Chapel Hill to consider Charterwood project Wednesday night

Controversial project needs a second approval for rezoning

tgrubb@newsobserver.comSeptember 12, 2012 


  • What’s Next The Town Council meets at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Council Chamber at Town Hall, 405 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. The council will consider the Charterwood development and also modifications to the master land-use plan and special-use permit to allow an expansion at the Paul Rizzo Conference Center at Meadowmont.

— The Chapel Hill Town Council will return from its summer break Wednesday night to consider Charterwood, a mixed-used development planned for 15.7 acres at 1641 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

The council voted twice on rezoning for the project in June, first rejecting a motion to deny the rezoning, then approving the rezoning 5-4.

But town rules require a second reading, or vote, on rezoning requests that don’t get six of the council’s nine votes. If the rezoning passes tonight, the council also will vote on a special use permit for the project.

Developer Bill Christian wants to build 134 to 154 apartments and roughly 72,000 square feet of retail and office space in six buildings.

The 278,000-square-foot project would be built on 9.3 acres west of MLK Boulevard and south of Weaver Dairy Road and would include the renovation of an existing farmhouse. Christian also plans a $233,000 payment-in-lieu to the town instead of including affordable housing in the project.

The property currently is zoned for residential use, and roughly 40 percent will remain undeveloped.

Charterwood was first proposed in 2007 and has been submitted several times with some changes, including larger buffers and reduced size, density and parking.

After a protest petition helped defeat the proposal in January, Christian redrew the property lines and submitted a new rezoning request and permit application. Neighbors failed to get enough signatures on a petition against the second request.

Town planning officials said redrawing lines for a new application, called recombination, is routine. However, Northwood V neighbors hired an attorney to oppose the move.

The town’s land-use ordinance states that when the Town Council rejects a rezoning, the same or similar project cannot be resubmitted for one year. Critics said Charterwood has violated the rule, and complain that the move limits public opposition to potentially harmful projects.

Town staff said the council did not act on the rezoning, because it didn’t receive enough votes to be either approved or denied, so the waiting period doesn’t apply.

Opponents also worry the project will cause runoff and flooding problems downstream and cited concerns with buffers and building heights.

Lake Forest neighbors have asked the council to include a $1 million bond in the special-use permit to require Charterwood developers to prevent or clean up any dirt from runoff.

Grubb: 919-932-8746

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