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The Daily Tar Heel

Obey Creek vote delayed

New information on the project is still being considered

“Well damn, I got all dressed up,” he said.

The draft of the development agreement for the proposed 1.5 million-square-foot development is getting closer to finalization. Mary Jane Nirdlinger, executive director of planning and sustainability for the town, presented on four items related to Obey Creek’s development and rezoning, including the draft of the development agreement itself.

The staff recommended the council enact the ordinance to approve the Obey Creek development agreement.

“Overall, we do find that the development either meets the town’s standards or exceeds them,” Nirdlinger said.

But the council decided early on that there would not be a vote Monday because some information on traffic and transit impacts of the development had arrived that same day.

“I’m quite strongly of the opinion that we should not act tonight,” council member Ed Harrison said. “Too much came in too late.”

The discussion of the development was recessed to June 15.

Perry spoke at the meeting about the endorsements Obey Creek has received from community figures, like former Chapel Hill Mayor Kevin Foy.

“We are excited about getting on with the business of creating something that is special for this town,” Perry said.

But some residents expressed concerns they still had about the development. Neal Bench, chairman of the town’s planning commission, said some commission members worried about the effect of the development on bike and pedestrian connectivity, as opposed to within the development itself.

If approved, the Obey Creek development would be located across from Southern Village on U.S. 15-501.

Chapel Hill resident Susan Lindsay said she thought cyclists and pedestrians would be more likely to get hit in certain areas near the development because of the increased volume of traffic.

“We’re talking about physical impact,” she said.

Amy Ryan, vice chair of the Chapel Hill Planning Commission, said a 1.1 million-square-foot alternative could lower traffic impact.

“The negative impacts of that proposal are evident in just how much our roads will have to grow,” she said in reference to the 1.5 million-square-foot version.

Chapel Hill resident David Schwartz said he worried about the amount of residential space proposed for the development.

But council member Maria Palmer said residents shouldn’t think of the housing in the development as something to merely put up with for the retail space.

“We actually need housing. We need places for people to live,” she said. “For me, this is not a negative, and it’s not a sacrifice — it’s a benefit.”

She said she felt as if there was an idea among some speakers that the council favored the needs of the developer over the needs of residents. She said this was not the case, and investors are needed to maintain the quality of life that many in Chapel Hill enjoy.

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“I would like to challenge the idea that we either value residents, or we value investors,” she said.

“This is the first step in changing the way we do development and the way we do business.”