CHTC Green Lights Ephesus-Fordham Road Plan

The Chapel Hill Town Council on Monday gave town planners the green light to move forward with a revamp of the Fordham Boulevard-Ephesus ChurchRoad intersection.

The first phase of the project will cost $2.4 million, but the NC Department of Transportation will reimburse the town for the majority of the costs.

The project will widen Ephesus Church Road near Rams Plaza and add a new westbound left-turn lane as well as pedestrian crossings, medians and missing sidewalk connections.

Officials say construction to redesign one of Chapel Hill’s busiest intersections will take place during off-hours and during the summer months.

Council members voted unanimously to authorize roadway design, negotiation with property owners for public right-of-way and easement agreements, and bidding the projects for construction.

Driver Who Caused Blackout Was Almost Home

CHAPEL HILL – The driver who knocked out two power poles causing power outages for 350 Orange County residents was less than half a mile from his home, according to Chapel Hill Police.

Public Information Lt. Josh Mecimore says 23-year-old Franklin Dalina Goncalves was charged with Driving While Impaired after losing control of his vehicle just three tenths of a mile from his residence.

“The estimated damage to the car was $10,000,” Lt. Mecimore says. “It was a 2004 Acura, so that’s probably a good bit of the value of the car. They estimated the damage to Duke Power’s equipment at $10,000, too.”

Goncalves’ address is listed as 1250 Ephesus Church Road which is The Park at Chapel Hill Apartment community. The police report shows that he took a turn too fast; his vehicle jumped the curb and lost traction.

“It’s possible that there may have been an additional citation related to the driving: speeding or careless and reckless or something like that,” Lt. Mecimore says. “But as far as the charges that he was taken before the magistrate on, it was just the DWI.”

Two power poles were taken out by the incident, but Lt. Mecimore says the evidence didn’t point to Goncalves hitting both of them.

“I think the second was brought down by the weight…or maybe the stress from the wires coming down from that pole,” Lt. Mecimore says. “So, it doesn’t look like it actually struck both.”

Goncalves was released on a written promise to appear in court by the Orange County magistrate. His court date is set for January 6 in Hillsborough.

For more on the outage, click here.

Plans On Hold (For Now) For Park At Chapel Hill Redevelopment

CHAPEL HILL – Plans are on hold—at least temporarily—for the redevelopment of an apartment complex on Ephesus Church Road, as Town officials prepare to discuss rezoning.

“The applicant had (seen) that the Town was beginning to move forward,” says Chapel Hill economic development officer Dwight Bassett, “so the client felt that it made sense for them to step back into the sidelines and let us get through with the conversation about the rezoning before they proceed with their application.”

The complex in question is The Park at Chapel Hill (formerly The Colony), located at 1250 Ephesus Church Road behind the Chapel Hill University Inn. The plan is to redevelop it as a mixed-use project, with 10,000 square feet of retail and 800 apartments and townhomes.

View the Town’s page on the Park project.

See the concept plan.

That plan is part of a larger undertaking by the Town to revamp the entire Ephesus Church-Fordham Boulevard corridor—including a redevelopment of Ram’s Plaza and the construction of new roads and road extensions to better handle traffic. The Town Council approved a Small Area Plan for the area in June of 2011.

Click here to see the plan itself, with details about the new roads–including extensions of Elliott and Legion.

But that project requires a rezoning, and Bassett says the developer has decided to withdraw its concept plan for the Park at Chapel Hill until the rezoning process is finished. Bassett says the rezoning will be done by the end of this year—at which point he expects the developer to resubmit.

“They’re continuing to plan, continuing to consider, continuing to move forward,” he says. “They still have the desire, hopefully, to come out of the ground with beginning some redevelopment in 2014, and we think that this path can still meet that goal.”

The Chapel Hill Town Council was set to discuss the concept plan at its meeting next Monday, but that has been postponed. Once the Council discusses the concept plan, the developer will come forward with a more formal development proposal.

The Park project is not without some controversy: that complex has been known as a primary source of affordable housing in Chapel Hill, and some have argued that the redevelopment is making affordable housing even harder to come by.