Possible Traffic Impact Studies Calm Central West Concerns

By Rachel Nash Posted November 28, 2013 at 12:00 pm

CHAPEL HILL – The Chapel Hill Town Council unanimously adopted the controversial Central West small area plan Tuesday night.  During the ten months it took to draft the plan, members of the committee charged with the task disagreed at each step along the way.

But committee member Julie McClintock, who has been one of the most outspoken about her frustration over the process, said that she feels content with the decision because the Council agreed it would consider conducting wider studies on the impacts of traffic and growth to the Town.

The Central West Small area plan outlines future development near the intersection of Estes Dr. and Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. It calls for three- to five-story buildings with retail, office, and a mix of uses along Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. and smaller residential development along Estes Dr.

“We need to know what’s going to be the impact of all the millions of square feet that are now going to be approved down on 15-501, or at Glenn Lennox. All of those cars aren’t going to stay in their little bubble. They are going to travel all over town,” McClintock said. “I was very pleased, and I thought the Council conducted an interesting, deep discussion on all these town-wide planning efforts. It is very needed, and I am very glad it occurred.”

Along with several members of the Central West Steering Committee and neighbors in the area, McClintock formulated what they called a lower-density “alternate plan,“ along with a 260-signature petition asking the council to study development impacts on traffic, storm water control, and the cost of town services.

“I think we feel fairly confident the council is committed to doing these town-wide studies and that they are going to do those before they go ahead and do rezoning. That makes a lot of sense,” McClintock said.

The Council didn’t adopt the alternative plan Tuesday but did decide that it should be included as an official document.

“I think the idea is in it. It [the Citizen’s Plan] did get utilized to some extent,” McClintock said. “There are, of course, some differences.”

Some area residents were ultimately displeased with the Committee’s plan, and stuck by their assertion that the development would bring too much traffic to the already congested roads.

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