Chris Culbreth, a second term member of the Town’s Community Design Commission (CDC), stayed late Monday, Nov. 20th, to comment to Council on the proposed revisions for the Process for Revision of the Comprehensive Plan

Interestingly enough, he spent more of his limited time counseling Council on the Downtown Development Initiative (DDI) juggernaut than the process revisions – including this digression on how developers are already factoring in Council’s temperament:

[Lot #5] is going to be a key building because the people who see that are going to come and build things following – and some of those people were here tonight – all the guys who bring us their plans of what their going to develop were sitting in the audience tonight to see what Lot 5 went over – so they can figure out “what we can get approved next”…

He then held up another RAM Development proposal, 425 Hillsborough St., of which I’ve been somewhat critical of for a few reasons, as an example of a kind of urban density at odds with our Town’s stated goals of walkability, livability and sustainability before turning back to the Lot #5 precedent:

…this building, Lot 5, and how it’s going to be built, and how it looks, will be a precedent for these others that will be developed. And I don’t want it to turn out to be like Rosemary Village, for example, it was built and it’s all students and sold in less than a year. No professional is going to want to live there. And the way it was built – it doesn;t even communicate to the neighborhood [Northside] behind it..that’s a transitional neighborhood…we want those neighborhoods to come into Town…

The other developments that come into place, they’re going to use that [Lot #5 density and design] as an example and our concern is the massing of these buildings and how it’s going to function…


As Chris pointed out, the CDC reviews development projects and provides feedback to developers prior to Council. Chris has long familiarity with many of the projects coming before this Council – projects the Council has generally been satisfied with, at least as far as general design goals.

Council should weigh this members counsel in light of that experience.

The Community Design Commission is charged with the following:

To initiate, promote and assist in the implementation of programs of general community beautification in Chapel Hill and its environs;

To seek to coordinate the activities of individuals, agencies, organizations and groups, public and private, whose plans, activities and programs bear upon the appearance of Chapel Hill and its environs;

To provide leadership and guidance in matters of design and appearance to individuals, organizations and groups, public and private;

To make studies of the visual assets and liabilities of the community, including surveys and inventories of an appropriate nature, and to suggest standards and policies of design for the entire community, or any individual project to be undertaken therein;

To prepare both general and specific plans for the improved appearance of the Town of Chapel Hill and its environs…

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