CHAPEL HILL- Flooding on June 30 caused major damage to the first floor of Chapel Hill Town Hall, and repairs could keep much of the building closed until next summer.
But Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt and Town Manager Roger Stancil are encouraging the council to consider this as an opportunity instead of a crisis, asking them to rethink the layout of town offices, with an eye to expediting the permitting and review process.
The price to rebuild the flooded business offices and council chamber would be approximately $249,000, but Kleinschmidt says that for just $430,000 more, the town could create a user-friendly permitting center on the ground floor that would make it easier for developers and homeowners to get projects reviewed by town staffers.
The council has a long-term plan for $4.2 million dollars worth of renovations to Town Hall, but officials say that plan is unfunded and not high on the town’s list of priorities.
However, Business Management Director Ken Pennoyer says spending an extra $430,000 now could indefinitely delay the need for large-scale renovation. He says the money could come from the town’s fund balance or bonds issued next July.
Some on the council say they want more information before committing the extra money, especially as the remodeling plan does not currently include the cost of stormwater infrastructure improvements to make sure the flooding doesn’t happen again.
The council is waiting on a report from Public Works detailing the causes of the flooding before making any final decisions.