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Town Council hears plan for Courtyards of Homestead development aimed at seniors

It’s a group Chapel Hill rarely gets the chance to serve.

At least, that’s what Town Council member Ed Harrison seems to think.

Plans for a new development targeting senior citizens drew positive reactions from Town Council members at their meeting Monday.

The proposal, made by Epcon Communities, would create 65 single family homes on three parcels of land comprised of 2301, 2201 and 2209 Homestead Road.

The development, Courtyards of Homestead, could include a clubhouse, yard services and a community pool.

The council members said they appreciated the proposal targeting a section of the population that they think is underserved in the town.

“I’m glad to see this because there really isn’t anything like this within Chapel Hill,” Harrison said.

Joel Rhoades, vice president and general counsel for Epcon, said the company was attracted to the town due to the growing number of older citizens wanting to downsize.

“We saw a lot of people that want to stay in Chapel Hill as they get older, but want to downsize from their larger homes to single story homes that are more manageable,” Rhoades said.

Council member Jim Ward said many seniors move to communities outside of the town, mainly in Durham, due to the lack of options that cater to their needs.

While the proposal is in the early stages, the council offered suggestions to the developers regarding the project.

The council said the lack of affordable housing in the current proposal was worrisome. New developments in Chapel Hill must provide 15 percent affordable housing, which would be 10 of the homes.

The current proposal substitutes paying a fee in lieu of affordable housing in order to offer all homes at market price.

“Its hard for me to think of any possible payment in lieu large enough to gain my support,” council member Lee Storrow said.

Rhoades said the company has never had to develop a community with a minimum affordable housing requirement, but developers plan to meet it for Courtyards.

The other concern was the ability to create a sense of community within the development and how to integrate it with the surrounding neighborhood.

“For many seniors, when you move you don’t know anyone,” said council member Donna Bell. “You want to make connections.”

The members also cited the need for pedestrian and bike accessibility in and out of the development to allow access to the nearby senior and aquatic centers.

Epcon has developments around the Triangle area including in Raleigh, Durham and Cary.

Rhoades said the next step is to take the recommendations from the council and revise their plans.

“We’ll get together with our design teams and take everything we heard here tonight into account and hopefully come back with a refined proposal for the council,” he said.

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