Bolin Creek Park and Preserve: the clock is ticking!

Elections are over now, and the community expression of support for the creation of the Bolin Creek Park and Preserve was overwhelming.

Thanks in no small part to Carrboro Mayor, Mike Nelson, we're on our way to making this park and preserve a reality. The 27 acre Adam's Tract is now in preservation, and last month the Carrboro BOA voted to accept a Conservation Map of the Bolin Creek Watershed.

But where do we go from here?

The planned Claremont development just west of Bolin Creek on the north side of Homestead Rd. is rapidly moving forward. UNC is in the concept stage of Carolina Commons, a development of 140 affordably priced homes for UNC faculty and staff just north of Winmore and east of Lake Hogan Farm. Much of the land targeted for preservation is developable and remains elusive. Clearly, if we are serious about making this park and preserve a reality, we must press on quickly.

Back in January, the Town of Carrboro determined that the Park and Preserve could be created without having to change any current town documents. I don't know if the adoption of the conservation map has changed this determination, but my hunch is that it may not be wise for us to relax and rely on our existing ordinances and the good will of developers to make an adequately large park and preserve happen along the upper Bolin Creek Corridor.

Among the challenges now: 1) we need to determine the science behind the numbers that determine how much land is needed to establish a viable wildlife corridor worthy of preserve status, 2) we need to find the science to justify increasing our stream buffers beyond the current 100 feet beyond flood plain for tributaries (plus additional footage for slope: 4 x slope x 100), 3) we need for local governments, the university, citizen groups, landowners, and individuals who believe in this preservation effort to come forward and make land acquisition, property donation, conservation easements, modifications of land use plans, and perhaps, ordinance changes happen.

Creating this park and preserve is complicated, and I don't pretend to understand all of the challenges involved. Does anyone have perspective to add, or ideas about how we proceed from here?



The recently accepted Conservation Map isn't served adequately by our existing ordinances. The incoming BOA appears likely to initiate changes increasing the stream buffers for maximum ecological protection.

Scientific justification can be very persuasive when it comes to engaging variously motivated stake-holders.

I expect, Mary, given the tone of the campaign, that this issue will get some quick attention. Both Alex and Mark talked about it as a priority, Alex stressing land purchase and Mark regulatory approaches (not to over-simplify these two complex thinkers). The complete solution probably include elements of both. The board will be adding Randee who has a passion for this issue.

My sense is that this topic is appropriate for a quick-and-dirty ad hoc committee that might include Mark, Alex, Randee, relevant staff, and a few citizens. A handful of meetings over a month or two could bring together the various factors into a menu of potential action steps and time frames for the BoA to consider.

Excellent suggestion, Dan.

FYI—a public hearing on Claremont will be held at Carrboro Town Hall tomorrow night, Nov, 22.

For the most part it looks like there will be a stream buffer of about ~ 280 feet from the edge of the creek.

Thoughts about Claremont:
1) 2 roads over a MI stream (which project engineer says is really an ephemeral stream, but Carrboro does not have an ephemeral stream classification)
2) a pedestrian trail made of asphalt which mostly stays close behind the homes but does swing into the stream buffer and come within ~ 50 feet of the creek near the bridge
3) OWASA sewer easement in buffer crossing the creek if sewer connection to Winmore cannot be made
4) Do we want to have parking for hikers incorporated in plans?
5) Let's place big signs warning homebuyers about future road connections, and make sure homebuyers know about the park and preserve.

Some related concerns:

1) Claremont will most likely lag ~ 6 months behind the construction of Winmore. I don't know how quickly UNC's Carolina Commons will happen, but any way you look at it, we're looking at a lot of new homes: Winmore: ~ 230 units + Claremont ~ 79 units + Carolina Commons ~ 140 units = ~ 450 new homes. Where will all these children go to school? Elementary school # 10 is due to open 2009-10, and we already know we need that school much sooner. This looks like a serious SAPFO situation shaping up out here. We have to slow down.

2) Carrboro needs to diversify its tax base. There is an incredible market for a higher-end grocery store and village center out this way. Do we really need to have all of these homeowners driving so far for everything? I know Winmore will have a village center, but my sense is that the Winmore center will not be big enough to serve the whole area.

Let's place big signs warning homebuyers about future road connections

Signs? How about billboards?

It doesn't matter how big the signs are - there will always be some people who claim that they weren't informed. Human nature I guess,

Such disclaimers could be included in land covenants which are official documents and require signatures of acceptance.

Why don't we all just relinquish our rights to our properties to the uber-environmentalists and get it over with?? Make the whole mess a big preserve.......

Seriously, though, I thought most of the creek had a big buffer, i.e. the 100 year flood plain was very big, and therefore a lot of the land surrounding it is unbuildable. Doesn't that make it useless for construction purposes?? Or am I missing something? Why buy unbuildable land to protect it???

The creek is vulnerable downslope. Uphill development, even a hundred feet away, makes "the whole mess" a real mess. This is WATER we're talking about.

Oh, okay, that explains everything.

John, the goal is to preserve more than we have to--- not only land on which we cannot build. We would like to establish a preserve which is “a park with sufficient area to preserve the habitat of wildlife and to provide an authentic experience of nature.”

We envision saving intact stretches of natural habitat and leaving a legacy for future generations.

There is widespread community support for creating a protected corridor that connects natural areas and parks.

You can find out more by checking out the conservation map at the Town of Carrboro website (BoA Agenda 10/4/05)

Or

Or if you really want to get into it: and

Terri wrote: "Such disclaimers could be included in land covenants which are official documents and require signatures of acceptance."

Covenants 'run with the land' and are in force whether the buyer is aware of the covenants or not. That is, even if they were recorded many years earlier in the midst of a transaction between an earlier buyer and seller, covenants may still be in force.

But billboards are an idea . . .

"Such disclaimers could be included in land covenants which are official documents and require signatures of acceptance."

OK, show of hands, how many people read their deeds and reestrictive convenants in the stack of 600 sheets of paper at their closing? (apartment renters may go get a snack)

It might not surprise Gerry too much that my wife and I did read our covenant before signing. Interesting historical document.

Covenants run out - that's their strength and weakness.

If we call agreements on land uses & behavior in a community "covenants" what do groups of witches call their agreements?


My homeowners association prints the covenants in our neighborhood directory. Plus, I believe the work on neighborhood conservation districts is also using covenants. This whole issue of communication with new home buyers is a real problem. Signs get knocked down, ignored, or obscured by greenery. Mark C requested that Carrboro work with local realtors to make sure new homebuyers in the NTA understood the possibility of annexation--but that's impossible to monitor.

If not the covenants, then where? Billboards are outlawed by LUMO in both towns! :)

We read all the covenants in our contract as well--I sinsisted we see them BEFORE signing. I refuse to live ina neighborhood that bans clotheslines, tells me what I can plant in my front yard, and/or dictates the kind of mailbox I can have. (Which may be why it took us three years to find a house.)

The covenants in my current neighborhood prevent me from keeping goats or fowl...don't allow my lot to be subdivided..and there are a few more pertaining to outbuildings. Nothing I couldn't live with.


I read my covenants too. My attorney goes through every piece of paper at a closing to be sure you understand what it means. I thought that was SOP?

Terri, NCDs have nothing at all to do with covenants.

Gerry, my neighborhood doesn't have any covenants or a HOA. (And I quite like it that way.)

I think it is safe to assume that you people are exceptional in regard to your diligence about reading covenants.

How about this for a start?

If someone will volunteer to get the locations of the new potential connectors, I'll put a Google map up on Orangepedia showing where they are. Any volunteers?

I agree with you, Mark. As a president of our HOA when the neighborhood was new and still building out, dealing with issues because folks did not read their covenants was the top issue and a reason for long board meetings.

I thought the clause on the PURCHASE AGREEMENT was pretty standard: "(1) PURCHASER acknowledges receipt of one copy of the Declaration of Covenants. (2) PURCHASER further acknowledges that he has read such documents, including specifically the provisions relating to architectural control, and PURCHASER agrees to be bound by such documents; (3) if this agreement is cancelled for any reason, PURCHASER agrees to return such documents to SELLER, and (4) this subsection shall survive the closing."

Most homeowners freely admitted that they did't read it. We are not talking CLOSING here, we're talking about signing the PURCHASE AGREEMENT..

I just read the Claremont reports online. Boy, where have I been? The Zinn's are hoping for their CUP tonight. Looks like things are in order.

It is an interesting question why this property was included in the conservation map considering how close to a CUP the developers are.

I am curious too to see if the CHCCS will award Claremont a CAPS.

BTW, the report says stream buffer width from Bolin Creek stream centerline to Claremont varies from 210-300 feet.

Will, I like your Orangepedia connector road idea-- might think about adding future road widenings too.
When I bought my house I checked on the future of Homestead Rd. I was told it was a couple of years away--- Oh well, it's not even clear Homestead west of Seawell School Rd.will make the 2012 TIP...

'it' being the widening of Homestead 3 travel lanes and bike lanes...

In the paper this morning:
"Mayor Mike Nelson has proclaimed Saturday "Bolin Creek Day" in Carrboro."
Read more:
Try to stop by T&B on Saturday!

In case anyone missed it, tomorrow is “Bolin Creek Day”, and here is the official proclamation:

North Carolina


WHEREAS, Bolin Creek is a Resource that snakes its way through the heart
of Carrboro; and

WHEREAS, the citizens of Carrboro cherish our natural environment and
place high priority on conserving open space; and

WHEREAS, Carrboro has taken significant strides to protect open spaces,
including Bolin Creek, by adopting the strongest environmental and
anti-sprawl ordinances in the state, such as our 40% open space
requirement; and

WHEREAS, much of the undeveloped property along Bolin Creek is in
private hands and skyrocketing land prices are tempting landowners to
sell their property to the highest bidders; and

WHEREAS, we risk losing this treasure if we don't strategize together to
preserve it for future generations; and

WHEREAS, our shared devotion to Bolin Creek can bring us together in
ways that will make our community even stronger; and

WHEREAS, Carrboro's most precious natural resource, the Bolin Creek
corridor, reflects our community, who we are, and why we live here—it is
our Heart and Soul.

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that I, Michael R. Nelson, Mayor of the
Town of Carrboro, North Carolina, do hereby proclaim December 3, 2005 as
“Bolin Creek Day” in the Town of Carrboro. The citizens of Carrboro are
urged to support the efforts of the Town and the Friends of Bolin Creek
to preserve this, our community's natural treasure.

This the 28th day of November 2005

Michael R. Nelson, Mayor

Also, from the Chapel Hill News event calendar:

BOLIN CREEK DAY -- Fund-raiser for Friends of Bolin Creek with music by Katherine Whalen and Robert Griffin, a presentation by Dave Otto; refreshments and a raffle, starting at 5:30 p.m. at Townsend and Bertram, Carr Mill Mall.


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