Published: Jan 01, 2013 07:00 PM
Modified: Dec 31, 2012 12:06 PM
We are writing in response to Roger Perrys column (CHN, Dec. 11, bit.ly/12s5Yeg
). We agree with Mr. Perry that it is important to refine the South 15-501 vision for southern Chapel Hill, and wish that his article had begun to address the important questions that have been raised during the past two and a half years.
Obey Creek offers opportunities for southern Chapel Hill and the town. The question is: Which town goals can it best serve, and at what scale?
Since May 2010, southern Chapel Hill residents have come to Town Council with legitimate concerns and constructive ideas. It was disappointing, therefore, to read Mr. Perrys view that the problem at Obey Creek is simply the involvement of its adjacent neighbors.
Since Obey Creek lies just outside the towns corporate limits it is important that residents on all sides of the property, including abutting landowners, as well as many in-town residents be able to express their thoughts and participate fully in the development review process.
Contrary to Mr. Perrys statement, southern area residents have shown commitment, good faith and considerable patience, by working within the towns public hearing and CH2020 processes and participating in the 15-501 Discussion Group which included five community members (Planning Board, advisory board, business and developer representatives) alongside four southern area residents, and which was chaired by a respected former mayor.
More recently, dozens of speakers, hundreds of letters and 329 signatures on a Nov. 5 petition illustrate that concerns about this development are shared by residents of nearly every neighborhood in southern Chapel Hill, including Southern Village, Southbridge, Hundred Oaks, Sycamore Run, Dogwood Acres and various Culbreth, Mt. Carmel Church and Smith Level neighborhoods as well as those along Fordham Boulevard, including the Morgan Creek Kings Mill neighborhood.
All agree that, before any planning for the Obey Creek property moves forward, there is a critical need for foundational studies of traffic, fiscal costs and benefits, environmental and other potential impacts to determine the scale and type of development that would be best suited for the site and the surrounding community.
As Mr. Perry himself has acknowledged, development at Obey Creek will bring significant traffic implications to the already troubled 15-501 South corridor. Because the towns 2040 plans do not include roadway improvements until 2025 at the earliest, lack of important data related to this issue has kept the Obey Creek conversation from moving forward.
Also, although estimates of town income from sales and property taxes have been mentioned, neither East West Partners nor the town has provided credible economic cost-benefit information that would allow the Town Council and the public to weigh the real revenue costs and benefits of various development options and their associated trade-offs.
All Southern area residents and business owners are invested in the success of Chapel Hill. We believe that careful, innovative and collaborative work, like that done for Southern Village and Glen Lennox, is crucial to ensuring that these planning efforts will result in the best future for southern Chapel Hill and the town.
We urge Town Council to adopt a process that requires foundational traffic, economic, environmental and other impact studies as a prerequisite for further discussion. We also urge that the process be fully transparent and include full public participation throughout the development review process going forward, and that next steps will encourage Mr. Perry and his team to participate in the type of collaborative and data-driven small area process that other developers, including Clay Grubbs and D.R. Bryan, have shown to be successful in establishing development plans while building a stronger community. This commentary was signed by Susan Lindsay, Dogwood Acres; John Baron, Hundred Oaks; Rich and Susan Beatty, Hundred Oaks; Sheryl Emch, Hundred Oaks; Julie Richardson, Hundred Oaks; Pete Andrews, Morgan Creek Hills; Betsy Malpass, Morgan Creek Kings Mill; Leesa Brieger, Southbridge Estates; Steve and Cathy Clamage, Southern Village; Deirdre and Joe Haj, Southern VillageRhea Colmar, Sycamore Run; Snehal Patwardhan, Zapata Lane; Robert Strauss and Mary Jannelli, Zapata Lane.
All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be published, broadcast or redistributed in any manner.