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Residents Raise Concerns About Affordable Housing At ‘The Edge’

More than 140 people attended Monday night’s meeting at the Chapel Hill Town Hall Council Chamber. The Town Council heard public comments on a proposed mixed-use development in north Chapel Hill called The Edge.

The 600-to-900-thousand square foot development is planned for 53 acres on Eubanks Road. Though it’s not required, development company Northwood Ravin is willing to provide at least 50 rental units as affordable housing.

The company Crosland LLC, which used to work with Northwood Ravin, owns a couple low-income developments in Carrboro. Candace Lowndes said she lived in one of these complexes, The Landings at Winmore Apartments, where her upstairs neighbor had a leak.

“The ceiling sheetrock in both the master bedroom and laundry room of my apartment were saturated with laundry water,” Lowndes told the Council.

Lowndes said the management did not deal with the issue adequately, and mold grew in her apartment.

The grassroots organization Justice United called on community members to speak at the meeting. Several people expressed distress at mismanagement of the two low-income rental complexes.

Michael Birch, a land use attorney at the Morningstar Law Group, spoke on behalf of Northwood Ravin. Birch said Northwood was connected with Crosland, but that association ended in April 2011.

“We want to be clear that Northwood Ravin has no connection, no current connection with Crosland that still owns those two affordable housing communities,” said Birch. “Again, Northwood Ravin also has no connection with WRH Reality, the property management company for those two housing communities.”

Carrboro Mayor Lydia Lavelle also expressed her concerns.

“We know that Northwood Ravin does have former, high-ranking Crosland LLC employees from the residential division working now with their company. My goal in speaking to you about this is really to give Chapel Hill the opportunity to avoid facing the same issues that Carrboro staff and elected officials have been dealing with for the last few years.”

Lavelle said Carrboro has had recurring issues with the The Landings, which opened in 2009.

“In 2011, the town of Carrboro was made aware of a string of policies and actions by the property manager that were disturbing to residents and discriminatory in nature,” said Lavelle.

Council members asked the developer to address concerns about property management and concerns about too little retail space at the next meeting on December 3.

http://chapelboro.com/news/local-government/residents-raise-concerns-affordable-housing-edge/

Carrboro To Consider Extending Permits For 2 Development Projects

Carrboro Aldermen will consider extending the deadline for a pair of previously approved developments when the board meets Tuesday.

The Butler is a commercial and residential project planned for 120 Brewer Lane. It was approved in 2008, but developers are asking for an extension of the Condition Use Permit while they negotiate with Orange County on the location of a new branch library.

The Shoppes at Jones Ferry was approved in 2007. Developers for that project want to bring retail and possible a grocery store to Jones Ferry Road near Barnes Street, but say the economic downturn has made it hard to move forward.

If the board grants the extensions, the Conditional Use Permits would be valid for another year.

Aldermen will also receive an update on the public forum on community policing held last month.

The meeting gets underway at 7:30 in Carrboro Town Hall. You can read the full agenda here.

http://chapelboro.com/news/local-government/carrboro-consider-extending-permits-2-development-projects/

Town Council Talks Development(s) Monday

Monday night, the Chapel Hill Town Council will consider approving a new apartment building downtown, as well as a new sub-division on Homestead Road.

View the Council’s full agenda here.

The owners of the Franklin Hotel want to build on the lot behind the hotel that straddles Kenan and Mallette Streets.

The project, known as The Graduate, would consist of six stories of apartments above a two-story parking deck. The 97 apartments would be aimed at graduate students and young professionals.

Read our past coverage of the Graduate project here.

If approved, the Courtyards at Homestead would bring 63 single-family homes along with a clubhouse and pool to 18 acres across from Weaver Dairy Road Extension.

Read our past coverage of the Courtyards project here.

The Council meets at 7 o’clock in Council Chambers at Town Hall.

http://chapelboro.com/news/local-government/town-council-talks-developments-monday/

Carrboro’s Lloyd Farm Developers Plan Public Input Meeting

Developers who want to build on one of the largest lots of commercial land left in Carrboro are calling a community meeting to discuss the plan for the proposed Lloyd Farm project.

Argus Development Group wants to build a shopping center across from Carrboro Plaza at the corner of Highway 54 West and Old Fayetteville Road.

The 40 acre plot is currently occupied by farmland and trees. The developer is proposing to bring a Harris Teeter grocery store, as well as a bank, pharmacy, restaurant  and other retail to the edge of the property, while the interior of the site would include 293 apartments and 15 town homes.

Developers will meet with members of the public at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, September 10, in Carrboro Town Hall to discuss the plan. You can read more about the project here.

http://chapelboro.com/news/development/carrboros-lloyd-farm-developers-plan-public-input-meeting/

Lawsuit Challenges Chatham Park Project

A group of citizens has filed a lawsuit challenging Pittsboro’s approval of the Chatham Park development project.

The suit filed by members of Pittsboro Matters alleges that the Town Board violated state statutes, town zoning rules and the state constitution when it voted in June to rezone 7,000 acres on the outskirts of town.

The controversial proposal would increase Pittsboro’s population from 4,000 to nearly 60,000. Opponents say the project lacks adequate environmental protections and should incorporate more public input in the design process.

Members of Pittsboro Matters say while they are ready and willing to litigate the issue, they would also be open to negotiating with town leaders and Chatham Park investors.

You can find the full text of the complaint here.

http://chapelboro.com/news/development/lawsuit-challenges-chatham-park-project/

Fracking Concerns Blue Ridge Environmental Defense, NC Citizens

With the rising concern of the dangers associated with fracking, many North Carolinians are deeply uncertain about what lies ahead for the state relying on the questionable method of obtaining fuel and energy.

WCHL’s Ron Stutts spoke with Therese Vick of the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, and with Martha Girolami, a citizen of northeast Chatham County that has found out recently that she lives atop of what is known as the “Triassic basin,” which is one of the potential locations that fracking companies may take advantage of.

The Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League is a “regional, community-based, non-profit environmental organization.” They focus on issues including “industry’s dependence on toxic chemicals, utilities’ refusal to adopt sound energy alternatives, industrial development and highway construction at the expense of public health, intensive livestock operations’ effects on agriculture and the environment, and huge waste dumps.”

When asked what she personally found so dangerous about fracking, Girolami says that her two biggest issues come from the health risks and how quickly the practice of fracking is being accepted despite a lack of real preparatory analysis.

“Fracking so bad because it’s so polluting,” says Girolami. “It’s so polluting to ground water, surface water, air, air health, and it’s been so rushed. So rushed we haven’t done a health study, we’ve done no air rules. The Energy and Mining Commission has been meeting for two years, but there are big gaps in the rules they put together.”

Vick reminds of the recent legislation created that states it is a misdemeanor to disclose what chemicals are used for digging. She says that this is not how the community should be treated when it comes to this form of resource gathering.

“The community has the right to know what is being injected into the ground under their feet,” says Vick. “Our organization just passed a resolution on chemical disclosure that we hope to share with other folks, but my feeling is that the reason they don’t want people to know is because of that potential liability.”

***Listen to the full interview here***

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

For more on the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, click here.

http://chapelboro.com/news/health/anti-fracking-response-interview/

Town Leaders Talk Obey Creek, Glen Lennox…And Chatham Park

What is the future of development in Chapel Hill? The Chapel Hill Town Council will be making a pair of big decisions on Monday.

That’s when the Council votes on whether to approve a development agreement for the Glen Lennox neighborhood – and whether to proceed to the negotiation phase on another development in the works, Obey Creek.

See the Council’s full agenda.

Located just across 15/501 from Southern Village, the 120-acre Obey Creek site represents the next big phase of the ongoing discussion around development and redevelopment in Chapel Hill. (Since the town’s new comprehensive plan was approved in 2012, Chapel Hill has begun moving forward on several “future focus” areas, including Central West, Rosemary Street, and Ephesus/Fordham as well as Glen Lennox.)

See an image of the broad vision for Obey Creek, as laid out in the “Chapel Hill 2020″ comprehensive plan.

Developer Roger Perry of East-West Partners has proposed a 1.5 million square foot development for the site, with 600-700 residential units, 327,000 square feet of retail (including a large anchor store, perhaps a ‘big box’), and a hotel. The proposed development would cover 35 of the 120 acres, with the rest conserved for public use, wilderness preservation, and a possible future school.

See the most recent development proposal.

Reaction to Perry’s proposal has been mixed, at least so far. (No surprise: the discussion process is still in the early stages.) Residents and town officials generally agree that some development ought to take place at the Obey Creek site, if only to generate more retail spending: fewer dollars are spent on retail in Orange County than in any of the surrounding counties, and that in turn forces Chapel Hill’s tax burden disproportionately onto property owners. (The Town Council, indeed, just approved a one-cent property tax increase.)

But some have objected to certain features of Perry’s proposal. Its large scale is one concern: some have proposed a smaller development, closer to 750,000 square feet than 1.5 million. (Perry has argued, in response, that a certain level of density is necessary to make the project financially viable.) Others have expressed concerns about the environmental effects, pedestrian and bike accessibility, and the impact on traffic on 15/501 (which is already busy in that area). And still others have emphasized the need to make sure that Obey Creek has a “sense of place”: aesthetically pleasing, with a real connection to Southern Village and a feeling of being Chapel Hill’s southern ‘gateway.’ (Some residents involved in the discussion have held up the East 54 development – also Perry’s – as a cautionary example in this vein: the East 54 development isn’t as inviting as it could be, they say, because drivers along Route 54 can only see the backs of the buildings.)

Last year, the Town of Chapel Hill appointed 17 residents to a committee, to study the proposal, solicit public feedback, and provide recommendations on moving forward. On December 16 of last year, the Obey Creek Compass Committee submitted its final 43-page report.

Read the Compass Committee’s report here.

Committee members say they have some concerns about the proposal that’s currently on the table, but they’re confident the disagreements can be worked out before final approval from the Town Council.

And all of these discussions are taking place in the wake of Chatham County’s recent approval of Chatham Park – a massive development that’s set to add about 60,000 residents to Pittsboro over the next three decades. (Pittsboro’s current population is about 3,000.) How that will affect development in Chapel Hill – or the entire Triangle, for that matter – remains to be seen.

Two weeks ago, WCHL’s Jim Heavner spoke at length with Roger Perry about the Obey Creek project and the state of development in Chapel Hill.

(Listen to part 1, part 2, and part 3 of that conversation.)

And last week, Aaron Keck welcomed several key town officials and Compass Committee members into the studio to talk about Obey Creek – as well as Glen Lennox, Chatham Park, and development in general in Chapel Hill.

Listen to Part 1 of Aaron’s conversation with Jeanne Brown and Susan Lindsay of the Obey Creek Compass Committee:

And Part 2:

Listen to Aaron’s conversation with Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt:

Listen to Part 1 of Aaron’s conversation with Kristen Smith of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce:

And Part 2:

Finally, listen to Aaron’s conversation with Chapel Hill Economic Development Officer Dwight Bassett:

The Town Council meets on Monday night at 5:30 in the Southern Human Services Center.

http://chapelboro.com/news/local-government/town-leaders-talk-obey-creek-glen-lennox-chatham-park/

Development Competition Would Be Beneficial

Chapel Hill developer, Roger Perry, says he’d like to see more economic competition for East West Partners Management Company.

He says Chapel Hill should be more willing to accept some much-needed changes.

Roger Perry (Courtesy of UNC News Services)

Roger Perry (Courtesy of UNC News Services)

“We are willing to put up with it, others will not,” says Perry. “From a cost standpoint, the market risk is greater than the entitlement risk.”

While he says East West Partners has tried to take advantage of working through this entitlement process because no one else wants to, it may no longer be in the company’s best interest.

“I fear the worst economic impacts on our company will be the lack of true competitiveness in Chapel Hill,” says Perry.

Perry also says that he might not be in opposition to another one-cent tax increase, passed this week by the Chapel Hill Town Council.

“There are no short-term answers,” says Perry. “That one cent is going to some very basic improvements and to put a little bit of money into some capital projects that are long past overdue.”

While Perry says changes can still be made to the development processes, there are signs of progress being made.

“I think the town has already taken a big step with the Ephesus-Fordham approval,” says Perry. “I am not sure that I would necessarily tear down any barriers that currently exist for development, but I would dramatically streamline the process.”

Perry made these comments in a WCHL News Special with Jim Heavner.

Chapel Hill’s tax rates—city, county, and school taxes–support the city schools, free local busses, and social services, at the highest rate in North Carolina. Local government development policies have made Chapel Hill’s taxes on residences the highest percentage in the state, and commercial taxes the lowest. Orange County exports more retail spending to other counties than any county in the region. In a WCHL news special, Jim Heavner interviews Roger Perry, who has recently been more outspoken on those issues.

Perry, a Chapel Hillian, is the President of East West Partners Management Company, and since 1983 East West Partners has developed more residential real estate than any company in North Carolina. That includes Meadowmont, Downing Creek and East 54 here in Chapel Hill. He’s now trying to develop Obey Creek, so he’s a big player. Perry, a UNC graduate has also served as chair of the UNC Board of Trustees, and that is also a topic of the special interview.

This interview was conducted before the Chapel Hill Town Council approved next year’s budget, which includes a one-cent tax property increase.

***Listen to Part Three***

Part 1 | Part 2Part 3 | Part 4

http://chapelboro.com/news/development/development-competition-beneficial/

‘It’s Time To Welcome The Big-Box’

Chapel Hill developer Roger Perry says the Town has to strike while the iron is hot and not miss great tax-growth opportunities with its new development sites.

“Time and time again, we have rejected,” Perry says. “For example, at Obey Creek, we have the ability to bring a large retailer to town, and, to date, the Town has not shown the willingness to accept a 100,000 square foot-plus retailer. But they’ll come; they want to be here very much; they’ll definitely come.”

He says the Town should be welcoming commercial development with open arms, and if it does, the tax burden on it citizens will begin to subside.

Perry made these comments in a WCHL News Special with Jim Heavner.

Chapel Hill’s tax rates—city, county, and school taxes–support the city schools, free local busses, and social services, at the highest rate in North Carolina. Local government development policies have made Chapel Hill’s taxes on residences the highest percentage in the state, and commercial taxes the lowest. Orange County exports more retail spending to other counties than any county in the region. In a WCHL news special, Jim Heavner interviews Roger Perry, who has recently been more outspoken on those issues.

Perry, a Chapel Hillian, is the President of East West Partners Management Company, and since 1983 East West Partners has developed more residential real estate than any company in North Carolina. That includes Meadowmont, Downing Creek and East 54 here in Chapel Hill. He’s now trying to develop Obey Creek, so he’s a big player. Perry, a UNC graduate has also served as chair of the UNC Board of Trustees, and that is also a topic of the special interview.

***Listen to Part Two***

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

http://chapelboro.com/news/development/time-welcome-big-box/

Developer Calls For Higher Density

Roger Perry (Courtesy of UNC News Services)

Roger Perry (Courtesy of UNC News Services)

Chapel Hill developer Roger Perry says the Town should be welcoming commercial development with open arms, and if it does, the tax burden on it citizens will begin to subside.

“If you’re going to remain competitive, and if you’re going to keep a tax base that can sustain the community, you must build higher densities, and you must build a bigger concentration of commercial property than we have been building,” Perry says.

Perry says the land has to be developed efficiently because Chapel Hill, along with Carrboro and Orange County, decided about 30 years ago to draw an urban growth boundary to define just how far out it would develop.

The largest portion of Chapel Hill land held by one entity is taken up by UNC, which is tax exempt. Perry says the Town has to be smart about how it uses the remainder of the property.

“In Chapel Hill, we only have 15 percent, plus-or-minus, of our tax base (coming) from commercial property,” Perry says. “Most rules of thumb suggest that equilibrium in that regard is to have at least a third of your tax base come from commercial property tax. In Durham, for example, that number is 40 percent; it’s approximately the same in Wake County.”

The Ephesus-Fordham redevelopment plan was designed to spur economic growth. Perry says those who are against the project are focusing on the wrong problem and don’t have all the facts.

“The issues in flood control in that whole district are a huge problem, but they’re a huge problem today,” Perry says. “The Town’s plan is that, with this redevelopment and the increased tax base that it will provide, it will provide the resources necessary to remedy that problem and fix that problem.”

Perry made these comments in a WCHL News Special with Jim Heavner.

Chapel Hill’s tax rates—city, county, and school taxes–support the city schools, free local busses, and social services, at the highest rate in North Carolina. Local government development policies have made Chapel Hill’s taxes on residences the highest percentage in the state, and commercial taxes the lowest. Orange County exports more retail spending to other counties than any county in the region. In a WCHL news special, Jim Heavner interviews Roger Perry, who has recently been more outspoken on those issues.

Perry, a Chapel Hillian, is the President of East West Partners Management Company, and since 1983 East West Partners has developed more residential real estate than any company in North Carolina. That includes Meadowmont, Downing Creek and East 54 here in Chapel Hill. He’s now trying to develop Obey Creek, so he’s a big player. Perry, a UNC graduate has also served as chair of the UNC Board of Trustees, and that is also a topic of the special interview.

***Listen to Part One***

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

http://chapelboro.com/news/development/developer-calls-higher-density/