The mood at the Chapel Hill Town Council meeting had a celebratory feel on Monday night when the town voted to purchase the American Legion property. At the same time, the County Commissioners meeting was almost contentious as the board discussed the future of the Durham-Orange Light Rail project.
But on Tuesday night the meeting of the Carrboro Board of Aldermen had a heavy feeling as the board voted down the Lloyd Farm development on the west side of the town by a 5-2 vote.
Board member Damon Seils said he remembered when the project was coming through the pipeline when he was chair of the planning board five years ago and all of the initial controversy. The project called for a mixed-use project anchored by a Harris Teeter to go on the approximately 40-acre parcel at the corner of Old Fayetteville Road and NC 54.
The project initially drew concerns of lacking density and fitting in more with a suburban model than a downtown location. Residents whose homes would neighbor the property also brought concerns about stormwater in the already flood-prone area and traffic increases due to the project.
The initial concerns led to the developer and neighbors going through mediation, involving board members, to work toward a solution.
Seils acknowledged on Tuesday night that the developer had made as many accommodations as possible in some areas – like stormwater – but he still could not support the project.
“Something is going to happen on this property,” Selis said. “And you all know it. But I had to make a decision in the end that that didn’t mean I had to support this project.”
Alderwoman Bethany Chaney, along with Mayor Lydia Lavelle, were the two board members supporting the project. Lavelle rolled out a Top 10 list of reasons she was supporting the project – including that the developer had committed dollars toward other town goals and that the tax revenue from the property would further those efforts. Chaney said that if the project was moving forward and people were unhappy or if the project wasn’t moving forward at all, then the mediation had – in her view – failed.
“And that’s on us, as a board” Chaney said. “We need to think through how to help projects – developers, projects, neighborhoods – suit all of our needs better.”
Board member Jacquie Gist said there had been a lot of deliberate conversation looking for middle ground on the project. But she said she could not support it knowing that it would have such a negative impact on the neighbors in terms of flooding.
The 5-2 vote means that no development will be going forward on the project in the immediate future.