Supporting Leaders Who Listen

American Legion Property Bought by Town

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The public part of the story starts with this standing room only crowd attending a public meeting held at the American Legion to hear a pitch by Woodfields Llc to build luxury apartments. It ends happily with the Town purchasing the property to establish a park.

How did a closed Town Council session allow the Town to miss the opportunity to buy the last large tract left in northern Chapel Hill?  Read about it here.

November Update

The American Legion Task Force (TF), chaired by new Council member, Rachel Schaevitz, met on November 9. The TF decided in October that it needed more input from underserved populations, so it designed and implemented a survey that is being circulated in all in-town elementary and middle schools. This survey generated 902 responses as of November 9 and will conclude on November 12. It is aimed at reaching families with elementary and middle school children who may not have participated in the April charrette or through other means.

The Town now has data on land use preferences from the April charrette, Parks and Recreation Dept., Parks, Greenways and Recreation Commission, several interested organizations, the current survey, and from Task Force members. Note: the mayor and the two council members on the Task Force did not vote. Below is a list of top 10 preferred land uses:

  • Open space, perhaps with a pavilion for events, farmer’s market, etc.
  • Indoor gym-based sports
  • Water play (fountains, splash-pad, other water activities)
  • Walk areas (trails, parkland)
  • Net and court-based sports
  • Community Center (which could contain some of uses listed above and below)
  • Outdoor hard-surface sports (basketball, roller hockey, etc.)
  • Outdoor gatherings
  • Play fields (Frisbee, kites, etc.)
  • Children’s playground, natural spaces

The TF noted that Ephesus Elementary School still is interested in partnering with the Town in some way. Businesses and non-profits continue to be interested also. TF reiterated the importance of following the 10 Guiding Principles presented to Council in June (www.townofchapelhill.org/home/showdocument?id=36152)

There was more discussion about specific criteria for using the land. The TF decided not to include those at this time. Members of the public in attendance on November 9 (and several TF members) asked that there be no recommendation for sale of any of the property at this time. Task Force members repeated their interest in doing additional work on site content and placement. Council had asked that its work conclude by December. Mayor Hemminger asked for a show of hands as to whether members were able and willing to work on a detailed Comprehensive Plan. About ¾ of those present raised their hand.

The Town Council is due to receive the report at its November 29 regular meeting.

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It is a testament to Mayor Hemminger’s leadership that the Town was able to revisit the use of this property, whose use had seemed to be determined by closed meeting proceedings. The Mayor urged the staff to look into accepting the American Legion’s offer to purchase the property for Town use. The Town received hundreds of letters and obtained much community input on the final Council decision. Finally after much negotiation with the property owners, the Chapel Hill Town Council agreed to purchase the 36.2-acre American Legion Property on Legion Road.

AMERICAN LEGION PROPERTY MAP

Subsequently the Town Council established the American Legion Task Force to represent a spectrum of viewpoints in considering possible future uses of the American Legion property. See town webpage for more information.

What has the American Legion Road Property Task Force Been Doing?

The Task Force is comprised of 12 members, with two alternates, including the Mayor, two Council members and community and business representatives. The elected chair is Town Council Candidate Rachel Schaevitz, and vice chair Neal Bench, member of the Planning Commission. The Task Force also includes representatives from the Planning Commission; the Parks, Greenways and Recreation Commission; the Cultural Arts Commission; the Chapel Hill/ Orange County Visitors Bureau; and Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools.   The Task Force met four times in the spring of 2017.

Development of the American Legion property is constrained by the Resource Conservation District, which totals 8.6 acres and includes the stream and stream buffer, and by areas with steep slopes greater than 15%, which total 1.3 acres. That leaves 28.2 developable acres, including the 3.1- acre pond, which could be partially or completely removed.

During the time alloted to it, the Task Force drafted and adopted Development Principles and Future Considerations and Next Steps, and it put forward a draft List of Potential Land Uses, which are based on uses identified during the charrette.  These documents are included in the Task Force report on the Town’s website.  See this link.  

Next steps:  The Task Force will reconvene for four additional meetings in the fall of 2017 to take on the following tasks:

  • Develop a list of key criteria to fulfil the Development Principles for Public/Private Partnerships, with support from Town staff
  • Develop an evaluation process for potential partners for Council to use to vet future land use proposals.

November Update

The American Legion Task Force (TF), chaired by new Council member, Rachel Schaevitz, met on November 9. The TF decided in October that it needed more input from underserved populations, so it designed and implemented a survey that is being circulated in all in-town elementary and middle schools. This survey generated 902 responses as of November 9 and will conclude on November 12. It is aimed at reaching families with elementary and middle school children who may not have participated in the April charrette or through other means.

The Town now has data on land use preferences from the April charrette, Parks and Recreation Dept., Parks, Greenways and Recreation Commission, several interested organizations, the current survey, and from Task Force members. Note: the mayor and the two council members on the Task Force did not vote. Below is a list of top 10 preferred land uses:

  • Open space, perhaps with a pavilion for events, farmer’s market, etc.
  • Indoor gym-based sports
  • Water play (fountains, splash-pad, other water activities)
  • Walk areas (trails, parkland)
  • Net and court-based sports
  • Community Center (which could contain some of uses listed above and below)
  • Outdoor hard-surface sports (basketball, roller hockey, etc.)
  • Outdoor gatherings
  • Play fields (Frisbee, kites, etc.)
  • Children’s playground, natural spaces

The TF noted that Ephesus Elementary School still is interested in partnering with the Town in some way. Businesses and non-profits continue to be interested also. TF reiterated the importance of following the 10 Guiding Principles presented to Council in June (www.townofchapelhill.org/home/showdocument?id=36152)

There was more discussion about specific criteria for using the land. The TF decided not to include those at this time. Members of the public in attendance on November 9 (and several TF members) asked that there be no recommendation for sale of any of the property at this time. Task Force members repeated their interest in doing additional work on site content and placement. Council had asked that its work conclude by December. Mayor Hemminger asked for a show of hands as to whether members were able and willing to work on a detailed Comprehensive Plan. About ¾ of those present raised their hand.

The Town Council is due to receive the report at its November 29 regular meeting.

 

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