MINUTES OF A PUBLIC HEARING HELD BY THE MAYOR AND COUNCIL OF THE TOWN OF CHAPEL HILL, NORTH CAROLINA, MONDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 1993
Mayor Broun called the hearing to order. He noted that Town Manager Horton had presented the Council with a report on a recent criminal incident on West Franklin Street. Council Members in attendance were Julie Andresen, Joyce Brown, Joe Capowski, Mark Chilton, Barbara Powell, Alan Rimer, Rosemary Waldorf and Arthur Werner (arrived at 7:42 p.m.). Also in attendance were Town Manager Cal Horton, Assistant Town Managers Sonna Loewenthal and Florentine Miller, Planning Director Roger Waldon, Development Coordinator Jennie Bob Culpepper and Town Attorney Ralph Karpinos.
Noting that only two or three speakers had signed up to speak on item number 2, the proposed establishment of a historic district in the Gimghoul neighborhood, Mayor Broun suggested that the order of the first two hearing items be reversed. There were no objections from the Council.
Item 1 Proposed Gimghoul Historic District
Planning Director Roger Waldon said the proposal was to create the Town's third historic district in the Gimghoul neighborhood. He briefly reviewed the proposal and showed an area map of the proposed district.
Council Member Andresen inquired about the differences between a local historic district and homes in the National Historic Register. Mr. Waldon said National Historic Register requirements were generally less stringent than requirements in local historic districts. Council Member Capowski inquired which boards other than the Council were involved in historic district matters. Mr. Waldon said the Historic District Commission was generally the only commission reviewing applications. Council Member Capowski inquired about guidelines used to handle modern structures in historic districts. Noting that there were some anomalies in historic districts, Mr. Waldon said the Historic District Commission examined individual homes and neighborhoods for overall historical character.
Planning Board member Marianna Chambless said the Planning Board had unanimously recommended approval of the request for creation of the proposed Gimghoul Historic District.
Ron Davis, 705 Gimghoul Road, said he favored the proposal. Mr. Davis stated that Gimghoul Road was one of the nicest streets in the Town. He added that although creation of the historic district might result in the loss of some independence for area homeowners, it was a small price to pay to show one's love for their neighborhood and Town.
Russ Glatz, President of the Gimghoul Homeowners Association,
said the Gimghoul area was the first planned community in the Town outside of the University. He stated that a number of famous University and alumnus, including Frank Porter Graham, had formerly and currently resided in the Gimghoul neighborhood. He expressed hope that the Council would approve the proposed historic district.
Historic District Commission Chairperson Mary Arthur Stoudemire said she was a 48-year resident of Gimghoul Road. Ms. Stoudemire said she and her neighbors cherished their properties along Gimghoul Road. She noted that three months ago the Gimghoul area had been placed on the National Historic Register. Ms. Stoudemire requested that the Council approve the request for the Gimghoul Historic District.
Council Member Andresen inquired whether the Historic District Commission had any Gimghoul neighborhood residents other than Ms. Stoudemire. Mr. Waldon said no, noting that if vacancies arose on the Commission, residents of the area would be made aware of them.
Council Member Andresen asked whether there was any way to assess opposition to the plan. Mr. Horton stated that interested parties had been notified of the proposal by a newspaper advertisement and notices had been mailed to area residents. Mayor Broun noted that the Council had received one letter in opposition to the proposal.
COUNCIL MEMBER BROWN MOVED, SECONDED BY COUNCIL MEMBER POWELL, TO REFER THE MATTER TO THE MANAGER. THE MOTION WAS ADOPTED UNANIMOUSLY (9-0).
Mayor Broun noted that the item would come back before the Council for possible action on November 22nd.
Item 2 Proposed Southern Area Rezonings
Planning Director Roger Waldon said a revised summary of Planning Board action had been placed at the Council table this evening. Mr. Waldon stated that a small area planning process for the southern part of the Town had been undertaken in 1989. He noted that the Council had appointed several citizens to work with the Planning Board on the development of the southern small area plan.
Mr. Waldon said that the Council had subsequently a southern small area plan as a component of the Town's Comprehensive Plan, directing how development should occur in the area. He stated that proposed land-use densities would be significantly lower as one moved further away from a proposed central commercial portion of the southern area.
Mr. Waldon showed a map providing an overview of proposed zoning for the southern area. He also briefly compared the small area plan's zoning proposal with the Town's adopted small area plan, noting that efforts had been made to match the zoning proposal to the Town's Comprehensive Plan. Mr. Waldon stated that although zoning of the proposed Reserve subdivision was recommended as one unit per five acres, it could reasonably be developed at one unit per acre. Mayor Broun inquired about the proposed location of the Reserve subdivision. Mr. Waldon pointed out the location on an area map.
Council Member Andresen inquired about the relationship between Laurel Hill Parkway and the status of other possible major roadways in the area. Noting that the Council had requested that Laurel Hill Parkway be removed from the Thoroughfare Plan, Mr. Waldon said that no new major roadways or transportation corridors were planned in the area.
Council Member Werner inquired about the location of the urban services boundary in the southern area. Mr. Waldon said the boundary generally followed a ridge line near Old Lystra Road, with the portion to the north and west recommended as urban areas and the south and east sectors to be low-density rural buffers.
He added that due to difficult topography in the area, the proposed urban services area boundary might merit reexamination. Council Member Werner inquired whether the Town could unilaterally change the urban services boundary. Noting that the boundary was a portion of the joint planning agreement, Mr. Waldon said he was not certain whether Orange County alone or both the Town of Carrboro and Orange County would need to be involved in such a possible redesignation.
Council Member Brown inquired about implications for the southern area if a development proposed at U.S. 15-501 and Mt. Carmel Church Road did not occur. Noting that a subdivision application for the area had been received, Mr. Waldon stated that the developer's proposal was to develop 37 lots on the 37-acre tract. Council Member Brown inquired about the current zoning density for the tract. Mr. Waldon said it was a maximum of three units per acre, permitting the construction of up to 111 units. He added that it was unlikely that this many units could be accommodated on the tract due to topographical and other considerations.
Council Member Capowski inquired whether the Reserve subdivision and a thirty to fifty-acre tract referenced in the staff's memorandum were included in the 6,000 total unit estimate for the southern area. Mr. Waldon said yes. Council Member Powell requested additional information concerning the urban services area boundary. Mr. Waldon noted that the boundary line had been drawn in 1986. He added that reexamination of the boundary line might be in order. Council Member Powell asked whether existing lots of record owned before 1992 could be resubdivided into three lots. Mr. Waldon said this was correct.
Planning Board representative Marianna Chambless said the Board had recommended approval of the proposed rezonings with one amendment, the Michie property being rezoned RD-1 instead of RD-5. She noted that two Board members had voted against the overall rezoning because they believed there was insufficient allowance for commercial and industrial uses.
Reverend Robert Siler, a resident of Siler City and pastor of the White Rock Church, said he opposed the rezoning of his church to RLD-5. Noting that some families proposed to give one or two acres to each of their children to build a home, Reverend Siler inquired about the Town's rationale for recommending lower densities in the area. He expressed concern that a hardship was being created, possibly stopping future development in he area. Reverend Siler said he did not think it made sense to rezone land in the White Rock Church area.
Dora Atwater, 914 White Rock Road, said she had lived in the area for over 50 years. Noting that her property had been handed down from her husband's mother, Ms. Atwater said she wanted her children to build homes on the property in the future. She requested that the Council reconsider the rezoning proposal to permit zoning densities to remain the same in the White Rock Church area.
Adell Paisant said she opposed the proposed rezoning.
Thelma Alston asked that the Council not rezone the White Rock Church area to RLD-5.
Gus Alston stated that not many people could afford to own five acres of land. He requested that the Council leave zoning in the White Rock Church area unchanged.
R.D. Smith said that any proposed zoning changes should not impose a hardship on families. Stating that the matter needed a lot more study, Mr. Smith requested that the Council not vote on the proposed plan. Mr. Smith urged the Council to pursue affordable housing opportunities for low and moderate-income persons in the southern part of the Town. He requested that the Council not rezone the White Rock Church area since it would cause hardships to many area residents.
William Lanier Hunt said he owned 150 acres in the Laurel Hill area which he wished to develop in the future. Mr. Hunt requested that the Council not rezone his property.
Robert Smith, representing Mr. Hunt, said his client had donated 100 acres to the State of North Carolina for the establishment of the Hunt Arboretum. He expressed concern that rezoning the land could possibly render it unusable. Mr. Smith requested that the Council not rezone Mr. Smith's property to a lower density.
Gary Phillips said Mr. Hunt's property might be rendered unusable if a 5 acre per unit zoning density were instituted on the Hunt property. Using standard appraisal practices, Mr. Phillips said total estimated expenses for developing 5-acre minimum lots would exceeded the estimated value of Mr. Hunt's property. He stated that development of one acre tracts would yield an after-expense value of several million dollars. Mr. Phillips requested that the Town not deprive the Hunt property of its permissible uses.
Elmita Thompson, a resident of Old Lystra Road, said the proposed rezoning would be a complete hardship on White Rock Church area property owners. She stated that the rezoning proposal was unfair to area residents. Ms. Thompson requested that the Council consider leaving existing zoning unchanged.
Edward White said he believed that rezoning of his property to RLD-5 was proposed by the rezoning plan. He stated that the proposed zoning boundary had been illogically drawn. Mr. White said he was quite sympathetic about the zoning-related concerns of White Rock Road area property owners.
William Rose said land owned by two of his clients had been zoned R-1 since the early 1960's. Mr. Rose stated that there was no evidence of the economic impact of rezoning land to RLD-5. He urged the Council to weigh the intent of persons purchasing land in the southern area prior to undertaking any rezoning recommendations. Mr. Rose said he opposed the proposed rezoning of the Raney and Ivy tracts on Linden Road.
Mieke Rose expressed concern about planned future development in the southern area. Ms. Rose said many residents of the White Rock Church Road area had hoped that family members could build additional homes on their properties. She expressed concern about the ability of area roads and schools to handle future growth in the southern area.
Mary Jo Bateman expressed concern about overcrowded schools and roadways. Ms. Bateman said she questioned why the most densely developed area had been approved first by the Council. She stated that the concerns of White Rock Road merited special attention by the Council.
Fred Smith, 328 Azalea Drive, said his home faced Morgan Creek.
Mr. Smith stated his support for the proposed rezoning stating that extra runoff from denser development might be detrimental to area properties.
Tom Traut, a resident of Bayberry Drive, said he favored lower density development in the southern area given the area's topography. He requested that the Council adopt the proposed rezoning in the Bayberry Drive area.
Planning Board Member Martin Rody thanked outgoing Council Members for their past support of the Board. Mr. Rody suggested that the Council examine the Comprehensive Plan and consider establishing a research development park in the southern area.
Pearson Stewart, a member of the Southern Small Area Plan Work Group, said he supported the proposed rezoning and noted the need to resolve concerns of residents of the White Rock Road area residents. Mr. Stewart noted the need to provide as much protection as possible for the Mason Farm Biological Preserve and area urban runoff.
Katherine Myers expressed concern that her property might be proposed for downzoning. Mr. Horton said it was not. He added that staff could meet with Ms. Myers about any additional concerns.
T. J. Land, Jr., a Town resident since 1967, said he feared that an elitist rezoning proposal was being contemplated. Mr. Land expressed concern that the proposed rezoning would eliminate any possibility for affordable housing in the area. He stated that existing zoning was appropriate for the area.
Julie Coleman, a member of the southern small area plan work group, urged the Council to vote on the proposed southern area Rezonings at their November 22nd meeting. Ms. Coleman emphasized the importance of balancing affordable housing opportunities with less dense development in the southern part of the Town.
Kenneth Sugioka, 319 Bayberry Drive, said he was chagrined that
R-1 zoning, rather than R-1a, was proposed for homes on Bayberry Drive. Stating that the area was very ecologically sensitive, Mr. Sugioka suggested that emphasis should be placed on many lower densities in the area.
Mike Brough, an attorney representing three area property owners opposed to the proposed rezonings, said it was unclear why the zoning changes were proposed. He stated that the intent appeared to be to eliminate property uses of the past forty years. Mr. Brough stated that one of his clients had expended about $45,000 to make improvements to a commercial building. He requested that the Council consider possible hardships on his clients prior to adopting the proposed rezonings.
Margaret Brown read a letter from William B. Strom, a member of the Orange County Economic Development Commission, expressing enthusiastic support for the proposed rezonings. Mr. Strom's letter stated that approval of the rezonings was essential to the community and all of Orange County. Ms. Brown said that several hundred citizens had worked together to draft the southern small area plan proposal. She stated that the group had developed a proposed density pattern which would not require a road that would cut the community in half and would protect property owner's rights. Ms. Brown also said she hoped the Council would approve the proposed rezonings as soon as possible.
P.H. Craig said he had owned a small tract of land near White Rock Church for about twenty years. Mr. Craig stated that the proposed rezonings would pose a very severe hardship on area residents. Mr. Craig noted that if the rezonings were approved, he would organize opponents to fight the matter on a legal basis. He requested that the Council not approve the proposed rezonings.
Noting that he had attended all of the meetings related to the Southern Small Area Plan planning process, Trip Overholt said he wished that those opposing the proposed rezonings had attended earlier meetings concerning the proposed area plan. Mr. Overholt stated that if the proposed rezonings were not adopted, the Town would not have a good quality of life. He expressed his support for the southern area plan and the opportunities for public involvement. Mr. Overholt urged the Council to approve the rezonings at its November 22nd meeting. Noting that all parties had to compromise a little bit, Mr. Overholt stated that although he had a great deal of sympathy for White Rock Road residents, the plan partly accommodated some of the resident's concerns.
Noting that higher densities were proposed for the Southern Village development, Livy Ludington stated that the proposed rezonings and the Southern Village development proposal should have been discussed on the same evening. She expressed concern about the possibility of overcrowded schools and roads resulting from high-density development in the southern area. Ms. Ludington suggested that the Council address the concerns of White Rock Road residents separately from the overall rezoning matter. She also urged the Council to protect open space and environmentally sensitive areas.
Jack Smyre stated that land to the east of the urban services area was undevelopable due to poor soils and the area's topography. He stated that 32 acres of the Michie property to the west of the urban services boundary were topographically benign and developable at existing zoning densities.
John Kent, an area resident and member of the Sierra Club, said he had been involved in the southern small area planning process. Mr. Kent urged the Council to take necessary steps to preserve the Mason Farm Preserve area. He requested that the Council adopt the proposed rezonings as soon as possible and examine the White Rock Road situation separately.
Erle Peacock, representing area property owners Dr. Raney and Dr. Ivy, said the proposed rezonings appeared to be arbitrary and capricious relative to the designation of one unit per acre or five acres. He requested that the Council refer the matter back to the Planning Board for additional discussion of areas recommended for RLD-5 zoning.
Karyn Traut, 400 Bayberry Drive, said she was happy that a zoning rollback was being proposed. She stated that area traffic frequently exceeded 50 miles per hour in 25 miles per hour speed zones. Ms. Traut requested that the Council adopt the proposed rezonings.
Kevin Huggins, an area property developer, expressed concern about the proposal for lower zoning densities. Mr. Huggins requested that the Council give consideration to maintaining densities consistent with the southern area plan.
Council Member Chilton said although the overall process was a good one, at least one mistake, the apparent exclusion of the White Rock neighborhood, had been made. He apologized to residents of the area for this oversight. Council Member Chilton requested that staff's follow-up report outline zoning options for residents of the White Rock Road area.
Council Member Andresen stated that the proposed rezonings had involved a process of many hard choices. Council Member Andresen said she was pleased that so many citizens were involved in the process. She requested that citizens with zoning hardships direct their concern to herself and other Council Members. Council Member Andresen emphasized the importance of having adequate roads in the area. She stated that allowing the area to develop at densities higher than those proposed would be irresponsible and would place unnecessary stress on water and sewer services. Council Member Andresen inquired about the recommended rezoning of the Watts Motel property. Mr. Karpinos said he could report back to the Council on the matter. Council Member Andresen suggested the possibility of conditional uses to protect against additional commercial development in the area.
Council Member Rimer requested that staff examine residential areas off Old Lystra Road separately to evaluate possible hardship exceptions in these instances. He added that the transfer of development rights could have possibly redressed some of the downzoning concerns of area residents.
Council Member Werner noted that this evening's hearing marked the culmination of a very long process. He added that the Council was on record supporting the proposed plan in concept and opposing the construction of the Laurel Hill Parkway. Council Member Werner requested that staff examine the White Rock Road matter separately. He also expressed his support for rezoning the Azalea Drive area to R-1a zoning. Council Member Werner stated that some of Mr. Rody's ideas about the development of a research and development park was an interesting one bearing possible consideration in the future. He also suggested that the urban services area boundary be reexamined once the Council had acted on the proposed rezonings.
Council Member Powell said she agreed that the possible rezoning of properties in the Old Lystra/White Rock Road area should be examined separately. She noted that the Planning Board members opposing the rezoning proposal had noted the absence of affordable housing opportunities in the overall proposed area plan. Council Member Powell requested that the staff's follow-up report contain information on why a five-acre lot minimum, rather than four or six acres, was proposed.
Council Member Capowski requested that the staff's follow-up report contain information about the taking of smaller undevelopable lots. He also requested information about the differences between neighborhood commercial and community commercial zoning uses. Council Member Capowski inquired whether there was any relation between not rezoning the area and the possible construction of the Laurel Hill Parkway. He stated that the current Council should vote on the possible rezonings at its November 22nd meeting.
Council Member Brown emphasized the importance of addressing concerns of the White Rock area residents relative to the proposed rezonings. Council Member Brown requested that all hearings and minutes of prior meetings concerning the southern area rezonings be entered into the record of the hearing. She suggested that the rezoning matter be voted on at the November 22nd Council meeting.
Mayor Broun stated that the White Rock area situation needed to be examined within the context of the entire southern area plan. He stated that the overall planning and rezoning processes for the southern area had been thorough ones. Council Member Powell said she concurred that the proposal was well thought out and planned.
COUNCIL MEMBER WALDORF MOVED, SECONDED BY COUNCIL MEMBER POWELL, TO REFER THE MATTER TO THE MANAGER AND ATTORNEY AND BRING THE MATTER BACK FOR CONSIDERATION AT THE NOVEMBER 22ND COUNCIL MEETING. THE MOTION WAS ADOPTED UNANIMOUSLY (9-0).
Mr. Horton noted that a number of protest petitions were currently being reviewed by Planning staff. He noted that the staff's follow-up materials would likely be ready by Friday, November 19th, rather than Wednesday, November 17th. Mr. Karpinos noted that given the very short turnaround, the follow-up work would be less rigorous than a follow-up report having a longer completion timeframe. Council Member Capowski requested that the staff's follow-up report expand on the logic for one unit per acre for the Michie property.
Item 3 OWASA Sewer Pump Station SUP Request
Development Coordinator Jennie Bob Culpepper said the Orange Water and Sewer Authority (OWASA) had submitted a special use permit application for the replacement of a replacement sewer pump station along the north side of Cleland Drive. She stated that no changes in site access were proposed. Ms. Culpepper noted that the staff's preliminary recommendation was approval of the request.
Council Member Rimer said he saw no compelling reason to require a fire hydrant within 500 feet of the building, a fire flow report or recycling plan for the proposed plant. He requested that the staff's follow-up report contain information on why the applicant should have to meet these requirements.
Council Member Capowski inquired about the size of the current building. Ms. Culpepper said she did not know. She noted that the entire property was located in the flood plain. Ms. Culpepper also said the staff's recommendation that a loop road to Cleland Road, as requested by Rainbow Soccer, was not recommended by staff. Council Member Waldorf said the amount of Rainbow Soccer-related traffic in the area dictated against the provision of a loop road.
Council Member Andresen inquired about the proximity of residences to the proposed building. Ms. Culpepper pointed out on a map the existing homes in the general vicinity of the pump station.
OWASA Engineering Manager John Greene said the existing pump station had been constructed in the early 1960's and was a major component of OWASA's wastewater collection system. He stated that the proposed new facility would be located behind the existing facility on a 2 1/3 acre tract of land. Mr. Greene said there would be no increase in traffic to the proposed facility. Stating the proposed development met the Town's requirements, Mr. Greene requested that the Council approve the special use permit request.
Council Member Capowski asked how much noise the plant would make. Mr. Greene said the plant would make little noise since the generators on the site would be enclosed. Council Member Capowski asked whether the building would be about 25 feet tall. Mr. Greene said this was correct, with the finished floor elevation being 18 inches above the 100-year flood plain. Council Member Capowski asked whether there was sufficient tree buffering to conceal the 25 foot tall building. Mr. Greene said yes.
Planning Board representative Marianna Chambless said the Board had recommended that the special use permit request be granted as requested.
Jonathan Wahl, 915 Emory Drive, noted that the existing sewer pump station was visible from his property. He stated that OWASA's plan was to construct the proposed building 115 feet closer to his home.
Mr. Wahl said he disagreed with OWASA staff that buffering adequately covered the existing building. He added that the existing pump station was in a floodway and the proposed pump station would be similarly situated in the floodway. Mr. Wahl stated that flooding occurred in the area on an annual basis.
Mr. Wahl also said he believed that OWASA's plan was seriously flawed because a relatively large facility was proposed in a very small flood plain and floodway. Stating that major changes were needed, he urged the Council to walk the proposed site and not accept the proposed plan.
Roscoe Reeve, 1406 Brigham Road, said he had not received notice of the proposal because he did not live within 500 feet of the proposed project. Mr. Reeve stated that although he was not opposed to the project, he was concerned about homes in the floodway. He requested that the hearing be continued to determine the actual distance between residences and the proposed building.
Mr. Reeve also suggested that Planning Board and staff members meet with area residents to explore options for locating the plant.
Council Member Capowski asked whether the existing pump station was ever flooded with water. Noting that the existing building was built in the 1960's, Mr. Greene said it had never been flooded.
Mr. Horton added that upstream property owners would be most impacted by flooding.
Council Member Brown said she would be agreeable to a site visit if the staff could make such arrangements.
Noting that he had recently visited the site, Council Member Rimer said it had been difficult to determine the exact location of the proposed pump station. He suggested that fast-growing trees might be planted to address buffering concerns. Council Member Andresen inquired about the possibility of notifying persons beyond the 500 foot notification area. Noting that the item was scheduled to come back before the Council on November 22nd, Mr. Horton said he was not sure about the effectiveness of such a notice. Mayor Broun suggested that the matter return for Council consideration in January, 1994. Council Member Andresen requested that OWASA stake the area for future site visits.
COUNCIL MEMBER WERNER MOVED, SECONDED BY COUNCIL MEMBER POWELL, TO REFER THE MATTER TO THE MANAGER. THE MOTION WAS ADOPTED UNANIMOUSLY (9-0).