A Message from Mayor Hemminger Concerning Redevelopment of 828 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd

OPINION

Chapel Hill Community:  

This week, the Town Council will review a concept plan for the potential redevelopment of the Chapel Hill Police Station property (828 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.). 

A concept plan is a rough draft of what a project could become. In this case, it is also an opportunity for the Council to continue discussions with the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) about how best to deal with the existence of coal ash – which is mixed with other materials – on the site.  

This is a complicated situation, and we care deeply about making the best decisions for our community by following the science.  To that end, we have hired highly qualified environmental consultants who have been monitoring and analyzing the site for the past nine years. 

Now we have the information necessary to begin making decisions about a path forward for making the site safe and replacing our outdated, outgrown police headquarters.

While we recognize that some in our community would prefer to have the coal ash completely removed, such an approach would create a significant risk to people and the environment. Therefore, we have been evaluating a more environmentally responsible approach which would include removing ash from strategic areas while covering, capping, and containing the rest of the site. 

To date, our sampling data indicate little to no impacts to groundwater and the creek and, as part of this approach, there will be continued monitoring and maintenance of the site in the future. 

In recent weeks, there have been many public conversations about this project, including some inaccurate information, which has prompted many questions. We appreciate that so many people are eager to be involved and want this property cared for in the best interest of our community. That is our top priority.  

It is important to note that the concept plan review is an early step in the development review process. Any plans for redevelopment of the property will follow our regular rigorous public hearing process with opportunities for the public to see the technical findings and share feedback with Council. Public meetings, including a meeting with DEQ May 16, can be found on the Town’s calendar at townofchapelhill.org/calendar.  

For those wishing to learn more about the studies that have been done, recommendations that have been provided, and options that are being considered, visit https://www.futureof828.org  

You can also view the consultant’s most recent presentation to Council during our March 2 meeting here: Town Council on 2022-03-02 6:30 PM – Mar 2nd, 2022 (granicus.com)  

As always, we welcome your questions and input.  

Sincerely,
Mayor Pam 

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