CHAPEL HILL- After the Chapel Hill Town Council took its first look at the draft Glen Lennox development agreement, elected officials insisted they’ll need more time to review the twenty-year plan to redevelop one of Chapel Hill’s historic neighborhoods.
“I will not be pushed. This needs to be a deliberate conversation, not one that is rushed,” said Council member Jim Ward, speaking at Wednesday’s work session.
The Glen Lennox planning process began back in 2010, when developer Clay Grubb held monthly meetings with residents to discuss how to revitalize the commercial and residential development on 70 acres at the corner of Raleigh Road and 15-501.
The formal procedure for negotiating the long-term build out of the project got underway last March, and the town manager and attorney have been hashing out the details of the plan with developers for the past six months.
On Wednesday, the Council was scheduled to discuss the four big issues that remain unresolved, but Council members said they need more time to evaluate transportation improvements, affordable housing, design standards and the economic impact of the project.
Ian Colgan is a consultant hired by the town to evaluate how the proposal will impact town revenues. He told the Council commercial development generates tax revenue for the town, while single-family housing costs more in services than it produces in property tax. Colgan said the Glen Lennox project, with its emphasis on multi-family housing and commercial development, will likely generate at least $1.7 million dollars of tax revenue.
“Based on all the other studies I’ve seen, I think it’s a very conservative estimate,” Colgan told the Council. “I think this truly will be a net positive.”
But Council members pressed for more information, including the full cost of multi-family housing and an idea of how the additional rental units might impact schools.
Transportation was also a key issue, as the project is estimated to add 17,500 vehicle trips to nearby roads. Changes to Raleigh Road and a new road that intersects with 15-501 are proposed to help ease congestion, along with bike lanes and a greenway.
Council members want to be sure the road improvements are phased in along with development. Mac McCarley, who facilitated the negotiations, assured the council this would be written into the agreement.
“They can develop as fast or a s slow as they choose, but the infrastructure has to be at or ahead of their development,” said McCarley.
The Town of Chapel Hill has only negotiated a development agreement once before in 2009 with UNC officials to govern the build-out of Carolina North. Now, in addition to the Glen Lennox project, the Council is also currently pursuing a development agreement for the Obey Creek property on South 15-501.
The Council is planning to hold public hearings on the Glen Lennox plan this spring, with a vote scheduled before the June recess. The date of the Council’s next work session to discuss affordable housing and building design standards has yet to be announced.