Chapel Hill News

June 20, 2014

Town Council could OK Glen Lennox plan Monday

The Town Council literally ran down the clock Monday trying to negotiate the last remaining details of a development agreement for the decades-old Glen Lennox community.

The Town Council literally ran down the clock trying to negotiate the last remaining issues in a development agreement for the upgrade of the decades-old Glen Lennox community.

As council members scrambled Monday night to get out before setting off the automatic alarm at the Southern Human Services Center, Grubb Properties official Rachel Russell said two issues still need work.

“I recognize we’ve run out of time, but they’re important issues to address,” Russell said. “If I can, I’ll reach out to you this week and explain each of them to you.”

On Tuesday, Russell said the issues are when construction might trigger specific road improvements and how to handle any future disagreements.

The council will continue the public hearing Monday, when it could vote on the project.

The proposed redevelopment covers roughly 70 acres and would take about 20 years to build. Single-family homes to the east and the Glen Lennox shopping center on N.C. 54 would not change.

The project has the potential to bring 1,500 new residential units, 600,000 square feet of office space and 150,000 square feet of retail. It also could add new neighborhood roads; transit, bike and pedestrian facilities; and improved connections to N.C. 54 and Fordham Boulevard.

Roughly a third of the property would remain a mix of public and private open space, including greenways and parks.

The first projects could be residential or commercial, depending on existing market conditions, Russell said. Those would be in areas closer to N.C. 54 or Fordham Boulevard to limit the effect on neighbors, she said.

After 20 years, the project could double the number of daily auto trips through the N.C. 54 corridor to roughly 17,000, reports show.

Bicycle safety

One of the biggest hurdles is giving bicyclists a safe way to get from N.C. 54 to UNC’s campus and downtown. Some council members balked at asking Grubb Properties to build a 10-foot bike path from Burning Tree Drive, where the Meadowmont path ends, to west of Glen Lennox.

The town also shouldn’t ask the developer to take on a project that is the town’s responsibility, council member George Cianciolo said.

It would be safer to direct bicyclists to a greenway through Glen Lennox and across Fordham Boulevard at a signalized crossing the developer is planning just north, near Christopher Road, he and council member Matt Czajkowski said.

Grubb said they would be willing to post signs showing bicyclists the way.

“The last thing we want is kids to think that they can ride in front of the shopping center and down under the bridge. I don’t care what hour it is,” he said. “It’s a very, very dangerous street.”

Council members, in a straw poll, decided against requiring a bike path along N.C. 54.

The developer has been working with the community to plan the redevelopment since 2010. As a result, the property was rezoned and is now governed by a Neighborhood Conservation District. A development agreement would set predictable terms and a timeline for how the community could grow.

The Grubb Properties plan provides affordable housing and limits rental rate incrases to 2 percent and 5 percent for 15 percent of longtime Glen Lennox residents.

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