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Obey Creek Development

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Obey Creek Site Plan

Benefits for a few, costs for the rest of us.

Obey Creek is a proposed mixed-use development that will be located across 15/501 from Southern Village, the Southern Gateway to Chapel Hill.  As you can see from this aerial view of the proposed plan, it’s size will dwarf Southern Village, pave over areas of natural woodland now designated low density, and add 16,000 auto trips per day to the southern end of Chapel Hill and 15/501. Our major travel arteries 15- 501 and Fordham Boulevard  could become a parking lot.

On June 15, 2015 Town Council voted to approve this development with only one dissenting vote from Ed Harrison despite opposition from over 600 citizens on a petition, through numerous emails to the Mayor and Town Council,  many public statements made at public hearings and the expressed opinions of the Planning Commission and the Community Design Commission.

What did we say we wanted in Obey Creek?

  • Full citizen participation
  • Mix of uses to increase non-residential and commercial tax base
  • Size, scale and design complementary to Southern Village business core
  • Building heights from 2 – 6 stories with 75’ maximum
  • Transit oriented development – road and bus service that can handle square footage approved
  • New affordable and workforce housing
  • Expanded shopping opportunities
  • Community amenities
  • State of the art stormwater facilities
  • Revenue positive project for the town to help tax bills
  • Consideration of alternatives that would address traffic, design and fiscal concerns

What are we getting?

  • Overwhelming call for smaller project by public and Planning Commission
  • Biggest component is residential – office and retail component reduced
  • Density similar to New York City; building footprint larger than UNC Medical campus
  • Heights up to 155’ on Main Street, 200’ above creek
  • Limited transit to serve new project – will cause increased traffic congestion
  • High-end apartments with few affordable units, no workforce housing
  • Preserved green space with trails
  • No big box store; small local merchants can’t afford this space
  • Release of school site with no negotiated benefit for CHCCS
  • Good protection for water quality but uncontrolled flooding
  • Increased taxes due to capital costs and expanded town services

What are the landowners and real estate developers getting?

  • Millions of dollars worth of new land entitlements voted for by Mark Kleinschmidt, Lee Storrow, Donna Bell and Jim Ward.

What can we do now that it is passed?

  • Write to our elected officials and ask them to insist on the highest level of enforcement during construction; reprogram transit funds for bus transportation
  • Stay informed: Visit and sign up for the CHALT newsletter
  • Vote for a change: This November, vote for candidates who will ensure that new development in Chapel Hill serves the public interest. See CHALT’s endorsements here:


More information:

Read about the public hearing on May 18, 2015  CHAPEL HILL NEWS

Read CHALT’s Open Letter to the Mayor and Town Council on May 17, 2015.

Read  CHALT’s Statement – After The Obey Creek Vote

Past articles and commentary from citizens:

Does the Town Council want Citizen Input on Obey Creek?

Chapel Hill News – Joe Buonfiglio Opinion

Chapel Hill News – Susana Dancy Guest Column