More discussion ahead for council on district rezoning

Apr. 26, 2014 @ 10:39 AM

A decision still has not been reached on the proposed rezoning of the Ephesus Church Road-Fordham Boulevard district.

Following staff presentations and public comments Monday and Wednesday nights, only half of the council was able to weigh in on the proposed changes before having to leave the Orange County Southern Human Services Center because of time constraints.
Most of the council members who did speak said they wanted to see the public comments as well as recommendations of several boards, including the planning board, incorporated into the proposed plan.
The discussion on the two items is scheduled to continue at 6 p.m. May 5.
“I don’t think we’re ready to vote on this, I know I’m not,” said Councilman Jim Ward. We’ve had great public participation and gotten suggestions worthy of inclusion in the plan. I don’t think the plan we have now is as good as we can do.”
The board was expected to receive information from staff, take public comments then vote on whether to approve zone atlas amendments to the Ephesus Church Road/Fordham Boulevard area and whether to change the zoning of the area.
Both of the proposed changes are said to reflect community interests that were adopted in the Chapel Hill 2020 Comprehensive Plan and the Ephesus Church-Fordham Boulevard small area plan/traffic analysis.
More than 40 residents signed up to speak on the subject, most of whom opposed the two recommendations, pointing out inadequate information, existing infrastructure problems, the flooding in the area and the appearance that the town is bending to the will of developers without regard for residents.
John Morris said that after looking over the cost analysis that was presented, a lot of costs have been left out, while Dale Coker said that he endorses smart, meaningful development “but the current plan without a charter is quite disturbing.”
Holly Fraccaro, executive vice president of the Home Builders Association of Durham, Orange and Chatham Counties, said that having spent years reviewing development plans in Chicago, this “is a very smart plan.”
“It’s addressing the issue of affordable housing,” Fraccaro said. “After a while, we’ll see that it’s doing exactly what we need it to do.”
Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Aaron Nelson said that it’s a great plan that “generates revenue in excess of cost, fixes a broken intersection …”, adding that the town has “a great vision.”
Councilman Ed Harrison said that he didn’t believe the town had met the burden of proof to change the zoning of the area while Councilwoman Maria Palmer suggested that proposed changes be submitted for a vote on an amended plan.
Councilman Matt Czajkowski stood by earlier sentiments and questioned the rush on approving the proposal but believes form-based code, which is the type of zoning being sought, is a good approach.
“You’ve raised questions that ought to absolutely be answered and you’ve raised questions about priorities,” Czajkowski told the crowd. “It’s (the proposed plan) not addressing the flooding where it needs to be addressed and we’re not generating revenue.”
Councilwoman Sally Greene said that she “didn’t see this as working against affordable housing.”
“It’s being realistic about what we can get,” she said. “We’re certainly not giving up on affordable housing. I think it’s (form-based code) the right solution if we can get it right for this part of town.”
There will be a public information session on the stormwater management master plan from 4:30-6:30 p.m. on Thursday in Room B of the Chapel Hill Public Library. A public hearing on the same issue will be held at 6 p.m. May 28.