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

Rosemary’s Recap of the Feb. 7 Report-out

We had a full house again last night with over 100 people checking in on the 2020 Plan.  As the boy’s basketball game dunked their way to a final win, we heard from our theme group leaders and answered questions about the project.

Our Theme Group Co-Chairs of Chapel Hill 2020 summarized the goals their groups have developed for the draft 2020 Plan . The goals for each group and the draft outline are with the meeting materials.  We also talked about the Council’s conversation at their annual planning retreat this past Friday and Saturday (Feb. 3 and 4).

For those following the 2020 process but unable to attend last night, I wanted to pass along key points about schedule and the conversation George and I had with the Mayor and Council.

On the schedule:

Stakeholders last night asked that we make both the March 20 and April 12 meetings into theme group working sessions. Consider that done. Times and locations remain as published.

After speaking with the Mayor and Council, George and I have decided that we will try to get a draft visioning plan to the Council in June, as originally planned; however, if more time is needed, we will take more time and schedule more working sessions.

If you haven’t looked at the schedule and timeline for community involvement and participation in the 2020 process, please do so now. You will note that our current period of “Sustained Community Engagement” extends through June. After June, there is ample opportunity for 2020 stakeholders and other citizens to help with more detailed components of the Comprehensive Plan. Don’t consider the list of topics under “Maintain Public Engagement” as final; some may disappear and others may be added, depending on priorities established by the Theme Groups.

On our conversation with the Mayor and Council:

George and I were impressed by the Mayor and Council’s level of interest in 2020 and their questions. They are expecting this process to give them guidance in their decision making. In fact, they developed a specific list of areas they want guidance on from the 2020 Plan:

  • Rezoning (proactive zoning to achieve the vision)
  • Improvements to the current development review process, specifically the Special Use Permit process
  • Roles of advisory boards
  • Funding strategies for proposed goals from 2020
  • Downtown
  • Connectivity — how to achieve
  • Student housing and transit relationships; preferred locations for student housing
  • Mix of housing styles — how to achieve
  • Designate areas to capture increased tax base
  • 15-501 corridor — what should be encouraged there
  • Greene tract
  • Regional planning
  • Annexation as a tool to increase tax base and workforce housing
  • Identify potential development parcels and desired uses and scale

Mary Jane and I talked this morning about how to make sure 2020 responds to this request for guidance. We believe we can work many of these topics into the Future Focus workshops on Feb. 15 and 16. In addition, we will consult with the co-chairs and make sure we get these questions to the theme groups as they continue working.

Hope to see you Feb. 9 at noon to learn about fire and police services, Feb. 10 at noon to learn about light rail and bus rapid transit, Feb. 11 to learn about water quality and next week at the Future Focus workshops.

Thanks so much for everyone’s participation.

Rosemary Waldorf