Town Council extends Obey Creek planning

Chapel Hill might be one step closer to getting a big box retailer.

The planning of the Obey Creek development ­— which could attract a retailer like Target — was extended at the Chapel Hill Town Council meeting Monday.

The council voted to split the negotiations phase of the development — allowing a phase for gathering information and revising a plan, and one for negotiations.

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The development, situated on U.S. Highway 15-501, which would add residential and commercial space, was reported on by the Obey Creek Compass Committee.

The committee was made up of residents from Chapel Hill, including Southern Village, a similar development across the road.

Jason Damweber, the assistant to the town manager, requested the council to approve the second phase of development.

Phase two, the negotiation phase, would include community input, public workshops and end with a petition to the council for approval.

Victor Dover, one of the planners for the development, emphasized making the development as similar to Southern Village as possible, while maintaining economic viability.

“It’s tempting in sensitive development sites to try and minimize the impact, visual and otherwise, by pushing things farther apart,” he said.

Ken Broun represented the compass committee, and said he was hopeful the site would balance economic, social and environmental goals for Chapel Hill, then asked to extend the first exploratory phase to gather more information about the development.

“The committee’s recommendation is that the exploratory phase be extended before the council enters into negotiations with the development agreement,” said Broun.

More than 20 members of the Southern Village community, supported the compass comittee’s findings, though most expressed concern that the development was moving forward without their input.

Many of the committee members said they were most concerned that the traffic would become unmanageable.

Chris Mumford defended the small-town atmosphere he said he was worried the new development might damage.

“There is a ‘Chapel Hill-ness,’”he said. “It’s that sense of community and just a thinking person’s place to live.”

Council member Jim Ward assured concerned residents that phase two did not guarantee approval of the plan, and that traffic information could be collected then.

“We’ll get the technical information that we need based on a plan,” Ward said.

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