Local News

Town Council Approves Meadowmont Permit

Posted May 11, 1998 7:00 a.m. EDT

— The Triangle is growing faster than ever, maybe too fast. Some people say it's time to put the brakes on construction before its too late.

People in Chapel Hill sent a strong message Monday night, one that could be a sign of things to come for all of us. Even after a heated debate about population and traffic growth, the town council gave the Meadowmont development project the go ahead.

The plan is to turn a wooded area into a neighborhood of convenience. It will a place where residents can walk to school, daycare or to the store. Some people who live by the newly approved development say it's going to create a lot of problems

"Chapel Hill is going to expand a great deal because of this development in terms of population, automobiles, traffic per day and needs of the services in the town," says community opponent, John Anderson.

The idea of a neotraditional neighborhood like Meadowmont is something that a lot of communities are wrestling with. Not only are residents concerned with the way things have turned out, developers are paying attention too.

"I think this an example of the kind of growth the Triangle is beginning to talk about," explains developer, Roger Perry. "It's perhaps a better way to manage growth and control growth in the region. I think this is a good litmus test to see if that's what people want."

Norma Burns, member of the Urban Design Center, says "it's not a matter of whether growth is going to occur in the area, but how."

Burns says neotraditional neighborhoods are simply ways to address the issue of growth. She also says the outcome of the Chapel Hill vote could affect other potential developments.

"Chapel Hill has traditionally been conservative about development," says Burns. "So, if development is to take place in that community, that represents a change."

At the end of the Monday night meeting, the developer closed by saying, "Vote no. Vote yes. Just vote." Indeed the council did. Their permit approval, narrowly passing by a 5-4 margin, is expected to provoke legal action by residents. It may be a long road for Meadowmont still.

If and when development begins, Meadowmont is expected to become on of the largest neotraditional communities with more than 1,300 units including apartments, condominiums, houses and single-family homes. Prices range from $90,000 to $1 million dollars.