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Chapel Hill Town Council approves plan to pay for American Legion land

The Chapel Hill Town Council approved a financial plan for purchasing the 35-acre American Legion property at its March 6 meeting. 

The $7.9 million land will be paid for by one $3.6 million payment followed by two annual installments of $2.15 million at one percent interest.

“Our terrific financial team came up with the financial plan,” said Chapel Hill Town Council member Nancy Oates. “We’ve got the money for a third of it, the first payment, and we’ve got that in our general fund because we had an overage from what we budgeted, and now we’ve got some options on how to make the final two payments.” 

Oates said the town will be using seller financing, which means they will borrow two thirds of the purchasing price back from the seller.

“It’s an incredibly good rate that the Legion has given us — one percent — it is really awesome, and if we are able to plan and do a public-private partnership with some group for the rest of the parcel, we may be able to come up with that money,” said Chapel Hill Town Council member Maria Palmer. 

The next step for the land is deciding how it will be used. 

Palmer said part of the land will go to extending the park next to Ephesus Elementary School, but she's hoping people will come up with creative proposals for the rest. 

“We’re going to make it a public process, and at our last council meeting, we decided to come up with a committee that will have diversity — some people from staff, some people from the community and a couple of council members," Oates said. "This will allow for more ideas and for us to come up with some recommendations."

Both Oates and Palmer said there is no rush in deciding what the land will be used for. It will be three years before the purchase is completed and the Legion is completely out.

“We’ve had a couple of inquiries from organizations that want to purchase some of the land,” Oates said. “We have somebody who is advocating for part of it to be cemetery land, a lot of people who want it to be park land and some who want it to be civic space — we’re just kind of all over the map on this.”

UNC first-year Andre Pittella said he would like to see solar panels installed on the American Legion land.  

“I think a solar farm or solar park would be pretty cool,” Pittella said. “I think it would inspire townspeople to install solar panels on their houses or businesses.” 

Palmer hopes the land will be used for a variety of things.

“Personally, not speaking for the council but speaking for myself, I hope for some mixed-use development that brings some commercial space. Maybe a little bit of office space, maybe some mixed housing; you know, something different, something new,” Palmer said. 

@LaurenTalley13

city@dailytarheel.com 

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