While the discussion about the proposed Obey Creek development continues, residents are expressing concerns about a pivotal portion of the plan — transportation.
The most current incarnation for the Obey Creek project, which is planned to be built along U.S. 15-501 across from Southern Village, calls for 1.5 million square feet of retail and affordable housing.
While the economic potential for the town is significant, residents are worried about the project’s scope.
Susan Lindsay — whose home in the Dogwood Acres complex is just across the highway from the proposed development — said she was in favor of some development, but thought the council needed more information before embarking on any construction.
“I don’t think they’ve proved that doing it this size is the best return for the town,” she said.
Lindsay said that such a large project will cause traffic problems in the area.
“(U.S.) 15-501 will only be able to absorb so much more traffic,” she said.
Lindsay said she is one of many residents who see Obey Creek as too large, but are in favor of some development.
“Why should we go and build this giant thing over there if it’s all going to be a wash?” she said.
Fellow Dogwood Acres resident Dana Rea called the implications terrible and not in line with how Chapel Hill historically conducts business.
“The reality of this project, to me, is obscene,” Rea said.
As an alternative, Lindsay said the town could develop the Southern Village Park and Ride lot.
Two scenarios were presented for the Obey Creek development in March. Both have some of the lot used for a hotel, residential and office space, with additional space left as parking and the rest as mixed-use buildings.
The second scenario also includes plans for a large format retailer on the end of the development closest to the park and ride lot.
The second scenario might result in additional development of the Southern Village Park and Ride lot so that some of the spaces could be used for parking for private businesses.
Lindsay said this scenario would require less infrastructure and at a lower cost to the town, and that it would allow the town to profit from the property via ground leasing, property taxes and sales taxes.
The park and ride development was being considered as a complement to Southern Village and Obey Creek, said Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt.
“The park and ride lot is a separate process,” he said. “The community began to think about other opportunities for development.”
Despite extensive discussion on the matter, finalize plans for Obey Creek and the park and ride are still a long way off.
“No final decisions have been made about these developments,” said Chapel Hill Town Council member Lee Storrow. “We have a lot more conversations and dialogues to have in the upcoming months.”
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