The Town of Chapel Hill is one step closer to building a new police station on land owned by UNC.
The UNC Board of Trustees voted on a tentative lease agreement last week for the land, which is located on Estes Drive Extension between Airport Drive and Seawell School Road, to serve as a prospective site for the new station along with other town and university offices.
“We have struck a partnership to put a number of town services on that property,” said Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue, “with room for some UNC services to perhaps join us out there in the future.”
The terms call for the University to lease the property to the town for 99 years, the longest the state will allow, at a rate of $1 per year. According to UNC associate vice chancellor for university real estate operations Gordon Merklein, this type of agreement is customary and has been executed before with Chapel Hill and Carrboro.
Merklien claims that this agreement was crucial in moving forward with a development agreement to focus on specific plans for the property.
“It will determine the actual scale of the building, the size and that type of stuff,” said Merklein.
Blue says that the next step will be community outreach meetings to engage citizens in this planning process.
“We did [a meeting] earlier in the spring and began hearing concerns, feedback and questions from people in the neighborhoods immediately adjacent to the site,” said Blue. “We look forward to hearing more of those so we can endeavor to be good neighbors.”
The current Chapel Hill Police Station is located on Martin Luther King Boulevard and is in less than favorable condition. It has been in use for nearly 40 years.
“We’ve outgrown our police department, and there are some site challenges there,” said Blue.
Among the problems facing the current site is that it sits on a coal ash deposit, which brings a multitude of environmental issues.
According to Blue, while there is yet to be a timeline in place, it could be several years before we see a new police station on the site.
WCHL’s Blake Hodge contributed to this report