Chapel Hill Amending Land Use Ordinances

In the heat of mid summer, Chapel Hill staff drafted changes to the LUMO or the land use ordinances that set the rules for the town. Find out more information at townofchapelhill.org/lumo. The staff is asking for public comment on revisions on the following topics.

There is a public information session next Monday, August 31 at 6 pm about the overlay district for neighborhood characteristics.  Click here for more information.  The Council has identified 5 areas for regulation changes:

  • B&Bs – updates designed to create new regulations that would allow B&Bs
  • Accessory dwellings – updates designed to allow more accessory dwellings
  • Signage – updates designed to improved overall clarity with graphics, illustrations; greater flexibility with regard to shape, content; additional options for illuminated signs; clarify prohibited signs (e.g., inflatable)
  • Parking lot landscaping – updates allow multifunctional landscaping for stormwater mitigation, simplify tree canopy calculations, improve screening and reinforce ADA accessibility requirements
  • Water quality – updates align Watershed Protection District to match State requirements and exemptions, redundant stream buffer text removed, clarified development options, dimensional matrix modified to reflect Town-wide standards based on 2013 Council action, steep slopes ordinance easier to read and use
  • Neighborhood characteristics overlay – updates originally designed to create a zoning overlay to preserve neighborhood character for those 50 years and older; NOW being proposed only as a supplement to historic districts to help assess compatibility of new homes/additions and as an option for neighborhoods interested in additional standards to preserve character

Click on the bold topic links above to see the proposed changes for each topic.

On Tuesday, September 1 the Planning Commission will review:

  • Accessory Apartments
  • Bed & Breakfasts
  • Signage

On Tuesday, Sept 15, the Commission will review:

  • Neighborhood Character Standards
  • Water quality standards

The scheduled Council meetings for Phase 1 of the LUMO Update are as follows:
·         September 28 (Public Hearing)
·         October 26 (Business Meeting)
·         November 23 (Business Meeting, as needed)

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Bolin Creek Trail Construction Walk

Good news. Chapel Hill has announced this public information session about the extension of the Bolin Creek Greenway from MLK to Pritchard. This is a great opportunity to ask questions about your concerns about building the greenway very close to a creek. Friends of Bolin Creek has an alert page to record activity here.

Press release:  Town of Chapel Hill:  Learn more about the construction techniques, their impacts on the environment, and the potential effects of flooding on the trail corridor.

Residents interested in the Bolin Creek Trail expansion project – which includes a trail under Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and two bridges over Bolin Creek – are invited to walk the construction site with the Town of Chapel Hill’s project team to learn more.

The group will meet at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 3, at Umstead Park, 399 Umstead Drive.

The trail project addresses the Town’s goal of providing a continuous paved trail from the Chapel Hill Community Center to the Northside neighborhood near downtown. This will be accomplished by joining the Bolin Creek and Tanyard Branch trails. Currently, construction activities are taking place in the section between Umstead Drive and Pritchard Avenue Extension. The project is expected to be completed by summer 2016.

“We have long noted that this section of greenway will probably be one of the most challenging that the Town ever undertakes,” said Parks and Recreation Planning and Development Manager Bill Webster.

The walk will be led by Grayson Baur of the Town’s design firm Surface 678, who will discuss design issues, especially in relation to the challenges encountered in this stretch of the Bolin Creek corridor; Chris Jenson of the Town’s Stormwater Division, who will discuss stormwater impacts, permitting, and erosion control measures; and Bill Webster, who has information on the overall Greenways Master Plan and the specific concept plan for this section of Bolin Creek.

Participants should wear footwear suitable for rough conditions. An optional part of the walk will lead people to the Bolin Creek culvert under Martin L. King Jr. Blvd. Those who participate in this optional part of the hike may want to wear sturdy pants and shirts to protect from heavy brush. At this time the walk is planned for rain or shine.

For more information, contact Parks and Recreation Planning and Development Manager Bill Webster at 919-968-2819 orbwebster@townofchapelhill.org.  Residents are able to track the progress of construction via an interactive story map available athttp://arcg.is/1FYDI7E.  The story map provides a project overview and environmental protection, planting and traffic control plans.

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An End Run by the Franklin Street Hotel Developer

Judy Johnson, Town of Chapel Hill Planning staff member, wrote a letter August 18 to senior Town staff last week informing them that a developer seeking to build a seven-story hotel at 1609 East Franklin Street had withdrawn their rezoning application. (see letter below.)

Does this mean that the neighboring businesses and homeowners, who have raised concerns about the proposed hotel, can breathe a sigh of relief?

Not so fast. Concerned citizens submitted a protest petition to the Town a few months ago, exercising a long-standing right that has served the citizens of Chapel Hill well for decades.  Our State Legislature, however,  in one of many recent changes that promote the interests of developers over that of the broader citizenry, have eliminated the right to file protest petitions for applications initiated on or after August 1, 2015.

Of significant note is what constitutes a publication of first hearing notice because the Town’s website lists a “Town Council Public Hearing”scheduled for 9/16/15.  This clever developer has figured out that by withdrawing the zoning application before publication of the first public hearing notice, they can immediately resubmit and evade the protest petition. A simple majority on the Council will be able to approve the rezoning for the hotel.

The developer’s behavior, though legal, suggests a lack of respect for the concerns of neighboring property owners, and should not be rewarded with a rezoning approval.

Further the Town staff did not inform citizens of change in status until a week later. We expect our Town staff to be transparent and convey full information to citizens, as is required by law. Council members, who the citizens entrust to safeguard their interests, should look with disfavor on such maneuverings and should advise the developer to come up with a new plan for the property that works for all stakeholders.

If you look at the enclosed schedule, the public hearing appears on the schedule http://www.townofchapelhill.org/town-hall/departments-services/planning-and-sustainability/development/development-activity-report/1609-east-franklin-street

1609 East Franklin  See map.

From: Judy Johnson
Sent: Tuesday, August 18, 2015 12:16 PM
To: Mary Jane Nirdlinger; Gene Poveromo; Ralph Karpinos; Roger Stancil; Flo Miller; Dwight Bassett
Subject: 1609 East Franklin Street Zoning Atlas Amendment

I have received correspondence from the applicant for 1609 East Franklin Street Hotel Zoning Atlas Amendment application that they are withdrawing their zoning application at this time. With the recent changes to the state legislation regarding protest petitions, applications initiated on or after August 1, 2015 are no longer subject to protest petitions.

According to the Land Use Management Ordinance, only when withdrawal of a zoning application is withdrawn after publication of the first public hearing notice is there a twelve month waiting period. We have not submitted the publication of the first public hearing notice.

The applicant is intending to revise and resubmit a Zoning Atlas Amendment within a very short period of time. If the applicant submits a new Zoning Atlas Amendment application, it would not be subject to a protest petition.

If you have any questions, please let me know.

Judy

[TownSeal]

Judy Johnson, Principal Planner
Current Development  |  Planning and Sustainability
405 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd.  |  Chapel Hill NC 27514

Town of Chapel Hill  |  www.townofchapelhill.org<http://www.townofchapelhill.org/>
t: 919-969-5078  |  jjohnson@townofchapelhill.org<mailto:jjohnson@townofchapelhill.org>

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Elections Matter

elec20151-e1436906426806Chapel Hill deserves leaders who represent the values of the community, and CHALT aims to help the town get them.  This year’s election for mayor and council seats is extremely important to the future of Chapel Hill.  As candidates communicate their positions, CHALT and its many supporters will be listening closely.

Candidate forums are a tradition in Chapel Hill. We will be posting the dates of all of them as soon as they are scheduled. Following the forums, CHALT will communicate with active citizens from all over town and endorse the candidates we believe will best serve our citizens.

Of course, every voter makes their own endorsement when they cast their ballot, either during early voting early (schedule here) or on election day. Wouldn’t it be great if participation in this year’s election doubled the anemic 12% turnout we saw in 2013?

In recent years, we have been disappointed to discover that candidates who espoused certain popular views while campaigning ended up promoting very different things once in office. The incumbents seeking re-election this year—Kleinschmidt, Bell, Storrow, and Ward—are a case in point. Each of them on one or more occasions disregarded citizen concerns when casting votes in favor of major land use changes, such as Charterwood, Ephesus-Fordham, and Obey Creek. Columnist Terri Buckner thus encourages us to vote for candidates who “will listen to you and your neighbors after the election.” Fortunately, this time around, several such candidates have come forward and offered to serve.

On September 15th, 7 – 8:30 pm, CHALT will host a candidates’ forum at the Seymour Senior Center, for the Chapel Hill candidates. Audience participation will be a part of the format. Save the date!

–julie mcclintock

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And the Candidates are…..

candidates-file-in-wake1In Chapel Hill, Council members serve four-year terms, so every two years, half of the eight council seats are contested. This fall, six challengers have joined incumbents Donna Bell, Lee Storrow and Jim Ward to compete for four seats. (When Matt Czajkowski resigned before the end of his term Council declined to appoint a replacement creating an electable seat for voters to fill.)  Details of the candidates are below.

Chapel Hill voters also elect a Mayor every two years.  Mark Kleinschmidt has completed his third term and is running for a fourth term.  He has two challengers for Mayor.

Here are the new candidates for Mayor:

Pam Hemminger, the owner and manager of Windaco Properties LLC, has served one term as a County Commissioner and four years on the Chapel Hill-Carrboro School Board as vice chairwoman and chairwoman. She is a former member of Chapel Hill’s Parks and Recreation Commission and the Greenways Commission.

Pam has been active in Triangle United Soccer Association, Rainbow Soccer and at Ephesus Elementary and Phillips Middle schools. She is past chairwoman of the Orange-Chatham Sierra Club and is now a Habitat for Humanity of Orange County board member. Read more about her here.

Gary Kahn – a 2 year resident of Chapel Hill, Gary has run for Council in the past and applied to fill the vacant seat on the council earlier this year.  A campaign website could not be located at press time.

Here are the new candidates for Town Council:

Jessica Anderson – a parent and homeowner who has lived with her husband and daughter in Chapel Hill for 5 years. Anderson holds a Master’s in Public Policy, with a concentration in social policy, from Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy and has spent her professional career immersed in education policy at the national and state levels.

Jessica has volunteered for the Chapel Hill Carrboro City Schools Blue Ribbon Mentor- Advocate Program and the Chapel Hill/Carrboro Mother’s Club. Read more about her here.

Adam Jones – a 30 year resident, and owner and manager of Mill House Properties, has no prior political experience. He applied for the empty council seat earlier this year.   A campaign website was not available at press time.

Paul Neebe – grew up in Chapel Hill and returned as an adult; he is a professional freelance musician and real estate broker.  He has served on the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board, and is currently on the Chapel Hill Transportation and Connectivity Advisory Board, and the Bicycle Alliance of Chapel Hill (BACH). He has run for the Council before and applied for Matt’s seat earlier this year.  Read more about him here.

Nancy Oates – a resident since 1996, Nancy is a freelance writer and editor for magazines, university publications and local newspapers.  She has volunteered in schools, the PTA Thrift Shop and the IFC shelter kitchen and has held leadership positions at University Presbyterian Church.

Nancy started ChapelHillWatch.com – a popular blog about local government that holds the Mayor and Council members up to scrutiny and allows others to express diverse views. She watched Council meeting for years and realized that important decisions are made there affecting quality of life for residents.  When Chapel Hill Watch became widely followed  the Weekly and the Chapel Hill News asked her to write for them. Read more about Nancy here.

Michael Parker –  a resident of downtown and Chapel Hill for 4 years, Michael serves on the Chapel Planning Commission, as well as on the Boards of the Chamber of Commerce, Friends of the Downtown and the Arts Center in Carrboro. He applied for the vacant seat on Council earlier this year.  Read more about him here.

David Schwartz – a lifelong resident of Chapel Hill, David holds a PhD in Psychology; he has has worked as a scientific researcher and professor at Duke and UNC, and as a freelance academic editor. He is a Chapel Hill News columnist and regular commentator on WCHL radio station. He led the efforts to obtain Neighborhood Conservation District protection for the Little Ridgefield neighborhood and to improve the Ephesus-Fordham redevelopment plan.

As a co-founder of the Chapel Hill Alliance for a Livable Town, he has worked to promote good governance and a more prosperous, sustainable, and just future for the town. Read more about him here.

Currently serving Council members Ed Harrison, Sally Greene, George Cianciolo, and Maria Palmer are not up for election until 2017.  A future newsletter will highlight the voting records of the Mayor and all the Council members during their past terms.

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Jessica Anderson Enters Council Race

Jessica AndersonJessica Anderson is a new face in the Town Council race in Chapel Hill.  She filed several weeks ago and brings impressive credentials to the race. Read about her background here.

In her press release Jessica said, “As a resident of Chapel Hill, I care deeply about our town and the unique elements that make so many of us proud to live here.  Recent town council decisions have motivated me to apply… .My views are in strict opposition to the short term thinking of some currently on the town council, who look at our available green space and see nothing but dollar signs.”

 

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Elliott Road Project Update

2015-07-30Elliott Rd               Looking eastward toward ABC store from Whole Foods parking lot

July 31, Update:

  • Parking pavement on site of old movie theatre has been removed and the foundations of the parking deck are in.   Final height of tower will be 90 feet on Elliott Road and will house high end rental apartments.

IMG_1563In May,  construction workers removed the healthy living trees along Elliott and the back of the property along greenway. See article “Trees Down” here.

 

  • Portions of Booker Creek Linear Park Greenway behind the project have been removed and replacement sections built closer to Booker Creek to accommodate plans for an interior circulating road.  (This unfortunate plan could have been avoided if a regular permit process with citizen input had been followed.) 

Stormwater problems addressedAfter a complaint that rainwater was carrying sediment from construction site down storm drain, stormwater division staff found storm water controls were out of compliance and problem was fixed. 

March 31, Update: Construction has begun on the Perry Towers, the first project in the Town Council experiment into form based code.

The Town Manager approved the application in January 2015, and work has begun.  Large construction trucks are removing the asphalt parking lot paving between the ABC Store and the Whole Foods Shopping Center. Soon the sizable willow oaks along Elliot Rd will be gone, making way for a 90 foot building pulled all the way out to the street.

At the back of the property, construction trucks have also removed the Federally funded Greenway path previously built by the Town as part of the Booker Creek Linear Park.  The developer will reconstruct it later, further down the hill nearer the creek.  Instead of the previous pleasant walk, the new path will skirt a parking deck and a new road.

A dramatic glitch:  Construction workers hit a water main which sent OWASA water 80 feet into the air for several hours before it was capped.

Contractor hit water main

Nov 12 Update:  Is there anything one can do to stop or improve Perry’s Village Plaza Apartments?

No, because the Council gave away its review authority when they approved the Form Based Code for the Ephesus Fordham District in May, 2014.  Therefore strong public concerns and comment will make no difference at all to the final product.  The Community Design Commission met several times to review this first project under the Form Based Code District.  Design Commission members were cautioned by  Town staff to comment only on design elements.  However, Citizen Tom Henkel wrote to the Town Attorney and pointed out to the Commissioners that state law gives them the authority to regulate height. {See his letter to the Chapel Hill News here.}  While the Manager extended the deadline for approval until December 3, the application will be approved by the Manager, and construction will begin as early as January.

On Nov 24, the Council decided to proceed with a public hearing to rezone 4 parcels on the south side of Elliott Rd. These parcels were removed from the Ephesus Fordham District at the last minute when the District was approved by the Town Council. It makes little sense for the Town to create separate standards for these parcels on Elliott Rd. because incentives work best when they apply to a large area, not to a small subset of an area. Why not apply the same standards to the entire district as citizens encouraged the Council to do during the EF public hearings? Better still why is the Town not requiring developers to do sustainable, green building as a matter of course?

The existing Form based Code is highly deficient and badly needs to be fixed. The most sensible course of action is for the Council to acknowledge the problems in the Code and overhaul it.  Why spend Town resources and staff time to fix only a small portion of the District? The February public hearing should encompass the Form Based Code for the entire District of nearly 200 acres so that the Town employs a comprehensive strategy for affordable housing and the many other elements that this Form Based Code lacks!

September Update: What we learned during the September 22 “walk about”:

  • There will be 266 rental units costing $1200 – $1600 for one-bedroom, 900 sq ft units, and $1600-$2000 for two-bedroom units.
  • The project provides 463 parking spaces, including a parking deck and on-street parking.  However, 70 of the 463 spaces will be reserved for workers at Whole Foods, leaving just 393 for Village Plaza residents, retail workers, and retail customers.
  • The project will cover the asphalt parking lot between the old Red, Hot and Blue restaurant and the ABC liquor store, and will cover the grassy area behind the chain linked fence.
  • The massive 87-foot building will be pulled up to Elliott Rd., similar to the East 54 development, and all existing street trees will be removed.
  • The Red Hot and Blue building will be removed and used for temporary parking, and a new building will replace it.
  • A new road at the rear of the property will require the Town’s Booker Creek Greenway to be relocated toward Booker Creek; the Greenway trees will  be removed to accommodate the new road,  marring the ambiance of this recreational amenity that was planned and paid for by the Town of Chapel Hill.

More details about the project here.

Background on this project. In May 2014, the Chapel Hill Town Council rezoned 190 acres in the Ephesus- Fordham district to a new zone. At the same time, they adopted a form-based code for the district that eliminates almost all public review of new development applications for this area. The Town Council approved the zone with 3 dissenting council members: Matt Czajkowski, Jim Ward, and Ed Harrison. Despite hundreds of letters and constructive recommendations from the public, the Council made few improvements to the code. Everyone agrees that the outcome of this project will reveal much about the strengths and weaknesses of the new code. Construction starts in January.

Below are links with lots more information:

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John Quinterno Looks at Chapel Hill Demographics

John Quinterno gave a talk to C.H.A.L.T., titled  “The Changing Demographics of Chapel Hill, 1990 – Today”, and led a discussion at the Chapel Hill Public Library on July 23rd. Among the discussion participants were candidates for council David Schwartz, Nancy Oates, and Jessica Anderson, and Pam Hemminger, Candidate for Mayor, as well as Kristin Smith Chapel Hill – Carrboro Chamber of Commerce.

The presentation looked at  population changes and social factors affecting Chapel Hill over this period and a lively discussed ensured.  Read the material presented by Quinterno here.  Changing Demographics of Chapel Hill

STxChgBXEHp0qClBFEiNXc3-Z1x76Avpts5OVjGX-mqit50ykn9mE-eHXHflyMz0fuh6z30=s85John Quinterno is the founder and principal of South by North Strategies, Ltd.,a research consultancy specializing in economic and social policy.  He is the author of the book “Running the Numbers:  A Practical Guide to Regional Economic and Social Analysis”.  In 2015, Quinterno became a visiting lecturer at the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University.  He has resided in Chapel Hill since 2000.

 

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David Schwartz Files for Town Council

David Schwartz announced in a press release last week that “It’s time for new voices to be heard in Town Hall.”

“Our Town Council needs people who will make decisions based on facts and analysis rather than on myths and wishful thinking. We need leaders who can unite us around a common vision for improving the town and who will heal the rifts that now divide us….”

“It’s time to restore residents’ place at the table and renew the town’s commitment to responsible stewardship.”  His campaign will emphasize the need to set high standards for new development and carry out comprehensive planning, so that we can maintain our high quality of life as the town grows.

Read more about David and his priorities on his website: www.davidschwartzforchapelhill.org

David has played a key role in developing the Chapel Hill Alliance for a Livable Town (C.H.A.L.T.) into a dynamic grass roots group working to bring about a change in Chapel Hill leadership.

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Nancy Oates Files for Town Council

In a wonderful July 5 Chapel Hill News article “What We Need in Chapel Hill Town Candidates”, Nancy Oates describes what we need in a candidate.

To our delight, Nancy filed herself as a candidate for the Chapel Hill Town Council on Tuesday, July 8.

Nancy has been following Town affairs for years.  She has offered astute observations to her blog readers about Town issues ever since she started writing Chapel Hill Watch in 2009.  She supports the CHALT movement to bring major changes to town policies that will make us a livable town.

Read the story on Nancy Oates website.

OatesRead the CH News story about all the candidates that filed this week and see Bonnie Hauser sorts out the scene for this year’s local elections here.

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