Housing Nonprofit Awarded Tax Credits For Legion Road Project

Local housing nonprofit DHIC has been awarded state tax credits that will pave the way to build affordable apartments on Legion Road.

Gregg Warren, president of DHIC, says there’s a demonstrated need for affordable rentals in Chapel Hill.

“There are over than 3,000 families in need of such housing in the market area in Chapel Hill,” says Warren. “We’ll do our part to try to at least scratch the surface of that need with the Greenfield development.”

Once completed, Greenfield Place will offer 80 apartments for working families. A second phase will set aside 60 apartments for low-income seniors.

The development will consist of four buildings on nine acres next to the Chapel Hill Memorial Cemetery. That land was donated to DHIC by the Town of Chapel Hill.

Town officials have been planning the project in collaboration with DHIC for more than two years. Warren says the tax credits from the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency are vital to keeping the apartments affordable.

“Those tax credits allow us to raise equity, and that equity reduces the mortgage that we need to secure, thus allowing us to lower the rents for the residents who will live in Greenfield Place.”

DHIC’s design team will begin working with the town to craft a development proposal. Warren says he hopes to have residents moving in by December 2017.


Ballots Crowding Up In Chapel Hill, Hillsborough

With one day left in the filing period for local office, three more candidates added their names to the ballot.

There are two new candidates in the race for Chapel Hill Town Council: incumbent Jim Ward and challenger Adam Jones. Jones is a realtor; earlier this year he applied to be appointed to the Council to fill the seat left vacant by Matt Czajkowski when he stepped down to move to Africa. (The Council elected not to fill that seat.)

Ward and Jones are among eight candidates – so far – for four open seats. Incumbent Lee Storrow has also filed to run, as have challengers Michael Parker, Paul Neebe, Nancy Oates, Jessica Anderson, and David Schwartz. One more incumbent, Donna Bell, has not announced her intentions yet.

There’s also another candidate in the race for Hillsborough Board of Commissioners. Cindy Lee Talisman filed to run on Thursday; on Facebook she said she was running in response to the Board’s decision this week to take down the words “Confederate Memorial” from a public building downtown.

Talisman is the fifth candidate in the race for three open seats. Also on the ballot: incumbents Brian Lowen and Evelyn Lloyd, and challengers Mark Bell and Ashley DeSena.

See the full list of candidates for local office in Orange County.

The filing period ends on Friday at noon.


Schwartz, Samuels Throw Their Hats In The Ring

There’s another candidate in the race for Chapel Hill Town Council: David Alan Schwartz filed to run for office on Monday.

Schwartz has been recently active with the group Chapel Hill Alliance for a Livable Town, or CHALT. He’s the sixth candidate to file to run for Town Council – joining Michael Parker, Paul Neebe, Nancy Oates, Jessica Anderson, and incumbent Lee Storrow.

There are four seats up for election on the Council this year – one of which is vacant, following Matt Czajkowski’s departure earlier this year. In addition to Storrow, the other two incumbents are Donna Bell and Jim Ward; they haven’t announced their intentions publicly yet.

Elsewhere, there are now four candidates in the race for a seat on the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools board.

The terms of Mike Kelley, Jamezetta Bedford, Annetta Streater and David Saussy expire this fall. To date, Streater is the only incumbent who’s filed to run for re-election.

The challengers are Rani Dasi, Theresa Watson, and now Margaret Samuels. Samuels is president of OE Enterprises, which provides job training services for people with disabilities.

Dasi is a business analysis manager at Lord Corporation, as well as a board member for The Walking Classroom.

Theresa Watson has worked for years as a youth mentor. She ran unsuccessfully for a seat on the Carrboro Board of Aldermen in May 2014.

See the full list of candidates in Orange County.

The filing period continues through Friday for those seeking office on the Chapel Hill Town Council, Carrboro Board of Aldermen, Hillsborough Town Board and the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School Board.


Town Approves Obey Creek

Developer Roger Perry has been waiting on approval for Obey Creek for six years. And Monday night, he finally got his payday. The Town Council voted seven to one in favor of an agreement that would allow a 1.5 million-square-foot development to be built across from Southern Village.

The development will include housing, retail and commercial space, and it’s been a point of contention at town council meetings over the past several years. That tension was palpable Monday night as resident Arthur Finn spoke during the public hearing before the vote.

“How can a person who makes a living putting up 90-foot buildings talk about what’s good for Chapel Hill?” Finn asked.

The town has been working with an independent consulting firm and a council-appointed compass committee to vet the development agreement. But despite these efforts, many citizens at the meeting, like Esther Miller, shared lingering concerns about size, building heights and traffic mitigation.

“Traffic is bad, and it’s going to get a lot worse,” Miller warned.

The council members who voted for the agreement expressed a shared belief that Obey Creek had been thoroughly vetted and would provide needed housing and retail.

“I believe that the balance has been struck between a really dynamic wonderful, new area of Chapel Hill that supports many of our goals that have been mentioned, including new housing,” Councilwoman Sally Greene said.

Councilman Ed Harrison was the only member voting against. He said Obey Creek was a well-designed development, but still had concerns about traffic and size. He also felt several changes to the document made during the meeting had not been sufficiently reviewed.

“Even if I don’t agree with every point they’ve made,” Harrison said, “I would like someone to represent the folks who have had concerns about this that haven’t been alleviated. And I’m willing to do that. If that means I vote tonight then I do. In that case, I can’t vote for this. I certainly can’t vote for it if I haven’t seen the whole contract.”

While Harrison did not vote in favor of the development agreement, he did vote in favor of other provisions that allow Obey Creek to go forward—namely, the creation of a zoning amendment that allows for a development agreement to be used, the actual rezoning of the Obey Creek site and a land-swap between the town and the developer.

Several other council members shared a desire to see the final draft of the agreement, but were comfortable adding an article that would give the town until July 1 to make minor changes.

Perry says he isn’t certain when construction will begin, but it probably won’t be this year.


Chapel Hill Town Council Delays Obey Creek Vote

The Chapel Hill Town Council chose not to vote on the approval last night of the 120-acre Obey Creek development near Southern Village. Instead, the council used the meeting to hear further public comment and pushed the vote until next Monday.

The council’s decision not to vote seemed to come as a shock to Obey Creek’s developer Roger Perry.

“Damn! I got all dressed up,” Perry said.

Town staff had recommended the council approve the rezoning and development agreement, which would clear the way for construction to begin. But at the meeting, the council said it needed more time to review recent information from the North Carolina Department of Transportation. The town spent last week in negotiations with the DOT over Obey Creek’s impact on traffic.

“There’s been a lot of questions from all of you, back and forth with the staff, getting and  seeking clarity,” Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt said. “And so I think that having worked with these folks for a while, I think that they need to stew. And I think it’s reasonable because, much of what some of us have heard and learned, and the clarity we’ve sought on some issues, was hours ago.”

Despite successful negotiations with the DOT, some residents who spoke at the meeting expressed concern that the development agreement doesn’t ensure adequate traffic calming measures for south Chapel Hill. Chapel Hill resident Susan Lindsay said she wanted a stronger commitment to such measures for her area.

“You can’t get much more direct than the impact that Dogwood Acres Drive will feel from this development,” she said.

A few residents at the meeting also reiterated concerns about design, the amount of retail space, and a desire for an overall smaller footprint. Monte Brown was one proponent of a scaled-down development.

“To me it’s clear: You either value the life of the southern Chapel hill residents and your various boards, or you value the bunch of investors from Maryland,” Brown told the council.

Several council members signaled their support of the project at its largest scale: 1.5 million square feet. Councilwoman Maria Palmer said she supports a larger footprint because it means more housing for more people.

“We actually need housing in Chapel Hill. We need places for people to live. We have thousands of people commuting to Chapel Hill because there is no adequate housing for them. We have a lack of certain types of apartments, of housing for older residents, of affordable housing, of everything that is going into this development,” Palmer said.

The council plans to resume discussion and come to a vote on Obey Creek at its meeting next Monday night.


No Appointment to the Chapel Hill Town Council…Yet

Candidates hoping to be appointed to the vacant seat on the Chapel Hill Town Council will have to wait another week before any decision might be made.

A vote on whether or not the council would vote to appoint another candidate to the Town Council failed to pass by a vote of four to three at the council meeting on Monday night.

Chapel Hill resident Nancy Oates petitioned the Town Council to put off any consideration of appointing a new member until a full council was present.

Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt says, regardless of council population, any candidate would need to hit a certain mark in order to receive an appointment.

“The Town Council has to have five people voting the same way in order for that to happen,” Kleinschmidt says. “Even if there are only five council members here, all five of them would have to [vote] in the same direction.

“So it doesn’t really matter whether we have everyone here or not.”

Council member Lee Storrow was out of town for business and,therefore, was not in attendance for the meeting.

The appointment will appear on every agenda until the Town Council appoints a new member or residents elect a representative.


Town Council Delays Vote on Filling Vacancy

At Monday’s meeting, Council Member George Cianciolo argued for a delayed vote as the Chapel Hill Town Council considers appointing someone to fill the vacant seat.

“I’d like to see that we have a full council when we vote. We’re missing one council member tonight, and that’s why my motion is that we take the vote next Monday,” said Cianciolo.

Donna Bell was the council member absent from the meeting. Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt threw out Cianciolo’s motion, but the council did not pass a motion to take a vote.

The item will appear again on the May 11 meeting agenda so the council could appoint someone at that meeting.

To be precise, the Chapel Hill Town Council delayed deciding on whether to decide on a candidate to fill the vacant council seat, at Monday’s meeting. To explain, the council agreed on a two-step voting process.

First the council will vote on whether to select someone for the seat. If the council votes to select someone, council members will each cast a ballot to choose one of six applicants.  If one of the candidates gets five votes, he or she wins.

On Monday, the council delayed the first vote.

During the public comment period, a few people expressed support for applicant Amy Ryan.

“She is intelligent, rational and fair-minded,” said Laura Moore about Ryan. “She has the experience to understand Chapel Hill’s tough development issues. We need her expertise on our town council.”

Others endorsed applicant Michael Parker.

“He’s been at every meeting I’ve ever been to – committees, town council,” said Lynne Kane. “And some nights, when I’ve stayed home to watch the town council on TV, I saw that Michael Parker was in the audience. He really has a deep understanding of what would be good for all of Chapel Hill.”

The May 11 meeting will be held at 7 pm at Chapel Hill Town Hall. According to the town code of ordinances, if the council delays a vote again, the agenda item will come back at the next meeting. And it will keep coming back at subsequent meetings until the council appoints someone or citizens elect someone.


Town Council Moves Forward With $40M Bond

The Chapel Hill Town Council voted unanimously on Monday to put a bond referendum on the ballot in November.

Business Management Director Ken Pennoyer told the Council the bond will not require a property tax rate increase because the town’s debt fund already has the capacity to repay the debt.

“Although it is stated as 3.8 cents, that 3.8 cents will actually be provided by the debt management fund, and no increase is anticipated based on the referendum bonds,” said Pennoyer.

The package will total $40.3 million, with funding going to streets, sidewalks, greenways, stormwater improvements, recreation facilities and a new waste transfer station.


The resolution is the first step in the referendum process. It sets the maximum dollar amounts and assigns general purposes for the money.

Moving forward, the Council can delete projects or reduce the dollar amounts, but not add new projects or reassign funding.

A public hearing on the bond referendum is scheduled for June 22.


Applicants Vie for Chapel Hill Town Council Seat

Five applicants made their cases to the Chapel Hill Town Council for appointment to the vacant council seat, at Monday’s special meeting.

Member Jim Ward said the council should leave the seat open until the election in November.

“We are very close to the end of the fiscal year. And we are well into the development agreement process with East West Partners,” said Ward. “To bring somebody on at this point, to me, seems like it’s not the right decision.”

The seat became vacant after Matt Czajkowski resigned last month. If the council selects someone, the appointee would serve the remainder of Czajkowski’s term, which expires in December.

Member Donna Bell, who started on the council as an appointee in 2009, argued for appointing someone to the seat.

Some are concerned that selecting someone would give the appointee an unfair advantage in the November election. Bell said this person would be in the public eye, which could actually be a disadvantage.

“It is also a space for people to have vulnerabilities that you would not have otherwise,” said Bell.

The council decided on a two-part voting process for the May 4 meeting. First the council will vote on whether to select someone for the seat. If a majority of the council decides to appoint someone, the council will vote on candidates. If one of the candidates gets five votes, he or she wins.

Applicant Amy Ryan serves as the vice chair and community design champion on the town’s planning commission.

“By profession, I’m a book editor, a solitary job where you spend your time with texts that don’t argue back,” said Ryan. “When I got involved in town affairs, no one was more surprised than I was, how much I enjoy working with diverse and sometimes oppositional groups to create a space where everyone can be heard, to facilitate open and productive debate and to resolve the views of the many into a single decision for the good of the town.”

Applicant Kevin Hicks serves on four boards in The Triangle that focus on youth, bicycling and greenways.

“In addition to the youth initiative, I am passionate about funding for the Rogers Road sewer plan, solid waste issues for the town, implementing a bike plan and initiating a pedestrian plan,” said Hicks. “I would like to apply the same energy and focus I have working with youth to the duties of town council.”

People can voice support for candidates during the public comment period early in the May 4 meeting at Chapel Hill Town Hall.

Applicant Paul Neebe did not come to Monday’s meeting. In addition to the three mentioned, Adam Jones, Michael Parker and Gary Shaw also applied.



Town Council Approves Walgreens Plan

A Walgreens could be coming to northern Chapel Hill.

The Chapel Hill Town Council on Monday unanimously approved a rezoning and Special Use Permit for the Weaver Crossing development.

The project will bring 40,700 square feet of retail, medical and office space to 3.7 acres at the corner of Weaver Dairy Road and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

The property is owned by Walgreens; the drugstore and drive-through pharmacy will be the retail anchor store at the site.

Council members approved a right-in-only turn from Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard into the parking lot, and right in/right out entrances at Sparrow Street and on Weaver Dairy.

The developer will also pay $16,800 for a new bus stop and shelter.