The Daily Tar Heel

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Monday March 20th

Town Talk

Obey Creek development plans move forward after Council gives green light

The Chapel Hill Town Council gave the go-ahead to town staff to start negotiating a development agreement for Obey Creek at a special meeting Monday.

The council passed the motion eight to one. The single nay vote came from Councilman Ed Harrison. 

The council decided it was time to begin discussing the concrete aspects of Obey Creek after the developers, East-West Partners, presented a revised plan for the development project. 

Obey Creek is a proposed 120-acre development in southern Chapel Hill directly across from Southern Village. 

"The area is a critical gateway to Chapel Hill," said Roger Perry, president of East-West Partners. "We need to do whatever needs to be done to make sure it compliments the town." 

The motion to begin negotiating a development agreement came after six years of analysis. 

"It's time at this point where we should roll up our sleeves and tell the developer what we like and what we don't like," said councilman George Cianciolo. 

"I think that's the discussion that we need to have." 

But Councilwoman Sally Greene said moving toward negotiating a development agreement does not mean all aspects of the plan have been settled.   

"I believe that this is the beginning of a conversation, at any moment we can say we don't like the way this is going and dramatically change directions," Greene said. 

The specific aspects of Obey Creek that were discussed involved how the development would look as an entrance into Chapel Hill and the layout of the development itself.

John Gilchrist, a developer with East-West Partners, said the group envisioned a modern look for Obey Creek. 

"It is not nostalgic, it is contemporary, a place that is appropriate for Chapel Hill," Gilchrist said.  

East-West Partners suggested including an assisted living center at the far end of the project, an apartment complex, office space, multiple one- to three-story houses along the edge of the project and a large grocery store. 

"I think a big box store is something that Chapel Hill needs," said Councilwoman Maria Palmer. 

Palmer said she hoped a place like Target could come into the town. 

"Target sends busses to Chapel Hill but I wish wish it could have a location here, that would be nice," she said. 

The council expressed concerns about the height of the buildings in the project, worried that the buildings were too tall, thus creating an intimidating entrance into Chapel Hill.

Gilchrist said the tallest building is planned to be 80 feet.

"What I do see coming from Pitsboro to Chapel Hill are tall buildings of the University, and that's not something that is particularly welcoming," said Cianciolo. 

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