By Adam Powell
On Wednesday, October 25, the Chapel Hill Town Council held a regular meeting. While the primary area of focus during this session was a legislative hearing on a proposed Life Sciences Center at 306 W. Franklin Street, town leaders also took action on multiple other items currently on their radar.
During the public comments portion of the session, Laurie Smith, a resident of the Cobble Ridge community, thanked the council for considering a petition to make intersection improvements. Smith indicated that a town planner had ideas for a future four-way stop at the intersection of Crofton Springs Road, Ivy Brook Road, and Cobble Ridge Road. The town is taking the petition under advisement and could budget funds for the improvements in its 2025 budget.
“I’m just here to thank you for even considering this petition, because of the fact that the corner that I live on is a very dangerous intersection,” Smith told the elected leaders. She said a town planner told her everybody speeds there, adding “I just appreciate the fact that you are even considering this petition. Thank you.”
Part of the council’s approved consent agenda is a budget ordinance amendment in which the Orange County Alcoholic Beverage Control Board allocated $75,630 to the Town of Chapel Hill. Those monies will be used for overtime salaries and special use funds for the town’s various alcohol enforcement operations.
The council also approved a resolution authorizing Chapel Hill Town Manager Chris Blue to work with Cinderella Partners, Inc., on intersection improvements at North Street, Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. and North Columbia Street. Cinderella Partners was the low bidder on proposed improvements to these intersections at $874,133.43. The town has budgeted approximately $1.1 million in total for the improvements. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2024.
Town leaders also approved a five percent pay increase to Town Attorney Ann Anderson, while also extending Anderson’s contract to run through March 1, 2027 – a one-year increase from her previous agreement.
The council also agreed as part of its consent agenda to continue the legislative hearing on a proposed rezoning of 157 East Rosemary Street to November. The Rosemary Street rezoning would allow developers to construct a 12-story building that would include 56 residential condominiums, with 3,000 square feet of retail space on its lower level, along with below-ground level parking.
The town is proposing to conditionally rezone the existing land at 157 East Rosemary from Town Center-2 (TC-2) to a Residential-Community Priority-Conditional Zoning District (R-CP-CZD). The current two-story building on the site was Bub O’Malley’s Pub for many years, with multiple other businesses, including other bars, serving as tenants in the lower level.
The council initially took up the issue of the rezoning at its September 27 meeting, as they began a legislative hearing. The October 25 vote to continue the hearing means that the council will take up the topic again in a continuation of the legislative hearing on November 29.
Town leaders deferred additional discussion on a proposal to purchase property at 4511 S. Columbia Street, and will take the issue back up once a few logistical issues are sorted out.
Back in April, the town held an initial legislative hearing on a proposal to purchase approximately 80 acres at 4511 S. Columbia Street. The heavily wooded, vacant property, which is located across Highway 15-501 from the Southern Village Community and Southern Village Community Park, is the site of a future large-scale development plan by the town.
Chapel Hill’s long-term plan at 4511 S. Columbia Street is to construct a mixed-use development on 43 acres of the property. The development would include more than 950,000 square feet of floor space, and 688 residential units – a combination of for-sale condos and townhouses, along with rental apartments. At least 88 of the units are designated to be set aside for low-income residents. Additional amenities on the proposed property include public trails and on-site parking.
Mayor Pam Hemminger reminded the public that early voting began on Thursday, October 26 and runs through Saturday, November 4 for municipal and school board elections. The general election is scheduled for Tuesday, November 7.
There are numerous locations in Chapel Hill and Orange County in which residents can vote. Along with the county elections center in Hillsborough and Town Hall in Carrboro, residents have a variety of sites all over Chapel Hill in which to cast their votes for local candidates.
Residents must bring a photo ID in order to vote in the 2023 election cycle. Chapel Hill voting locations include East Chapel Hill High School (500 Weaver Dairy Road), Rashkis Elementary School (601 Meadowmont Lane), Ephesus Elementary School (1495 Ephesus Church Road), Morris Grove Elementary School (215 Eubanks Road), and Seymour Senior Center (2551 Homestead Road).
Chapel Hill Town Council is scheduled to meet again on the evening of Tuesday, November 13.