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: The preferred method for commenting is via email to 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

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 or 919-968-2728. For more information, visit More information about Lee Einsweiler and Code Studio is available at

Coming Up: Launch Week for Land Use Management Ordinance Update

Another DESIGN 2020 project is about to launch – the review and update of Chapel Hill’s land use and development rules, which are currently outlined in a document called the Land Use Management Ordinance (LUMO).

The Town Council adopted the Chapel Hill 2020 comprehensive plan in June 2012. Today, the work to implement the community’s new vision is termed DESIGN 2020 ( The latest project is titled “LUMO Update,” which will work to revise and modernize the 10-year-old zoning and codes rulebook that guides and directs the development of land in Chapel Hill.

The Town of Chapel Hill will host a series of LUMO Update events beginning in September. Phase 1 topic areas include: Stormwater/Resource Conservation District, Parking Lot Landscaping, Bed and Breakfasts, and the Sign Ordinance. Future focus area coding for Ephesus Church/Fordham and general reformatting/reorganization of the LUMO document are also included in Phase 1.

Sep. 11: Council Work Session: Lee Einsweiler, Principal at Code Studio and lead consultant for the LUMO Update, will present an overview of the project, highlighting key milestones and other considerations. The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. in Meeting Room B at the Chapel Hill Library, located at 100 Library Drive.

Sep. 24: LUMO Launch Event: The Town will host a kickoff event to introduce the LUMO Update project to the community. Lead consultant, Lee Einsweiler of Code Studio, will provide an overview of the project. Town staff will begin receiving public input related to the specific topic areas under review as part of Phase 1. The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. in the Great Hall at Extraordinary Ventures, 200 S. Elliott Road in Chapel Hill. Additional meetings will be held Sept. 25-26 to provide more details and gather additional stakeholder input on the Phase 1 topic areas (see below).

Sep. 25: LUMO Topic Area Stakeholder Meetings: The Town will host a meeting to hear from stakeholders who are interested in the Stormwater/Resource Conservation District and Parking Lot Landscaping components of the LUMO. Stakeholders are any person or persons interested in these topics, including Town advisory board and commission members who may already serve the Town in a related capacity. Lead project consultant, Lee Einsweiler of Code Studio, will provide information about the LUMO Update process and key considerations for these topic areas. The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. in Meeting Room B at the Chapel Hill Library, 100 Library Drive.

Sep. 26: LUMO Topic Area Stakeholder Meetings: The Town will host a meeting to hear from stakeholders who are interested in the Sign Ordinance and Bed & Breakfast components of the LUMO. Stakeholders are any person or persons interested in these topics, including Town advisory board and commission members who may already serve the Town in a related capacity. Lead project consultant, Lee Einsweiler of Code Studio, will be on hand to provide information about the LUMO Update process and key considerations for these topic areas. The meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. in Meeting Room B at the Chapel Hill Library, 100 Library Drive.

For more information about the LUMO Update, including a schedule for major milestones over the next several months, visit Would you like to receive regular e-mail updates about this project? Contact us at

The LUMO Update process is one of many public input opportunities of DESIGN Chapel Hill 2020. Learn more about all projects at

Contact: John Richardson 919-969-5075 or

Special Topics: Development Agreements

David Owens

David Owens, UNC School of Government

The Town of Chapel Hill’s DESIGN 2020 will offer the special topic presentation, “Development Agreements in Chapel Hill,” by David Owens, professor of public law and government at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Government at noon on Wednesday, June 19, in the Council Chamber of Chapel Hill Town Hall, 405 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

Professor Owens will present information about development agreements in North Carolina, including a general overview of what a development agreement can do and the basic requirements. A development agreement is a unique tool that may be useful for large projects that will be built over a period of up to 20 years. It provides the developer a level of certainty about what it can build and what mitigation measures will be required, if agreement is reached. It also provides the Town with the opportunity to look at the long-term horizon and make sure it fits with the Town’s comprehensive planning efforts and local policies.

Following the presentation, Town staff will share a brief update on the development agreement process adopted by the Chapel Hill Town Council on March 18, 2013, and current information on the Obey Creek ( and Glen Lennox ( development agreement projects. Read more about this process here:

The presentation will be aired via streaming video at and will be broadcast on Gov-TV 18 later in the week.

David Owens joined the UNC School of Government in 1989. Prior to that, he was an attorney and senior planner for the Wisconsin State Planning Office and spent 10 years with the NC Division of Coastal Management. His publications include numerous books and articles on zoning law, including the basic legal reference, Land Use Law in North Carolina, and the widely used guide for citizen boards, Introduction to Zoning. He has also written on a variety of land use law topics, the scope of local government authority, urban growth management, regulation of religious land uses and adult businesses, conflicts of interest, planning legislation, and various aspects of coastal management law and policy. Owens received a graduate planning degree and law degree from UNC-Chapel Hill.

The Town of Chapel Hill’s Special Topics series began during the Chapel Hill 2020 comprehensive planning process as a way to share information with interested residents who want to know more about issues, trends and studies that affect the future. These presentations continue with DESIGN 2020, the implementation phase of advancing the comprehensive plan’s goals and objectives.

For more information about DESIGN Chapel Hill 2020, visit or the blog at

Public Information Meeting about Stream Buffers

Stream Buffers Public Information MeetingThe Town of Chapel Hill will hold a public information meeting and discussion about stream buffers from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 22, in the Council Chamber of Town Hall, 405 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

Organized by the Chapel Hill Stormwater Advisory Board, the meeting will feature presentations on key issues related to buffer widths from our waterways.

The Chapel Hill Town Council is considering changes to the Land Use Management Ordinance (LUMO) that would amend the Town’s existing riparian buffer protection zone known as the Resource Conservation District (RCD).

The Town enacted the Jordan Watershed Riparian Buffer Protection ordinance, which provides 50–foot buffers along intermittent and perennial streams, lakes, ponds and reservoirs. The Town has riparian buffer protection requirements contained in the RCD provisions. In some instances, the RCD buffer widths are greater than those in the Jordan buffer regulations. The Town is considering changes to simplify implementation of all regulations that apply to stream buffers.

The public meeting will provide an opportunity to identify key issues in considering the appropriate buffer widths from waterways and to hear presentations about the science of stream buffers.

Michele Drostin of the UNC Institute for the Environment will facilitate the presentations and moderate public comment. Presentations will be made by Michael Paul, a senior scientist at Tetratech; Deanna Osmond, a soil science professor and extension leader at NC State University; and Fred Royal, managing engineer at Brown and Caldwell. Paul has worked in the field of water quality with a focus on the application of ecological tools and models to develop biological criteria to protect water quality. Osmond has focused her research on reduction of agricultural pollutants through the use of conservation practices. Royal will speak on his experience in developing Chatham County’s water quality ordinances.

For more information, contact Matt Witsil, Stormwater Advisory Board Chair, at; Julie McClintock, Stormwater Advisory Board member, at; or Sue Burke, Stormwater Management Engineer, or 919-969-7266


Agenda item from the November 12, 2012 Public Hearing:

Section 3.6 Land Use Management Ordinance (RCD is Section 3.6.3):

RCD Frequently Asked Questions:

LUMO Section 5.18 Jordan Watershed Riparian Buffer Protection Ordinance:

RCD – Information item:

Resource Conservation District (RCD) Supplemental Information:

Resource Conservation District (RCD) Determinations:

Land Use Management Ordinance Text Amendments for the RCD Stream Buffer Regulations:

RCD and Jordan Buffer Comparison:

Presentations from January 22, 2013 Public Information Meeting:
Deanna Osmond- “Stream Buffers”:

Michael J. Paul- “Riparian Zones- What is the right width?

Fred Royal- “Establishing and Managing Riparian Buffers in Chatham County, NC

Central West Focus Area Steering Committee to Meet

Design-Chapel-Hill-2020WEB-LGThe Town Council has appointed members to the Central West Focus Area Steering Committee, a group that will provide ideas for planning the uses, form and intensity along Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and portions of Estes Drive. The committee will be expected to prepare a report to the Town Council before its last June 2013 meeting; a final plan should be provided no later than December 2013.
The members are Jeff Kidd and non-voting alternate Gordon Merklein (UNC-Chapel Hill); Mia Burroughs and non-voting alternate Todd LoFrese (Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools); Amy Ryan and non-voting alternate John Ager (Planning Board); Michael Parker (Transportation Board); Keith Billy (Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board); Anthony Carey, Lucy Carol Davis, Bruce Murray and Whit Rummel (business owners/landowners/non-profit representatives from the area including one Chamber of Commerce member); Abby Parcell (renter from the Planning and Impact Area); and Eric J. Hyman, David S. Tuttle, Sarah K. McIntee, Firoz Rustom Mistry, Mickey Jo Sorrell, and Elizabeth (Buffie) Webber (residents of the planning and impact areas).
The Steering Committee’s first meeting will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Dec. 19 at the Large Conference Room in the Transit Building, 6900 Millhouse Road. A community workshop/charette is tentatively planned for Feb. 15-16, 2013, to gather ideas and thoughts about the areas from all community members. The steering committee is charged with ensuring that the process is open and participatory and that broad engagement occurs with the full community.
The Central West Focus Area was identified as a priority during the Chapel Hill 2020 comprehensive planning process due to the known development pressures in the area. During the adoption of the Chapel Hill 2020 comprehensive plan, the Council requested that the Town staff work with the community to develop a process that would provide an opportunity for more focused discussion that would ultimately provide the Council with additional direction for the area.

Between mid-September and early October 2012, four community meetings were held to develop recommendations regarding the process to be sent to the Council. During the Oct. 24, meeting, the Council reviewed the community, Planning Board, and Town staff recommendations, and the Council endorsed the formation of the Central West Focus Area Steering Committee.

For information about the Central West Focus Area, contact Megan Wooley, Housing and Neighborhood Services Planner II, at 919-969-5059 or

MLK/Estes Drive Focus Area: How should the Steering Committee be structured? And what should its purpose be? Give us your thoughts!

On Wednesday, September 19th, the community will be gathering to discuss the Steering Committee structure, purpose, and application process for the MLK/Estes Drive Focus Area (recommended name: Central West Focus Area). This meeting will be held from 5:00-6:30pm in the HR Training Room, second floor, Town Hall, 405 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Chapel Hill.

In order to prepare for Wednesday’s meeting, a survey has been developed with the purpose of collecting information in advance of the meeting. Please complete this survey and provide us with your thoughts!

The survey can be found at the following link: Steering Committee Survey

The information from this survey will be compiled and will be a part of the discussion during the Wednesday, September 19th Recommendation Meeting #2.

Please complete the survey by noon on Wednesday, September 19th. The responses from the survey will be published on this blog by Friday, September 21st.

For more information about this process, please visit

What do you think the “MLK/Estes Drive Focus Area” should be called? And what should its boundary be? Let us know!

On August 28th and 29th, 2012, a Public Information Open House for the MLK/Estes Drive Focus Area was held with the purpose of providing information about the area that can be used as a starting point for community discussions.

During the Open House, the participants were asked to provide their thoughts and ideas about the following:

  1. What the process should be called
  2. What the boundary of the focus area should be

Common answers about the name of the process include the following:

  • MLK/Estes Drive Focus Area
  • Estes Drive/MLK Focus Area
  • MLK/Estes Drive Study Area
  • MLK/Estes Drive Community Focus Area
  • MLK-Carolina North-Estes Drive Focus Area
  • Mid-town Focus Area

 What do you think?

We would like to gather everyone’s thoughts about this. What do you think the focus area should be called? And what should the boundaries be? Please provide the information as a comment to this post.

A copy of the handout (which provided a tentative map of the area) provided at the Open House can be found here.

We will be gathering comments until noon on Thursday, September 13th. On the evening of Thursday, September 13th, the first in a series of three “Recommendation Meetings” will be held. This meeting will be from 7-8:30pm in the First Floor Conference Room, Town Hall, 405 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Chapel Hill. All community members are invited to attend, and the purpose of this meeting will be to develop a recommendation which can be sent to Council for their consideration.

We will post the recommendation about the name and boundary to this blog on Monday, September 17th.

For more information, please visit

Modeling: Here’s looking at you, CH 2020

Did you catch last month’s Special Topic presentation on Modeling? Be sure to come out for the next Chapel Hill Town Hall feature, scheduled for noon Wednesday, Aug. 15.  The topic is “Student Housing” and the presenters are Winston Crisp, vice chancellor for student affairs at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and co-presenters Christopher Payne, associate vice chancellor for student affairs, and Larry Hicks, director of housing and residential education. They will provide an overview of the current on-campus student housing options provided by the University and plans for future renovation and construction.

Guest Column from Chapel Hill News
By Garrett Davis
Chapel Hill 2020, a guide to decision-making in Chapel Hill adopted this June, reflects the community input from Future Focus work sessions and the South 15-501 Discussion Group. These public sessions captured ideas about connectivity, where change is likely to occur, and how we can proceed with focused reviews of certain parts of town.
People were interested in comparing the cumulative impacts of different development scenarios. What if more families in apartments have children in school? How much do new buildings cost us? Pay us? This is where CommunityViz, a software program that combines interactive land-use mapping with detailed statistical analysis, comes into play.
How can planning models and analysis help inform decision-making? The Future Focus process involved gathering community input on land use, development, and transportation for Chapel Hill’s future. Another part of the process involved hypothetical land-use maps for different areas that were developed collaboratively with a consultant to the Town of Chapel Hill, Urban Collage Inc. The maps represented different potential growth scenarios.
The visioning process also employed a computer model developed by Seven Hills Planning Group using the CommunityViz platform. This model estimated community impacts related to scenarios developed for each future focus area. The model analyzed each scenario within five broad categories, including build-out potential, public facilities and services, mobility, natural environment and fiscal responsibility. The model also assessed the cumulative impacts on the larger community for each scenario.Community participants provided comments on various scenarios for different areas. The scenarios focused on areas that include the town’s major retail, office, and entertainment districts along major transportation corridors.

By applying CommunityViz, the same software program used in the development of the Triangle Region’s 2040 Long Range Transportation Plans, a set of scenarios may be generated for Chapel Hill’s visioning process that shows what happens if land uses, community data, and other variables are changed. The program applies computer mapping and statistical analysis to analyze the impacts. The variables – impervious surface, demand for parks and taxes, for example – that were put into the scenarios were factors that people said were important to their future in 2020 Theme Groups discussions and public outreach.

Although they have limitations, planning models help us see what the future might look like. The initial results of the Future Focus analysis were compiled in a report that provides an assessment for the entire community, including the identified growth areas and the remainder of the town. Detailed evaluations for each sub-area and the remainder of the Town were also provided.

Information about the Future Focus process and analysis can be found at Maps associated with this analysis are available at

Garrett Davis is a long-range planner for the Town of Chapel Hill. A video presentation is available at

Planning for Sustaining Places

By Scott Sherrill, UNC MPA Student

In the first of two back to back presentations on January 5, available online here, Dave Godschalk, of the UNC Chapel Hill City and Regional Planning Department, delivered a lecture on sustainable comprehensive planning, and Bill Roper and Brad Wilson, of UNC Healthcare and BlueCross BlueShield of North Carolina, respectively, discussed a recent healthcare collaboration.

Godschalk began his talk by stressing that planning is not just about a process, which has been much of the focus of Chapel Hill 2020 thus far, but also about a final end product.

We have described some of the principles from Dave Godschalk’s talk here, but beyond those basic principles, Godschalk also described best practices and many of the complicating issues facing communities in the 21st century: resource depletion, climate instability, energy scarcity, economic stress, social inequity, and public health. He also described the comprehensive plan as an ideal instrument for sustaining places because of their legal authority, scope to cover functions, and history of practice in the United States. Furthermore, they have a mandate to set community goals, engage citizens, establish responsibility for component parts, and achieve consensus. A good plan serves as a record of community agreement for where a community wants to go and how it wants to get there.

Godschalk posed the question “What can Chapel Hill learn from plans of other places?” A list of plans used can be found at the end of this post. The plans selected represent growing and shrinking areas, large and small, local, county, and regional plans. The plan Godschalk focused on as an apt model for Chapel Hill was that of Fort Collins, CO.

To think about sustaining places, Godschalk suggests breaking out of the traditional community planning assumptions on account of new realities and moving towards an adaptive planning model: continuous monitoring of plan, strategic changes to plan as needed to face unanticipated challenges or issues. The adaptive model combines the technical and participatory tracks of planning; develops contingencies; develops and tracks outcome measures; and has ongoing implementation. The new planning method necessitates a new format and topics to focus on multi-topical systems. The new format stems from an integrative framework that breaks out of traditional silos.

In the best cases, the comprehensive plans shape budget priorities, have clear assignment of responsibility, a metric for measuring the success of the plan, and a timeline in place for the completion of goals and objectives.

Sustaining plans typically:

  • Adopt sustainability principles
  • Integrate policies across programs
  • Consider equity, health, and wellbeing inputs
  • Act on scientific evidence
  • Address demands with limited funds
  • Implement non-traditional goals
  •  Monitor sustainability metrics
  • Link to regional plans
  • Conduct stakeholder engagement