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The Daily Tar Heel
Town Talk

Chapel Hill Town Council looks at new development in town

The Chapel Hill Town Council had a busy meeting Monday, tackling everything from selling town land to a new development.

Lisa Ellis, owner of Real Estate by Design, presented a proposal which would create 14 residential lots on 4.8 acres of land near Eubanks Road.

The councilmen worked with Ellis on how to put in more affordable housing, which she is required to do.

Ellis said it has been a struggle to make the housing affordable because the houses will cost significantly more to build than they are sold for.

“We’ve tried to figure how to make the affordable piece affordable,” Ellis said. “That’s a $150,000 lot that we have to build a $93,000 house on.”

This was not the first time developers have had this kind of problem, Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt said.

“We have experimented with having small homes in developments,” he said. “It didn’t lead to affordable small homes, just really expensive small homes.”

Councilman Jim Ward recommended they try to develop condos or townhouses on the property, something he said has worked in the past.

The council also looked at a proposal from Duke Energy to build a new utilities substation on Eubanks Road.

Scott Murray, president of Scott Murray Land Planning, Inc., said they would not need the site for another 15 to 20 years, but Duke Energy wanted to be prepared.

Members of the council expressed concern about whether or not Duke Energy would build or help to pay for a sidewalk on the site, which could be used by pedestrians.

“I think this council needs to make a commitment to a walkable, bikeable community,” said council member Maria Palmer. “Going to the folks and telling them Duke Power can’t afford $100,000 won’t fly. It’s not okay with me to let that pass.”

The council will continue to take public comment on this issue at their meeting on June 23.

The council also held a special session to receive proposals from perspective buyers of their property on Library Drive, which has four potential buyers and once housed the Chapel Hill Public Library.

The proposed uses for the building include making it into the Chapel Hill Cultural Center, the new home for the Arts and Sciences Foundation, an expansion of the Chabad of Chapel Hill, or a space for nonprofit office space.

The council will decide on whom to sell the property to at a later date.

Notable:

The council received the first design plans for the Ephesus Church Road and Fordham Boulevard transportation improvement, including basic plans for the redesign of the road, bike lanes and sidewalks. It is part of a larger redevelopment plan for the area. 

Members of the council hope this redesign of the transportation in the area will make it a more attractive place for businesses.

Quotable:

“Are we live?” Kleinschmidt said.

Kleinschmidt was caught up in updating the crowd about the score of the U.S. World Cup soccer game against Ghana, and didn’t realize the meeting had started and the cameras were rolling.

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