WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 17, 2007, AT 7:00 p.m.

Present were Mayor Kevin Foy, Mayor pro tem Bill Strom, Council Member Ed Harrison, Council Member Cam Hill, Council Member Mark Kleinschmidt, Council Member Bill Thorpe, and Council Member Jim Ward.
Staff members present were Town Manager Roger Stancil, Deputy Town Manager Florentine Miller, Assistant Town Manager Bruce Heflin, Town Attorney Ralph Karpinos, Town Information Officer Catherine Lazorko, Planning Director JB Culpepper, Development Coordinator Gene Poveromo, Planner Dana Stidham, Engineer Services Manager Kumar Neppalli, and Town Clerk Sabrina Oliver.

1. Public Hearing:  Greenbridge Development.

Council Member Hill announced that the Council Retreat would be held at the Franklin Hotel on Friday and Saturday, January 19 and 20. He said due to Council dissatisfaction with the format of past retreats, which were held in the basement of the Library, a committee had been formed to reorganize the Retreat’s agenda. Council Member Hill said that he, Mayor pro tem Strom, Town Manager Roger Stancil, Planning Director J.B. Culpepper, Public Works Director Bill Letteri, Finance Director Kay Johnson and facilitator Tim Dempsey had served on that committee. He said the Council had before them copies of the Council and staff goals and asked them to review the material and be ready to discuss the issues at the retreat.

Mayor pro tem Strom noted that in the past the retreat had focused on budget issues.  He said as part of continuous and cultural change the Council had taken a different approach to the retreat this year.  Mayor pro tem Strom asked Council members to review the materials before them.

Mayor Foy mentioned that the retreat was open to the public.

Principal Planner Phil Mason introduced the Greenbridge Development item. He said three applications were associated with the request: a text amendment to create a Town Center-3 district, a zoning atlas amendment to rezone the site from Town Center 2 to Town Center 3, and a Special Use Permit application.

Mr. Mason presented the text amendment and zoning atlas amendment together. He said the site in question was located on W. Rosemary, between Graham Street and Merritt Mill Road, north of the Northside Community with Carrboro to the west.  Mr. Mason said the text amendment would create a new zoning district that would increase the maximum building height from 90 to 120 feet and increase the maximum floor area ratio to 4.5.  He said the zoning atlas amendment would rezone the site from Town Center 2 to Town Center 3, and would allow denser development, thus giving the Council more flexibility.

Mr. Mason said the staff recommendation was to approve the text amendment creating the Town Center 3 district and approve the zoning atlas amendment rezoning the site to Town Center 3.  He said currently there was a 12-room building and a restaurant on the site. A funeral home, Crook’s Corner, a church, and Carrborritas surrounded the site, Mr. Mason said.

Tim Toben, one of six partners, said the issue is global climate change. He said he had served on several committees dealing with the issue. Mr. Toben gave a summary of climate shifts and the relationship with construction and building.

Mr. Toben said that Greenbridge follows the guidelines of such committees for building green. He said Greenbridge was the first applicant for the Town Center 3 zoning district.  Other applicants for the district included Ram Development and Shortbread Lofts, Mr. Toben said.  He noted that these types of developments protect against urban sprawl by providing residential development that is more climate and environmentally friendly by clearing no land and using less land and water.

Mr. Toben referred to a table from the Sierra Club about suburban sprawl versus urban density. He said the table demonstrated that urban density is better in terms of utility use, air pollution, and greenhouse gases. Mr. Toben said the Town Center 3 district would allow for mixed uses and flexibility. He noted that the development was located midway in the Small Area Plan.

Mr. Toben gave examples of how the Greenbridge design complimented the neighborhood. He said it provided mixed uses and was pedestrian friendly. He said the new district would be an opportunity zone that would increase vitality and provide for redevelopment of under-utilized lots. Mr. Toben said the development would have exceptional attributes, including LEEDS Gold Certification, a community plaza, a sustainability center, a "green" business hub, a model sustainability design, and an energy efficient building.

Mr. Toben presented a model demonstrating the energy and utility savings. He said that the Greenbridge Development was a model of sustainable development.

Mr. Toben then presented a video, narrated by Architect William McDonough, that conveyed the team’s intentions for the project.  In the video, Mr. McDonough explained that it was important for Greenbridge to be a model for responsible development that will affirm Chapel Hill as a leader in North Carolina.  

Mr. Toben said that Greenbridge developers had been involved with the local community since July 2005.  He submitted letters of support from various community groups.  Mr. Toben said  community members and leaders had been involved from the start and that his firm had surveyed neighborhood members and incorporated their responses into the project.  This project would deliver numerous benefits to the Town, Mr. Toben said, noting that the development would provide essential services, $1 million a year in tax revenue, an increase in downtown residents, a sustainability center, a Northside community plaza, and an affordable housing plan.

Mr. Toben also included in his presentation a video clip from Charlie Mason’s daughter Virginia. The Masons had owned the property on which Greenbridge is proposed. 

Ms. Mason described Greenbridge as a good project and said her father would have been proud to see it go ahead.

Kate Wheeler, a Carrboro  resident, said that Greenbridge would devastate the Northside Community.  She pointed out that the area was home to many African-Americans and one of the few affordable neighborhoods in Chapel Hill.  Ms. Wheeler said the proposed development would tower over existing houses and be intimidating.  She said there was very little affordable housing in the plan.  Ms. Wheeler predicted that wealthy, probably white, people would move into the neighborhood.  These new residents would have very different political views and desires than the current residents, she said, adding that they probably would be more vocal.  

Ms. Wheeler argued that Greenbridge would not cater to the community as much as Mr. Toben had said it would.  Mr. Toben had not been as successful in engaging the community as he claims, she said, noting the low number of residents in attendance tonight.  Ms. Wheeler said Chapel Hill had not successfully informed residents and that many did not know about tonight’s meeting or even that the building had been proposed.  She described the project as racist and classist and asked the Council to consider its social effects on the community.

Bernadette Keefe, a Rosemary Street resident, said she would object to Greenbridge if she thought the project would detract from or harm Northside.  But, the project would edify and improve this historic community, she said.  Ms. Keefe noted that Northside had been victimized by unsavory developers in the past.  Greenbridge was a 180 degree turn around from that, she declared. 

Henry McCoy identified himself as president of a firm that addresses environmental justice issues, such as combining environmental sustainability and social equity in a community.  He said that Greenbridge was unique in how it envisions Northside, and offers an opportunity to bring the best of what can happen in a community.  Chapel Hill should be a leader and embrace this project, said Mr. McCoy. 

Professor Doug Crawford-Brown expressed support for Greenbridge, noting that building the entire Town to this standard would mean an approximate 25 percent reduction in carbon emissions throughout Town. He said the project was a model of what sustainability should be.  It would be a project to which he could bring students to demonstrate what sustainability is, said Professor Crawford Brown.  He urged Council members to approve Greenbridge as the template for the carbon reduction potential of developments in Chapel Hill.

Phillip Duchatel spoke in favor of the project, describing it as a wonderful model that will set an example for the Town.  He said that resistance to the project was due to its impact on the community around it.  Gentrification of the downtown area was unavoidable, said Mr. Duchatel, and he predicted that the Northside community would one day disappear.  Mr. Duchatel said he was in favor of the project because it is not located on Franklin Street, which the Town must preserve at all costs.  The way to do that is by siting big development off Franklin Street, he said.

Barbara Trent, who identified herself as an anti-war activist, noted that the Town was committed to ending the war in Iraq and also to protecting the environment.  This project fits in perfectly with that, she said.  Ms. Trent described the view that only white, wealthy people would move into Greenbridge as "extremely racist."  She said one reason Research Triangle Park had been developed was to create jobs for people from the community to come back to after they become educated.  What the area has not created, though, is housing for those same people, she said, adding that this includes African-Americans as well as whites.  Why not have nice condos in an African-American community that will attract successful African-Americans to be roll models and mentors, she asked.  Ms. Trent said all would agree that the project would be a disaster if it included only rich, white people. 

Bill Walser, a Chapel Hill realtor, encouraged the Council to approve the Greenbridge project.  He said Greenbridge would enhance the neighborhood, be good for downtown merchants, and be good for the downtown tax base.  

George Cianciolo  spoke in support of the project.  He had voted against it when it came before the Planning Board, he said, because the developer had not been willing to guarantee technologies, such as green roofs and solar photovotaic technology, which he considered important.  Mr. Cianciolo explained that the applicant had then agreed to guarantee such technologies.  He pointed out that the applicant had done so even though the Planning Board had already approved the project.  Mr. Cianciolo said he was impressed by the serious commitment that had lead the applicant to change course in this way.   

Tom Jensen, representing the Sierra Club, said Greenbridge would be North Carolina’s most environmentally friendly community.  He noted that most community activists would "die for" a building with a quarter of the features that will be incorporated in Greenbridge.  Mr. Jensen described Greenbridge as an amazingly forward thinking building.  He argued said that a payment-in-lieu for Northside and Pine Knolls would go further toward helping those communities than eight more affordable units in the building would.  Mr. Jensen spoke in favor of creating more density downtown rather than cutting trees in the rural buffer.

Terry Melville spoke in support of Greenbridge.  She described Bill McDonough as a world class architect who had designed cities in China and was a Green Movement innovator.  Ms. Melville described the project as a beautiful example of sustainable development that would be good for the Town, the State, the country, and the planet. 

James Carnahan, a Carrboro resident, expressed support for the project, noting how it would benefit downtown Carrboro, the ArtCenter, and other businesses.  Mr. Carnahan said he had been advocating and working for sustainable urban form for 10 years.  This project was very important as a model of what that can be, he said.  Mr. Carnahan noted that the project was ambitious and one that entailed risk for the applicant.  He did not believe that Northside would disappear, but that its transformation would be inspired by this project, he said.

David Godschalk, a city planner and architect, described Bill McDonough is a "hero of the planet" and said it was time for Chapel Hill to go green and set up such community-based policies.  But, he asked, should the Town abandon all other community qualities, such as community character, in order to be green?  Mr. Godschalk argued that Greenbridge was too tall for the site, and he advised reducing the scale to fit the neighborhood.  He proposed that affordable housing be provided on site, and recommended revitalizing downtown through foreign-based zoning.    

Gary Tiller, a potential Greenbridge resident, explained that the project would allow him to live in smaller space, get rid of one car, walk to Weaver Street Market, and ride his bike to other places or take a bus.  It would allow him to have the lifestyle that he has been striving toward for years, he said.

Judith Ferster, representing the Orange-Chatham Sierra Club, spoke in support of Greenbridge, noting that it meets the criteria for sustainability, quality environmental design, and LEED gold certification.  She pointed out that the project coincides with the carbon reduction initiative endorsed by the Town of Chapel Hill.  Ms. Ferster said that specific aspects endorsed by the Sierra Club include green roofs, reduced stormwater runoff, responsible use of natural resources, natural daylight and water conservation, geothermal heating and cooling, and construction waste recycling.  She hoped the Town would realize the magnitude of optimal environmental design and approve the project, she said.

Angela Lee, a longtime resident of Chapel Hill and a downtown business operator, noted that Greenbridge would be located next to the Midway Business Center and strategically located to work in partnership and help develop entrepreneurs from within the community.  It could be a catalyst for developing skills, and could have a significant impact throughout North Carolina and beyond, she said. 

Derk Spruyt, a Chapel Hill resident, stressed the importance of keeping an eye on trends.  He noted the number of fixed resources--such as water, air and land--and asked how large a population could fit into this territory.  Mr. Spruyt advised Council members to consider where limits are in terms of what the Town is using and its effect on future generations. 

Mildred Council, a Rosemary Street resident and business owner, explained that she had wanted to construct a building that could be expanded upward, but the Town Planning Board had not allowed that.  She did not feel threatened by Rosemary Square or by the Greenbridge building, she said, but added that she was concerned about educating landowners regarding new housing in Northside.  Ms. Council said she did not want to criticize Greenbridge because she might come back herself with a plan to expand her business.  She was glad that Chapel Hill was growing and that she can grow with it, Ms. Council said. 

Liz Parham, representing the Downtown Chapel Hill Partnership, said the Partnership had sent the Council a letter a year ago in support of Greenbridge.  However, the bottom line is that downtowns evolve and there is an opportunity with this project to acknowledge and embrace the history of Midway and come up with new initiatives that are going to take that history into the future, she said.  Ms. Parham noted that this project would be a great local and national role model and would take downtown development to a new level in Chapel Hill.

Delores Bailey, a Northside resident, pointed out that Greenbridge could help but would not solve all of the problems in that area of Chapel Hill and/or Northside.  She said the notion that preserving downtown is more important than preserving a neighborhood makes her "shudder."  Ms. Bailey said there were people in the neighborhood who did not understand that Greenbridge would be 10 stories high.  She proposed putting half of the affordable units in the neighborhood, adding that this would address more needs.  Ms. Bailey said that developers had listened, and that even though she had problems with the project she supports it because it is an attempt to work with the neighborhood and an understanding that some people will be living in its shadow.  She stressed the importance of Greenbridge being respectful of the neighborhood and not making it feel shut out.  

Council Member Kleinschmidt asked Ms. Bailey how people of Greenbridge might feel that they are part of Northside.  She suggested that people understand why a building such as Greenbridge sits in the community the way it does and that the life of that community will continue to thrive.

Mayor pro tem Strom asked Mr. Toben about the number of units.  Mr. Toben replied that the application had requested a range of 90-106 units, and it looked as though the total number would be 92.  There would be 216 parking spaces, with half in the first level and half in the second, he said.  Mr. Toben explained that one space would come with each unit. 

Mayor pro tem Strom noted that the developer was offering a payment in lieu of $75,000 per unit for the off-site housing.  He said this was a significant discount from what it would cost to build these units as required by the Town’s ordinance.  Mr. Toben replied that the cost to build a house in Northside is roughly $225,000 per house.  He said they understood the intent was to take that cost and subsidize it in a way that it would be affordable to a population that represented income of somewhere between 50 and 80 percent of median income for this area.  So that number becomes about $150,000, he said, adding that $225,000 must be subsidized by $75,000 to reach $150,000.  Mr. Toben agreed that the cost per square foot was higher than it is to build a single-family home in Northside. 

Mayor pro tem Strom pointed out that the Town did not have to subsidize the $150,000, but could use the money elsewhere.  It is more attractive to the Town to have developers build units or make payments in lieu that are more closely associated to what the Town is excusing them from building, he said.  Mayor pro tem Strom said that he understood the benefit of the idea but thought the number was shy of what he could accept. 

Tom Tucker said that since 1995 payments in lieu had ranged from $12,000 to $78,000 per unit.  With regard to comments about the cost of a unit inside the development versus the cost of a single-family unit in Northside, he agreed that the difference in cost to make it affordable, based on a condominium price in Greenbridge, could be $200,000-300,000 versus the calculation they had provided for a single-family home in Northside.  Mr. Tucker said that the Town’s affordable housing guideline was increasingly becoming obsolete as prices of single-family homes in Chapel Hill increase. 

Mr. Tucker said that the larger square foot cost of building a condo building combined with the precedent range of payments in lieu is what lead them to the $75,000 amount.  In addition, they believe that the partnership with Empowerment, like any partnership, means that both partners will get something out of it, he said.  Mr. Tucker pointed out that the $75,000 amount would allow them to buy several lots through the land bank, thereby guaranteeing long-term affordability.   

Mayor Foy said that, even under that theory, the Council should not make a direct comparison between a Greenbridge condo and a house in Northside.  The Northside house should, at the very least, have the same green qualities, he said.  Mr. Tucker replied that he completely agreed with that, and noted that providing technical support and guidance at no charge was Item 7 of their proposal.  Mayor Foy replied that this was different, however, than putting in extra insulation, solar panels, and so forth.  Mr. Tucker replied that it costs less to make a single-family house energy efficient than it does a condominium building.    

Council Member Hill said that he was convinced that the developer was far better suited to building the affordable units than the Town was.  Given the cost analysis, it seemed that the developer should do it, he said.  Mr. Tucker replied that they could have a bigger impact by buying lots now, adding that this would improve safety in the neighborhood and keep the properties affordable for when Empowerment, for example, develops them. 

Council Member Kleinschmidt, referring to Mr. Tucker’s remarks about the precedent set by past payments-in-lieu, said it would be interesting to review how those sums were calculated.

Council Member Ward said he needed to be more confident that the affordable housing would be affordable over the long term   He was not sure what Empowerment’s way of structuring it was, he said, and he wondered whether it would be out-of-reach five years from now.   Council Member Ward said that there needed to be a greater contribution for affordable offsite units.  Mr. Tucker replied that the goal was to have these units be permanently affordable.  They had proposed deed restrictions, he said, but they would support whatever the Manager recommended.  Mr. Tucker said he had heard what Council Members Ward and Kleinschmidt were saying about the payment amount, but that he did not have a response right now.

Council Member Harrison noted there were many loose ends to pin down.  He said the applicant would have to be specific with regard to affordable housing and community benefits, and he recommended that they come back with recommendations for stipulations that are specific and which the Council can take in one glance, as opposed to the several pages that they now have.

Mr. Toben pointed out that no one had ever done this type of project in North Carolina, and he pointed out that it was very complex.  He said there had been 30 or so pages over the past year with the Planning Department for each of the seven pages that Council members  had before them.  This project probably had been more engineered in a SUP than any project the Council had ever seen, Mr. Toben pointed out.

Council Member Thorpe expressed concern about the height of the complex, and he ascertained from Mr. Karpinos that this was relevant to the SUP process.  Council Member Thorpe asked Mr. Toben to try to keep the building at 90 feet and to provide the Council with numbers on that.

Mayor Foy asked what they propose for condo fees with regard to the long term affordability issue. 

Mr. Tucker replied that they had essentially absorbed the condo fee into the lower sales price.  Mayor Foy asked how they would address that over the long term.  Mr. Tucker said by keeping the fees consistent for all units the overall payment would be equivalent to what it would be for a normal condominium.  Through deed restrictions, he said, they will be able to limit the increase in price of the condo so that it will always have a margin to be able to recover the additional assessment and experience it in a lower principle and interest payment in the mortgage. Mayor Foy asked that they show a model of how that will work over time, and why that would be.  Mr. Tucker agreed.  He directed the Council’s attention to an example on page six of his proposal.  Mr. Tucker said he would come back with a clear explanation of how it would work over 10 years. 

Mayor pro tem Strom asked if the developer would consider accepting a stipulation that committed them to the lower price to compensate for the condo fee.  Mr. Tucker replied that he was not willing to commit to that stipulation before looking at ways to guarantee that affordability.  Mayor pro tem Strom ascertained that it was the additional services that translated into higher condo fees. 

Council Member Hill clarified that this model would make the condo fees for the affordable units the same as those for the market price units.  He verified that the deed restriction would ensure that the resale price would take into account the discount that has to account for the condo fee.  Mr. Tucker explained that profit would be limited in order to keep the units affordable.  
Council Member Kleinschmidt asked what the live/work units were.  He noted that the Council wanted market rate units to be similar to affordable units and that this model seemed to propose that they not be. Mr. Tucker replied that the live/work units would average around 1,000 square feet combined.  They reflect what people in the community want, which is to live in a small apartment and also operate a business in the building, he said.  Mr. Tucker described this as a way of incubating small businesses and also creating affordable housing on site.
Council Member Kleinschmidt expressed appreciation for all of the building’s green characteristics, but said he was concerned about the harshness of the architecture, which  might also become passé very quickly.  Architect Mark Rightlander, from McDunham Partners, said the building is a dense city type, with all retail at the bottom level, where a glass facade will give it a sense of openness and connectivity.

Council Member Kleinschmidt explained that he was reacting to the building having a flat face, rather than recessed entryways, arcades and archways, and other features that  reflect the Town.  Mr. Rightlander explained that designers were attempting to add depth and variation.  Perhaps that had not been well illustrated at this early stage of the process, he said.

Josh Gurlitz said they had attempted to make the building at ground level look very transparent, which probably looks slick on a rendering but is not slick in real life. They had consciously decided not to have a lot of brick or obstruction on the sidewalk edge, he said.  Secondly, the form of the building was configured to draw people into the plaza, which will include greenery and outside tables, Mr. Gurlitz explained.  He described this as a very progressive building, which would be different from most buildings in Chapel Hill.  But the intent is to have it reflect its sustainability and be engaging to the neighborhood and  passersby, Mr. Gurlitz explained. He said Greenbridge was intended to be a different kind of building in Chapel Hill, adding that the design team thought it would age well.

Mr. Gurlitz mentioned some of the features, such as wood framing, that would soften the building.  Council Member Kleinschmidt said it was important to show some of those features at this early stage because that would engage people and have them buy into the project.  Mr. Gurlitz agreed to have the design team work on softening the interface, which, he said, could be done within the style of this building.  

Council Member Kleinschmidt said that those details were very important to what ends up being voted on.  Mr. Toben replied that the intent of the project was health, wellness, community, and education--which all require that sort of engagement.  So they will pay very careful attention to those details, he said.   

Mayor Foy asked Mr. Toben to describe what would happen to Merritt Mill Road, and why.  He also asked how the developers were responding to the Community Design Commission’s request that garage entrances not look like such.  Mr. Toben replied that Merritt Mill Road would be widened by four feet.  There would be a generous sidewalk, with streetscape, and an entryway designed for pedestrian and driver safety, he said.  Mr. Toben explained that wood, glass and recessed areas would make the street level open and attractive.  There would be artist studio spaces on Merritt Mill Road, plus a gallery area, he said. 

Mr. Toben also told the Council that there would be a restaurant, a market, and maybe a sandwich shop in the area.  Mayor Foy ascertained that Merritt Mill Road would be widened from the property line to Rosemary Street.  Developer Dan Jewell explained that this would be done because Town staff had requested it, since 32 feet is the standard for a collector road.  

Mr. Neppalli told Council members that the Town normally requires developers to dedicate the right-of-way and also widen the road in front of their entrances.  He explained that Merritt Mill was a State road and that the staff had asked the developer to widen it to comply with the Town’s collector street standards.  Mayor Foy asked if this was necessary at this location.  Mr. Neppalli explained that there was on-street parking on Sundays on the Carrboro side, and that this created a problem for two-way traffic.  He said that widening the street by four feet would not accommodate that parking, but that’s all they could get because of the 12 feet required for streetscape. 

Council Member Ward clarified that the wider road would be used for two 12-foot travel lanes and on-street parking.  Mayor pro tem Strom said he found the four feet of additional pavement problematic, since the Town was trying to reduce the number of cars.  He would be willing to discuss this with the applicant, he said.  Mr. Toben replied that they have only nine feet available for sidewalk space on the west side if they widen the street by four feet.  Mayor Foy suggested revisiting this topic since the Council was more in favor of the sidewalks than the road. 

Council Member Ward said he hoped the intent of the loading dock was that Greenbridge would coordinate those activities in that location.  He asked how public the Northside Community Plaza would be, and Mr. Toben replied that it would be public space.  Mr. Toben said that the easement was granted up to the face of the building and that the condominium association would own and maintain the plaza.  Mayor Foy asked about panhandling in the plaza.  Mr. Toben replied that panhandling had not been discussed and that he welcomed the Council’s input on that issue. 

Council Member Ward asked about parking for bikes. Mr. Toben replied that there would be a combination of places.  There would be 128 total spaces with about 40 percent on the bottom level, he said.  Council Member Ward said he thought the developer was moving in right direction.  He cautioned, though, that they cannot just celebrate the past of that neighborhood, and he wants to see how they will welcome and socially engage the community.  Institutionalize that kind of reaching out is important to him, he said.

Council Member Cam Hill MOVED, SECONDED BY Mayor pro tem Bill Strom, TO Recess All three Public Hearings to February 26, 2007 and Refer comments to Manager and Attorney.  THE MOTION WAS ADOPTED UNANIMOUSLY (7-0).

2. Public Hearings: University Village Mixed-Use Development.

Gene Poveromo showed the 11-acre project’s location between Hamilton Road and Finley Golf Course Road, and explained that the applicant was requesting a rezoning from Community Commercial to Mixed Use-Village.  Mr. Poveromo said the staff was recommending enactment of the ordinance that would approve the rezoning.  Approval would make this the only Mixed Village zoning district in the Town’s planning jurisdiction, he said.

Mr. Poveromo explained that the applicant was asking for a modification to the regulations.  They were proposing 30 percent affordable housing, he said, and Stipulation 4 was a voluntary agreement by the applicant for an affordable housing transfer fee to ensure continued affordability and to cover condominium fees.  Mr. Poveromo pointed out that the applicant was voluntarily committing to LEED certification for Neighborhood Development Design, as well for individual buildings.  He said the staff’s preliminary recommendation was to enact Ordinance A as well as the ordinance that would rezone the property from Community Commercial to Mixed Use-Village.  The staff also recommended adopting Resolution A and approving the SUP with conditions and modifications to the regulations, Mr. Poveromo said.   

In response to a question from Mayor pro tem Strom, Developer Roger Perry described a pilot program, called Neighborhood Development LEEDS, which he said was a more holistic look at sustainable development.  They would achieve silver LEED certification under that program, Mr. Perry said, adding that each building would also be LEED certified under current requirements, though not necessarily silver certified.

Mr. Perry presented the overall site plan, which includes a 125-room hotel, an office building with approximately 120,000 feet of office space, retail space, a plaza, five stories of residential space, a parking deck that is one level underground and three levels above, three stories of residential on top of that deck, and a rooftop club/garden/plaza with a swimming pool, which would be available to all residents.  He said that existing hardwoods would be maintained and made into a park area.  Mr. Perry described a circular plaza at the entrance with a large area dedicated to public art, features that would encourage pedestrian movement, an area for performance art, exhibits, markets, bazaars, and fairs.  He also showed the pedestrian network and where access to a transit station would be.  

Mr. Perry showed artist renderings of the proposed project and reviewed some of the highlights, such as 203 housing units with 30 percent of them affordable.  Those affordable units would be built in the same bedroom ratio as the rest of the project, he said.  Mr. Perry explained that those would be sold in an unsubsidized manner to people who make 80 percent of the median income.  Also, they were proposing a one percent transfer feed to be paid at the time of the transaction on any unit in perpetuity.  That money will go to the Land Trust, or any subsequent authority that takes its place, he said.  Mr. Perry pointed out that this should generate $600,000 to $800,000 in the initial sell-out, and perhaps as much as $80,000 to $100,000 per year after that.  

Mayor Foy inquired about restrictions on that money.  Mr. Perry replied that because of the arrangement he had just outlined he would like his affordable housing residents to be exempt from any other fees for repair and maintenance.  Mayor Foy clarified that the Land Trust would be able to use the money in any way it wanted as long as there is an understanding that some must be reserved for long-term capital repairs.
Mr. Perry noted that the proposed development would require no infrastructure improvements, and would hopefully be served by regional transit in the future.  There is nothing especially environmentally sensitive about the site, he said, adding that the current zoning would allow retail.  Mr. Perry acknowledged that he was asking for much density.  However, the affordable housing and sustainable building makes it in the Town’s best interest, he said.  Mr. Perry noted that the project would generate more than $3 million a year in combined taxes.

Scott Kelly, of Philadelphia-based Revisionist Architects, discussed the Neighborhood Development LEED certification program.  He hoped this project would be one of the first in the country to get that certification, he said.  Mr. Kelly added that this project would also be one of the first sections of any city to have multiple green buildings right next to each other but rated in different systems. 

Dutch Kyper, Chapel Hill resident and founder/CEO of Morgan Creek Capital Management, said he and others made the decision in 2004 to establish their headquarters in Chapel Hill for a variety of factors, including improved quality of life, but they have been struggling for access to adequate space for their needs and expectations.  He said that his company wanted to be the first tenant in the project.  They have up to 250 investors visiting at a time, Mr. Kyper said, so a hotel would be advantageous.  He described the development as a potential asset to Chapel Hill, and said that his firm might not be able to remain in Chapel Hill without it.

Robert Dowling, executive director of Orange Community Housing and Land Trust (OCHLT), said this was far and away the best affordable housing proposal that had ever been presented to any town council.  East West Partners would be paving new ground with the transfer fee, which would assure that affordable homes remain affordable despite increases in the condo association dues, he said.  Mr. Dowling described the proposal as a brilliant response to a vexing problem, and he credited Mr. Perry for coming up with the idea.  

Mr. Dowling expressed concern, however, about being able to sell the more than 150 one- and two-bedroom condominium units coming on the market in the same two- to three-year time frame as these.  If OCHLT cannot sell units, he said, the developer has to hold them and the system breaks down.  Mr. Dowling said the Land Trust would need to increase capacity in order to do this successfully.

Mr. Dowling asked that the Council give Mr. Perry some flexibility in his proposal, such as doing phase one and seeing how the Land Trust handles it.  If it is easy to sell them, then go on to phases two and three, he said.  Mr. Dowling asked the Council to give him the flexibility to do only 20 percent if there is a market and/or interest rates change, for example, or if they are struggling to sell affordable units.  Then let them give a payment in lieu of the other 10 percent, he said.  Mr. Dowling noted that such a payment in lieu would be $1.5 million.  

Mayor Foy clarified with Mr. Dowling that stewardship, under the Land Trust model, probably would exist but would be reimbursed. Mr. Dowling added that he would have to give this more thought.

Professor Doug Crawford-Brown, described the proposal as a community design template for how one might build a cell that can be replicated all over the community and move toward sustainability.  He said that Mr. Perry understood the issue, was committed to it, and had shown that he can pull it off.  He said he was very supportive of this project and that Mr. Perry could be the person from the developer community to build a demonstration project for sustainability as part of the Carbon Reduction Project. 

Tom Jensen praised the project’s energy efficiency and its affordable housing components, but said that several people had described it as just another Meadowmont.  He suggested that this project shows that the lessons of Meadowmont had been learned and that improvements had been made in the project’s design. 

Annette Gurman, a Meadowmont Village resident and shop owner, said she and her husband hoped to become residents and shop owners of University Village.  

Council Member Hill inquired about construction materials.  Craig Dishner said the office building would be steel frame with concrete slabs, and the residential and the parking deck and all of the underground parking would be concrete.  

Scott Kelly explained that buildings produce more carbon dioxide emissions and contribute more to global warming than do cars.  So East West Partners is planning to reduce the carbon footprint by making harder concrete, by using slag (which is a local waste product), and by reducing the carbon footprint by about 40 percent for that material.

Council Member Hill ascertained from Mr. Perry that market rate condos would sell for $250,000 to perhaps $600,000 for corner units overlooking the golf course.

Council Member Hill said he was astounded by the lack of comment from the neighborhood.  Mr. Perry replied that they had held two meetings and had sent letters to all neighbors, but only seven people had come to one and none had come to the other meeting. 

Mayor Foy asked Mr. Perry to explain the plan for the Rogerson Road exit.  Scott Manning did so, adding that they would also make improvements to pedestrian crossings at both Finley and Hamilton Roads.  Mayor Foy noted that the Hamilton Road intersection had been designed to accommodate pedestrians, slow traffic, and indicate to people that they had entered an urban area.  He asked why they would not export that treatment to the Burning Tree/Finely intersection.     

Mr. Neppalli pointed out that the Town must maintain the street imprint on state roads in order to get funds for its maintenance budget.  Because it would cost the Town about $52,000 to redo the Hamilton Road intersection, the staff had recommended a high visibility crosswalks on Burning Tree Drive and NC 54, he said.  Mr. Neppalli noted, however, that the Council could request a street imprint if it so wishes.   

Mayor Foy pointed out that the Hamilton Road design was one that the Council had thought would be replicated throughout Town. He asked staff to let the Council know if it would cost too much, but to also let them know whether it had increased safety.   Mr. Neppalli replied that the street imprint design does increase safety.  He said the only drawback was the cost of maintenance and that NCDOT was agreeable if the Town wanted to install it there. 

Mayor Foy asked Mr. Perry if UNC had any plans to fence the golf course off from the development.  Mr. Perry replied that the University had not expressed any concerns, but that something probably would be done if residents became a problem. 

Mayor pro tem Strom asked if traffic coming out of Glenwood Square would be different from how it is now.  Mr. Neppalli replied that staff had recommended redesigning the traffic signal phasing for Hamilton Road.  This would be part of the stipulations, he said.   

Council Member Ward asked if there would be sidewalks around the perimeter.  Mr. Poveromo indicated where sidewalks would be constructed and where others were contingent upon the developer getting construction easements from UNC and UNC Hospitals.  

Council Member Ward inquired about pedestrian and bike facilities at three NC 54 intersections.  Mr. Neppalli said the bicycle loops were missing but would be included when the proposal came back to the Council.  He showed on the map where loops might be in relation to traffic signals, but noted that it had not been finally determined.  Council Member Ward made various suggestions for bike and pedestrian improvements.
Mr. Perry stated that there were significant stormwater issues related to putting curb, gutter and sidewalk along Finley Golf Course Road.   He noted that this area was not adjacent to his.  Mr. Perry said it was an issue that UNC Hospitals needed to address and that he could not afford to solve their stormwater problems for them.  

Council Member Ward said he agreed with an earlier speaker who had suggested checking with OWASA to make sure they were aware of the increases in zoning that the two projects being presented tonight would create.  He suggested getting OWASA’s opinion on these projects and one what it says to them if this is a trend.  Mr. Poveromo replied that the staff had kept OWASA up-to-date regarding the changes. Council Member Ward requested that the staff get confirmation from OWASA that they are aware and that "things are fine." 

Council Member Ward noted that reclaimed water from UNC’s wastewater treatment plant would be great for this project. Mr. Perry replied that it was worth considering, adding that this development would also use its stormwater for irrigation and car washing, but not for toilet flushing.  Mr. Perry said he would be willing to talk with OWASA, but he noted that the cost would be high and that OWASA had not been interested when they discussed it in relation to Meadowmont. 

Council Member Ward determined that the new level of LEED silver certification translates in 1994 into a 15 percent increase over ASHRAE in energy efficiency in 1999.  But it is a pilot program, he pointed out.  Council Member Ward said it is expected it to be much more efficient than code. 

Council Member Harrison discussed protected left turns with Mr. Neppalli.  He discussed bicycle safety with Mr. Perry, who said that this proposal would make the Hamilton Road/NC 54 intersection much friendlier for pedestrians and cyclists. 

Council Member Thorpe said he preferred affordable housing units to payments in lieu. He praised the idea of having a transfer fee for repair and maintenance and thanked Mr. Perry for bringing that idea forward.

Council Member Ward determined from Mr. Perry that he had not discussed making a contribution to the Town transit system with staff.  Mayor Foy suggested that the staff discuss this with Mr. Perry and make it part of the Town’s process.  Ms. Culpepper said staff had been having those discussions and that it was on their workplan.  Mayor Foy asked to make sure the Transportation Board knew about the enabling legislation, and Ms. Culpepper agreed.    

Council Member Mark Kleinschmidt MOVED, SECONDED BY Mayor pro tem Bill Strom, TO Recess All three Public Hearings to February 26, 2007 and Refer comments to Manager and Attorney.  THE MOTION WAS ADOPTED UNANIMOUSLY (7-0).

3. Concept Plan:  Bradley Ridge Subdivision.

Developer Warren Mitchell described this as an evening for celebration for Habitat for Humanity, the Sunrise Coalition, the Town Council, and all who had worked on the design.  He reviewed previous concept plans, explained the changes, and said there was support from all involved.  Mr. Mitchell explained that Habitat would build 30 single-family houses.  They prefer having an entrance off Sunrise Road, Mr. Mitchell said, but this would require approval from Carol Woods.  He pointed out that there were two alternative entrances if such an agreement could not be reached.

Sandra Cummings, a Sunrise Coalition member, spoke in favor of the plan.  She attributed her support to the partnership with Developer Gary Wallace, as well as the decision to have single-family housing and a mixture of market rate and affordable housing.  Ms.Cummings said that the Coalition liked having the main entrance off Sunrise Road and preferred plan C3.1.  She said, however, that they were concerned about stormwater run-off, wanted architectural variety in site design and sensitivity to the environment, as well as a mix of housing opportunities, sufficient sidewalks, and pedestrian paths.  Ms. Cummings asked that construction traffic go through Sunrise and not through Chandler’s Green, and she expressed concern about the main access.

Danny Benjamin discussed access to Bradley Ridge and the traffic study report, which stated that there would be more than 600 trips per day if there were 60 units.  He said safety at the Sunrise Road entrance was a key concern, given the proximity of a high school and a daycare center.  Mr. Benjamin reviewed the Community Design Commission’s recommendations, and he expressed support for the Concept Plan. 

Doug Schworer discussed highway noise from I-40 and asked the Town to help them come up with creative solutions, such as having DOT pave the highway with a material that would help reduce the sound.  He said that all were now working together and that the only remaining issue was getting access from Sunrise Road.  Mr. Schworer expressed support for a performance agreement for another year or until the project has Council approval.

Mayor pro tem Bill Strom MOVED, SECONDED BY Council Member Jim Ward, TO Adopt R-1.  THE MOTION WAS ADOPTED UNANIMOUSLY (7-0).


4. Concept Plan:  Old Oxford Subdivision.

Ms. Culpepper introduced the item.  She noted that the Concept Plan review process did not involve a staff evaluation.  

Andrew Green, the applicant, presented the plan, an aerial view, and photos of the Old Oxford Subdivision site on Smith level Road and Woodward Way.

There were no comments by Council members.

Mayor pro tem Bill Strom MOVED, SECONDED BY Council Member Jim Ward, TO Adopt R-2.  THE MOTION WAS ADOPTED UNANIMOUSLY (7-0).

The meeting was adjourned at 11:30 p.m.