Published: Sep 01, 2012 07:00 PM
Modified: Aug 29, 2012 06:27 PM
CHAPEL HILL - Residents will be able to review long-range plans Tuesday to add government services and buildings to the county’s Southern Campus.
The county commissioners recently indicated their preference for one of two draft plans for the Southern Orange County Government Services Campus. The final plan will provide a framework for developing the 33-acre Homestead Road campus over the next 25 years.
The county adopted the initial plan for the Southern Campus in 2007. It now has 59,000 square feet of floor space in two buildings: the Seymour Center and the Southern Human Services Center. The Inter-Faith Council for Social Services also operates the smaller HomeStart shelter for women and children on the campus.
The commissioners are scheduled to approve a master concept plan Oct. 16, and the county will submit a special-use permit application to Chapel Hill for the approved plan later this fall.
County Manager Frank Clifton said the county would complete a site plan analysis for each future building as money to build it becomes available.
The commissioners considered two options at their Aug. 21 meeting. Both add a second drive along an eastern right of way, adjacent to Chapel View Apartments and preserve a stand of hardwoods at the southwestern corner of the property. They also propose additions to the Seymour and Human Services centers.
In addition, Option A straightens the existing driveway and adds 220,000 square feet of developable area in two locations. It leaves 10 acres undisturbed.
Option B would cost more than Option A but create three developable areas for a total of 390,000 square feet. It also would require rerouting the driveway and relocating a pond, while leaving seven acres undisturbed.
Option B maximizes floor space, while minimizing the infrastructure and operational costs and the need to buy more land in the future, said Roger Waldon of Clarion Associates, which drew up the county’s draft plans. Option A eventually could leave the county looking for more land, he said.
The buildings could be up to four stories, he said.
The commissioners unanimously supported Option B.
“The main reason I support Option B is we spend a lot of time talking about moving forward with higher density, more urban-style development in our urban areas with the advantage of walkability, transportation needs and accessibility to services,” Commissioner Earl McKee said. “We’ve been talking the talk. This gives us a chance now to start walking the walk.”
They also made several suggestions, such as preserving more hardwoods and incorporating a stormwater pond and other scenic features into the master plan. Commissioner Barry Jacobs pointed out existing pedestrian safety issues and problems that buses have navigating the winding drive and tight turns. The realigned driveway would need traffic-calming devices, such as raised crosswalks, to slow drivers and protect pedestrians, he said.