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Town Council's discussion on Ephesus-Fordham area draws feedback from residents

And community members came prepared to the Town Council meeting Monday night to speak about the Ephesus Church Road/Fordham Boulevard Renewal Effort — nearly 30 of them.

Town Manager Roger Stancil said the development plan would create new retail and office space in the area bordered by Fordham Boulevard, East Franklin Street, Elliott Road, Ephesus Church Road, Legion Road and Europa Drive.

The town’s proposed redevelopment would allow for solutions to traffic, affordable housing and greater walkability within the community, Stancil said. The plan also includes stormwater management improvements.

The redevelopment calls for a new form-based zoning code for the district that will streamline the development process and the creation of 300 affordable housing units .

While some think the plan will make redevelopment happen too quickly, others said they feel the discussion around redeveloping the heavily gridlocked area hasn’t gone far enough.

“Initially, the possibilities were exciting, but the reality has been a great disappointment,” said town resident Diane Willis.

Willis discussed the dissatisfaction some in the community feel over the proposed form-based code.

Town resident Janet Smith threw out ideas like creating a park-like destination with commercial and residential buildings fronting a creek that still has room to flood in a controlled environment.

Aaron Nelson, the president of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce , said the group supports the town’s renewal plan and encourages the development.

Brian Goldstein , a board member of the chamber, gave his support for pro-zoning changes and spoke about taking action.

“I want us to not feel like we have to know everything before we do anything,” Goldstein said.

Town resident Martha Dill had a request for the council.

“Builders are getting a really good deal, and they need to share responsibility more than they do,” she said. “They need to be held accountable and to be accountable, they need to know what the requirements are.”

Town Council member Donna Bell also touched on businesses who have expressed desire for energy efficient work spaces.

She said without creating a plan for sustainable office space, the town would lose valuable businesses.

“They will pick up their desks and their computers, and they will move their businesses to other offices,” she said.

Chapel Hill realtor Desiree Goldman said she was ready for change.

“We can’t protect Chapel Hill from the future. The truth is, we can’t afford it,” Goldman said. “It’s time to do something new.”

The next step in the process will be a business meeting to discuss proposed rezonings in the area on April 17 .

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