Chapel Hill Town Council discusses apartment development, police station relocation –

The Chapel Hill Town Council met on June 12 to discuss a proposed apartment complex development and the relocation of the Chapel Hill Police Department station. 

What’s new?

  • Mayor Jess Anderson opened the session by announcing that Estes Drive is now open for two-way traffic after over two years of operating as a one-way road.

    • “It’s open for bikers, drivers, walkers, rollers and strollers,” she said. “Thanks to the community for their patience and to our outstanding staff for all their hard work. This is a big step towards realizing our vision for a more connected, accessible Chapel Hill.”
  • During the public comment section, Laurie Paolicelli, the executive director of Visit Chapel Hill, announced that tourism has grown 12 percent in the past year. 
  • Katherine Shor, a senior planner with the Town, presented a concept plan — a required step in the planning process that allows for council feedback — for the Old Chapel Hill Road apartments located at 11 North White Oak Drive in Durham.

    • Though the development is technically in Durham County, it is still within the Chapel Hill planning jurisdiction, Shor said
    • The previous proposal, given in 2022, was deemed too large by the council, with 380 apartment units and 820 parking spaces. 
    • The new proposal aims to support the Town’s Complete Communities Strategy with street integration and pedestrian paths as well as various types and sizes of housing. There will be around 360 units. 
    • Due to the nature of a concept plan review, no votes were held, but developers hope to submit a rezoning request in the fall, Susana Dancy, managing partner at Rockwood Development Group, said.
  • The board held a public hearing on leasing 7300 Millhouse Road to the Chapel Hill Police Department due to the condition of their current station at 828 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. 
    • “As you know, 828 Martin Luther King [Jr.] Blvd. is full of complexity, and to help us think through that complexity, we’ve come to think of this one site as having two distinct projects,” Mary Jane Nirdlinger, deputy town manager, said. “The guardians of the hill have an old building in bad shape that is beyond renovation and repair, and there’s a coal ash site here that needs to be remediated.” 
    • The current police station is 42 years old and is in significant disrepair and in dire need of costly maintenance, Celisa Lehew, Chapel Hill Police Department’s police chief, said.
      • Lehew presented images of leaking ceilings, mildew and rotting floors.
      • “Our guardians will always lead with our town values of respect, but we are compromising the value of safety by remaining in this building,” she said
  • The council then moved into a closed session to discuss economic development and property acquisition. 

What decisions were made?

  • The council voted to unanimously pass the consent agenda, which consisted of seven items, including approval of a council meeting calendar through December 2024, the adoption of the recommended 2024-25 Community Development Block Grant Annual Action Plan, which provides resources for low- and moderate-income residents and a memorandum of understanding for the Orange County Partnership to End Homelessness.
    • The memorandum of understanding has been in place to fund the partnership since 2008, but the partnership recommended an update that will clarify the roles and responsibilities of members. 

What’s Next?

  • The Chapel Hill Town Council will meet again on Monday, June 17 to discuss the LUMO rewrite and the bond package being added to the November 2024 ballot. 

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