A large clearing of trees has caused concern among some Chapel Hill residents.

If you have recently driven down Estes Drive, you have likely noticed a large clearing of trees between Phillips Middle School and Somerset Drive.

The nearly seven-acre site is the future home of a retirement residence in Chapel Hill, which received approval from the Chapel Hill Town Council in March 2017.

The tree clearing has prompted residents in the neighborhood near the development to voice concerns to the Chapel Hill Town Council. An April 8 letter, which was signed by nearly two dozen residents, asked the council several questions from apprehensions over traffic, the tree clearing and potential rock blasting by the contractor. Residents wrote that they feared the blasting could damage their homes.

Town staff wrote in response to the questions that blasting seismographs have been placed near residences “to monitor ground vibrations during all blasting operations. Crack monitoring will be done on existing nearby structures with existing cracks documented prior to blasting.”

While the developer was granted modifications allowing less tree buffer adjacent to Estes and Somerset drives, the town’s tree ordinance says the town “desires to maintain the maximum practical tree canopy cover across all land uses.” Residents said they were concerned because nearly all of the land had been clear cut, but town staff responded that a total of 22 replacement canopy trees would be required to be planted as part of the development in order to comply with town standards.

Residents took their concerns directly to the Town Council with a petition at the council meeting last Wednesday night.

The retirement residence proposal is scheduled to have 152 units with construction set to begin by March 20, 2019 and concluding two years later. You can get more information on the retirement residence project by visiting the town’s website.