Chapel Hill ‘Taking A Serious Look’ At Purchasing Legion Property

The future of the 36-acre American Legion property has been a hot-button issue throughout 2016 in Chapel Hill.

A developer, Woodfield Investments, has proposed building 400 apartments on the property along with commercial and multi-purpose space. Some residents have voiced opposition to that plan – instead, they would like to see the town buy the property and use it as park space.

The American Legion entered into an agreement to sell the property for a price of no less than $9 million last year. But the town had a right of first refusal for the property, which a previous version of the Town Council passed over last fall. That decision and the way it was made has drawn criticism from some residents.

So the American Legion has offered the property to the town once again for $9 million. Legion Post 6 Commander Bill Munsee put the offer before the council, once again, at a public hearing last Monday.

Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger spoke with WCHL’s Aaron Keck last Thursday and said the town would seriously look at options to purchase the land.

“I think it’s still very much a bigger conversation,” Hemminger said. “I know there’s a lot of community support behind that, but we need to see what that really looks like – in terms of financing, in terms of land planning and so we will be taking a serious look at it.”

The council submitted feedback to the concept plan, but Woodfield has not yet submitted an official application. The council would have to rezone the property if Woodfield will be allowed to build the site as it has been proposed.

http://chapelboro.com/featured/chapel-hill-taking-serious-look-purchasing-legion-property

Chapel Hill Planning for Inclusive Playground

Chapel Hill is holding a public workshop Wednesday night to plan an inclusive playground for the town. An inclusive playground is one that children of varying ages, sizes and developmental and physical disabilities can all play on together.

Early plans say the playground will have features of different sizes and difficulty so no child will be left out.

The town currently has nine playgrounds. All of the newer ones meet the minimum requirements for the Americans with Disabilities Act. But according to the town plans, officials hope to exceed the standards.

The new playground will be built in Cedar Falls Park. It’s currently in the planning process. The town will begin building it in phases as funding becomes available.

The workshop will be Wednesday from 4:00 to 7:00 at the Chapel Hill Public Library.

http://chapelboro.com/news/news-around-town/chapel-hill-planning-to-build-inclusive-playground

UNC Linebacker Refutes Rape Claim

A North Carolina football player facing charges of sexual battery and assault on a female student says the two had consensual sex and that he did not rape nor drug her.

In his first public comments, Allen Artis said Tuesday he isn’t a rapist and is eager to get the case behind him. One of his attorneys, Kerry Sutton, also said Artis has passed a polygraph test about the February incident.

Allen Artis mugshot

Allen Artis (Photo via Orange County Sheriff’s Office)

The junior reserve linebacker, indefinitely suspended from the team, turned himself in earlier this month on the misdemeanor charges. His next court date is set for Thursday.

The arrest warrant stated Artis had sex with a female UNC student against her will when he “should have reasonably known that the other person was mentally incapacitated and physically helpless.”

http://chapelboro.com/featured/unc-linebacker-refutes-rape-claim

OWASA Warns of Water Discoloration Downtown Chapel Hill

Residents and businesses in downtown Chapel Hill may notice discolored water Monday and Tuesday due to maintenance work being carried out by Orange Water and Sewer Authority.

OWASA officials say customers can clear the discoloration by running cold water for five to 10 minutes. If the water does not clear up, you are asked to contact OWASA at (919) 968-4421.

OWASA is also asking customers to make sure that the water is clear before doing laundry or other activities using the discolored water. Officials say the discoloration may also appear in ice from ice makers.

OWASA says the discolored water is safe to use when watering plants.

The maintenance causing the discoloration involves releasing water from fire hydrants to remove sediment which can accumulate in the water pipes, according to OWASA. The water release helps keep water clear in normal condition.

http://chapelboro.com/news/health/owasa-warns-water-discoloration-downtown-chapel-hill

Chapel Hill Intersection Being Converted to All-Way Stop

The intersections of Dogwood Acres Drive at Northside Drive in Chapel Hill are being altered into permanent all-way stops on Tuesday, according to the North Carolina Department of Transportation.

Officials said the change was being made after town officials submitted a request and a DOT investigation found safety concerns.

“We investigated the three intersections and found that the sight distance was not sufficient along this portion of roadway,” said Division Seven Deputy Traffic Engineer Mark Aldridge.

Crews will be working to make the changes between nine o’clock Tuesday morning and five o’clock in the evening.

The DOT offers these reminders for drivers approaching the all-way stop.

  • The first vehicle to the intersection has the right of way ahead of any vehicle that has not yet arrived
  • When two or more vehicles reach an intersection at the same time, the vehicle to the right has the right of way
  • The vehicle with the right of way may move straight ahead or, if legal and after signaling, turn left or right
  • When two facing vehicles approach an intersection at the same time, both drivers can move straight ahead or turn right. If one driver is going straight while the other wants to turn left, the driver who wants to turn left must wait. The driver who is traveling straight ahead has the right of way; and
    Even with the right of way, remember to use the appropriate turn signals and be careful to avoid hitting other vehicles and pedestrians.
http://chapelboro.com/news/news-around-town/chapel-hill-intersection-being-converted-to-four-way-stop

Chapel Hill Lands High on List of Smartest Small Towns

Chapel Hill is filled with educated people.

That is not breaking news to local residents.  But, a couple of impressive statistics regarding the amount of education received by residents of Chapel Hill led to a high spot on a recently released list of the 20 Smartest Small Towns.

Chapel Hill is No. 6.  The list was compiled by TopValueReviews.net.

UNC campus

UNC campus. (Photo by SP Murray)

Of the more than 57,000 residents of Chapel Hill, 95 percent have earned a high school diploma and 76 percent have earned a bachelor’s degree.  UNC was cited a primary driving force for the the high education level of Chapel Hill.  The site writes, “UNC has a great reputation when it comes to health and medical studies, and a state-owned system of hospitals that tie into the university’s school of medicine is a major employer of the town’s non-student residents.”

Amherst, Massachusetts topped the list.  More than half of its residents work in education and 40 percent have advanced degrees.  Bethesda, Maryland, Bloomington, Indiana, and Brookline, Massachusetts round out the top five.  Proximity to universities is a common theme among most of the 20 towns on the list.

See the full list.

 

TopValueReviews.net is a data-driven, customer-centric, value-conscious website featuring product reviews and rankings.

 

http://chapelboro.com/lifestyle/chapel-hill-lands-high-on-list-of-smartest-small-towns

UNC School of Dentistry Honors Slain Student with 2nd Annual DEAH DAY

Approximately 400 students in the UNC School of Dentistry spread around several organizations and locations on Thursday for DEAH DAY – a day of service honoring Deah Barakat and Yusor Abu-Salha, who were shot and killed in February 2015.

Barakat was a student in the School of Dentistry in Chapel Hill and Yusor, his wife of just a few weeks, was set to join him last fall. But the newlyweds and Yusor’s sister, Razan, were shot and killed by a neighbor in their apartment complex.

The world quickly focused on Chapel Hill after the three Muslim students – dubbed ‘Our Three Winners’ – were killed. And quickly the world found out about the impact these three young people had on those around them.

To carry on the legacy of doing good in the world and helping those in need, students in the School of Dentistry participated in the inaugural Day of Service last fall.

Chancellor Carol Folt said it is heartwarming to see students want to carry on that legacy.

“I’m very moved by it,” Folt said. “I’ve gotten to know Deah’s family very well. I think the students that continue DEAH DAY and the faculty and staff are so sincere, they became so involved. Clearly, they got to know the extraordinary students from the start. But this feeling that the community could actually honor lives by spreading that mission of service forward is so deeply motivating. It’s a part of the grand mission that we hear in our students. And so that’s what it means to me every time I see them come together; I think this is so sincere and from the heart.”

The community service event is scheduled to continue to be held annually. The School of Dentistry cancels classes and closes most clinics on that day.

http://chapelboro.com/featured/unc-school-dentistry-honors-slain-student-2nd-annual-deah-day

Local Leaders Ask for Peaceful Protests in Charlotte

Eyes around the world have been focused on Charlotte over the last few days after an African-American police officer shot and killed Keith Lamont Scott – an African-American man – on Tuesday afternoon.

Police officials say officers were going to serve a warrant at an apartment complex on Tuesday when they noticed Scott, who was not the subject of the warrant. Police say Scott exited his vehicle with a handgun and then reentered his vehicle.

Authorities say police then ordered Scott to drop his weapon before shots were fired.

Scott’s family has maintained he didn’t have a handgun but was rather holding a book. Police say a weapon was recovered from the scene.

Protests have been held in Charlotte over the last two days. After pleas were made by city leadership and the Scott family that the protests be peaceful, they have turned violent with police in riot gear using tear gas on protesters. One protester was also shot on Wednesday night and was in critical condition at last update – after police initially said the victim had died. Police say that shot did not come from law enforcement, but protesters have said police did fire that shot.

Amidst all of the protests, advocacy groups have called for the body cam and dash cam footage to be released by police. Authorities have said they do not plan to publicly release the footage.

UNC Chancellor Carol Folt sent a message to the campus community on Thursday saying, “Like all of you, I have been watching the tragic events unfolding in Charlotte and around the country with great sadness.”

Folt wrote that, “On behalf of the Carolina Community, I want to extend our deepest sympathies to those who have been affected and ask that peaceful and constructive dialogue replace the violence and unrest that has overtaken so much of our nation.

“We all realize that these events, and especially so close to our home, can be very unsettling and create fear and uncertainty among members of our community – many of whom still feel unwelcomed or excluded from full acceptance in our country and our own campus.”

Folt said that counseling services were available to students, faculty and staff.

Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan also issued a statement on Thursday calling for peaceful protest.

“First, I want to express my condolences to the Scott family for their loss. I also wish for a full recovery to those who have been injured.

“In light of the tragic events of the past three days, it is more important than ever that we restore calm and come together, as a community, in peaceful demonstration and conversation, and in constructive and non-violent ways. As part of the fabric of Charlotte, the Hornets organization is committed to working with civic leaders, our elected leaders and law enforcement to foster more trust, transparency and understanding so we can heal and grow together as a community.”

Skip Foreman is with the Associated Press and is based in Charlotte. Foreman spoke with WCHL about the shooting on Thursday morning. Foreman said the residents of the apartment complex where the shooting took place are adamant Scott did not have a gun. Meanwhile, police have been equally adamant Scott did have a weapon and brandished it.

Listen to the full interview with Foreman below:

http://chapelboro.com/featured/local-leaders-ask-for-peaceful-protests-in-charlotte

Chapel Hill Looking at Options to Expand Downtown Parking

For anyone who has visited downtown Chapel Hill, it’s no secret that parking can be a headache. That’s what the Town Council had in mind when discussing the possibility of adding more parking options at Monday’s public hearing.

Town Manager Roger Stancil presented the council with options of where more parking could go, how much it would cost and what type of parking the land could yield. He said Chapel Hill should balance parking with other modes of transportation.

“It can include transit and bus riders, of course,” he said. “But we also have lots of bicyclists and pedestrians and drivers that we need to accommodate if we’re going to have a healthy and vibrant downtown.”

Two of the main areas for parking expansion that Stancil presented were at The Courtyard off of Roberson Street, and the lot on the corner of Rosemary and Columbia Streets. While he said building a parking deck could provide over 400 more parking spaces, it could also be expensive. And building more surface parking could be an option.

“One of the advantages of surface parking is number one, we could acquire the land in a number of ways so we wouldn’t have to own it in order to improve it as we have in place now,” he said. “And that does not preclude building a deck there at a future date if the demands show that we need to build additional structured parking.”

But councilwoman Maria Palmer said the town should research other ways to make downtown a pleasant experience for people who don’t live close by.

“We had talked about a tram,” she said. “There has to be a way to stop more and more cars coming because it makes walking and biking more difficult.”

Councilwoman Jessica Anderson said although a shuttle system could work smoothly in the future, she said that won’t work for downtown visitors right now.

“I can say with two kids now that I don’t shuttle in from anywhere,” she said. “And I grew up outside of Boston, so I’m not somebody who’s opposed to public transit. But I just don’t see that happening.”

Stancil said whatever the town decides, the whole point is to make sure downtown is a good place to visit.

“We want to create a pleasant experience for people who come downtown for whatever reason,” he said. “Let them visit multiple locations without being worried about their car and what’s going to happen to their car and to find places where we can support public parking.”

The town is looking into options for surface parking first, but is also looking into the potential options for another parking deck.

http://chapelboro.com/featured/chapel-hill-looking-into-downtown-parking-options

Gas Shortage Causing Long Lines and Angst for Motorists

The gas shortage that has been impacting much of North Carolina over the last few days has made its way into our community.

Drivers were sitting in their vehicles at stations that still had bags over the pumps at the Cruizers in Chapel Hill North on Tuesday morning. The reason they felt it was worth the wait was the large truck making a gasoline deposit.

Below is a running list of gas stations that do not have gas in our community.

gas shortage

The gas shortage at BP on Martin Luther King Blvd in Chapel Hill. (Photo by Jeffrey Clayton)

Carrboro:

  • Exxon on Main Street
  • CITGO on Main Street
  • BP at 500 Jones Ferry Road
  • Kangaroo Express on HWY 54 W

 

Chapel Hill:

  • Marathon on Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard
  • Petro Mart on HWY 15/501 south of Chapel Hill
  • Shell on Farrington Road
  • Speedway on Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard
  • Exxon on East Franklin Street in Village Plaza
  • Family Fare BP on Weaver Dairy Road at Sunrise
  • Kangaroo Express at Estes and Franklin

Hillsborough:

  • Shell on HWY 70 East
  • BP on HWY 86
  • Circle K on Churton Street

 

Pittsboro:

  • Mobil on Hillsboro Street
  • C Mini Mart on East Street
  • Cruizers on Andrews Store Road

 

White Cross:

  • Shell on HWY 54 W
  • Exxon at corner of HWY 54 and Hatch Road (Had small supply of premium)

Gas stations that have gas are listed below.

Carrboro:

  •  Exxon on HWY 54, according to GasBuddy on Wednesday morning

Chapel Hill:

  • BP on Estes Drive (regular only as of Wednesday morning)
  • Cruizers at Chapel Hill North
  • Mobil at intersection of Hillsborough and Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard
  • Run in Jim’s on Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard
  • BP at Falconbridge has regular fuel only

 

Hillsborough:

  • CITGO on Old HWY 86
  • Lloyd’s Quick Mart on HWY 86
  • CITGO Breene Thru on South Churton Street

 

Pittsboro:

  • Cruizers on Powell Place

 

White Cross:

  • Calvander on Dairyland Road

GasBuddy has also launched a gas availability tracker, which is based on user submissions.

If you see locations throughout the day that are not listed above but have gas or are now out of gas, please call the WCHL newsroom at (919) 967-8363 or tweet us @WCHLchapelboro.

Governor Pat McCrory has issued a state of emergency over the shortage, which was caused by a leak in a pipeline in Alabama.

Attorney General Roy Cooper is asking North Carolinians to report concerns over price gouging to the AG’s Office. Reports are that there are currently more than 600 reports of possible price gouging.

Local officials are urging residents to use public transit during this time. An e-mail from town manager Roger Stancil to town leadership said that the town has enough fuel to last 16-20 days during normal operations and that a gasoline delivery was received specifically for transit operations on Saturday. Stancil estimated that would last around 30 days.

The Associated Press is reporting that the pipeline company has repaired the leak and that it expects to restart the main gasoline line on Wednesday.

http://chapelboro.com/featured/gas-shortage-causing-long-lines-and-angst-for-motorists