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Residents meet to discuss blueprint for growth in Pine Knolls and Northside

Residents who demanded a halt on development in the Northside and Pine Knolls neighborhoods earlier this year are discussing a long-term policy regarding student housing.

At the May 23 town council meeting, the board passed a temporary moratorium in the historically black and low-income communities in response to resident complaints that student housing was overtaking the neighborhood.

But the moratorium expires in January — and the neighborhoods hope to form and implement a new plan for growth before that happens.
At an outreach meeting Tuesday, community members and town officials met to discuss solutions to ongoing issues the neighborhoods face.

“The main issue is protecting the character of the neighborhood,” said Loryn Clark, town neighborhood and community services manager in the planning department. “We hope to address some of the key issues of things like affordable housing, affordability of property, cultural and historic preservation, enforcement of regulations and zoning.”

Residents of Northside and Pine Knolls, which border the University, have seen an increase in student housing during the past two decades that some residents say can take away from neighborhood’s character and safety.

And many residents believe increasing student housing is causing gentrification within the community, raising housing costs and forcing traditional residents to leave.

Kim Hoppin, a Northside resident, attended the meeting.

She said students often are not considerate of their neighbors.
“It’s like a dorm,” she said. “When I was a student, I didn’t behave that way.”

Kathe Reusing, another Northside resident, said she thinks the problem stems from a difference in lifestyles.

“For the most part I think these students are really smart and very polite, but I think there’s some sort of disconnect.”

Northside and Pine Knolls are recognized as Neighborhood Conservation Districts by the town, giving neighborhood residents the ability to decide certain restrictions on housing.

During the meeting, residents suggested solutions such as limiting total cars per property to four to curtail student housing and increase home ownership.

“That is the simplest and most powerful tool the city might have,” Pine Knolls resident Seth Murray said.

Residents also suggested enforcing laws that limit the number of non-related people per household.

“I don’t know how much enforcement has been applied,” Murray said. “It’s not clear how successful inspections and planning has been.”

Councilwoman Donna Bell said that any revisions to the Neighborhood Conservation Districts should attempt to expand affordable housing options, such as duplexes.

“Gentrification is not a train that can be stopped,” Bell said. “I just feel like Chapel Hill is going to change, Chapel Hill is going to grow, but as a resident I want to have a say.”

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