Town Council Accepts the Obey Creek Compass Committee’s Report and Votes to Proceed to the Next Steps of the Development Agreement Process

On Monday, January 13th the Chapel Hill Town Council voted to accept the Obey Creek Compass Committee’s report, proceed with the Obey Creek development process,  and add  in a new checkpoint. During Phase 2, the Technical Team will work with developers and Town staffers to continue to revise the proposed development plan and study how it will impact the surrounding area. The study will explore potential effects on traffic, school capacity, the environment and other concerns. At the end of that phase, the Council will review the data and vote whether or not to enter into direct negotiations with developers at East West Partners.

During the meeting, The Council praised the Committee’s work, which included participating in 22 meetings starting in July, serving as a conduit to the public and,  producing a valuable report. Council member Donna Bell,  the Council liaison to the Obey Creek Compass Committee, expressed her appreciation of their work.  Thanks Obey Creek Compass Committee!


On October 7th, the Development Team presented three design concepts to the Obey Creek Compass Committee. That night and the following morning, Committee members gave feedback and asked questions of the various experts on the Technical Team, who were back in town for the work sessions. IMG_1160Equipped with the feedback, the Technical Team immediately got to work with developers to revise the designs. At the end of three days, the developers presented another iteration of the concept which reflected much of the feedback recieved. To review the design concept, go to the Obey Creek Compass Committee site.


On October 16th, it was time for more public feedback! The Development Team provided information on the current concept, and then attendees, facilitated by Compass Committee members, engaged in discussion. They worked through several key questions about the project:

  • What are you most excited about?
  • What are you most concerned about?
  • What 1-2 things do you wish you had more information about?
  • What do you want to keep about the proposal?
  • What do you wish was different?

Attendees of the public forum reported on key themes including enthusiasm over the preservation of open space, the potential of economic benefit and concern over traffic congestion, movement and mobility. To read more about the themes that emerged, click here.


Next, on October 19th, the Obey Creek Report Drafting Subcommittee got to work! Subcommittee members Aaron Nelson, Alan Rimer, and Jeanne Brown concluded that they will report on guiding principles, ways to accomplish the principles, criteria to compare, and  questions about information that is still needed.

The following week, on October 22th the Committee was back together again. This time working first as a larger group then in small groups to examine the principles associated with physical development, development impacts, mobility, and connectivity. Several ideas emerged including a preference for a compact design and feel similar to Southern Village, the importance of pedestrian and bicycle connectivity, and the desire to balance green building practices with affordability. More information on this discussion is available here. Then, on October 29th the Committee reconvened to further discuss the principles from the previous meeting and to note points of agreement, disagreement, and places where further discussion was needed.

On November 9th, the full Committee met again. The Drafting Subcommittee reported on their work and the group discussed the use and traffic mobility sections of the report. At the end of the meeting, the decision was made to petition Council to extend their work deadline from the end of November to a January meeting in order to have two additional meetings and an extended public comment period.

The next meeting will be held on November 20th at the Public Library from 6:30-9:00pm. The first 30 minutes will be dedicated to public comment. The current version of the preliminary working draft can be found on the Obey Creek Compass Committee’s webpage.

Obey Creek Compass Committee Discusses The Technical Team Report, Holds a Public Forum and Hears From Developers

On September 12th, the Obey Creek Compass Committee spent time diving into the Technical Team Issues Report. At the suggestion of facilitator Ken Broun, the Committee decided to focus their work on development topics, to use the Technical Team’s identification of issues to help guide discussion on the guiding principles for the area, and to come back to discussing the Committee’s process and final product at a later date. Members commented on issues they found important, including several aspects of connectivity and traffic flow. Committee members also remarked on what they felt the report was missing and what will need more clarification in the future.

Compass Committee Discusses Tech Team Report

On September 18th, the Compass Committee hosted a Public Forum. Ken Broun presented a summary of topics discussed by the Committee so far, including traffic, connectivity, economic development, environmental issues, design, and schools. If you are interested in the work to date summary click here.

Ken briefly discussed two of the other Committee work products, the design matrix and the visioning exercise. He invited the public to join in the headline visioning effort and “imagine what would be said about the Obey Creek Development ten years from now.” Headlines submitted were incorporated into the Committee’s list and redistributed.

The forum was an open discussion. The public asked questions and put forth their views on various topics. They discussed the importance of compliance with 15-501/Chapel Hill 2020 work, the need to mitigate traffic impacts, explore retail options, and factor in the property value impacts when determining benefits of development. Questions included:

• How do we create better paying jobs?
• Who will this area draw for shopping, living, etc.?
• How does this type of development fit into the “brand” of Chapel Hill?

Obey Creek Compass Committee Public Forum

For more notes on public comments or to view the video, visit the Obey Creek Compass Committee site.

On Sep 26th, the Compass Committee once again heard from the Development Team. Ben Perry gave the developer’s perspective on what they know, what they have heard and believed they learned through the process, and what they intended to present in their concepts at the public design workshop.

Ben Perry explained that they have heard in various forums that traffic is a concern and that connectivity is important. He also explained the high potential the development team sees for recreational opportunities and their understanding that market conditions are ripe in this fast growing area for various categories of retail. Some of Ben‘s reflections on what the developers have learned included:

• People are looking for a way to get across 15-501 safely and enjoyably
• There are high aspirations to improve Town finances
• Contributing to affordable housing is important
• The Committee wants architecture that reflects Chapel Hill

Ben Perrry Makes Presentation to Compass Committee<

To hear his presentation in its entirety, visit the Obey Creek site and view the video.

This week, the Technical Team is back in town to continue their work with the Committee and Developers. The next public Forum will be held on Wednesday, October 16th.

Compass Committee Discusses Development Options and Traffic

Over the past two weeks, the Obey Creek Compass Committee has heard from the Development Team, discussed economic and traffic impacts with Town Staff, and started a visioning process for the future of Obey Creek!

On August 28th , Roger Perry of East West Partners presented an overview of the history of the area, existing conditions, and community considerations. During his presentation, he described the development team’s desire to see connections to Southern Village, greenway possibilities, transit enhancements, public art, and green building design features. The discussion progressed to retail options (small, mid-sized, and large) and the possibility of building retail structures upwards, rather than outwards. Committee members asked the Development Team questions including what types of provisions would/could be made for town services.


Following the presentation, Dwight Basset, the Town of Chapel Hill’s Economic Development Officer, fielded queries about fiscal impacts and the types of jobs the development could attract.
Before the meeting adjourned, Kimberly Brewer, a member of The Design Impacts Matrix Subcommittee, reviewed the potential impacts and design relationships categories that the subcommittee developed. The Committee also committed to thinking through a vision for the Obey Creek of the future!

A video of the presentation and draft vision statements are available at the Obey Creek Compass Committee page at Town of Chapel Hill website.

On September 4th, the Compass Committee met with Staff Members, David Bonk and Kumar Neppalli as well as NCDOT representative, Chuck Edwards. The topic of the evening was traffic. The Committee asked questions that fell into several major categories:

• Traffic impact based on development on site
• Larger impact on Big picture of Traffic issues in Chapel Hill
• Connectivity to Southern Village and Throughout the Obey Creek Area, including pedestrian, bike, (bus) and transit
• Mitigation Factors

The next meeting will be held on September the 12th at 6:30 at the Public Works Building #1 located at 6850 Millhouse Road.

DESIGN Chapel Hill 2020 Newsletter Available

DESIGN 2020 With a dozen meetings associated with DESIGN Chapel Hill 2020 scheduled this month, it may be a bit challenging to keep up with the implementation phase of the Town of Chapel Hill’s new comprehensive plan. A lot is going on!

Catch up on DESIGN projects in the September 2013 DESIGN 2020 Newsletter.

Town Manager Roger Stancil says: “Adoption of Chapel Hill 2020 as the comprehensive plan was not an end point, but a beginning. Adoption was a goal accomplished and the beginning of a journey to our preferred future.”

For more information or to receive email updates on various projects, contact us at

Work Heats Up as the Summer Winds Down for the Obey Creek Compass Committee!

The months of July and August have been busy for the Obey Creek Compass Committee as they explore the potential for development in Obey Creek. At their August 8th “Obey Creek 101” information session,  the Committee dove into data! Guided by Town Staff, Committee members walked through the history of the area, including the South 15-501 Discussion Group Principles developed during the 2020 process, existing conditions in the area, transportation, and economic and growth considerations.

Compass Committee pic

Click here to access the Obey Creek data book.

On August 12th, Victor Dover (Technical Team Member) and national chair of the Congress for the New Urbanism led a Special Topic Presentation called, “Design for a Changing World: The Practicality of Placemaking.” Following the presentation, Victor answered questions related to trends, best practices, and obstacles facing college towns and livable communities across America.  Video and slides of this presentation are available on the Obey Creek Compass Committee page.

The next day, August 13th, the Committee sat down with the Technical Team to get to know more about the wide range of expertise and experience each team and Committee Member brought to the development agreement process and to have a facilitated discussion about the potential issues that the Town and developer would have to address if the Council decided to proceed into Phase 2 of the development agreement process, the negotiation phase. (The Technical Team is made up of experts in economic development, planning design and development, legal, and environmental and transportation planning. If you want to learn more about individual team members, see the Technical Team bios.)

Technical Team and Compass Committee

On August 19th, the Compass Committee met to talk about the proposed work plan for the group. The Committee also took some time to review a document on design impacts and share their aspirations and concerns related to the proposed development.

Interested in attending a meeting? Visit the Committee page to view the proposed work plan and upcoming meeting information.

Have a question or comment you’d like to share with the Compass Committee? Time for public comment is reserved for the beginning and end of each meeting. We hope to see you at the next meeting which will be held on Wednesday, August 28 in Library Meeting Room A.

Obey Creek Compass Committee Starts its Engines!

On Wednesday, July 10th the Obey Creek Compass Committee kicked off their first meeting. The meeting began with introductions revealing the interesting and diverse perspectives each Committee Member brings to the table. After discussing some housekeeping items, Jason Damweber, the staff liaison to the Committee, turned the reins over to Ken Broun, the Committee’s facilitator and former Mayor of Chapel Hill. Ken led a discussion about the Committee’s charge and meeting ground rules. The Committee concluded their meeting with a discussion about next steps including a workshop with the Technical Team scheduled for the evening of August 13. The Committee is gearing up for some great work ahead!

Obey Creek  Meeting 1

Interested in watching video or attending the next meeting? Obey Creek Compass Committee meetings will soon be available on the web! To find out more about Obey Creek and Development Agreements click here.