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Chapel Hill Town Council approves Chapel Hill Crossing with stipulations

Melissa Teitelman and Stacey Markwell of Chapel Hill enjoy a walk with their dogs Middie and Hobbs on a trail in the Greene Tract Forest on Nov. 16, 2021.

The Chapel Hill Town Council met Wednesday night to discuss the Chapel Hill Crossing development and the Greene Tract. The council also heard an update on the state of cybersecurity for the Town. 

What’s new? 

  • The council heard from Dan Jewell, the principal and regional director for the Raleigh-Durham region at Thomas & Hutton, about a conditional zoning application for the Chapel Hill Crossings development. The proposed site is at 5500 Old Chapel Hill Road and Huse Street.
    • Jewell said the applicants have made many changes to the proposal that the council saw in June — including reducing the total number of units, reducing the parking lot size and adding more missing middle housing.
    • The development is also committed to ensuring that 11 percent of the rental units are affordable. Jewell said the rental units will be managed by the applicants and their partners and will be kept affordable for 30 years.  
    • Angus Ewington, a community member who rents in Chapel Hill, said he is in support of the development and that it is sad to see projects that would have provided more housing get “nit-picked” away. 
    • Council member Amy Ryan said she supports this project's housing plan. 
      • “I think housing here is a good thing,” Ryan said. “I think the housing you’re putting here is better than your original proposal, and I think it’s the missing middle that we have been looking for.”
    • Many of the public speakers at the meeting had concerns about stormwater if this development was built. The proposed site is just north of Clark Lake. 
    • Susan Rice, a member of the community, asked the council to not rezone the development because of the stormwater issues. 
      • “You cannot decide on this project as stand-alone, not when there’s a body of water the size of Clark Lake involved,” Rice said.
  • Judy Johnson, assistant planning director for the Town of Chapel Hill, presented a resolution for the Town to consider contracting a community engagement consultant for the Greene Tract. 
    • The Greene Tract is a parcel of land that is jointly owned by Orange County and the towns of Chapel Hill and Carrboro. The three entities have been collaborating on this site since 1984.
    • Johnson said the consultant would be contracted for 15 months and cost $360,000. 
    • Council member Paris Miller-Foushee said she has issues with the timeline, considering community engagement has already been done. 
      • “There’s not going to be a breaking of ground until possibly another four years if we continue with this timeline,” Miller-Foushee said. 
    • Johnson, along with council member Michael Parker, said the community engagement would help to develop a master plan by December 2024. 
  • Chris Butts, the Town's chief information officer for technology solutions, presented a cybersecurity update to the council. 
    • Butts presented a timeline of what the department has completed over the past year. In June, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security conducted a cyber resilience review on the Town’s security measures. 
    • This month, the department was awarded a security grant for $100,000. Butts said the department will use this grant to hire a cyber team to monitor alerts. 

What decisions were made?

  • The council voted 8-1 to approve the conditional zoning application for Chapel Hill Crossing with multiple stipulations. 
    • These stipulations include 13 rental units of affordable housing for those earning 65 percent of the area median income, 13 units at 80 percent of the area median income, the preservation of approximately three acres on the north side of the proposed site, traffic signage on Pope Road, an inclusive playground in the development, a permit to allow daycare or elder care and a developer-led stormwater study. 
    • Council member Adam Searing was the lone vote against the project, based on what he said was a lack of recreational amenities and because of concerns about stormwater.
  • Council members unanimously approved the resolution to contract a community engagement consultant for the Greene Tract. 

What’s next?

  • The council's next meeting will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 11.


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