Published: Mar 22, 2013 12:00 AM
Modified: Mar 21, 2013 06:05 PM
CHAPEL HILL - The Town Council agreed to move ahead last week with a two-part development agreement process for at least three major projects.
Resident Jeanne Brown and others have had multiple conversations with Obey Creek developer Roger Perry about the mixed-use project on 40 acres off U.S. 15-501 South. The developers and neighbors are frustrated with the wait for a development process, but they agree working from the ground up will produce a better plan, she said.
Perry said his East-West Partners can talk with the community while town staff studies the project’s potential effects on traffic, the environment and other factors.
“We think that kind of engagement will inform and have great impact on the ultimate plan,” Perry said. “We think the informational and technical studies should begin concurrently to that, because without them, there is no measure to understand what can and can’t be effectively done on the property while mitigating community impacts.”
Town staff and Council members also supported that plan.
“My experience is people start talking, and they’re like, ‘Hey, where’s the data on traffic?’” Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt said. “It would be really great if it’s on its way.”
The process clarifies the decisions needed to reach an agreement, but it does not guarantee a contract between the developer and the town, said Mary Jane Nirdlinger, the town’s director of policy and strategic initiatives.
The developer would pay roughly $150,000 to go through the process, about twice the cost of a special-use permitting process.
Planning, studies and preliminary talks could take up to six months. If the council and the developer agree to move ahead, the next six to nine months would be spent negotiating the details.
Development agreements are likely for three major projects: Glen Lennox, Obey Creek and the Southern Orange County Government Services campus expansion off Homestead Road. The time for each to have an agreement varies, because each is at a different stage in the process, officials said.
Glen Lennox has had nearly two years of community discussion and may be ready for phase two, officials said. The town and county will discuss the services campus, they said.
Obey Creek neighbors said any agreement must address that project’s potential to worsen traffic on U.S. 15-501 South and Fordham Boulevard.
Kings Mill-Morgan Creek neighbors Doug MacLean and Nils Brubaker said the community should have a significant voice from the beginning and identifiable benefits.
“It’s very important that we get community input up front about concepts for this project, because we know the developer is going to propose something that benefits him and the people that own the property, but will it benefit the community?” Brubaker said.