So. Village Commercial Robber Captured

CHAPEL HILL - It took less than 24 hours to track down a man suspected of breaking and entering at multiple businesses in Southern Village.

Chapel Hill Police arrested 33-year-old Caleb Hopkirk-Ridlen Hill on 13 felony charges including breaking and entering, larceny, and injury to real property. The break-ins occurred early Thursday morning in the Market Street area of Southern Village.

“We received some surveillance footage of this case. [...] Yesterday evening he was located I believe again on Market Street,”  says Lieutenant Kevin Gunter of the Chapel Hill Police Department.

Hill was held in the Orange County Jail on a $25,000 secured bond.

CH Town Council OKs Southern Village Hotel Plan

CHAPEL HILL – The Chapel Hill Town Council unanimously approved development plans Monday for a five-story hotel to be built on the edge of Southern Village.

“All those in favor, say, ‘Aye.’ We have a new hotel,’ said Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt.

The hotel will be five stories, with 112 rooms and 90 parking spaces, and will be built along US 15-501 South across from Strata Solar.

The development plan also calls for a future phase to include an apartment building.

Mayor Pro Tem Ed Harrison excitedly complimented the developer, D.R. Bryan, for seeing the project through and making the necessary changes during the process.

“I think it is a triumph that you came out to this location instead of the other one. I learned a lot about Southern Village, and its residents, and also a lot about Southern Village and its design from you folks,” Harrison said. “This shows that where there is a will there is a way and that something can happen when it needs to.”

When Bryan first suggested building a hotel in the heart of Southern Village back in late 2008, residents of the neighborhood fought against the project and the proposal subsequently was tabled.

This year, the concept of a hotel in the mixed-use village resurfaced, though the new design plan moved the development to the edge of Southern Village instead of at its center.

At a public hearing in September, neighbors in the area had formed a more favorable opinion of the proposed plan for the hotel, and many business owners and residents praised the plan Many said they believed it would bring much needed business to the merchants on Market Street.

Some still worried about how the hotel would affect issues like access to 15-501, pedestrian access to Barksdale Drive, and landscaping concerns.

Sarah O’Brien, representing the developer, spoke to the Council Monday and said that the new plan included revisions such as re-working the right-in/right-out access to 15-501 South.

“This achieves many community-wide goals that were identified in the 1992 Southern [Village] small area plan and most recently, in the Chapel Hill 20/20 plan, including the design principles for Highway 15-501 south,” O’Brien said.

O’Brien added that other benefits of the hotel in Southern will include adding to Chapel Hill’s commercial tax base and improving road connectivity in Southern Village.

So. Village Residents Skeptical Of New Obey Creek Plan

CHAPEL HILL- Residents living near Obey Creek got a look at a new development plan on Wednesday, but many still think it’s too much.

When developer Roger Perry presented a revised site plan to the Obey Creek Compass Committee, he told them that review by the town’s technical team had done much to improve it:

“It is a much better plan than the one you saw on Monday night,” said Perry. “We’re especially excited about figuring out a solution as to how to not turn our back on 15-501, but to integrate this project into the fabric of Southern Village and into town, instead of being an isolated place on its own.”

The revised plan is based on one presented to the committee earlier this week. It features a mixed-use complex with building heights ranging from three to six stories, with underground parking.

Obey creek concept

Revised Obey Creek Development Proposal

A team of consultants lead by Victor Dover reviewed the plan and made recommendations to the developer. The changes include breaking streets and buildings into smaller blocks, buffering 15-501 South with trees, and adding slow-speed circulator roads around the perimeter of the development.

“I think that’s one of the major breakthroughs in the last two days,” said Perry. “Now what we’ve designed is a streetscape along the creek that is really very much of a human scale. Three story townhomes where you could really create quite a pedestrian experience.”

But some committee members, as well as many of the three dozen audience members, said the plan did not address one of their fundamental concerns, that of scale. Robert Strauss questioned why the plan calls for a development footprint the same size as Durham’s Southpoint mall.

“I don’t feel like I have a good understanding, I don’t feel like there’s been a thoughtful approach to why it is the size it is,” said Strauss.

In fact, the revised plan is slightly larger that those the committee critiqued on Monday, though Perry said he’d be willing to scale it back to approximately 1.5 million square feet.

Dover warned the committee not to aim too low, saying the project must reach a critical mass of residential and retail density to succeed.

“You usually think about density like it’s a toxic substance, and that the thing to do is to reduce the dosage so you don’t overdose on it,” said Dover. “I don’t think that’s the situation that you have right here. You actually want to achieve a livable density, which means one that supports transit, one that puts enough souls close together to support neighborhood retail, to support neighborhood congregation. Those are public benefits and you don’t get to those by just taking density out.

Perry agreed.

“You want us to be successful. The last thing you want is a failure here,” said Perry. “So you want us to be successful, we feel like this is a scale that is in the best interests for us being successful and the town.”

The Obey Creek Compass Committee is in the first phase of the negotiation process for a development agreement. The committee’s report, due to go to the town council in November, will help the council decide whether to enter into the second phase of the process, in which town leaders would negotiate directly with the developer to hash out a long-term building plan for the 124 acres site along 15-501 across from Southern Village.

The newly revised Obey Creek map will be presented for public comment at a forum on October 16, from 7- 9 p.m. at Extraordinary Ventures on Elliot Road.

New Hotel Plan Draws Praise From Those Once Opposed

CHAPEL HILL- When developer D.R. Bryan first suggested building a hotel in the heart of Southern Village back in late 2008, residents of the neighborhood responded with such vehement dismay that the proposal was tabled.

Fast forward five years and the concept of a hotel in the mixed-use village has resurfaced, though this time it would be at the edge of the development instead of at its center.

Barbara Crane lives and works in Southern Village. She told the Chapel Hill Town Council on Monday that though she fought the prior plan, she’s changed her mind.

“Since the difficult times in 2009 when I and others questioned whether there was a market for an additional hotel, the market has improved greatly,” said Crane.

The new proposal is slightly smaller, and in a different location. Bryan wants to build a five-story, 112 room hotel on four acres along 15-501 across from Solar Strata.

At Monday’s public hearing, residents and business owners were lining up to praise the plan, which many said would bring much needed business to the merchants on Market Street.

“As an independent business we face a lot of challenges, and now we have big box stores like Wal-Mart encroaching on our territory,” said Micki Cashman, the store manager at Weaver Street Market’s Southern Village location. “We are looking for an additional anchor on the commercial center to really help strengthen all of our retail businesses.”

Gary Kahn, a Southern Village resident and town council candidate, was the only speaker to criticize the plan, warning it could generate unwanted traffic in the area.

“I encourage the mayor and the town council to act very slowly on granting the permit for the Southern Village hotel, or make it part of the Obey Creek process and let the community say whether we really need a hotel,” said Kahn.

The council was largely supportive of the hotel concept, although some questioned the idea that hotel guests would drive into the center of the Southern Village commercial district instead of driving.

“Real walk-ability is about passing places that are interesting and seeing windows and seeing activity and having the option of popping in and stuff,” said Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt. “You make a five minute walk feel like a 20 minute walk when you don’t have those things and so people won’t even take the five minute walk.”

The project will return to the council for a vote on October 28.

Public To Weigh In On Southern Village Hotel Monday

CHAPEL HILL – Members of the public will have a chance to weigh in on a plan to build a hotel at Southern Village when the Chapel Hill Town Council meets Monday.

The proposed five-story, 112 room hotel would be on four acres on the edge of the mixed-use development, along 15-501 across from Strata Solar. A future phase could include a new apartment building.

An earlier plan to build a hotel in the middle of Market Street on the site of a current parking lot was put on pause in 2009 after Southern Village residents objected to the idea.

The public will also have a chance to respond to a plan to reduce the minimum lot acreage for new apartment complexes from five acres to two.

The public hearing starts at 7:00 p.m. in the Southern Human Services Center on Homestead Road.


Strawberries, Jazz, Faculty/Staff Satisfaction

CHAPEL HILL/CARRBORO – A majority of UNC faculty and staff say the university is a “highly effective organization” with a strong vision for the future. That’s according to the results of a University-wide organizational effectiveness survey conducted in January.

UNC officials say they received more than 3,000 responses, an uptick from the last time they conducted the survey three years ago.

Among the results: 66 percent of respondents say UNC is a “highly effective organization,” and 79 percent say they’d recommend Carolina as a place to work.

The numbers aren’t all rosy, though: 54 percent also say UNC needs to make “significant changes” in order to remain successful five years from now.


Head to the Carrboro Farmers’ Market this Saturday for their annual Strawberry Jamboree. Beginning at 8:00 a.m., you can sample fresh strawberries, plus shortcake and homemade whipped cream; you can also find lots of strawberry recipes—and Benjamin Vineyards will be on hand to offer strawberry wine.

The Carrboro Farmers’ Market is located at the Carrboro Town Commons, on W. Main Street adjacent to Town Hall.


And beginning this Thursday, May 23, Southern Village is kicking off “Swinging Big Band Thursdays,” a concert series that will host big bands on five different Thursdays throughout the spring and summer.

The concert runs from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. on the Village Green; the 17-piece Heart of Carolina Jazz Orchestra will be performing. It’s open to the public and entirely free, but donations for the orchestra will be accepted.

Rabid Fox Suspected Of Biting Two People Caught And Undergoing Testing

CHAPEL HILL - Orange County Animal Services director Bob Marotto says officials resumed the search Wednesday for a rabid fox after two people were bit late Tuesday.

“A gentleman who was, if I’m not mistaken, trimming some bushes when the fox approached him and apparently scaled the ladder a little bit and bit him,” Marotto says.

He says that occurred sometime Tuesday afternoon.

Chapel Hill Police Sgt. Josh Mecimore says the second report was that of a fox bite Tuesday night in the area of Southern Village.

“Around (8:00 p.m.), a woman who lives in Southern Village went to UNC Hospitals,” Sgt. Mecimore says. “I don’t have any information on the victim in this situation’s condition, just that she went to UNC Hospitals for treatment referencing of a fox bite.”

Officials searched the area Tuesday night but came up empty. Marotto says they returned to the area Wednesday morning to resume the search. A fox was captured just before noon Wednesday and impounded after it was killed. Results from tests are expected later this week.

In response to the report of the fox, the Chapel Hill Police issued a few safety tips for any time a situation like this occurs. Sgt. Mecimore says this incident is a good reminder that this could occur at any time and the number one thing to remember is to keep yourself and others away from any suspicious animals.

“We would just ask that anyone who sees it calls 911 and don’t try to go near it,” Sgt. Mecimore says. “Do whatever you can to stay as far away from it as you can so that you don’t risk being bitten yourself.”

By North Carolina law, dogs, cats, and ferrets older than four months must be vaccinated at all times and must wear their rabies vaccination tag.

While there could be other affected animals in the area, or, while Animal Services is relatively sure that it is, the fox that was collected may not be the same one that attacked. Anyone who sees a suspicious animal is asked to call 911 or Orange County Animal Services.

Orange County Animal Services
(919) 942-PETS (7387)

Tips From the Chapel Hill Police Department

  • Be sure to make sure that everyone is aware of this situation and does not take ANY chances.
  • Be sure your pets are secured inside and only taken out on leash.
  • Always keep your pet’s rabies vaccine up to date.
  • Keep your pet’s rabies vaccination certificate in an accessible location.
  • If your pet is bitten by another known domestic animal, consult your veterinarian immediately and ask the owner to provide proof of rabies vaccination. If the other animal is not up to date on his rabies vaccine or is a wild animal, it is advisable to report the incident to your local animal control authority to ensure that the animal is quarantined appropriately.
  • If your pet comes in direct contact with any wild animal, even if no wounds are evident, consult your veterinarian immediately. Your veterinarian may recommend a rabies booster.
  • If you are scratched or bitten by any animal, either wild or domestic, consult your physician immediately. If the animal is a pet, ask the owner to provide proof of rabies vaccination.
  • Avoid direct contact with wildlife, dead or alive. Never touch any wildlife with your bare hands. If you find a sick or injured wild animal, call your local animal control agency or humane society and let the experts handle it.
  • Avoid animals displaying unnatural behavior. Wild animals that are unusually friendly or displaying other unnatural behaviors may have the rabies virus.
  • Discourage contact between pets and wildlife. Don’t let your pets roam or encourage them to interact with unfamiliar domestic or wild animals.
  • Feed your pets indoors. Leaving food outside often attracts stray dogs, cats and wildlife to your yard.
  • Animal-proof your trash. Make sure your trash lids are locked, and don’t leave bags of garbage outside the cans.
  • Prevent wild animals from getting into the house. Prune tree branches that overhang the roof. Keep screens on windows and cover small openings, such as chimneys, furnace ducts and eaves.
  • Report all stray animals to animal control. Stray animals may not be vaccinated for rabies. They also run a high risk of exposure to wild animals which carry the disease.
  • Give your child some guidelines to follow. Do not frighten young children, but make sure they learn some basic rules about protecting themselves from strange or unfamiliar animals.

How should we Include Young People in Chapel HIll 2020?

In looking over the age demographics of today’s Chapel Hill community, I find myself with questions to think about. This is what the latest census information tells us about our very own generational split.
Generation                        Age Range              Percent of Chapel Hill Population
Greatest                           87 and older          1.5%
Silent/Mature                   66-86                      7.0%
Boomer                            47-65                      18.0%
Generation X                   30-46                      13.9%
Generation Y                   16-29                      46.2%
Generation Z                    < 16                        13.4%
These are categories used by the American Planning Association, and the statistics were provided by Mitch Silver, President of the APA and Planning Director for the City of Raleigh.
XYZ generation split is 73.5 percent. In other words, 73.5 percent of the Chapel Hill residents are aged 46 or younger. Gen Y is our largest cohort, at 46.2 percent. Not surprising, as we have around 27,000 undergraduate and graduate students here at Carolina.
Here’s the big question. In our Chapel Hill 2020 process, how do we plan for the needs and aspirations of this 73.5 percent of the population? I’ve attended every 2020 meeting to date, and my observation is that a significant majority of participants fall into the “Boomer” and “Silent or Mature” generations.
Some youthful participation is happening. Local high school students have been holding focus groups to gather their thoughts and inject them into the process. Our town staff is planning Kids City (a project we will carry out through the schools), which will give kids a crack at town design and planning.
George Cianciolo and I have met with UNC students who were interested enough to attend an open house at the Carolina Union on November 29. And Brian Russell is working hard to recruit the Gen X and Y crowd for our Jan. 21 “Unconference” on Innovation. Faith Thompson, our 2020 Outreach Coordinator, is working daily to reach out to the X, Y and Z’ers, along with all other groups.
When I was on the Town Council (1995-2001), the elected officials and advisory board leaders were very aggressive about getting new school sites and more recreational facilities. We worked with developers and received donated sites for Scroggs and Rashkis elementaries, located in Southern Village and Meadowmont, neighborhoods that are dense (for Chapel Hill) and heavily populated with school-aged kids.
We also emphasized making our inventory of park land useful. A 1996 bond issue approved money for the Homestead Park development and aquatics center and the Southern Community Park development. We partnered with Orange County to get county investment in these community facilities.
We encouraged the University to provide more on-campus housing, which they have done, and done well.
What about today? And tomorrow?
Are there reasonable school sites we should be identifying? With our shortage of undeveloped land, should we be encouraging new schools to go up and not out? The decision to locate the next elementary school on the old Northside site was definitely a “smart growth” decision.
Let’s think about those UNC students who are juniors, seniors and grad students, many of whom do not want to live on campus. Can we find creative options? There has been much discussion and angst about the deleterious effects on Northside and Pine Knolls created student rentals.
Should we encourage development of housing for upper classmen and graduate students downtown — IN THE CENTRAL BUSINESS DISTRICT — not in the neighborhoods that ring the CBD? To me this makes sense. It would strengthen our downtown businesses, put more eyes and feet on the street, improving both downtown safety and vitality.
One of our theme groups — A Place for Everyone — is focusing specifically on needs of our teenagers. Community Prosperity and Engagement has taken up the subject of job creation for 20-somethings.
A comment making the rounds: Chapel Hill’s number one export is highly educated young people. In other words, our kids matriculate in our excellent school system, achieve, and leave. Is this what we want?
In ten years, and 20 years, how can Chapel Hill be a better home for all age groups?

TerraVITA: a coupon + a few good reasons to attend

Um, look, since we’re pals and everything, you’ll understand why I’m going to feel a little ill if I don’t see your pretty face at TerraVITA this Saturday. I mean, you say you love the food scene here in North Carolina and you love to talk to friends about seasonal eating. You’d love to get out more and explore the other fabulous restaurants around this great state but you just haven’t found time – it’s been a crazy summer. I get it. Things have been nuts.

You know what is even more nuts? Missing TerraVITA. It can be tough to convince your favorite friend or lover to join you for a few hours sampling delicious food, booze, and bevvies on a gorgeous fall afternoon. So, let me do the dirty work for you. Please note the following reasons you need to be at TerraVITA in Southern Village this Saturday.

  • You have a 15% off discount code to use, enter Grow2 at checkout. JACKPOT.
  • You don’t really understand what “biodynamic” means or why it matters, but you kinda wanna.
  • You freaking adore jam or jelly or pickle produced by the good hands of April McGreger (Farmer’s Daughter), and you’d love to know how this gifted woman got into the canning biz…and why it matters.
  • Open Eye is your favorite spot for a cup of coffee in the Chapelboro. You finally get to meet the globetrotting guru behind that magic – Scott Conary!
  • You keep hearing great things about restaurants like Chef & the Farmer (Kinston) and On the Square (Tarboro) but just ain’t in the mood to drive that far east for eats this year. Guess what? They’re at TerraVITA.
  • You keep hearing great things about Farmhand Foods and The Pig and want to know more about this Animal Welfare Approved stuff.

Soooo, yeeeeah. Like I said. You have a 15% off discount code to use, enter Grow2 at checkout. JACKPOT.

Sustainable Classroom at TerraVITA

Okay kids, it wasn’t too long ago that I shared a discount code with you, my favorite readers, for the best foodie event in Chapel Hill, TerraVITA, a celebration of the best in sustainable food and beverage. This year TerraVITA takes place on Saturday, September 24th, and like last year, dozens of your favorite chefs, food and beverage artisans from around the state will be on hand to chat and share samples of their favorite creations. Confirmed participants this year include Vivian Howard (Chef & the Farmer, Kinston, NC), Amy Tornquist (Watts Grocery, Durham) and yes, French Broad Chocolates in Asheville. Good thing you already bought your tickets, they are going fast!

Also wanted to make sure you tell those last minute friends of yours about the fabulous new element of TerraVITA, the Sustainable Classroom. From 9:30am – 12:20pm on the morning of the Grand Tasting on the Green, you can pay just $35 to hear four sessions of classes on a wide range of subjects–such a great way to dig a bit deeper into the concept of sustainability from pint to plate. Confirmed speakers include April McGreger (Farmer’s Daughter), Sean Lilly Wilson (Fullsteam), Maximilian Kast (Fearrington House) and Rob Bowers (Whitted Bowers Farm, one of only two certified biodynamic farms in the Southeast!). What are you waiting for? Buy your tickets to both events now for a full day of education and tastings!


Grand Tasting On The Green
Saturday, September 24, 2011
1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
The Village Green, Southern Village
400 Market St.
Chapel Hill, NC 27516
Saturday, September 24, 2011 
9:00 am – 12:30 pm
Lumina Theatre
Southern Village
680 Market St.
Chapel Hill, NC 27516
    * Session 1 – 9:30 – 10:05 a.m.
    * Session 2 – 10:15 – 10:50 a.m.
    * Session 3 – 11 – 11:35 a.m.

    * Session 4 – 11:45 a.m. – 12:20 p.m.