of Chapel Hill because the strip of right-of-way under consideration is located on the south side of the street where the Town is the only abutting property owner.  (A copy of G.S. 160A-299 is provided as Attachment 3).




The Town is now working with the Ram Development Company to develop Town-owned properties in the downtown area.  Based on proposed plans now under discussion, as much as seven feet of the existing Rosemary Street right-of-way could be necessary for construction of the project proposed for the Wallace Parking Deck site.


The proposed closure would reduce the width of the existing right-of-way from approximately 45 feet to approximately 38 feet.  If the Council approves the right-of-way closure, the Manager would have a survey plat prepared showing the abandoned section of the right-of-way and the plat would be recorded with the Orange County Registrar of Deeds.


Traffic Patterns


This block of Rosemary Street is now a three lane cross-section with a single travel lane in each direction and a center turn lane.  The existing street width along this section of the block is 40 feet from curb to curb.  Therefore, we believe the street cross-section could be reduced by as much as seven feet and still leave enough width for two travel lanes and a center turn lane.   Although the lanes would be narrower than they now exist, the retention of the center turn lane would ensure there was no significant change to the existing traffic patterns because of the reduction of the street width.


Closure of more than seven feet of right-of-way would require narrowing the street width to the extent that a three lane cross-section on this section of Rosemary Street could no longer be accommodated.




Town staff sent notices of this Public Hearing and the proposed right-of-way closure to all public utility companies that might be affected by the closure.  Orange Water and Sewer Authority, Bell South, Public Service Gas, Duke Energy, and the Town Traffic Signal System all have installations within or adjacent to the Rosemary Street right-of-way being considered for closure.  If the right-of-way is closed, it may be necessary to relocate some of the existing utilities.


For future development in this location it would be necessary to work closely with the affected utility companies during the detailed design phase to provide for utility relocations as necessary.




One citizen spoke at the public hearing concerning the proposed abandonment of the public right-of-way and the potential impact on traffic patterns.


ISSUE: Will Rosemary Street be widened on the north side of the street, opposite of the Wallace Deck? (See Mr. Moshier’s memorandum, Attachment 4)


RESPONSE: Plans for proposed construction on the Wallace Parking Deck site have not yet been developed.  However, the concept plan provided to date shows no change to the northern curb line of Rosemary Street.  We do not plan to make changes north of the northern curb lines.


ISSUE: Will the center turn lane on Rosemary Street be eliminated, creating potential traffic congestion and restricted movements?


RESPONSE: If the street cross-section is reduced by no more than seven feet as now proposed, there would still be enough street width remaining to provide two through lanes and a center turn lane.  The developer would be required to submit a Traffic Impact Analysis at which time the Council would decide the specific lane configuration desired for Rosemary Street.  Existing and potential street cross-sections are provided as Attachment 5.


ISSUE: What effect would the street narrowing have on bicycle traffic?


RESPONSE: Decreasing the street width would narrow the existing wide travel lanes on Rosemary Street.  We don’t know the impact narrower travel lanes may have on cyclists along this section of the street.  This matter has not been studied in detail at this time, and we would expect that bicycle traffic would be studied as part of the Wallace Parking Deck Traffic Impact Analysis that would be required as part of any future development of the site.




We believe that the existing right-of-way and street cross-section on Rosemary Street adjacent to the Wallace Parking Deck Street could be reduced by as much as seven feet and still allow adequate width to provide for a three-lane configuration.  As part of its review of any proposed development on the Wallace Parking Deck the Council would be provided a detailed Traffic Impact Analysis for its consideration.




That the Council adopt the attached resolution closing seven feet of the existing Rosemary Street right-of-way adjacent to the Wallace Parking deck.




1.         Map (p. 5).

2.         November 14, 2005 Public Hearing Memorandum (p. 6).

3.         G.S. 160A-299 (p. 19).

4.         Moshier’s Memorandum Dated November 14, 2005 (p. 20).

5.         Drawing of cross-sections (p. 21).