Obey Creek Compass Committee Discusses The Technical Team Report, Holds a Public Forum and Hears From Developers

On September 12th, the Obey Creek Compass Committee spent time diving into the Technical Team Issues Report. At the suggestion of facilitator Ken Broun, the Committee decided to focus their work on development topics, to use the Technical Team’s identification of issues to help guide discussion on the guiding principles for the area, and to come back to discussing the Committee’s process and final product at a later date. Members commented on issues they found important, including several aspects of connectivity and traffic flow. Committee members also remarked on what they felt the report was missing and what will need more clarification in the future.

Compass Committee Discusses Tech Team Report

On September 18th, the Compass Committee hosted a Public Forum. Ken Broun presented a summary of topics discussed by the Committee so far, including traffic, connectivity, economic development, environmental issues, design, and schools. If you are interested in the work to date summary click here.

Ken briefly discussed two of the other Committee work products, the design matrix and the visioning exercise. He invited the public to join in the headline visioning effort and “imagine what would be said about the Obey Creek Development ten years from now.” Headlines submitted were incorporated into the Committee’s list and redistributed.

The forum was an open discussion. The public asked questions and put forth their views on various topics. They discussed the importance of compliance with 15-501/Chapel Hill 2020 work, the need to mitigate traffic impacts, explore retail options, and factor in the property value impacts when determining benefits of development. Questions included:

• How do we create better paying jobs?
• Who will this area draw for shopping, living, etc.?
• How does this type of development fit into the “brand” of Chapel Hill?

Obey Creek Compass Committee Public Forum

For more notes on public comments or to view the video, visit the Obey Creek Compass Committee site.

On Sep 26th, the Compass Committee once again heard from the Development Team. Ben Perry gave the developer’s perspective on what they know, what they have heard and believed they learned through the process, and what they intended to present in their concepts at the public design workshop.

Ben Perry explained that they have heard in various forums that traffic is a concern and that connectivity is important. He also explained the high potential the development team sees for recreational opportunities and their understanding that market conditions are ripe in this fast growing area for various categories of retail. Some of Ben‘s reflections on what the developers have learned included:

• People are looking for a way to get across 15-501 safely and enjoyably
• There are high aspirations to improve Town finances
• Contributing to affordable housing is important
• The Committee wants architecture that reflects Chapel Hill

Ben Perrry Makes Presentation to Compass Committee<

To hear his presentation in its entirety, visit the Obey Creek site and view the video.

This week, the Technical Team is back in town to continue their work with the Committee and Developers. The next public Forum will be held on Wednesday, October 16th.

Central West Steering Committee Develops Draft Recommendations

The Central West Steering Committee was charged by the Town Council to develop a Small Area Plan for the Central West Focus Area. The Steering Committee has been meeting since December of 2012, to address this charge.

The Steering Committee has developed a draft concept plan which provides information about the uses and heights in the Central West Focus Area. The Steering Committee has also developed draft recommendations about the bicycle and pedestrian amenities in the area.

These draft recommendations are being reviewed by the Planning Board during the Planning Board meeting on October 1st. For more information about the meeting, please click here.

For a copy of the draft recommendations, please click here.

The following is the draft concept plan:

Central West_Draft Recommendations_9-24-2013_Concept

Please click on the image above to see a larger version.

The following are the bicycle and pedestrian recommendations:

Central West_Draft Recommendations_9-24-2013_Page_2

Please click on the image above to see a larger version.

Central West_Draft Recommendations_9-24-2013_Page_3

Please click on the image above to see a larger version.

For more information about the Central West Focus Area process, please visit: http://www.townofchapelhill.org/centralwest

Draft Bike Plan Coming Up

Interested in Chapel Hill’s plans to create a more connected, bikeable community? You’ll want to participate in “Bike to the Future 2,” the release event for the Town’s draft Bike Plan set for 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 24, at the Chapel Hill Public Library, 100 Library Drive. Community members are welcome to review the draft plan and its recommendations.

The bike plan kicked off in May with a community forum. Work on the plan proceeded over the summer months with the creation of a crowdsourcing WikiMap and an online survey resulting in over 1000 responses about Chapel Hill’s transportation system.

Feedback from community responses along with a steering committee and a 15-member stakeholder group informed preliminary recommendations. When completed, the Chapel Hill Bike Plan will provide a “how-to-guide” for making Chapel Hill a place where more people can safely ride their bikes to more places in the community. A final plan is expected to be presented to the Council in November 2013.

“The vision for this Bike Plan is that Chapel Hill is a community where biking is a safe and convenient everyday choice for all types of riders throughout Town” said Jason Merril, a member of the Bike Plan Steering Committee.

The Bike Plan is part of DESIGN Chapel Hill 2020, the implementation phase of the community’s new comprehensive plan. “Connected Community” (including Chapel Hill Bike Plan) is one of the Big Idea initiatives that embody the essence of the Chapel Hill 2020 goals.

During the Chapel Hill 2020 planning process, residents expressed that they want more facilities and street design features that promote safe bicycling. People said there should be improved connectivity between important destinations and that bicycling can become part of a healthy active lifestyle.

Stay connected to the Bike Plan at www.townofchapelhill.org/bikeplan or

Cyclists may also be interested in the “North Carolina Bike Summit” an event hosted by North Carolina Active Transportation Alliance (NCATA). This year’s summit will take place in Carrboro from Friday, Oct. 18 to Sunday, Oct. 20. For more information, visit: http://www.ncactive.org/content/nc-bicycle-summit

Take the Central West Focus Area Survey by 9/18

The Central West Steering Committee has developed four concepts for the Central West Focus Area, and they would like your feedback!

Please share your thoughts, and take the Central West survey at www.surveymonkey.com/s/centralwest9-2013

The survey has seven questions and should take about 5-10 minutes to complete. The survey will be open until noon Wednesday, Sept. 18.

The Central West Steering Committee has been charged with developing a recommended small area plan for the Central West Focus Area which they will present to the Town Council for its possible endorsement on Nov. 25. For more information about the Central West process, please visit www.townofchapelhill.org/centralwest

Thank you for your participation!

Compass Committee Discusses Development Options and Traffic

Over the past two weeks, the Obey Creek Compass Committee has heard from the Development Team, discussed economic and traffic impacts with Town Staff, and started a visioning process for the future of Obey Creek!

On August 28th , Roger Perry of East West Partners presented an overview of the history of the area, existing conditions, and community considerations. During his presentation, he described the development team’s desire to see connections to Southern Village, greenway possibilities, transit enhancements, public art, and green building design features. The discussion progressed to retail options (small, mid-sized, and large) and the possibility of building retail structures upwards, rather than outwards. Committee members asked the Development Team questions including what types of provisions would/could be made for town services.


Following the presentation, Dwight Basset, the Town of Chapel Hill’s Economic Development Officer, fielded queries about fiscal impacts and the types of jobs the development could attract.
Before the meeting adjourned, Kimberly Brewer, a member of The Design Impacts Matrix Subcommittee, reviewed the potential impacts and design relationships categories that the subcommittee developed. The Committee also committed to thinking through a vision for the Obey Creek of the future!

A video of the presentation and draft vision statements are available at the Obey Creek Compass Committee page at Town of Chapel Hill website.

On September 4th, the Compass Committee met with Staff Members, David Bonk and Kumar Neppalli as well as NCDOT representative, Chuck Edwards. The topic of the evening was traffic. The Committee asked questions that fell into several major categories:

• Traffic impact based on development on site
• Larger impact on Big picture of Traffic issues in Chapel Hill
• Connectivity to Southern Village and Throughout the Obey Creek Area, including pedestrian, bike, (bus) and transit
• Mitigation Factors

The next meeting will be held on September the 12th at 6:30 at the Public Works Building #1 located at 6850 Millhouse Road.

Central West Community Session Sept. 10

Join the Central West Steering Committee and your fellow community members at the upcoming Central West Community Session from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 10, in the Fellowship Hall at Amity United Methodist Church, 825 N. Estes Drive, Chapel Hill.

The drop-in session will provide residents the opportunity to review the committee’s work to date, and to offer their thoughts and feedback.

The Central West Focus Area is located near the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Estes Drive and extends from Carrboro to the west, Franklin Street to the east, Homestead Road to the north, and Maple Drive to the south. For a map, please see below.

The Central West Focus Area was identified as a “future focus area” during the Chapel Hill 2020 comprehensive planning process due to the known development pressures in the area. The Chapel Hill 2020 comprehensive plan states that this area needs continued community conversation about its future and the appropriate uses (such as residential, commercial, office, mixed-use, etc.); form (what the area and buildings should look like); and intensity (how many new uses and buildings are comfortable for the area).

In October 2012, the Town Council established a steering committee to create a small area plan for the Central West Focus Area. Since that time, the Central West Steering Committee has developed principles and objectives that are to guide the development of the small area plan and ultimately development in the area. The committee has also developed concepts that outline various uses in the area, including mixed use, residential, office and institutional/recreational.

For more information about the Central West Focus Area process, please visit www.townofchapelhill.org/centralwest

For questions, please contact Megan Wooley, housing and neighborhood services planner, at compplan@townofchapellhill.org or 919-969-5059.

DESIGN Chapel Hill 2020 Newsletter Available

DESIGN 2020 With a dozen meetings associated with DESIGN Chapel Hill 2020 scheduled this month, it may be a bit challenging to keep up with the implementation phase of the Town of Chapel Hill’s new comprehensive plan. A lot is going on!

Catch up on DESIGN projects in the September 2013 DESIGN 2020 Newsletter.

Town Manager Roger Stancil says: “Adoption of Chapel Hill 2020 as the comprehensive plan was not an end point, but a beginning. Adoption was a goal accomplished and the beginning of a journey to our preferred future.”

For more information or to receive email updates on various projects, contact us at info@townofchapelhill.org.

Central West Steering Committee Meeting Summary – August 7, 2013

For more information about the August 7th Central West Steering Comittee meeting, please see below!

Central West Focus Area
August 7, 2013 Steering Committee Meeting
Co-Chair Summary

By: Michael Parker and Amy Ryan, Co-Chairs, Central West Steering Committee

The Central West Steering Committee met on August 7 at the Chapel Hill Public Library from 6:00 – 9:00 PM. Copies of all meeting materials can be found at www.townofchapelhill.org/centralwest All formal agreements of the Committee reflect the affirmative vote of at least 2/3 of the members present.

Agenda Items

1. Opening Remarks: Megan Wooley began by noting that Trish D’Arconte, from the town Stormwater Management office, would not attend the evening’s meeting as expected because of illness, but that she would be rescheduled at a later date. Julie McClintock requested that Chris Jensen, the Town stormwater engineer, also be invited and Megan said she would contact him.

Julie McClintock requested that the time scheduled for Trish be used instead for a status update on the work plan.  After discussion, it was decided that the extra time would be used for our land use discussions and that a work plan update would be scheduled for a later meeting.

Megan noted that the September community event had been rescheduled to September 3 because of the Jewish holidays (this date has since been changed to September 10) and gave an update for plans for the area walking tour on August 25.

2. Community Participation: Several individuals from the community than shared comments/opinions with the Committee.

3. Land Planning Charrette: The Committee resumed discussion of land use issues in the area along the Estes corridor (areas A—F) and agreed on the following:

- Parcels B and C should      have a mix of uses, including: incubator (create relationship with      Carolina North), significant residential along northern section,      non-residential uses along Estes (intensities that are lower than Parcel      A), and institutional uses (such as a parks and recreation center). An      alternative scenario for this area should also be tested that would call      for residential uses only on these parcels.

- Consider a road connecting Somerset and the proposed road running along the south part of the YMCA property to MLK and have it tested for transportation impacts.

- For area E, to apply environmental language from earlier discussions of areas G and H, and test two options: one that is residential, and one that is primarily residential with institutional/office uses along Estes Drive frontage.

- Area J should be residential.

- Because of meeting time constraints, the group was not able to make specific building height recommendations for areas A–F.  It was agreed that we would test on the range of heights suggested by a majority of committee members in the July 1st “homework” activity, with area C changed from 2-4 stories, with any decision that the Committee has already made to supersede the July 1st activity heights.

- The group decided to test continuation of the area A retail strip south of MLK onto D and F. For testing purposes, we would assume that D would be a synthesis of uses and heights for areas A and B, and that F would assume an expansion of its current institutional use. A low-end use for Parcel D — institutional with a small area of retail — would also be tested.

4. Community Comment: The meeting concluded with comments from five community members.

Thanks to everyone who attended for your continued hard work and interest in the Central West process.


The next Central West Steering Committee meeting will be held tonight, Thursday, August 29th from 6:00-9:00pm at the Chapel Hill Public Library, 100 Library Drive.

Town Seeks Public Comment on Ephesus Church /Fordham Draft Code

The Town of Chapel Hill is seeking public comment on its recently completed draft changes to land use regulations for the Ephesus Church Road/Fordham Boulevard focus area. The draft regulations have been released for public review, and comments will be accepted through 5 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013.

Town of Chapel Hill Economic Development Officer Dwight Bassett said: “The rezoning for the Ephesus Church-Fordham district provides an additional step in the implementation of this important vision for our community. We have spent the last two years working on functional engineering for the roads, studying the storm water issues and how we address affordable housing in this district. This rezoning moves forward the chance to improve on the quality of this district.”

The draft land use regulations are available at the Town’s website: www.townofchapelhill.org/ephesusfordham. The preferred method for commenting is via email to lumo@townofchapelhill.org with “Ephesus Church” in the subject line. Written comments may also be mailed to: Town of Chapel Hill Planning Department, Attn: Eric Feld, 405 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Chapel Hill, NC 27514.

After the public review period ends on Sept. 17, staff will review and analyze the comments for consideration in the draft regulations. The community is also invited to attend the Planning Board meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 17, when the Planning Board is expected to review proposed the changes to land use regulations and offer a recommendation to the Town Council.

The Ephesus Church Road/Fordham Boulevard focus area encompasses the area surrounding Ram’s Plaza near the intersection of Ephesus Church Road and Fordham Boulevard from South Elliott Road to the Chapel Hill Memorial Cemetery. The Town Council adopted a small area plan in June 2011 for the Ephesus Church Road/Fordham Boulevard area.

Led by the Town’s Economic Development Division, the small area plan defined future land uses and offered solutions to the transportation network to encourage reinvestment. Community members identified the Ephesus Church Road/Fordham Boulevard as an area likely to change in the future due to vacant land, underdeveloped sites, and its location along transportation and transit corridors. To learn more about the adopted plan, visit www.townofchapelhill.org/index.aspx?page=1518.

Ephesus Church/Fordham is within Area 5: North 15-501, one of six future focus areas outlined in the Chapel Hill 2020 Comprehensive Plan and the adopted small area plan. Future focus areas are portions of Chapel Hill most likely to change in the future due to vacant land, underdeveloped sites, and their locations along transportation and transit corridors. In total, these areas represent about 24 percent of the land in Chapel Hill, and they do not include the predominately single-family areas and neighborhoods of Chapel Hill.

The Town’s other focus areas are Area 1: Downtown Chapel Hill; Area 2: North Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard/I-40; Area 3: South Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard/Homestead Road to Estes Drive; Area 4: Highway 54; and Area 6: South 15-501.

To be added to the email distribution list for the Ephesus Church Road-Fordham Boulevard Focus Area or to submit questions, contact lumo@townofchapelhill.org or 919-968-2728. For more information, visit www.townofchapelhill.org/ephesusfordham. More information about Lee Einsweiler and Code Studio is available at www.code-studio.com/.

Work Heats Up as the Summer Winds Down for the Obey Creek Compass Committee!

The months of July and August have been busy for the Obey Creek Compass Committee as they explore the potential for development in Obey Creek. At their August 8th “Obey Creek 101″ information session,  the Committee dove into data! Guided by Town Staff, Committee members walked through the history of the area, including the South 15-501 Discussion Group Principles developed during the 2020 process, existing conditions in the area, transportation, and economic and growth considerations.

Compass Committee pic

Click here to access the Obey Creek data book.

On August 12th, Victor Dover (Technical Team Member) and national chair of the Congress for the New Urbanism led a Special Topic Presentation called, “Design for a Changing World: The Practicality of Placemaking.” Following the presentation, Victor answered questions related to trends, best practices, and obstacles facing college towns and livable communities across America.  Video and slides of this presentation are available on the Obey Creek Compass Committee page.

The next day, August 13th, the Committee sat down with the Technical Team to get to know more about the wide range of expertise and experience each team and Committee Member brought to the development agreement process and to have a facilitated discussion about the potential issues that the Town and developer would have to address if the Council decided to proceed into Phase 2 of the development agreement process, the negotiation phase. (The Technical Team is made up of experts in economic development, planning design and development, legal, and environmental and transportation planning. If you want to learn more about individual team members, see the Technical Team bios.)

Technical Team and Compass Committee

On August 19th, the Compass Committee met to talk about the proposed work plan for the group. The Committee also took some time to review a document on design impacts and share their aspirations and concerns related to the proposed development.

Interested in attending a meeting? Visit the Committee page to view the proposed work plan and upcoming meeting information.

Have a question or comment you’d like to share with the Compass Committee? Time for public comment is reserved for the beginning and end of each meeting. We hope to see you at the next meeting which will be held on Wednesday, August 28 in Library Meeting Room A.