Chapel Hill extends Obey Creek report deadline

tgrubb@newsobserver.comNovember 15, 2013 

  • What is a development agreement?

    A development agreement can be used for large projects that will be built over many years. It gives the town with the opportunity to look at the long-term horizon and make sure a project fits with the town’s comprehensive planning efforts and local policies. It gives the developer greater assurances that the project can be built once it is approved without fear that later changes in regulations will significantly affect the later phases of development.

— The Town Council has given an Obey Creek committee more time to work out the details of a draft report that was due Nov. 25.

The report will now be due Jan. 19 on the commercial and residential development proposed for 40 acres on U.S. 15-501, across from Southern Village.

An Obey Creek Compass Committee of residents, business and town representatives has been meeting since June to identify key issues the council will use in deciding whether to pursue a development agreement. A separate technical team submitted its report Oct. 31.

The state authorizes towns to use development agreements for projects covering more than 25 acres and ones that will be built over 20-plus years.

Resident Jeanne Brown, a committee member, wrote the council seeking more time to get public comments and finish the report.

Council member and committee liaison Donna Bell said the group also needs a clear understanding what information the council wants to see in the report and the size of the area that should be considered. The delay could push the council’s decision to late January or early February, she said.

East-West Partners developer Roger Perry – who built Meadowmont and East 54, and has an interest in developing the area – said he supports the delay but wants town planning to stay on schedule.

“At the risk of being alarmist, I would say to you that … if we wait long enough, many of the choices that you may have as to what should be done to this property may be made for you by the actions of others,” Perry said.

Second-phase planning involves scheduling more public meetings and identifying information that the developer will be responsible for providing, said Town Project Manager Jason Damweber. If the council agrees to move into the second phase, the discussions would iron out how the development could look and other more specific details.

Council members emphasized that continuing to plan doesn’t guarantee there will be a second phase or that the town will sign an agreement. Either party could leave the negotiations at any time, leaving the developer instead to seek a typical special-use permit and rezoning for the project.

Perry is paying the consultant bill for the negotiations, which could last a year or more. The town nearly spent the first $75,000 and has asked Perry for another $10,000, Damweber said. Any money left over will be used to pay second-phase costs or be returned to the developer, he said.

Grubb: 919-932-8746

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