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Development Agreement FAQs

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Frequently Asked Questions

Where is Carolina North?
Carolina North is located about 2 miles north of the UNC Chapel Hill main campus, just west of Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

What is a Development Agreement?
A development agreement is a unique tool that is useful for large projects that will be built over many years. A development agreement provides the developer (in this case, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) a level of certainty about what it can build and what mitigation measures will be required. It also provides the Town with the opportunity to look at the long-term horizon and make sure it fits with the Town’s comprehensive planning efforts and local policies.

Development agreements allow greater latitude and more creative solutions to addressing development impacts. They allow greater flexibility to the Town in determining conditions and requirements for the project. They allow the developer greater assurances that the project can be built once it is approved without fear that later changes in regulations will significantly affect the later phases of development.

Why was a rezoning necessary for the Development Agreement?
While development agreements are permitted by the State of North Carolina, the Town of Chapel Hill did not yet have a zoning ordinance that allowed use of the development agreement tool. The U-1 district (section 3.5.5 of the Land Use Management Ordinance) permits development agreements “to allow for orderly and sustainable growth and major new development while mitigating impacts to nearby neighborhoods, the community, and the environment”

What does the Development Agreement allow?
For twenty years, the Development Agreement allows up to 3 million square feet of a mixed-use campus on approximately 133 acres in the southeast portion of the Carolina North property. Approximately 673 acres of property in Chapel Hill are owed by the University and subject to the development agreement. The University also owns contiguous property in Carrboro, an adjacent municipality.

The agreement allows certain activities, such as trails and utilities, outside the 133 acres of campus development. Those activities are described in Article 5 of the agreement.
What is the relationship of between Carolina North and the Horace Williams Airport?
The airport currently occupies a portion of the Carolina North tract and much of the long-term development is planned for the area currently used as a runway. After the airport is deactivated, the University will assess the environmental impacts of the airport (5.19).

Who decided what would be in the Development Agreement?
On January 13, 2008, the Town Council and the Chancellor and representatives of the University Board of Trustees agreed to work on a development review process for Carolina North. Throughout 2008 and 2009, a joint staff work group met regularly to assist with that process. The Council authorized development of a new zoning district and agreement in June 2008 and for the next year, the Council and the Chancellor and the Board of Trustee representatives held a series of public negotiation session to work on the agreement. There were also public input sessions, meetings with the Town and University staffs, advisory boards followed by a public hearing and approval by the Town Council of the zone and agreement on June 22, 2009. The University Board of Trustees also approved the agreement. It has been signed on behalf of the Town and the University and recorded in the Orange County Register of Deeds office.

Is the Innovation Center in the Development Agreement?
The Innovation Center was approved by the Chapel Hill Town Council as a Special Use Permit prior to the negotiation of the Development Agreement. It can be built according to the terms of that permit and its presence was anticipated in the University’s plan for Carolina North and the Development Agreement.

Where can I see the public meetings?
All the materials and video recordings of the development agreement process are on the town’s website on the Carolina North History Page.

How was it possible to know what would happen in the next 20 years and how to mitigate for it?
The development agreement is a framework for the campus development with different types of mitigation measures. For instance, open space conservation easements must be recorded before the first building is approved and stormwater management design standards must be met when a building application is submitted to the town. The transportation and traffic mitigation measures are typically tied to certain levels of development or certain time frames. Other requirements include annual reporting, periodic studies, or one-time projects. There are plenty of opportunities in the development agreement for the Town and the University to work together to ensure that the agreement is functioning as intended.

Who keeps track of all the requirements?
The Town and the University have staffs that are responsible for implementing the different parts of the agreement. The University will make an annual report to the Town about the status of the development, including information on how much has been built and what mitigation measures have been implemented.
When the University submits an application for a Town staff approval of a campus building, the Town planning staff is responsible for making sure the application meets the requirements of the agreement and that any required mitigation measures are implemented.

What impact will the proposed residential development have on traffic in Chapel Hill?
The Transportation Impact Analysis for Carolina North was completed in June 2009 and Updated in December 2009. The findings of that analysis show the estimated impacts for the first 800,000 square feet of development and the first 3,000,000 square feet of development at Carolina North. Certain conditions of the Development Agreement were written to mitigate the transportation impacts of the development. Copies of the reports are available on the Town’s website on the Documents and Reports page for Carolina North.

How much parking is allowed at Carolina North?
The development agreement allows up to 1,525 parking spaces with the first 800,000 square feet of development. The annual report will show how much parking is built each year. If the University achieves reductions in the baseline parking ratios or the number of single-occupancy vehicle trips, some of the mitigation measures that were in the Transportation Impact Analysis for the project may be reduced.

Will there be bike facilities?
The campus is planned to be a bike and pedestrian friendly development with connections to local greenways and sidewalks. There are some specific requirements for bicycle improvements (5.8.1) and a requirement that the Town and University work together on identifying a greenway/bicycle connection between Carolina North and the main campus.

What will the campus look like?
The University’s design guidelines for Carolina North are attached to the development agreement. They describe the qualities the University will seek as buildings are designed and reviewed by the University. There are certain standards in the development agreement about height and setbacks(5.12), especially along Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. The University’s Board of Trustees has responsibility for approving the design of Carolina North buildings.

Where do I find information on….
• Base Zoning (U-1)
• Changes to the development agreement (U-1)
• Permitted Uses 5.2
• Housing 5.4
• Open space preservation 5.5
• Stormwater utility 5.7
• Transportation (transit, parking, streets, sidewalks, bikeways and greenways) 5.8
• Fiscal impacts 5.9
• Energy 5.10
• Water use, reuse, reclamation and utility site 5.11
• Design standards and public art 5.12
• Police, fire, EMS facilities 5.13
• Public schools 5.14
• Recreation Areas 5.15
• Greenways 5.16
• Historic and cultural features 5.17
• Solid waste management 5.18
• Landfill and other remediation 5.19
• Stream buffers 5.20
• Trees and landscaping in developed areas 5.21
• Sedimentation 5.22
• Neighboring lands, compatibility, buffers 5.23
• Noise 5.24
• Lighting5.25
• Existing conditions 5.26 and Exhibits A-F
• Annual report 5.27 and Carolina North Website
• Schedule of triggers and thresholds for actions 5.28
• Maps Development Agreement Exhibits A-F and Exhibits G-L

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