CHAPEL HILL- The 17-member Obey Creek Compass Committee unanimously petitioned the Chapel Hill Town Council on Monday to postpone its final report to the council until after the start of next year.
Council member Donna Bell, who serves as liaison to the committee, said the group also wants more guidance from the council on what that final report should include.
“One of the biggest concerns was to make sure that whatever product that was produced was specific enough to give direction to the council,” said Bell.
The Obey Creek Compass Committee is in the first phase of the negotiation process for a development agreement. The committee’s report, which was originally due to go to the town council on November 25, will help the council decide whether to enter into the second phase of the process, in which town leaders would negotiate directly with the developer to hash out a long-term building plan for the 124 acres site along 15-501 across from Southern Village.
The current plan calls for approximately 1.5 million square feet of retail, office and housing ranging from three to six stories with underground parking.
Developer Roger Perry told the council he supports the committee’s stance, but he asked that town staff spends the interim months considering how to proceed, should the council vote to enter into the second phase of negotiation.
“We’d like to ask that we try to adhere somewhat to the schedule by asking the staff to go ahead and do the planning and the logistics of how phase two would work,” said Perry. “At the risk of being alarmist, I would say to you that we’ve been talking about this for three and a half years, and if we wait long enough, many of the choices that you may have for what should be done to this property may be made for you by the actions of others, and so we do believe there is some sense of urgency.”
Council member Sally Greene said she’d agree to Perry’s request as long as it was clear that the move not a sign that the council endorses the second phase of the development agreement process.
“This is a procedural step that seems to make sense under the circumstances and it is not telling the staff or the community that we are going to phase two,” said Greene.
The council concurred, voting unanimously to extend the deadline while also investigating how the next phase could proceed.
The Obey Creek Compass Committee’s report will return to the council in January. In the meantime, the group will hold two meetings in the next month to allow for greater public comment and to finalize the report.