Chapel Hill council gets Estes-MLK plan Monday

tgrubb@newsobserver.comOctober 20, 2013 

  • What’s next?

    • Town staff will hold hour-long public meetings at noon and 5 p.m. Monday in Meeting Room B at the Chapel Hill Public Library to present the draft Central West Small Area Plan.

    • The Town Council will hold its public hearing about the plan at 7 p.m. Monday in the Southern Human Services Center, 2501 Homestead Road.

    • To see the plan, go to townofchapellhill.org/centralwest.

  • Public Hearings

    These items are also on Monday’s Town Council agenda:

    • Timber Hollow: Developer Ron Strom wants to expand the 19.5-acre Timber Hollow Apartments off Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. The proposal adds one four-story and four three-story buildings. It would create 109 new apartments, including 14 affordable housing units, increasing the capacity to 307 units. The complex would get a new clubhouse and pool, 84 new parking spaces and room for 26 cars in three garages. The council needs to rezone the property to allow higher-density

    • Rogers Road report: A task force will present its final report on how to provide water and sewer services to the historically black Rogers Road community near the former Orange County Landfill. The task force also will report on how to protect the neighborhood from development pressures once those services are installed. In addition, the council will discuss extending its extraterritorial jurisdiction to the neighborhood. That would allow the town to legally spend its money on community development projects there, such as water and sewer.

— 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.

Other details:

• 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.

Other details:

• 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

Grubb: 919-932-8746

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