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The Daily Tar Heel

Development Ordinance Gets 2nd Hearing

The Town Council discussed stormwater management, open space and affordable housing as it revised the ordinance draft.

The Chapel Hill Town Council crossed the halfway mark in revising its development ordinance Monday night.

Stormwater management, open space regulations and affordable housing requirements were main areas of discussion during the meeting as members worked to iron out the details of the revised ordinance presented by Chapel Hill Planning Director Roger Waldon.

The meeting progressed in rapid-fire style as the council members closely scrutinized the working draft and launched questions at town staff. Local residents will have the chance to comment on the draft in a public forum Thursday.

The town's control over affordable housing percentages in both residential and nonresidential areas was one area of concern.

Roger Waldon, town planning director, suggested the council consider making affordable housing a requirement in the final development ordinance rather than offering incentives to developers who make their properties affordable.

"If (the council) wanted to increase residential development downtown, I would rather require more affordable housing than give the option," Waldon said.

Another issue discussed centered on dimensional standards that would be applied to different zoning districts. The standards regulate things like building height, lot size, impervious surface ratios and floor area ratios.

Council members were interested in open space requirements in new developments, both residential and nonresidential. The council discussed possibly creating guidelines for the amount of space developers set aside as open space.

Council member Bill Strom suggested installing a payment-in-lieu feature into the ordinance for nonresidential projects. Essentially businesses would be able to pay a fee instead of creating the open space. "A lot of the land received with the open space requirement had little or no value to the developers," Strom said. "We should try to get money for parks or actual good land that we can use for recreation purposes."

Monday night's meeting marked the second public hearing on the ordinance's revision -- a project that was started nearly a year ago.

Once a second draft is hammered out, the council will make its recommendations for a third and final version.

The process in the second draft is the most crucial to the development of the ordinance because the council must work out any problems before establishing a final ordinance.

A public forum follows each Town Council public hearing and provides residents with an opportunity to voice their concerns before the council.

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