Planning commission

October brings cooler weather, the anticipation of Halloween and fall festivals, and the first Tuesday of the month, which means it’s time for a Planning Commission meeting.

First, the basics: As always, you can find Planning Commission agendas on the Town’s agenda website. Just scroll down and click “Meeting Details” next to the upcoming meeting. That link will take you to a web page for the meeting, including a link to the hard copy (PDF) of the agenda which includes links to supporting documents, and individual pages for each item that is being discussed.

First on the agenda is the approval of the minutes of the September 19 meeting. The commissioners provided additional comments on the Chapel Hill Crossing project on Old Chapel Hill Road and Pope Road, which the Town Council approved last Wednesday. Second, the Commission voted unanimously to recommend approval of the Hillmont development south of NC 54 and east of Barbee Chapel Road, on the southeastern edge of Chapel Hill.

There are two projects for the Planning Commission to consider—a minor subdivision of property near Wegman’s, and review of the Gateway residential development near the Chapel Hill Crossing Site.

Administrative Minor Subdivision Review – Agree Chapel Hill NC LLC

Much of Planning Commission’s mission is to provide advice to Town Council on major development applications, such as applications for rezoning, that are ultimately decided upon by the Town Council. However, there are a small set of applications for which the Town Council does not think it needs to decide, but which Town Council believes requires more than just staff review and approval. These are given to Planning Commission for its review and decision.

One of these applications is for a “minor subdivision,” which the Land Use Management Ordinance defines to mean an application to split a single parcel of property into no more than four separate parcels, where no new streets or water, sewage, or drainage improvements are involved. That’s the type of application being considered here, which is a request to split the parcel of property that holds the Wegman’s satellite parking lot into two separate parcels. Here’s the request:

Proposed subdivision of Wegman's satellite parking lot
Proposed subdivision of Wegman’s satellite parking lot

And… that’s it. Staff has determined that the application meets the Town standards, and each of the new parcels will meet the minimum size requirements of the Town’s Land Use Management Ordinance. If the Planning Commission agrees, it’ll be approved.

Back when Wegman’s development application was under consideration, yours truly suggested that the store provided way too much parking, meaning more impervious surface and a more fraught environment for bicyclists and pedestrians. Experience has shown that the lot never approached full, not even during the busiest shopping days of the year. And, well, it seems that Wegman’s finally agrees.

Gateway Conditional Zoning Application

This is a request to rezone property in the general vicinity of the Chapel Hill Crossing project, between East Lakeview Drive and North White Oak Drive.

Location of proposed Gateway project in Chapel Hill, between East Lakeview Drive and North White Oak Drive.

It includes 316 dwelling units in a four-story and three-story building, and the developer has offered two potential affordable housing options. One would provide a site that could accommodate a 72-unit building that would be reserved for senior citizens, funded using the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program which has been used to fund other affordable housing developments in the region. Because these 72 units would exceed the Town’s requirement of 48 units, the developer suggests that the 24 extra units could be used to meet the affordable housing requirements for a future market-rate development with 228 units. The project would be contingent on the award of the highly competitive LIHTC credits, but the developer notes that the site would be turned over to the Town or an affordable housing developer if it fails to garner credits within five LIHTC application cycles.

The other option would provide 24 for-sale townhomes, with eight reserved for households under 65% of the Area Median Income (AMI), eight reserved for households under 80% AMI, and eight reserved for households under 100% AMI.

The site plan is available here.

Geoff Green, AICP lives in Chapel Hill. In his day job he's a practicing urban planner; in his spare time he rides his electric bike around town and advocates for improved facilities so that everyone can...