Chapel Hill Board ponders growth issues

Friday, August 11, 2017
Chapel Hill aldermen Horace Hill, Marion Joyce, and Jan Darnell discuss the town’s future growth plans at a work session on Monday.
Tribune photo by Scott Pearson

Anyone expecting sparks at the work session in Chapel Hill on Monday would have been disappointed.

The Mayor and Board of Aldermen held the session to discuss the town’s plans for growth.

The session was scheduled after an overflow crowd attended a special called meeting on the previous Monday, concerned about plans to rezone a 55-acre parcel between Eagleville Pike and Stevens Road.

Preliminary plans for the parcel call for the development of up to 156 single-family homes, as well as up to 100 town homes, on the property.

Area residents expressed concerns about the impact that such a development would have on the infrastructure and character of Chapel Hill.

Aldermen decided to table the second reading of this proposed rezoning resolution for further discussion, although two other rezoning requests were passed at the prior meeting.

The work session focused on the overall growth plan for the town as well as the infrastructure questions raised by residents.

Some of those who had objected to the rezoning attended the meeting, but the Eagleville Pike parcel was rarely mentioned specifically. Since the meeting was a board work session no public comment was taken.

The growth overview presented to the aldermen drew heavily from the plan currently being developed by the town as part of a transportation plan grant from the Tennessee Department of Transportation.

TDOT expanded the scope of the planning to allow land use and development goals as well as simply transportation.

A steering committee has been meeting this year with TDOT, planning firms, and other stakeholders in order to develop the plan, and a public hearing on the results was held several months ago.

The overall message was that denser residential development such as that proposed for Eagleville Pike met the standards of smart growth espoused in the plan.

Denser development is preferred because it limits sprawl and preserves green space, while the concentration of development lowers infrastructure costs, especially in a town the size of Chapel Hill, with only 1.5 square miles of area.

The aldermen went into detail about the current state of infrastructure and the ability to handle additional growth.

Town Administrator Mark Graves said that he had informal discussions with the Board of Education regarding schools and that he felt like they were monitoring growth, especially in the northern parts of the county, and the demands that it would bring on school capacity.

Water service is an issue across the county and region as a whole, and a county-wide study of water supply in the future is getting underway.

Graves noted that the town was not under a development moratorium due to issues with water supply and that pressure within the town limits was sufficient due to the elevation of the two storage tanks within the system.

The town has a master plan developed last year for sewer expansion and phase I of the plan is designed and waiting on funding decisions.

“Based on what we are seeing and what we are doing, we should be able to handle the current projects that are planned,” said Mayor Danny Bingham.

Second reading of the proposed rezoning resolution will take place at the next monthly BOMA meeting on August 14 at 6 p.m.