Ken Larsen's web site - Ephesus-Fordham Summary
Below is a summary of Ephesus-Fordham that was written by Diane Willis and sent out to a few neighborhood listservs on June 26, 2014.
The purpose of this letter is to give you an update on the very complex Ephesus-Fordham (E-F) redevelopment project initiated by the Town, with which many of you have had some participation at one time or another since 2010. Please find a map showing zoning in the EF District here.
May 12, 2014 – What did Council do?
Council voted 6 – 3 to rezone almost the
entire Ephesus-Fordham (E-F) district in a way that vastly increases the
value of the rezoned properties, allows property owners to build
high-density seven-story structures in most of the district, eliminates the
right of the public to participate in the review of development proposals,
and, in return for this largess, procures no public benefits at all; no
affordable housing, no public parks or greenways, no land or money for
future schools, nothing. Three Council members— Matt Czajkowski, Jim
Ward, and Ed Harrison—responded to citizen concerns and voted against
the blanket rezoning, but they were outnumbered by the council members who
voted for what Jim Ward accurately referred to as “a giant giveaway to a
handful of property owners and developers.”
Those of us who contributed to the planning process, attended the public meetings, spoke at Council public hearings, met with Town staff, educated ourselves with all of the Town’s documents as the process went along, and kept ourselves and the neighborhoods as informed as possible, were hoping to delay the vote until the redevelopment plans were more complete and more aligned with what the public had indicated that they wanted in the E-F district. Instead, the Mayor rushed the vote.
Council also voted that night to remove the properties south and west of Elliott Rd. from the E-F district rezoning at Sally Green’s suggestion ostensibly perhaps in the future to use density incentives with builders/developers to get affordable housing.What does this vote mean for E-F?
Stormwater runoff QUALITY provisions were inserted into the FBC (a good
thing!) such that each property owner will make provisions to abide by those
requirements. But there are no provisions for controlling water
QUANTITY, unless the project increases impervious surface, so that impacts
on downstream flooding remain a big concern as more parts of the upper
Booker Creek Watershed are built out.
Areas of concern that must be addressed outside of the FBC include:
Implementation to date
Stormwater District (part of the Municipal Services District that was approved May 19, but the tax rate has not been set)
Stormwater Management Master Plan will be considered again by the Town Council on Sept 22. It involves doing studies of sub-watersheds, including Lower Booker Creek (which affects Eastgate and properties downstream).
Transportation: The June 16 Council meeting included a presentation by Town staff and developer Roger Perry’s representative (Scott Murray) on 25% of the Town’s road plan for E-F. No over-all plan was apparent; all of it was piecemeal, including the E-F intersection, modification of the superstreet from Franklin St. across Fordham Blvd. to the E-F district, entrance changes to Ram’s Plaza, entrance changes to Eastgate from Fordham Blvd. (but only a short distance), and two sections of (private? --- paid for with public money???) road in Village Plaza to benefit Roger Perry’s proposed project at the old theater site. Another example of the piecemeal plan is that only a portion of the bikeway will be built along Elliott Rd., making it useless for bike riders.
Projects most likely to happen are:
a) Roger Perry’s ~$40+m mixed-use/residential project at the old movie theater site in Village Plaza
b) the DHIC affordable housing project if they get their funding from the State
c) a new CVS store in Ram’s Plaza near the corner of the E-F intersection
d) possible replacement of the Park Apts.(formerly called Colony Apts.)
Only a and b were discussed recently at a public meeting, and the CVS project was mentioned by Councilman Ed Harrison recently at a community picnic. Long term leases at Village Plaza and Rams Plaza preclude other major changes in those locations for a number of years.
What can we do now?
1. We can all pay attention! This is especially important with regard to the implementation of the stormwater and transportation parts of the E-F projects and what the Town Manager decides to do about them. We need to keep track of what projects will get paid for in what ways and by whom --- the public or the developers. Already there has been confusion over this point. At the June 16 Council meeting, the Town staff actually advocated public funding for an entrance road on private property into developer Roger Perry’s project, which was never before mentioned as a road to be subsidized by the taxpayers. (See this letter http://ourtownchapelhill.org/ephesus-fordham/letters-about-paying-for-roger-perrys-road/)
2. Since neither a community vision nor the details for accomplishing it were incorporated into the FBC, it will be uncharted territory for the Town staff to try to negotiate and make decisions about in-coming projects. We will endeavor to keep you up to date on what is happening and communicate with you about the issues and their implications as they come along.
3. Although the public will no longer be consulted for public review of projects in the E-F area, the Manager will bring some issues to the Council. That is where there will be opportunities to comment to Council in public meetings, to write to the Mayor and Council and individual Council members, and to write letters to the Chapel Hill News. We are thrilled with the recent articulate and well-informed letters in the paper. Keep them coming! The Council needs to know that we are paying attention. We will continue to press this Council for open communication and accountability!
4. If you would like to join a listserv devoted to Chapel Hill issues, please contact Carson Stuart at CarStuart@gmail.com and he will send you an invitation. Citizens began the listserv during the Central West Small Area Plan process, and continued it through the E-F zoning debate. The listserv has 3 council members, some town staff, and some developers on it and is open to anyone. Carson is currently developing a list of rules for civil discourse.