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The Daily Tar Heel

Growth Still Worries Pine Street

The Pine Street Block Party might have eased neighbor relations, but residents now ask local officials for help.

About 50 residents, landowners and officials gathered Friday for the first ever Pine Street Block Party, which was created to address tension that arose on Pine Street this summer.

During the summer, residents vocalized concerns to the aldermen about growing traffic, parking problems and noise levels associated with students renting in the area.

Margaret Pendzich, co-coordinator of the block party, said residents have petitioned the aldermen to notify them when a builder applies for a permit and to offer residents a public comment concerning new development.

Residents also asked the board to re-examine issues of safety and traffic before granting permits for developers to build.

Alderman Joal Broun, who attended the block party with her husband and two children, said the board would be looking at issues of growth on Pine Street, such as parking and traffic, in the coming months.

Pendzich said the residents attributed the problems to infill growth, which she described as using existing zoning to place new developments in old neighborhoods.

She said the only evidence of infill growth on Pine Street is two new houses, both of which remain unoccupied.

"We have never been against the students, only against the town's ordinances that facilitate a pro-infill policy," Pendzich said.

The town's policy is a combination of ordinances that encourage builders to develop in already populated areas, condensing growth and allowing for affordable housing as well as more open areas.

But Pendzich said as people of all ages chatted over the mingling sounds of a hammer dulcimer and children playing on Pine Street, problems seemed distant.

"It was a lot of fun and we had a really nice time," Pendzich said.

"We had everybody from retired people to babies in arms."

Broun said residents used the time to get acquainted with new students who live in apartments on the street. "The residents were very candid and friendly with the renters and said, `It's not about you, but about the intensity of growth in our neighborhood,'" Broun said.

Landlord Armin Lieth, who vocally opposed the gathering, did not attend the block party and could not be reached for comment Monday.

Broun said the party presented a good opportunity for her to listen to the residents of Pine Street.

"Everybody just wants to live on that street and be happy."

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