Ken Larsen's web site - Legion Road Property issues
(2016-December 17) Great news: The Town of Chapel Hill will buy the Legion Road Property for $ 7.9 million. Cheers to Mayor Pam Hemminger for driving this deal!
As of September 2016 there exists the possibility that a 400 unit apartment complex may be built a mile from my house. Nearby residents are concerned about flooding and traffic issues. I'm using this web page to document a few of their concerns.
This is a flood zone map of the 36.2 acre American Legion property (outlined in yellow) and surrounding
area. In October 2015 it was valued at $ 4.8 million if left
at its current zoning; $ 10.3 million if rezoned to allow a mixed
used development. [details]
The wooded area between S and X drops to as low as 10 feet below
Ephesus Church Road and has a creek and a trail that children use to
walk to school.
Colony Woods neighbors objected to an early 2016 plan to connect to Fountain Ridge Road, because it would increase traffic to that quiet section of their neighborhood.
No plan or permit application has yet been officially submitted
to the Town.
Here's an article that the INDY published on January 20, 2016: "Chapel Hill passes on potential parkland to let a developer do his thing"
Here's a CHALT article on this issue:
|This is picture of the area between S and X in the previous picture. It shows a creek bisecting the area, and the level of the creek is approximately ten feet below Ephesus Church Road. Building a new road through this wet hilly area will be a significant challenge and would likely increase the risk of flooding.|
This is a picture of 1547 Ephesus Church Road on June 30, 2013.
See the X in the first picture.
Building a nearby 400 unit apartment complex will significantly add to impervious surface and increase the likelihood of future flood damage.
|(September 2016) This is the developer's concept plan.|
|Results of January 13, 2016 meeting of the developers with local residents:|
For some history on this property, see http://ourtownchapelhill.org/2016/01/03/closed-meeting-raises-questions/
For a WCHL commentary by Scott Madry on this issue, hear http://chapelboro.com/?powerpress_pinw=158312-podcast
(February 25, 2016) Bruce Henschel sent the following email to the Mayor and Town Council:
Dear Mayor and Town Council Members,
that the Council and Town Staff are giving serious consideration to
significant up-zoning of the American Legion’s 36.2-acre parcel on
parcel is an integral part of what I estimate to be 1,100 acres or more of
fully built-out low density residential development, including Colony Woods,
Adding insult to injury, 600 new upscale apartments at this location are
totally unnecessary. There are already enough upscale apartments
recently built but not yet occupied (as at East 54), or under construction
(as on Elliott Road), or in the pipeline (or soon to be in the pipeline, at
EF and elsewhere), to satisfy Chapel Hill’s demand for such housing for many
years to come. Why shoe-horn a totally unnecessary huge development
into our low-density residential area.
want to emphasize my high regard for veterans and for the American Legion.
I know members of that Legion post. They have every right to sell
their property for the best price that they can get for it. But they
can only sell what’s theirs – 36.2 acres of land zoned R-2. They
cannot sell what’s not theirs – acres of Town land for an inappropriate road
cheek-by-jowl beside busy Ephesus School playgrounds and entrance roads,
Town land for part of the new retention pond that the developer wants to
build, and a massive up-zoning of the property.
prospective developer, Woodfield, has offered the Legion $9 to $10 million
for the property, if the donated Town land and the required up-zoning are
provided. Since the Town was promised right-of-first-refusal to buy
the land a decade ago, the Legion offered the property to the Town for $9
million, an amount that the Town said it couldn’t afford, leading the Town
to forfeit its right-of-first-refusal. This is absolutely ridiculous!
I would guess that perhaps $6.5 MM of that $9 MM asking price results from
something that the Town already owns – Town land for the road by the school,
Town land for part of the retention pond, and the all-important up-zoning,
which is at the discretion of Council. The Town is bidding against
itself! Can there be any question why the citizenry looks upon its
government as, well, mismanaged?
IT IS CRUCIAL
Thank you for hearing me out. I sincerely hope that you evaluate these
Resident of Briarcliff
Mayor and Members of Council,Thank you for adding the discussion of the Legion property to your work session agenda yesterday evening (March 16, 2016).During that discussion, there were several comments about “Connectivity,” including at least one expression of a desire to see the neighborhoods around the Legion property “connected together.” I write to express my concern about that.In the absence of a specific context, “Connectivity” sounds like a way to bring people and ideas together. My understanding, however, is that the term, as being used by Council, means turning neighborhood roads into through streets. In particular, during last night’s discussion, it sounded as though some members of Council want the quiet, unconnected roads in the neighborhoods of Colony Lake, Colony Woods and The Meadows to be available to handle part of the existing traffic flow on Ephesus Church Road, Legion Road, and 15-501. It seemed as though some members of Council were interested in such an approach irrespective of what type of development, if any, proceeds on the Legion property.Connecting the neighborhood roads of Colony Lake, Colony Woods, and The Meadows together to form through streets is a not a healthy idea. The quiet roads of those neighborhoods are part of their appeal and unique character. It is part of what attracted many of us to those communities initially and part of the reason why we chose to make our homes there. Connecting those roads in order to create through streets, streets which inevitably will be used to bypass the main thoroughfares on the east side of town, will adversely affect that unique character. Changing the traffic pattern to create through streets creates a problem for neighborhoods not equipped for it. In economic terms, it is a classic externality: some of the costs (in this case, traffic) would be foisted upon parties that did not choose to incur those costs.Moreover, this approach does not truly address the nature of the problem in any meaningful way. While it might mitigate the amount of traffic on the main thoroughfares to some minor degree, it creates entirely new problems in areas that did not have them previously. By way of analogy, Council certainly would not consider addressing the flooding problem in Chapel Hill by diverting some of the runoff during storms onto properties that are normally high and dry and well above of the flood plain. The same logic applies to diverting traffic through currently quiet neighborhood roads; on balance, it just doesn't make sense.According to the Mayor’s summary of the e-mails to Council, 50% of the folks who wrote about the Legion property also stated that they did not want any vehicle connection to Colony Woods from a future development there. In addition, earlier this year, on very short notice, about 120 people gathered to express that same sentiment; attached is another copy of that photo. I encourage you to heed those sentiments and not establish through streets in Colony Lake, Colony Woods and The Meadows. Thank you.Tom Blue1540 Fountain Ridge
I am one of the council members who is a strong advocate for connectivity. Your neighborhoods were designed to be connected. Where no connection was anticipated cul du sacs were built. At points where future points of connection existed street cuts were created. The intent was to create connectivity between all the developments on that large design plat which as developed out of greenfield. Connectivity helps our police and fire forces. It allows neighbors to get from point a to point be without having to go onto legion or Ephesus. I see better connectivity to the park and the school. I do not believe that same level of connectivity is reasonable for all projects that might come to the American Legion property.
With development on that property, there will be some impacts to your neighborhood. It is going to change from the way it exists right this moment. But as a citizen of Chapel Hill who loves in a neighborhood she cherishes, I will try to protect as much of the things about your neighborhood you love while also acknowledging the change.
I hope this is useful in helping you understand my thinking, even if we do not agree.