Tag Archives: Chapel Hill neighborhoods

Charterwoods Public Hearing to be held May 23rd

A public hearing on the Charterwoods Special Use Permit and Zoning Amendments will be held at Town Hall on Monday, May 23rd at 7 PM.  This application for a mixed use development on the west side of Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd near Weaver Dairy Road Extension has many deficiencies which require remediation before it should be approved: e.g.  insufficient neighborhood protection buffers, state retention pond maintenance, too many impervious surfaces on an area of small streams, uncertain uses (will it be a hotel? a church? or maybe a medical facility?), and a questionable financial analysis.  Perhaps the most damning thing about it is the fact that 83% of the land will be cleared of specimen trees that have been growing there for more than 100 years.  Our take on this project is that the basic elements need an overhaul before it is approved to move forward.  This differs from the information provided in the Chapel Hill News article that appeared on Wed. April 6th http://www.chapelhillnews.com/2011/04/06/63583/mlk-boulevard-project-to-get-hearing.html

The land to be cleared includes 59 rare trees most of which are white and red oaks, as well as some maples and chestnuts plus 125 specimen trees.   Specific to this property.  A rare tree is a pine with at least a 36″ dbh (diameter at breast height) or other trees with at least a 24″ dbh.  A specimen tree is a pine with a minimum 18″ dbh or any species that has a dbh of 12″ or more.  Twenty-six of the trees to be cut are 36″ – 49″ dbh.   It takes a white oak more than 100 years to reach this size.  One has to wonder what the intent of the newly effective Tree Ordinance can be if such beauties can be leveled for a few homes and stores.  It is possible to develop this land in a more considerate fashion.

More careful attention to design specifics is needed to these proposed plans. Much of this land is not level and is filled with small ephemeral streams.  The land dips from MLK Blvd down to  a low lying RCD area before leveling out.  The Commercial spaces and dumpsters front very directly on the established neighborhood next door.  Generous buffers are needed for this new commercial development when most of the woods will be removed. Parking could be structured to preserve some of the large canopy oak trees.  The access to a proposed single family neighborhood  which winds around behind the Town’s fire station ending in a  cul de sac is awkward and the curb cut would cause dangerous turning movements very close to the busy Weaver Dairy intersection.

Saving more of these valuable trees would improve the attractiveness of the development property as well as increase the commercial value long term. Franklin Park on East Franklin Street across from Whole Foods gives  an excellent example of how large old trees were preserved in a commercially viable project.

And one additional point about the financial analysis should be mentioned. During the discussion of moving the library to Dillard’s we learned that the town receives a bit over $43,000 per year in property and sales tax revenues from Dillard’s.  The Charterwoods development projects $250,000 in sales tax revenue from retail.  It is hard to imagine that a bank, a barber shop/beauty salon, a day care center, plus a place of worship and a clinic (neither of which pay taxes) would generate such generous revenues!  It is right that we should question these plans and underlying assumptions so we achieve the best outcome for the Town, the neighbors and the property owner.  Once this property is bull-dozed we can never put it back the way it was.

2011 Creek Action Tour

Earth Action Day is April 9th!

Join the 2011 Creek Action Tour organized by Friends of Bolin Creek and the Towns of Chapel Hill and Carrboro to promote healthy creeks and responsible growth.  A map with complete tour information can be found at www.bolincreek.org.  A small scale map is below.

This year’s Creek Action Tour takes place next Saturday from 10 – 12 noon, and  showcases projects that improve our water quality in our creeks, and ultimately our drinking water.You can choose from nine different free events on the Tour, including a puppet adventure at the Botanical Gardens, a demonstration rain garden at McDougle Middle School, a stream restoration project at Baldwin Park, floating islands that clean water and more.

Highlights include:

  • “The Story of the Haw” is a 30 minute Haw River Assembly adventure with puppets and song, telling  the story of our vast watershed. 10:30 and 11:30am
  • McDougle Middle School students will show a video of their rain garden and lead a “design your dream house” impact game
  • Neighbor Alex Millager designed and built a backyard rain garden.  Learn how you can build one.
  • A tree planting ceremony at 9:30 am kicks off the tour at Baldwin Park, where a large stream restoration is underway.  The work done by our two towns with federal, state and North Carolina State University support to help improve Bolin Creek, an impaired stream. The project is described here.
  • Map of Venues for Creek Action Tour

Comprehensive Plan Meeting on April 7th.

Town Council will meet again at 6:30 on Thursday, April 7 at the Hargraves Community Center, 216 North Roberson St. to continue the discussion of the composition of the Comprehensive Plan Initiating Committee.  If Council expects to constitute the Initiating Committee and have them define the Comprehensive Plan process prior to their summer adjournment, this will have to move very quickly.  If you have an interest in Chapel Hill’s development for the next 10 years, you need to get on board now.

Council holds Comprehensive Plan Meeting

Town Council held a working session on the Comprehensive Plan on Thursday, March 17th at 7 PM at the Library.  Consultants from the National Civic League and Deliberative Democracy presented the process approach that will be employed.  The Meeting Agenda is found here.  Council will hold a follow-up meeting to further discuss formation of the Initiating Committee, who will have responsibility for defining the planning process and forming the Stakeholder Group.  The intent is to have broad public representation and participation in the development of the Plan.  The targeted Plan completion date is June 2012.

According to the Town website, “the Chapel Hill Comprehensive Plan guides the future of the community.  The current Comprehensive Plan was adopted on May 8, 2000, and is supplemented by various small area plans and other documents that guide the vision for Chapel Hill.  The community and the Council have asked for a new Comprehensive Plan to bring these documents together, to reexamine the vision and to plan together for our community’s future.”

Notes from recent Meeting of Chapel Hill Neighborhools

On January 23, 2011, Neighbors for Responsible Growth sponsored a public Meeting of Chapel Hill Neighborhoods at the former Chapel Hill Museum building. Nearly 60 residents from 40 area neighborhoods attended. The purpose of the meeting was to explore options for building upon inter-neighborhood cooperation and participation in Town governance, especially as it relates to growth in Chapel Hill. Continue reading