CHAPEL HILL — The Town Council will get its first look Monday at plans for how the busy Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard-Estes Drive area could grow.
The Central West Steering Committee is closing in on a November deadline for its final recommendation. The 100-acre area is part of the larger South MLK Boulevard small focus area, one of six identified in the town’s 2020 Comprehensive Plan as having development potential.
In December, the council appointed a 17-member Steering Committee to work with consultants and the community to come up with a plan. Consultant Rhodeside & Harwell submitted several maps for consideration.
Four committee members, supported by a number of residents, have opposed ideas they said would bring excessive density, building heights, traffic and people to the area.
The minority group crafted its own plan to preserve the residential character, improve pedestrian and bike safety and protect steep, wooded slopes that drain downstream into Bolin Creek.
Town staff and committee co-chairs Amy Ryan, a candidate for Town Council, and Michael Parker have said the minority group was heard, but the majority did not share their views.
The council could choose one or a combination of plans:
Steering Committee plan
This plan resulted from the co-chairs’ private conversations with each committee member in September. It proposes a mix of residential, commercial and civic spaces that would require rezoning several parcels now zoned for homes.
• Two- to four-story buildings streetside, rising to five to eight stories in the back and south of Estes Drive
• Commercial buildings alongside MLK Boulevard
• Landscaped medians, pedestrian refuge islands and more high-visibility crosswalks on MLK Boulevard
• Plant buffers between some streets and sidewalks, and between new development and existing homes
• The committee could ask to remove or reduce Horace Williams Airport hazard limits that have prevented some development
Citizens Alternative plan
This plan is less urban. It proposes development with less traffic and impact on nearby homes, two schools, a church and the Chapel Hill-Carrboro YMCA.
• It emphasizes more single-family homes, townhouses, senior living and limited retail on MLK Boulevard
• It preserves more of the sensitive environmental land south of Estes Drive and creates several parks
• It caps the maximum building height at three stories
• It preserves more land south of Estes Drive, where building is limited by stream protection rules