The Town Council wants to see what’s possible before agreeing to changes to make the Ephesus-Fordham district more inviting to pedestrians and cyclists.
A consultant will bring visual examples to a February work session of how revised rules could influence future development in the district east of downtown.
“We talked about connectivity. We want to make sure that we design this in a way that there’s a lot of connectivity, so that you can park in one place – whatever that looks like – and get to the other places not using your car,” Mayor Pam Hemminger said. “And we care about our canopy trees. Make sure that we understand what that would look like.”
The council could continue the public hearing in March. Members said they are particularly interested in how landowners could share parking and civic spaces, how to create wider, safer pedestrian passages through large blocks of buildings, and how to maintain the district’s tree cover.
Ephesus-Fordham projects are governed by a form-based code approved in 2014 that generally outlines how buildings, landscaping and streets should look and relate to each other. The revisions (More information, bit.ly/2fdAmUX) could add more public spaces and make it easier for people to get around without cars.
Consultant Tony Sease, with Civitech Inc., recently led public conversations about walkability and public spaces, such as plazas, squares and pocket parks. Some residents say those details didn’t get enough consideration in the code, resulting in at least one new building that doesn’t reflect the community’s desires.
Sheila Creth, with the grassroots Chapel Hill Alliance For a Livable Town, shared five recommendations with the council: keep block lengths at up to 400 feet; make sidewalks 18 feet or wider; require more outdoor civic space; preserve the tree cover; and finish stormwater studies before buying land for new roads.
The council also should let the public speak at the January work session, Creth said, noting that’s “really an investment in rebuilding our sense of community here.”
Carolina Flex Park
The Town Council also reviewed a project that could launch an industry and research zone north of town. The council will talk more in January about a new zoning district for roughly 77 acres on Millhouse Road. A formal application for the Carolina Flex Park at 7000 Millhouse Road has not been submitted.
▪ Project potential: Two 12,000 sf, single-story buildings west of Millhouse Road; three 120,000 sf, four-story buildings to the east; over 380 parking spaces
▪ Purpose: Provide flexible storage, office, wet lab, manufacturing and assembly space
▪ Considerations: pedestrian access across a railroad line; wetlands and buffers; pedestrian paths to recreation, transit and Carraway Village on Eubanks Road