WEDNESDAY, MARCH 15, 2004, AT 7:00 P.M.


Mayor Kevin Foy called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.


Council members present were Sally Greene, Ed Harrison, Cam Hill, Mark Kleinschmidt, Bill Strom, Dorothy Verkerk, Edith Wiggins and Jim Ward.


Staff members present were Town Manager Cal Horton, Deputy Town Manager Florentine Miller, Assistant Town Manager Bruce Heflin, Town Attorney Ralph Karpinos, Planning Director Roger Waldon, Principal Planner Gene Poveromo, Interim Public Works Director Bill Terry, Senior Development Coordinator J.B. Culpepper, Transportation Director Mary Lou Kuschatka, Traffic Engineer Kumar Neppalli, and Town Clerk Joyce Smith.




1.  Public Hearing for the Binkley Memorial Baptist Church Special Use Permit.


Mayor Foy explained that this hearing had been rescheduled to April 19, 2004


2.      UNC Special Use Permit Modification.


Mayor Foy reminded Council members that they had agreed at their March 1, 2004 meeting to have him send a letter to UNC Chancellor James Moeser asking that UNC delay sending in a request for a Development Plan modification.  It was not delayed, Mayor Foy said, and the modification request was submitted today.  He recommended that Council members try to understand early on what the request contains and bring it before the public soon.  Mayor Foy also recommended asking the University to make a presentation on that request before the staff and Town boards even look at it.


Council Member Strom determined from Mr. Horton that the Council would have a 90-day review period once a completed application had been accepted.  Mr. Horton pointed out that the staff had received the material that day and had not yet determined whether or not the application was complete.  "So the clock has not yet started running," he said.  Mr. Horton was unable to say whether the request was for major or minor modifications because he had not had a chance to study it.


Even if it's a minor modification, commented Mayor Foy, there could be perimeter issues.  He stressed that the Council ought to hear about the modifications even if they are minor ones.


Council Member Kleinschmidt proposed that some determination of whether or not a modification was minor or major should be made before being submitted.  Town Attorney Ralph Karpinos stated that UNC had acknowledged that this was a major modification.


Mayor Foy pointed out that the Town needed to learn what is in the Modification No. 2 document immediately so that they and the public could have time to address it.


Council Member Kleinschmidt commended Mayor Foy for that recommendation, but pointed out that this could not be the solution to the issues regarding UNC modification requests.  Mayor Foy explained that he was addressing the current reality.  He agreed that it was not a long-term solution to what the Council and public views as a flaw in the OI-4 zoning. 


Council Member Strom wondered if Mayor Foy or the staff could bring a proposal to the Council the following week, along with a date for UNC's presentation and a schedule for getting this before the public as soon as possible.


Mayor Foy agreed that doing so would move it along and would not prevent the Council from asking for a different schedule or from putting this item on the agenda at every meeting from now until June.


Mayor pro tem Wiggins asked if this would be handled like a concept plan.  Mayor Foy replied that this was how he saw it.


Council Member Verkerk pointed out that the University had already sent information regarding this modification to affected neighborhoods.


Mayor Foy established that all Council members agreed with his proposed approach.  He repeated his view that this was not a solution to the long-term problem and suggested that Council members propose one.  Mayor Foy pointed out that Council Member Greene had petitioned the Council to change the problematic 90-day limit.  He advised the Council to determine what, if any, time limit was preferable.  He had suggested requiring a concept plan, Mayor Foy pointed out, and others had proposed other ideas.  He advised Council members to put all of that together and agree on something to send to UNC as a proposal for how to modify this.  Mayor Foy suggested that the Council ask him to appoint a Mayor's Committee to develop a proposal to bring back to the full Council. 


Council Member Strom suggested discussing this again next week.


Council Member Hill, referring to a letter from Mary Beck of UNC Hospitals, noted her request to come before the Council on March 22nd.  She had acknowledged that some of the requests were sensitive, he pointed out, and had agreed to extend the 90-day process.  Council Member Hill stated that Council members seemed to have similar ideas about how to address OI-4.


Mayor Foy recommended asking for UNC's presentation and then discussing the next steps as soon as possible.  Mr. Horton stated that the March 22nd Council meeting would be quite busy and that a full hearing had been scheduled for March 24th.


 Mayor Foy asked if the Council wanted to discuss this issue now or a couple of weeks from now.


Council Member Verkerk suggested waiting for a couple of weeks, since it would not affect the proposal before the Council.


Mayor Foy established that this would come back to the Council before the end of April 2004. 


3.   Council Member Harrison.  


Council Member Harrison announced that the Town of Chapel Hill had recently hosted a clergyman from Haiti.  The visit had been planned since November 2003, he said, and was intended to have nothing to do with war or the politics that had recently dominated the news about Haiti.  But that was all that the clergyman had been asked by the local mass media to talk about, Council Member Harrison said.  He explained that the clergyman had come to North Carolina to discuss the Haiti Partnership, which had been formed with two churches (Church of the Holy Family and Church of the Advocate) in Chapel Hill and was designed to build schools in Haiti.


Item 1 - Public Hearing on Town Operations Center

Application for a Special Use Permit


Mr. Horton pointed out that the Council was both owner and regulator for the Town Operations Center (TOC).  The staff had worked to keep three guiding goals in mind, he said.  These are sustainability, environmental sensitivity, and fiscal prudence.  Mr. Horton explained that the Council would hear tonight from the Planning staff and from Assistant Town Manager Bruce Heflin, the project leader representing the Council in its ownership role.  The Council would also hear from the architect engineers and from citizens, he said. 


Planning Director Roger Waldon gave an overview of the regulatory process and highlighted key issues.  In the Town's regulatory role, he explained, the task was to determine whether the application meets the requirements of the ordinance and addresses the findings that the Council must make to approve a Special Use Permit (SUP) application.  Mr. Waldon stated that the staff believed the Council could make those findings and approve this application with the stipulations attached to Resolution A.


Mr. Waldon described the application, which included a public works complex and a transportation complex on a 54-acre parcel on the north side of Chapel Hill.  The project would be done in two phases, he said, with completion of the first in 2006 and the second phase about 30 years from now.  Mr. Waldon showed the area on a map and noted that a portion of the land was not subject to the SUP because it was not in the Town's urban services boundary.  No buildings were being proposed in that area, he said, but noted that facilities without buildings had been proposed. 


Mr. Waldon pointed out that the proposal would not meet two regulations in the Land Use Management Ordinance (LUMO).  It includes less than the required minimum parking, he said, and one building would exceed the height limits because it must be taller due to the kinds of vehicles that would be serviced there. Less parking is always a good thing, he pointed out, and he noted that the taller building would be centrally located and away from adjacent development.  Mr. Waldon said that the staff believed the Council could make the finding that public purposes are satisfied to an equivalent degree by allowing that slightly taller building to be placed in the center of the site.


Mr. Heflin noted that this project included changes that the staff had made in response to comments from the Council and the public.  He reminded Council members that the lease on the current TOC property would expire in 2006.  The Town had begun work on this project in 1998, he said.  Mr. Heflin reminded Council members that a concept plan had been submitted in June 2003 and the Council had approved a final concept and budget in October 2003.  The Town had applied for an SUP in November 2003 and had gone through the usual process, he said.


Architect Ken Redfoot, of Corley Redfoot and Zack, told Council members that the efficient design had been based on operational needs and safety and security concerns while also meeting the Town objectives of sustainability, environmental sensitivity and fiscal prudence.  He noted the use of high performance guidelines set up by the Triangle J Council of Governments.  Buildings would maximize natural daylighting, Mr. Redfoot said, and he described the TOC as an energy-efficient system that would use stormwater run-off to supplement wash base.  About 80% of the water would be recycled in some of the wash areas, he said.  Mr. Redfoot noted that the TOC would also use alternative fuels.


Mr. Redfoot proposed incorporating a "sustainability trail" that would wrap around the site and highlight specific goals and objectives of sustainability and environmental sensitivity.  The plan was to be very careful about the Resource Conservation District (RCD) on the site, he said, and it proposes preserving a large stand of mature trees outside of the RCD.  Mr. Redfoot pointed out that buildings would be placed in already open fields.  There would be a greenway corridor and trails, and the plan recommends the use of permeable pavements to decrease the amount of impervious surfaces, he said.


Mr. Redfoot stressed that the TOC plan does all it can to capture the Town's first two goals while also being fiscally prudent.  It minimizes the use of retaining walls, limits grading, puts stormwater management in natural areas, and balances the earthwork across the two sites, he said.  Mr. Redfoot pointed out that utilizing the open fields would save money.  With regard to the schedule, he anticipated no difficulty reaching the April deadline, Mr. Redfoot said.  He outlined a schedule that would start grading work in October 2004 and building work in June 2005.  The ultimate objective would be to have occupancy in late 2006 before the current TOC lease runs out in December.  Mr. Redfoot showed a series of slides and indicated where various on- and off-site features would be located.


Linda Carver, representing the Millhouse Road and Rogers Road neighborhoods, expressed resentment that citizens living in the rural buffer were deprived of some things, such as sewer and water, while having to suffer with others, such as the landfill and the TOC.  She mentioned that land owned by Ms. Julia Blackwood, who lives across from the TOC site, had been granted to the Blackwood family in 1755.  One lot of that would be surrounded by TOC on three sides, Ms. Carver said, and those people had built that house intending to retire there. 


Ms. Carver asked Council members what they were planning to do about the burdens they had put on a few for the benefit of many.  Will you provide water and sewer, she asked, predicting that the Town probably would do something about the bad odor from the landfill once they've moved out there and have to live with it.  Her neighbors did not come to Town Council meetings anymore because they were worn down, Ms. Carver said.  "And I hope you put that on your little trail," she stated.


Millhouse Road resident Dale Hammond asked the Town to be a considerate neighbor.  He expressed concern about the impacts of sound, sight and light, and made the following specific requests:


1.      That sound and visible barriers be placed around the transportation and car storage parking lot.

2.      Hours of operation should be set at only certain times during the day.  This will minimize noise and light interference in the neighborhood.

3.      Traffic should be directed back toward Chapel Hill and not through the residential area on Millhouse Road.

4.      We do not want a junkyard of stored cars behind our property.

5.      Minimize sound, sight and light influences that disrupt the current standards of the neighborhood.


Blair Pollock wondered what alternative fuels the Town was considering.  He noted the potential source of methane, which was now being vented from the landfill, and pointed out that this methane would be available for 20-25 years.  Mr. Pollock recommended that the Town consider some sort of partnership with the landfill on developing a methane-to-natural gas facility for vehicles, hot water, and other uses.  The landfill had been having difficulty finding a partner to take that methane, he said, stressing that such a quasi-industrial use seemed like a natural fit.  With regard to biodeisel fuel, Mr. Pollock explained that a company was about to open in Orange County that would be seeking partnerships with local agencies. With regard to Eubanks Road, he noted the opportunity to build a sidewalk there. 


John Morris, a general partner in land on the corner of Eubanks Road and Highway 86, suggested reconfiguring that intersection.  Mr. Morris told Council members that he would come back with a proposal for mixed-use development in that area.  Improving and/or realigning that intersection would be of interest to those who develop down Eubanks Road, Mr. Morris said.  He urged Council members to discuss this with the NC Department of Transportation (NCDOT) before going too much further.      


Mayor Foy pointed out that the Council was sitting in a dual capacity, as developer and also as the body listening to the public and deciding about the worthiness of this project.


Council Member Harrison asked Mr. Pollock for information about the landfill and its schedule for closing.  Mr. Pollock explained that the northern part of the landfill had been closed since 1995 and was passively venting methane gas.  The segment northeast of that would close next year, he said, but it would not be a gas-generating area.  Mr. Pollock explained that the south side was scheduled to close in 2009, but would continue operating as a transfer station.  A new demolition waste site would be opened to the west of that and will operate there for the next 15 years, he said.   


Mayor Foy asked Mr. Redfoot for the location and a description of the fence.  Mr. Redfoot explained that Planning staff had recommended a fence going all around the residential property, except for a break at the RCD.  It would be made of solid recycled materials, he said.  Mayor Foy determined that there would be chain-linked fences and gates around the yards for security.  Mr. Redfoot noted that the Council could look into upgrading those fences in response to the neighbors' concerns.


Mayor Foy pointed out that the neighbors had asked that the TOC be as unobtrusive as possible, and asked to what extent the fencing would be visible.  Mr. Redfoot explained that the plan goes beyond what the LUMO requires in terms of buffers in every case.  He indicated a 50-foot buffer along Millhouse Road and a 100-foot buffer in the Orange County area.  The buffer along Interstate 40 would be 100 feet, he said, and there would be 30- to 50-foot buffers around the private property and a 50-foot buffer between the TOC and an adjacent farm.  Mr. Redfoot stated that the Town would be exceeding requirements in every case in response to neighborhood concerns.


Council Member Ward asked about the height of the fencing that would shield the private property, and if there was room for small animals to traverse the area.  After determining that the fences would be six feet high, Council Member Ward suggested that they be raised at the bottom to allow animals to pass through.  Mr. Redfoot pointed out that there would be plantings to supplement the fencing. Council Member Ward suggested discussing the fence with the property owner, who might prefer looking into 50 feet of trees.  Also, it might be appropriate to put fencing in some areas and not in others, he pointed out.  Mr. Redfoot explained that the plans reflected what various boards had suggested.  Council Member Ward urged talking with the property owners directly and determining their preferences.


Council Member Verkerk inquired about a contingency plan if the Town does not make the 2006 deadline.  Mr. Horton replied that the contingency plan would be to go to the University and beg for mercy.  He believed that UNC would grant it if the circumstances were dire, Mr. Horton said.


Council Member Greene, noting that she had been on the Planning Board when this had come through, thanked the Town for listening to the Board.  She noted that the Town must be above reproach in this matter, and praised the staff for going beyond the requirements of the LUMO.  Council Member Greene praised the trail idea and encouraged Mr. Redfoot to consider ways to do that within the buildings as well.  She suggested that he take up Mr. Pollock's ideas about recovering methane gas and building sidewalks.


Mayor pro tem Wiggins, referring to stipulation 9, asked if the Town had previously discussed the value of requiring Transportation Management Plans.  Mr. Horton replied that the Council would be taking that up later this spring.  The Town had procedures built in that would make a transportation plan relatively easy to do so in this case, he said.  But, if the Council wanted to discontinue that effort, then the Town/applicant would discontinue it as well, Mr. Horton said.  


Mayor pro tem Wiggins said that she could not remember seeing a report on any Transportation Management Plan even though the Council routinely requires them.  Mr. Horton replied that there was not much evidence that they had been specifically successful in meeting the objectives that the Council had set forward.


Council Member Greene commented that she was interested in looking at alternatives to that.  Mr. Horton recommended leaving it in until Council members discuss it later in the spring.


Mayor pro tem Wiggins asked if approved applications could be relieved of that stipulation.  Mr. Horton said that it might be possible to do that, on a case by case basis, with help from the Town Attorney.


Council Member Ward asked what the Town could do to keep the impoundment area from becoming an eyesore. Mr. Horton explained that unclaimed property was sold off each year and that items were removed.  "We don't operate a junk yard," he said.  Mr. Horton stated that most of what goes into the impoundment lot consists of private vehicles that are claimed rather quickly.


Council Member Ward inquired about sidewalk connectivity, greenways, and bike amenities extending to Eubanks Road. Mr. Redfoot described a sidewalk and bike lane on the east side Millhouse Road from the facility to Eubanks Road.  He also indicated an internal network of sidewalks and trails and an area along I-40 that could become a future greenway trail running up to the northern part of the site.  Council Member Ward asked about connections to the park and ride lot and the landfill, which might become recreational/open space in the future.  Mr. Redfoot pointed out that an easement to the Eubanks park and ride lot might become a connection in the future.


Council Member Ward asked the staff to bring back more specific information on what could be done to connect the TOC with the landfill in the short and long term. Mr. Horton agreed to look into opportunities for a connection and to bring back information on that.  But he thought it would require acquisition of additional easements across private property, he said, or people might walk along Eubanks Road.


Council Member Ward inquired about the minimum light required for parking lot security, noting the trade-off between legitimate security needs and being a good neighbor.  Mr. Horton pointed out that LUMO requirements limit the spill of light on anyone else's property.  The Town intends to completely obey those rules, he said, and they expect to exceed those rules because of the buffers.


Council Member Ward asked for more information on aeration of detention ponds as a tool for preventing mosquitoes.  Mr. Redfoot agreed to provide that.


Council Member Harrison pointed out that he had petitioned the Town a year ago regarding the use of methane gas from the landfill.  The response seemed to have been that the TOC plan would not preclude that from happening, he said.  Council Member Harrison suggested proceeding with the intersection of Airport Road and Eubanks Road as it is.  It might take NCDOT a while to improve it, he pointed out.


Council Member Hill determined that buildings would be a combination of brick and metal siding.  He asked if any thought had been given to using alternates to determine the best possible price.  Mr. Horton replied that the previous Council had discussed that very carefully.  The Council had determined that there were trade-offs in favor of sustainability and environmental sensitivity that overcame the balance on fiscal prudence, he explained.


Mayor Foy inquired about the cost of the pump station.  Mike Hammersley, of Corley Redfoot Zack, replied that the cost would be between $150,000 and $200,000.  Mayor Foy verified that others in that region of Town would be able to use the sewer connection once this pump station was built. Mayor Foy asked if there would be a way to allocate the cost to some of those other properties over time.  Mr. Hammersley replied that the Orange Water and Sewer Authority (OWASA) did not have a policy to do so, but Mr. Horton recalled that OWASA did once have such a policy.  He offered to inquire about that if the Council wished.  Mayor Foy requested that the staff ask OWASA if they would institute such a policy for this project. 


Council Member Ward verified that the minimum number of parking spaces required by  LUMO was 391 and that the applicant was proposing 287.    





Item 2 - Concept Plan:  Proposed Family House on Old Mason Farm Road


J.B. Culpepper explained that this two-story, residential support facility was being proposed in cooperation with UNC Hospitals.  It would house 40 families on a 5.8-acre leased site next to the existing Ronald McDonald facility, she said.  Ms. Culpepper told Council members that the Historic District Commission (HDC) had reviewed this proposal on December 17, 2003, and a summary of those comments had been provided.  She recommended that the Council review this concept plan, receive comments from the Community Design Commission (CDC) and citizens, and adopt Resolution R-1 transmitting comment to the applicant.


John Morris, chair of the Family House Board of Directors, described the proposed facility as something that was needed at every major medical center in the country.  He said that the applicant had broad support from UNC Hospitals for this project, which would service families of critically ill and injured adult patients. Mr. Morris explained that they were in the midst of getting lease approval and were engaged in an aggressive fund-raising campaign.  He hoped to finish that by the end of the year and to be prepared to build the first phase of Family House, Mr. Morris said.


Architect David Clinton said that the amount of impervious area had already been reduced by half since November.  He pointed out that the applicant was asking for fewer parking spaces than required.  Mr. Clinton stated that the University had suggested collaboration with the Botanical Garden on a trail system.  He displayed features of the lot, including the vegetation, a possible pond, and a tie-in to the trail system.  Mr. Clinton displayed a floor plan and an artist's rendering of the outside of the building.  He proposed building 22 of the 40 rooms in the first phase of the project.


Mayor Foy asked how parking for this facility compared with that at the Ronald McDonald House.  Architect Michael Hining replied that there were more spaces at Family House because there were nine more rooms.  A family support facility requires a maximum of 31 rooms under the ordinance, he said. Mr. Hining explained that the applicant would come back later with an amendment to raise that number to 40 rooms for this project.


Council Member Ward asked if Highland Woods neighbors would be looking down on the Family House roof.  Mr. Hining replied that those neighbors had been involved in the planning of this project.  Council Member Ward expressed concern about the curve at Mason Farm Road.  Mr. Hining said that the alignment had been specifically requested by the leaseholder, which is UNC.  Council Member Ward recommended that the project include a sidewalk along Old Mason Farm Road.


Council Member Greene also requested a sidewalk, and asked if this project would justify raising the Mason Farm Road sidewalk to a priority higher than #23 on the Town's plan that begins in 2006.  Mayor Foy replied that one factor would be whether or not the sidewalk fills in a gap.  If this project built a portion of that sidewalk then that could change the rating, he explained.  Council Member Greene wondered when that list would be revisited.  Mayor Foy replied that it would be soon.


Mayor Foy asked why the connection between the parking lot and the one at Ronald McDonald House was not on this plan, since it had been on Plan A.  Mr. Hining replied that some at Ronald McDonald House did not like the idea.  So the applicant had agreed to remove it from the plan, he said, noting that doing so would allow them to keep more trees.


Council Member Harrison asked the staff to analyze moving the Highland Woods Road/Mason Farm Road intersection away from Highway 15-501, as had been discussed in a December letter from Paul Neebe.  He noted the problem of lining up one intersection with another problem intersection and asked for an analysis of that as well.


Council Member Ward remarked that he had been discussing this with Traffic Engineer Kumar Neppalli, who had discussed it with UNC, Ronald McDonald House, and Highland Woods residents.  There is reason to be optimistic that Highlands Woods Drive would be relocated away from the Highway 15-501 intersection, he said.  Council Member Harrison asked who would pay for it, and Council Member Ward replied that it might fall under NCDOT's budget for small safety projects.


Mayor pro tem Wiggins expressed excitement about having a projects such as Family House in the community.  As a former member of the Ronald McDonald House Board, she said, she knew how important it was for family members to stay with those in treatment.  And as a former social worker at UNC, she said, she had spent many hours trying to find affordable housing for family members who needed to stay in the community for extended periods of time.  Mayor pro tem Wiggins described this project as a wonderful addition to the community, if approved, and a great service to the families that come to the hospitals by the hundreds each week.  She was very supportive of this project, Mayor pro tem Wiggins said, and she could see the community having more than one in the future.







WHEREAS, a Concept Plan has been submitted for review by the Council for the Family House on Old Mason Farm Road; and


WHEREAS, the Council has heard presentations for the applicant, and citizens; and


WHEREAS, the Council has discussed the proposal, with Council members offering reactions and suggestions;


NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Council of the Town of Chapel Hill that the Council transmits comments to the applicant regarding this proposal, as expressed by Council members during discussion on March 15, 2004, and reflected in minutes of that meeting.


This the 15th day of March, 2004.



Item 3 - Concept Plan Review:  Proposed Softball Field

Complex at UNC at the University of North Carolina


Ms. Culpepper outlined the proposal for a 3,280 square foot team building and restroom facility on a 4.83-acre area lot.  She recommended that the Council review the Concept Plan, receive comments from the Community Design Commission and citizens, and adopt Resolution R-2 transmitting comments to the applicant.


Mike Hammersley, of Corley Redfoot Zack, represented the applicant along with Glen Corley and Willy Scroggs, from UNC's Athletic Department.  Mr. Hammersley described the project as an upgrade of the existing facility.  He showed slides of current projects, including the playing fields, the parking lot, bioretention areas, and plantings.  Mr. Hammersley presented an overall site plan that included two new buildings and a landscaped plaza area.  He emphasized that the softball team had been waiting for this and that there had been some recent response from donors.  So, Mr. Hammersley explained, they would like to move as quickly as possible on this proposal.


Council Member Strom, explaining that he often walks through that area with his dogs, expressed concern about stormwater problems.  He said he had noticed a "tremendous amount" of sedimentation and erosion in the RCD, that silt was collecting, and that materials were being stored along the fence by St. Thomas More.  Council Member Strom described the pond as constantly filled to the pipe so that water shoots back into the creek.  "So, its clear that there is limited storage for that very large area," he said.  Council Member Strom asked that the Engineering staff carefully assess the stormwater conditions.  He requested that the applicant address these issues comprehensively as improvements are made.  Mr. Hammersley agreed to do so.


Council Member Ward noted that reducing impervious surface through the use of porous pavement would address the erosion issue.


Mayor Foy asked Mr. Hammersley for his reaction to the CDC's comment about the use of permeable surfaces.  Mr. Hammersley replied that the CDC's comments had been similar to what Council Member Ward had just said.  He pointed out that some of the area at the center of the parking lot would be landscaped.



Council Member Hill asked if the applicant had given any thought to access to the area beyond this site and how it would be obtained.  Mr. Hammersley offered to ask the University about that.


Council Member Greene noted the CDC's suggestion that the applicant consider opening use of the field complex to various community groups.  UNC Coach Willy Scroggs replied that the field had been made available to East Chapel Hill High, Chapel Hill High School, and the staff, which runs summer softball programs for community youth.  It will continue to be used this way, said Coach Scroggs.


Mr. Hammersley requested that the project be moved along as quickly as possible in order to get it in place while people were interested in supporting it. Mayor Foy suggested making that a petition for expedited review.









WHEREAS, a Concept Plan has been submitted for review by the Council for the Softball Fields Complex at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; and


WHEREAS, the Council has heard presentations for the applicant, and citizens; and


WHEREAS, the Council has discussed the proposal, with Council members offering reactions and suggestions;


NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Council of the Town of Chapel Hill that the Council transmits comments to the applicant regarding this proposal, as expressed by Council members during discussion on March 15, 2004, and reflected in minutes of that meeting.


This the 15th day of March, 2004.


Item 4 - Concept Plan:  Proposed Sawmill, Residential Loft Condominiums


Ms. Culpepper explained that three buildings with 46 dwelling units were being proposed on a 5-acre site on Airport Road just south of the YMCA.  She recommended that the Council review the Concept Plan, receive comments from the Community Design Commission and citizens, and adopt Resolution R-3 transmitting comments to the applicant.


Lucy Davis, of LCDA Architects, presented photos of nearby buildings, discussed the site plan, and indicated where parking would be under the buildings. She showed an artist's rendering of what the buildings might look like, noting that they would be fairly industrial looking in keeping with the idea of an urban loft. Ms. Davis noted that buildings would be screened by existing woods.  She mentioned a plan to use cisterns to collect stormwater for irrigation.  The applicant was requesting a little more square footage to accommodate affordable housing, Ms. Davis said, and proposed this as an incentive to provide more affordable housing.  Ms. Davis noted that the site included a large amount of RCD, which had doubled as a result of the ordinance change.  This had caused a loss of about 15,000 square feet of buildable area, she explained.


Council Member Strom suggested that Ms. Davis talk to Orange Community Housing and Land Trust (OCHLT) Director Robert Dowling about the affordable housing component of this project.  OCHLT is there to help people figure such things out, he said.  Council Member Strom noted that the proposed affordable units were all one bedroom.  He said that some two-bedroom units would address a particular part of the need in the community.  Ms. Davis replied that she was sure they could arrange to do two-bedroom units as well, and she agreed to contact Mr. Dowling.


Council Member Verkerk expressed support for the project.  The density was appropriate for Airport Road, she said, and she liked the underground parking.  In theory, the idea of a warehouse converted into lofts has a "very organic feel," she said, but she expressed concern about it seeming "false" and suggested using a material other than red brick to soften it.  Ms. Davis replied that they were planning to use oversized "jumbo bricks," which look almost handmade.  They also plan to use storefront material in the back and either stucco or galvanized metal panels in the front, she said.  Ms. Davis explained that the building would include ornamental metal accents as well, adding that she was very sensitive to the idea of combining materials.


Council Member Verkerk described the project as being very urban for Chapel Hill and predicted that it would be "a shocker."  Ms. Davis characterized it as an alternative choice for housing.


Mayor Foy asked about the topography of the parcel to the south, and Ms. Davis explained that it sloped down from the building and was almost all RCD.  Mayor Foy established that the site was vacant, and asked where its access point was.  Ms. Davis replied she did not know.


Council Member Harrison pointed out that Ms. Davis' affordable housing proposal had been based on a broader idea that she had proposed to the Council in January.  The idea "is totally speculative," she replied, pointing out that their footprint would not be affected much one way or the other.  Ms. Davis explained that the affordable housing idea was something they would like to do to increase affordable housing, but it was not necessary.


Council Member Harrison commented on the number of proposed parking spaces and the projected 300 trips that this development would add per day.  This is being proposed at a very difficult part of Airport Road, he pointed out.  Ms. Davis agreed, noting that her office was next door to this site.


Mayor pro tem Wiggins asked if this property had in the past experienced some unusual drainage problems.  She recalled that the owner of a house there had previously asked the Council for help with severe drainage problems from his neighbors' properties.  Larry Short, of LCDA Architects, said that a culvert had been put under Airport Road with a two-inch pipe leading right into this land. Mayor pro tem Wiggins said that the landowner had also complained about water running into his land from the YMCA.  Engineer Phil Post stated that the solution to those problems was routine and would be incorporated into the plan.  There would be other stormwater features, besides cisterns, to mitigate water before being discharged from this site, said Mr. Post.


Council Member Hill asked why the applicant had chosen the name Sawmill.  Mr. Short replied that they wanted to create a building that could have been an old factory or mill at the turn of the century.  Council Member Hill pointed out that the proximity to the YMCA would be quite appealing to someone with children and that two- and three-bedroom lofts might miss that advantage.  Mr. Short replied that they had already discussed providing residents with discounted membership to the YMCA.


Mayor Foy asked if there would be paths connecting the two buildings.  Mr. Short explained that they had proposed that but that folks at the YMCA were concerned about security issues with children.


Council Member Kleinschmidt stated that he did not see this as a family development.  One-bedroom units seemed appropriate, he said, noting that there were not many one bedroom affordable apartments in Chapel Hill.  Council Member Kleinschmidt proposed that this type of living experience would attract the one-bedroom apartment seekers.


Council Member Greene described the concept as a "very creative, interesting, and worthwhile approach to the new RCD."  As far as she could tell, the result was exactly what the Town intended, she said.  Council Member Greene proposed that all Council members were correct on this one.  There are families as well as single people who would like to live in such a setting, she stated.  Council Member Greene encouraged the applicant to work out the affordable housing plan with Robert Dowling and bring back something “wonderful.”


Council Member Ward recommended that the applicant fully explore the alternate access to the YMCA, even though they did meet initial resistance.  The entire area would benefit from having some additional pedestrian access routes, he said.  Council Member Ward recommended contacting the Greenways Commission, the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board, and the staff about this.  He urged the applicant to continue conversations with the YMCA and Town staff as well.


Council Member Strom wondered if the Council should make Robert Dowling aware that this proposal would be coming and that they want him to be involved with it.


Mayor Foy asked Acting Town Manager Florentine Miller to make sure that Mr. Dowling was aware of this so that he may contact the applicant.  


Mayor Foy noted that the project could achieve greater density by consolidating the proposed development with the parcel south of it.  Mr. Short agreed, and said that the parcel's owner was living in Maryland.  They were making an effort to work something out, he said.  Mayor Foy remarked that the property owner might be encouraged to investigate the restrictions on that property.  Mr. Short replied that he was planning a trip to Maryland.







WHEREAS, a Concept Plan has been submitted for review by the Council of the Town of Chapel Hill, for the Sawmill, Residential Loft Condominiums; and


WHEREAS, the Council has heard presentations for the applicant, and citizens; and


WHEREAS, the Council has discussed the proposal, with Council members offering reactions and suggestions;


NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Council of the Town of Chapel Hill that the Council transmits comments to the applicant regarding this proposal, as expressed by Council members during discussion on March 15, 2004, and reflected in minutes of that meeting.


This the 15th day of March, 2004.





The meeting adjourned at 9:37 p.m.