Development in Northwest Chapel Hill

The unchecked growth charted for NW Chapel Hill will not only effectively choke off many of the neighborhoods in the area, but will, in a metastatic line of attack have negative effects on the entire town.

Can schools absorb 1000 new students?
Can roads (especially Weaver Dairy Road) absorb thousands of additional cars?
Can an over stressed environment absorb more impervious surfaces, pollution, and waste?

We cannot continue to just focus on each of these proposals as though they were an entity unto themselves. We must see how each one of them fits into the greater whole of the huge number of residences already here.

This “gateway” entrance into Chapel Hill will be one that greets people with bumper to bumper traffic. Neighborhoods to the west of MLK Jr. Blvd. will be isolated from the option of walkability that this area has the potential to offer.

There must be a moratorium on all plans in the NW Quadrant. There must be a study done on how this area can continue to exist as a viable part of the community if development continues in this haphazard fashion.

See below for a list of projects currently proposed or approved - hopefully it is complete...

Weaver Dairy Road: Seventh Day Adventist Church (where Sage and WDR will meet after Sage is extended) 14,000 Sq. ft. CONGREGATION FROM ALL OVER THE TRIANGLE (MORE TRAFFIC FROM I-40 DOWN WDR)
Habitat for Humanity: 31+ units (according to latest proposal)
York Residential: 374 apts between University Sta Rd & Carol Woods along I-40
Vilcom: Dawson Hall-73,000 sq ft. + another bldg in 2008
Residences at Chapel Hill North: 123 units/242 parking spaces + 180,000 sq feet left for development MLK: Restaurant (@ I-40)
Walgreen's and small scale retail with entrance on both WDR and MLK
Altemueller Property (just south of Fire Station 4) RAM Development: concept 72 units/retail/office
United Orange Methodist Church: adding 38M sq ft (from 19M sq ft) & adding 147 parking spaces
Townhouse Apts - RAM Development: 335 condos and 22 townhomes (at Hillsborough Rd-but where will they shop?)
Northhampton Terrace
Homestead Rd Aquatics Center
Senior Center
Men's Shelter
Seawell School Rd/Homestead-72 units
Claremont - Zinn Builders -79 units
Winmore further down, but will affect traffic/shopping/I-40
Carolina Commons "
Eubanks Rd: Public Works
Animal Shelter
Chapel Watch 123 units
Eubanks Rd Neighborhood Serving Mixed Use Ctr (across from CH North)


Although I don't agree with Del 100%, I think she raises some important questions about our piecemeal approach to development review.

My personal feeling is that it's not the amount of growth that is threatening this area, but the nature of it. For example, if more people lived on streets that contributed to the transportation infrastructure (instead of cul-de-sacs that are essentially publicly maintained driveways), there would be more ways to get around and less congestion on those essential arterial streets. If neighborhoods and stores were compact and walkable, people would be able to use transit more often.

The Town of Chapel Hill is about to undertake a Small Area Plan for the Greene Tract which is a part of this larger area, but this plan will be dealing with very different issues such as affordable housing and environmental justice (I hope). As Del points out, Carolina North looming and Martin Luther King Blvd, Weaver Dairy Road, and Estes Drive (and all of the neighborhoods that connect to them) will be seeing some changes.

As our community stops sprawling and starts to grow in a more urban way, we really have to rethink how we look at short-term development as part of our long-term land-use patterns.

Like Ruby, I agree that Del has raised some important concerns about the large amount of proposed development for the northeast quandrant. But also like Ruby (I think it must be the common experience of having served on the Transportation Board) I think we need to be focusing on demanding new development that is amenable to forms of transportation other than the automobile (bus, bike, pedestrian). There is no reason why this town cannot handle a sufficient amount of growth if it develops more efficient means of moving people around. Some of the more desirable cities in America have much more denser communities than we will ever see but they developed the necessary transportation infrastructures to support such density and they usually did it before the density became an insurmountable problem. I am not a strong proponent of moratoria, although they can sometimes be a valuable tool. Chapel Hill is going to grow, in spite of what some people want or would choose. I think the best answer is to make sure that we develop the necessary infrastructure to support such growth and to insure that the developers bear their fair share of the burden of providing that infrastructure.

Meant to say northwest quandrant.

I'm not too sure where the disagreement lays. I am worried about car gridlock not only because of the number of cars that are tacitly worked into developments, but also because there is no viable alternative but to use them. Walkability, especially for the hundreds of home west of MLK,is sadly not an option despite the fact that almost anything anyone could want is tantalizingly close by. Having come down many years ago from NYC, I certainly appreciate the advantages of density, walkability, and, especially, a solid transportation system.
I know that there won't be a moratorium-it is only a fantasy, but I am worried that all of this proposed development will occur before any necessary infrastructure is put in place.

What is limiting concentrated growth at Chapel Hill North? I'm with Del and Ruby on the patchwork quality of these developments.

Looming over this spotty growth is Carolina North and its impact. With the approaches to CN from the North being built, I wonder if this is just the prelude....

At Nov. 20th's meeting, one of the potential transit routes (the red-line) was taken off the table pending further discussion. This particular line would service the patchwork of developments Del has skillfully listed.

GeorgeC, what are your thoughts on that?

Part of that same proposal was to identify areas of potential high density development. The purple splotches asymmetrically distributed throughout Chapel Hill looked pretty scabrous.

Del, at the Nov. 20th Council hearing, one of the speakers (on the downtown development) implored Council to think of Chapel Hill 50 years out. What is our vision for that Chapel Hill?

My vision, as I bet yours is, is at odds with the pattern of development we're currently seeing. Sure, the Comprehensive plan(s) capture some of our Town's desires but, I believe, each fails in presenting a coherent, consistent view of that future.

In the business world we refer to this as the "elevator talk". What can you concisely sketch out the value of your vision to a potential customer in the time it takes to rise a few floors?

What can Council do, now, so that when you close your eyes and imagine our town 20, 30, 50 years from now - that what you see in your minds eye lines up with what they see?


As you know, I've been a strong advocate of significantly increasing our public transit service right now, even before the need is blatantly obvious. And I've advocated doing that through what I consider to be a minimal increase in taxes (as you noted,

Don't know what happened to the rest of my previous post but I'll try again.


As you know, I've been a strong advocate of significantly increasing our public transit service right now, even before the need is blatantly obvious. And I've advocated doing that through what I consider to be a minimal increase in taxes (as you yourself noted,

I give up, that's twice my post was cut off. Must be a gremlin in the system somewhere.

George, make sure there aren't any fancy invisible characters in there somewhere...


I'm not doing anything different from what I've always done but I'll give it a third shot.


In response to your question, as you know I've been a strong proponent of increasing our current level of transit service right now, without any additional development to force the issue. I've even advocated increasing the service through a minimal tax increase (


I'm not doing anything different from what I've always done. My posts have been "cut off" when sent from two different computers.

Bad gremlins; bad, bad gremlins!!

George C wrote:

I think we need to be focusing on demanding new development that is amenable to forms of transportation other than the automobile (bus, bike, pedestrian).

Until there are places for people to work in town and housing that the people who do work here can afford, everyone will have to have a car to drive to Raleigh or Durham to work, or to drive from Burlington or Pittsboro to CH for their job at the university.

I love all this attention to transportation and compact development, but I continue to think the town has the cart before the horse. In the absence of plans to create a community in which people can work, live and play, we'll always be talking about ALTERNATIVE transportation, as in the first choice being the automobile.

GeorgeC, thanks for trying so hard to post a response. I believe I know where you're coming from... If you want, send me your post via email ( campaign AT ) and I'll post it on your behalf.


It's a utopian vision to think that everyone can live, work , and play in Chapel Hill so they won't need a car but for the occasional trip to visit out-of-town friends or family. There will always be people who work outside of Chapel Hill but still enjoy living in the Town as well as those who don't live in Chapel Hill but work here. That's why we need not only a public transit (bus, rail, bike, ped) plan for Chapel hill & Carrboro but a plan that is regional as well. And we need it yesterday because growth & development doesn't want to wait another ten years while we "plan" for the future. The future is coming at us now.


Since my last post (response to terri) seemed to work, I'll try again. I've always been a strong proponent of increasing our bus transit service in Chapel Hill. I've even proposed raising taxes to pay for an approximate 10% increase in service. By your (and my) calculations this would amount to

I agree on the "everyone" George, but I've lived in nice bustling downtowns where I worked, lived, and played. Heck, I even had that in downtown Chapel Hill 30 years ago. I will continue to think that should become the norm again. When it does, I hope there will be a multifaceted transportation system in place. I just don't think we can continue to talk transit, transit, transit and forget about jobs, jobs, and jobs.

George, it seems to cut you off when you are about to cite an amount of money. Try leaving off the dollar sign...?

As a resident of Northwood - west of MLK,Jr., south of Eubanks and north of WDR ext., I'd like to thank Del and others who are in support of a plan for our NW area that is not piecemeal, but will be an area that is tied together by an active communities plan and not by car transportation alone. I encourage you to try and cross MLK, Jr. in the crosswalk at WDR and MLK, Jr.
Wouldn't it reflect the best of Chapel Hill if cars leaving the freeway at Exit 266 (Route 86) entered an area that reflects the best of what Chapel Hill is all about and not a hodge podge of lights, signs, neon, with citizens dashing between gridlocked cars to try and catch a bus or buy a loaf of bread? It's not too late to influence this view - most of the development is still in the planning stage. We need to DESIGN this area as a whole unit, complete with crosswalks, sidewalks, interconnectivity of people first rather than cars first. Then each proposal can do their part to support the design. We have an Active Community grant, as I understand it, and connecting east of MLK, Jr. with west of MLK, Jr. seems a worthy project.

How cool that this came up as Random with the 10 year plan on the way. The more things change...


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