Chapel Hill Police HQ site considered for redevelopment amid environmental concerns

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North Carolina Construction News staff writer

The Town of Chapel Hill is considering a significant redevelopment plan for the land at 828 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., currently the Chapel Hill Police Department headquarters. The site has unique challenges since it was historically filled with coal ash and construction debris from the 1960s and 1970s.

A public meeting will be held later this summer.

In late 2013, the town uncovered the buried materials, alerted the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NC DEQ), and has since been diligently working to comply with environmental regulations.

A draft Brownfields Agreement, addressing the presence of coal ash at the site, is available for public review and comment until July 30. This agreement will guide the remediation measures and permissible future uses of the property, with input from the Chapel Hill Town Council, staff, and the community shaping the final decisions.

According to the draft agreement:

  • residential development on the property is prohibited
  • potential approved uses include a municipal services center, recreational spaces, transit access, and parking, all requiring NC DEQ-approved coal ash remediation

The draft agreement is available online by searching project number 23022-19-068 on the NCDEQ website or in hard copy at the Chapel Hill Public Library. Written comments should be submitted to Bruce Nicholson, Chief Brownfields Redevelopment Section, Division of Waste Management, NC Department of Environmental Quality, 1646 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, 27699-1646.

Since the coal ash was discovered numerous site assessments and environmental studies have been completed and are accessible on the 828 Site page on the website.

In September 2023, council authorized leasing temporary space for the Police Department while working on the Brownfields agreement after approving a concept plan for the site, with initial costs covered by general funds and reimbursed by bond funds.

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