Chapel Hill News

Chapel Hill settles lawsuit, changes Charterwood

The town and a group of residents have settled lawsuits challenging the town’s approving the Charterwood project.

Charterwood is a residential, office and retail development planned for the west side of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, just south of Weaver Dairy Road. The Town Council approved a special-use permit and rezoning for the project in September 2012.

WCA Partners LLC developer Bill Christian said he is seeking a buyer now who could develop the apartments planned for the project. Charterwood still needs a zoning permit, and each piece, as it is designed, will need town review and approval, he said. Construction on any part is unlikely to begin before next year, he said.

Northwoods V neighbors Del and David Snow, Jeffrey Furlow, Dianne Ware-Furlow and Margaret Underberg, who live near the development, sued the town and WCA Partners LLC over the project’s approval. They asked a judge to reverse the council’s decisions based on alleged procedural errors.

Snow is a current member and then-chairwoman of the town’s Planning Board.

She and other neighbors worried about traffic, stormwater and other concerns filed a protest petition in January 2012 that defeated the project. The developer drew new property lines and submitted a revised application in March. Town staff said the practice is routine, but critics said it violated town rules requiring a one-year waiting period.

The neighbors agreed to drop the lawsuits in October if the project’s special-use permit is changed. WCA Partners also paid $10,000 toward their legal fees, David Snow said.

Town Attorney Ralph Karpinos said in an Oct. 21 memo the settlement does not mean the council erred in approving the special-use permit.

The modifications approved in the settlement include:

• Setbacks of at least 85 feet from adjacent homes and additional plant buffers

• Stormwater changes, such as replacing a pond with an underground filtration system and tracking stormwater during construction. The parties also agreed the developer will hire an independent stormwater engineer to draft a stormwater management plan and determine any potential effects on neighboring properties or Eastwood Lake

• Limiting some buildings to 29 feet tall, and one building to 66 feet tall, or four floors atop parking

• The developer will grant an easement and pay the town for a greenway instead of building one

• Other construction requirements and monitoring, such as defined work hours and days and financial penalties if certain trees are harmed.