The Chapel Hill Town Council completed the first phase of "Charting Our Future," a project the Town has been working on for over 2 1/2 years, at a Dec. 9 meeting. The project will allow the Town to properly plan the next 30 years of land use in Chapel Hill.
All council members voted in favor of adopting the final changes to Chapel Hill's Future Land Usage Map, which shows the desired land use for the majority of areas of land in Chapel Hill.
When completed, the Charting Our Future Project will allow the Town to unite previous planning efforts and create cohesion among existing areas of development along the Town’s six major corridors.
Council member Karen Stegman said at the meeting that in planning for the next 30 years there have been challenges as a council and community to balance concerns about Chapel Hill's character with the hard facts of climate change and the Town's lack of developable land.
However, she said she feels the new future land use map does a great job of balancing these tensions and allowing for Chapel Hill to be both a college town and an urban area.
Chapel Hill community members were also able to offer their comments on the proposed redevelopment at 1200 Martin Luther King Blvd.
The project will include the redevelopment of the currently non-operational Marathon Service Station and the Tar Heel Mobile Home Park situated behind the station. A new self-storage building will be constructed behind the station as well.
Dan Jewell, the president of the site design firm Coulter Jewell Thames, said at the meeting that some of the existing mobile homes will have to be removed or relocated with the project.
However, Jewell said he and his team are committed to keeping the existing residents onsite for at least the next 15 years and will offer them annual leases. The property management firm for the mobile home park, Stackhouse Management, said it has worked with residents living in the redevelopment area to move to a different location in the park.
"(1200 MLK is) a proposal that works financially and will allow the current residents to remain here in their own homes, in Chapel Hill, in the school district, on a transit route, and most importantly stay together,” Jewell said at the meeting.
In the Town’s description of the project, it is said the developer understands the importance of this existing affordable housing in Chapel Hill.
Jaclyn Gilstrap, chairperson of the Justice in Action Committee, echoed the need for affordable housing and asked the members of Council remember several of them once ran on the platform of affordable housing.
“We keep wondering how we are going to keep affordable housing in Chapel Hill and we have an opportunity right now to maintain that promise to our residents and to our communities that need our support,” she said at the meeting.
After hearing the public’s and her fellow Council members' concerns, Mayor Hemminger decided for the Town Council to continue exploring options with a better outcome for the park residents, Town and park owner.
A motion was passed to continue the public hearing into Jan. 27.
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.