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New Developments

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By Jonathan Yeomans, on June 28, 2010

I know that Chapel Hill is Emily’s territory, but this recent N&O article touches on some development issues I discussed in my last post (Popsicle rule).

The basic thrust of the article is that Chapel Hill is having a hard time recruiting and keeping businesses, and part of the reason is slow development review and stricter development standards.

The piece illustrates a drawback to development regulations that governments use to create that compact, mixed-use development I talked about it. Yes, there is less sprawl. Yes, more places are walkable and  it’s nicer aesthetically. But when a company wants to relocate or expand, do they buy smaller, more expensive property with more zoning restrictions, or the large, cheap lot with plenty of space for parking (cars)?

At least one company’s answer is here:

Before it moved to Durham’s Quadrangle Park in 2003, Rho’s leaders had considered leasing space in Meadowmont but decided it was too expensive and didn’t provide enough parking because the Town Council had restricted the number of spaces. That’s an example of how high development standards have discouraged commercial growth in Orange County.

Helms said he understood the town’s efforts to force commuters into public transit, but with employees traveling from all over the Triangle, adequate parking is critical to Rho’s success.

Tags: development | Categories: Uncategorized | 3 Comments
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3 Responses to “New Developments”

  1. Emily Portner

    This is unfortunate to hear. I believe that the Town’s tighter regulations are coming from three different areas:

    1. “virgin” land (land that has not been developed) is nearly non-existent within Town limits. Much of the development in CH is redevelopment, and the Council wants to make sure that this redevelopment is in keeping with the Town’s history and culture.
    2. The article is right, the Town Council is committed to the mixed-use development form that allows for residential and commercial spaces with easy access to public transit, and that is conducive to alternative modes of transportation. Building a sustainable community is a priority.
    3. Although the development review process may be slow, it is meticulous and intentional. At the 6/21 Town Council meeting, the Planning department presented a plan to streamline this process and make it more efficient and transparent. With Council approval, the Planning department is now working on amending the kinks in this process.

    The Town also has an Economic Development Officer who handles issues just like this. You may want to pass this article on to him, I’m sure he’d be interested if he hasn’t already seen it.


  2. Emily Portner

    As in, I wonder if he’s seen the final article with his comments in it…

  3. Yeomans

    Great points, Emily. I recall hearing talk of improvements to the development review process. Glad to hear they are following through.

    Kinda tangental point:
    I know Dwight Bassett (Economic Development Officer) has been working hard to lure businesses to the Hill. He told me that even though many residents seem to think that Franklin Street has too many vacancies and can’t hold down a business, it actually has an occupancy rate that’s about the national average for an area its size (95 percent, I think?).

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