The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Tuesday December 6th

Ordinance Could Affect Off-Campus Housing

Few students attended the Town Council forum.

Wednesday's forum drew homeowners, landlords, businessmen, University officials and even a power company representative to support or denounce changes made in the most current draft.

Noticeably missing from the hearing was a student voice, as no students came forward to speak -- and few attended -- despite the debate swirling around their effect on the community.

The most controversial clauses proposed in the ordinance's third draft allow no more than two unrelated people per dwelling unit, limit parking to two cars per dwelling and ban the existence of duplexes within the town.

Many residents have called the new regulations unfair to University students living off campus and other renters within the town.

Dean Bresciani, UNC's interim vice chancellor for student affairs, said in an interview prior to the meeting that the changes could be disastrous for students in particular.

"This could completely change the fabric of off-campus housing," he said. "This could go as far as impacting whether students can afford to go to school here."

The meeting opened with Mark White, the consultant who has been working on the ordinance since January 2001, describing the major differences between the second and current ordinance drafts.

"There are five categories of changes: changes in the resource conservation district, redevelopment, single/multi-family homes, stormwater management and nonconforming structures," White said.

These five topics have been the most contended of the myriad subjects governed by the 300-page ordinance. All of them call for tougher restrictions on the ways properties can be used and built upon.

Joe Capowski, a long-time resident of Chapel Hill, said he would welcome the new restrictions.

"Landlords must be responsible for the cars of students," he said, as he gestured toward a picture of two duplexes with 14 cars in front of it. "I had a neighbor move out from the house across this road because she said she couldn't live with it anymore. Why should we let our neighborhoods be destroyed so landlords can pack more students in?"

A group of landlords from the Chapel Hill Landlords' Association addressed various points in the ordinance, saying they wanted to meet the town midway.

"A two parking space maximum would make the problem worse than it is," said Matt Robbins, a member of the association. "If the town is committed to the restriction, we would propose allowing residents of neighborhoods to park in streets, as it is people driving into town largely causing the parking problems."

Mayor Kevin Foy announced at the beginning of the meeting that the public could still submit comment on the issue in the form of e-mail or letters until the council revisits the issue Oct. 21.

Assistant University Editor John Frank contributed to this story.
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