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The Daily Tar Heel

Town Tables Development Plan

The Town Council decided to wait for more information regarding an adequate public school facilities ordinance amendment.

The council instead voted to refer the matter to the town staff and lawyer for further comment and revision.

If passed, the ordinance would consider the availability of space in the public schools when deciding on whether to allow development of new residential property.

"I cannot just cross my fingers and say that I hope that this works," Council Member Pat Evans said.

One of the key features of the amendment is the provision that anyone looking to create new residential development would now have to provide a certificate of adequacy of public school facilities prior to coming before the council.

Under the new ordinance, no new residential developments could be built unless there were places in the local schools to educate the children that might occupy those homes.

Only applicants for subdivisions, site plans approvals and special-use permits who propose residential development would be required to have a certificate.

While town discussions about an adequate public facilities ordinance began in 1989 when the council received a memorandum summarizing community discussion about the issue, the passage of more than a decade has not ameliorated all conflicts.

Some council members said they are concerned the ordinance prioritized schools over available housing in Chapel Hill.

Evans said the restriction of the housing development could force housing prices in Chapel Hill even higher.

"The more you restrict supply, the higher the prices go," she said.

Evans also questioned whether this ordinance would restrict the development of the affordable housing that the council had previously prioritized.

But council member Bill Strom said he did not believe the ordinance would restrict the development of affordable housing.

"I don't think that there will be dozens and dozens of affordable housing projects pushed aside because of this ordinance," he said.

Council member Kevin Foy said he was concerned the local school boards would now be dictating community development to the council rather than the other way around.

"I would rather see the balancing of concerns in our purview," he said.

Foy went on to propose that the matter be referred to the staff for further research and comment before the council voted.

"I support the concept of this ordinance," he said.

"I think that it is something that we should go forward with, but I don't think that the council is ready for that because of legitimate concerns."

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