Monthly Archives: August 2013

Consultant overruns contract

Stancil memo to Council, August 28
Durham Morning Herald article is here.
Krebs.public comment Aug 29

Letter to Editor, John Morris

August 19, 7 and July 30 Steering Committee meetings

August 19 Staff action meeting notes are here.  The Committee now has 4 maps on the table found here. Several committee members told staff that they did not have sufficient content to be analyzed. The don’t show building foot prints, intensity or road circulations, unlike earlier maps. Staff shared an outline for the small area plan. Steering Committee David Tuttle explained he found the steering committee meetings lacking in dialogue and a real exchange of views.  He was saddened that committee members no longer seemed to care about taking a consensus recommendation to the Council – on  that the community and a committee minority would support.

August 7  Staff action notes are here. This meeting was frustrating to observe.  Because the Committee lacks a skilled facilitator, committee members engage in serial conversations and conversation is not around one topic.  Decisions as recorded by co chair report are here.

  • Parcels B and C should have a mix of uses including: incubator (create relationship with Carolina North), significant residential along northern section, non-residential uses along Estes (intensities that are lower than Parcel A) and institutional uses such as a parks and recreation center.  An alternative scenario for this area should also be tested that would call for residential uses only on these parcels.
  • Consider a road connecting Somerset and the proposed road running along the south part of the YMCA property to MLK and have it tested for transportation impacts.
  • For area E, to apply environmental language from earlier discussions of areas G and H, and test two options: one that is residential, and one that is primarily residential with institutional/office uses along Estes Drive frontage.
  • Area J should be residential.
  • Because of meeting time constraints, the group was not able to make specific building height recommendations for areas A–F.  It was agreed that we would test on the range of heights suggested by a majority of committee members in the July 1st “homework” activity, with area C changed from 2-4 stories, with any decision that the Committee has already made to supersede the July 1st activity heights.
  • The group decided to test continuation of the area A retail strip south of MLK onto D and F. For testing purposes, we would assume that D would be a synthesis of uses and heights for areas A and B, and that F would assume an expansion of its current institutional use. A low-end use for Parcel D — institutional with a small area of retail — would also be tested..

July 30  Most of this meeting was a discussion about preferred land uses, intensities and heights for the undeveloped land south of Estes Drive.  Results are shown here.  Several members of the steering committee asked for a big picture discussion about data about land constraints and traffic for the area BEFORE making these decisions on a tract by tract basis.  They did not convince the co chairs of this approach. Whit Rummel presented his concept for retail, housing and civic uses for the undeveloped property north of Estes.

July 22 Steering Committee

Meeting Summary by Co chairs Parker/Ryan

The Central West Steering Committee met on July 22 at the Chapel Hill Public Library from 6:00 – 9:00 PM. Copies of all meeting materials can be found at All formal agreements of the Committee reflect the affirmative vote of at least 2/3 of the members present.

1.     Opening Remarks: Megan Wooley began by sharing the goals for the meeting. She noted that Matt Sullivan from the Chapel Hill Police Department would be filling in for Loryn Clark, who was not able to attend the meeting.

Firoz Mistry moved that the committee permanently extend its second public comment period to 10 minutes.  This measure was passed by general agreement.

2.     Community Participation:  Megan Wooley began by saying she had a request from community member Erin Langston to have Megan to read her comments to the group, since Erin was unable to attend.  The committee discussed this request and decided by general agreement that it could not be accommodated, citing concerns about setting a precedent that might lead to having multiple such requests at a single meeting.  It was noted that Megan forwards all written communications to the committee and that this practice allows people who cannot attend to express their thoughts directly to the committee members. 

Several individuals from the community than shared comments/opinions with the group. Public comments recorded by Michael Albritton at the end of the summary.


3.     Comments from Todd LoFrese: The assistant superintendent for support services with Chapel Hill–Carrboro City Schools spoke about the school board’s safety goals, plans that will soon be proposed for upcoming capital projects that will improve traffic circulation and student safety, and the statistics for how Estes and Phillips students go to school.  A question and answer session with the committee followed.


4.     Transportation Overview:

Link to presentation.

Link to transportation materials

       David Bonk, the Chapel Hill long range and transportation planning manager, gave a presentation on the existing transportation conditions in the Central West area, showed three possible road profiles for Estes Drive that would incorporate improved bike/ped facilities, and led the group through a sample exercise that showed how a trip generation analysis was conducted.  He shared data from a rough estimate of trip generation from two of Rhodeside and Harwell’s June 4 concept plans—one at lower density with more residential (option 1 less 25%) and one at a higher density with more commercial (option 3).  He noted that it was not possible to draw definitive conclusions from these initial estimates.  Specific land use plans—along with possible internal circulation solutions—will be needed before the impacts on Estes Drive and MLK Boulevard can be ascertained.

Brian Litchfield, Chapel Hill Transit’s interim director, gave a short presentation about the planned transit alternatives analysis that will be conducted along the route that stretches from the Eubanks park and ride south along MLK and then through town to the Southern Village park and ride.

A question and answer period followed the transportation and transit presentations.  The group decided by general agreement to extend the Q/A period to take up the time allotted for agenda item 5, Transportation Discussion, and that decisions on bike/ped facilities and road profiles scheduled for that time would be deferred to the committee’s next meeting.

 5.     Principle 13: The text for the proposed new principle 13 that had been developed by the Principles and Objectives Subcommittee was presented for discussion.  The committee debated at some length whether “assess” was the correct word or if “consider” would be preferable.  They voted unanimously to accept number 13 in principle, with the understanding that final wordsmithing would be conducted at a later date—most likely on August 27, when all principles and objectives will be reviewed.

 6.     Community Comment: The meeting concluded with comments from several community members.

Martha Petty: Today at 1:45 pm traffic was backed up on Estes Drive to Caswell because of trees being cut down at the corner of MLK and Estes.  There is also no retention of water in the land in this area.

Lyn Kane:  Traffic is heavier in this area than on Fordham Blvd.  Flooding is a problem that we cannot ignore.  Storm drains are never cleaned.  This area has many pine trees which causes pine needles to fall and cover the drains during big storms and it is never cleaned by the city.  There was a car totaled near the area due to the flooding from the recent large storm, yet this storm was considered a  500-year storm.  This not a 500 year storm, it will happen again.

Kim Talikof: Stressed she was a parent of children in the schools and that she was representing those parents with children in the local schools.  There is an existing problem – inadequate sidewalks, children have been struck by cars within the last 2 years.  How will plans improve this situation? Then explained how she was listening for current data to address the needs for not only Estes but also surrounding feeder streets.

Jonathan Drake:  Commented that he has 2 children who are students at Phillips.  He then encouraged the committee to reach out to the parents at the schools so that when the summer was over and some plans were being delivered to council they would not be caught off guard with a lot of opposition to the plans.

John Morris:  The mayor and council have spoken about the need for increasing tax base repeatedly, so why would the committee not want to address the financial impact of development in this area?  Also mentioned that in the beginning everyone was excited about discussing these issues but now they are afraid.  Why so? (Committee agreed to adopt Principle #13 but to word smith later).

Fred Lampe:  The financial data is not complicated to access (then gave some examples).  The number of parents that live within the walking zone yet still drive their kids to school should indicate how unsafe the area is.  There was no discussion about traffic circles.  We need to answer the questions of size, how pedestrians cross, where they can be located?  There is significant development coming to this area, he is very skeptical of the 2% recommendation from David Bonk, especially considering the developments of Carolina North, Central West, and areas along Homestead.

Suzanna Dancy:  Stated she believes strongly that the design of streets will determine the community’s character and that she is happy to see discussions about improvements to Estes.  She also congratulated the town staff for putting together such an informative meeting.

Thanks to everyone who attended for your continued hard work and interest in the Central West process.

July 9 Steering Committee meeting

Some of the high points: 

Public comment: Jared Simons, steering committee members, asked to extend the  initial public comment period from 5 to10 minutes. Alan Tom asked SC to consider interaction of land use with traffic and flooding potential

Debbie Jepson asked the steering committee to include parent input in plan consideration and to adjust SC schedule as needed. She also asked for a motion to follow up on walk of Davis property. (Julie made a motion later that was adopted.  The walk has not been scheduled.)

Fred Lampe called for a design of a safe Estes Drive and nearby intersections  and for a cost estimate. Mia Burroughs said the district level interest is in safety and sidewalks. Jim Ward asked that the school administration advise the SC as to the critical elements for safety. Sarah MacIntee asked whose responsibility it was to get kids to school safely. Mia Burroughs replied it was the school’s responsibility on school property.

Whit Rummel property owner and steering committee member presented a concept for several properties.

Julie requested a broader discussion.  She found discussing detailed opinion on individual tracts without information on road capacity and storm water not a good use of time but the suggestion was not adopted.  She asked for expert help with stormwater and requested that Trish D’Arconte, Chapel Hill Stormwater expert attend a future session to share her knowledge.

 Then followed a list of short conversations ending in votes for various land tracts south of Estes including several for 8 – 10 story buildings. See Town notes. Agreed to defer discussion of setbacks and address them comprehensively. Then the Committee discussed how to process community input. Town staff actions items are here.