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Northside 4-car rule upheld in court

The N.C. Court of Appeals upheld a controversial Chapel Hill law limiting the number of vehicles per Northside property Monday.

The unanimous decision upheld the legality of a statute approved by the town of Chapel Hill in January 2012 , which said all residential properties in Northside can’t have more than four cars parked outside.

The town said the statute is designed to curb traffic congestion and slow the flow of students moving into the neighborhood, according to court documents.

Two property owners with homes in the neighborhood, Mark Patmore and William Gartland , sued the town after receiving fines for rental properties that had more cars than legally allowed.

Patmore and Gartland complained they had no ability to control the number of cars their tenants had parked at the properties .

In addition, they said a prior ruling by the N.C. Supreme Court gave the town’s zoning ordinance no authority to regulate the parking at their properties .

The Court of Appeals determined that neither of these arguments was enough to overturn a ruling by a lower court in favor of the town.

With the decision, the property owners will have a window of 30 days to petition the N.C. Supreme Court to take the case .

Nicholas Herman , the lawyer for the homeowners, said he expects his clients to petition. He also said he always thought the case’s final destination would be the N.C. Supreme Court.

“I fully expected this to end up in the Supreme Court,” Herman said. “I think even the town expected this to end up in the (N.C.) Supreme Court, too.”

Ralph Karpinos , the Chapel Hill’s town attorney, said the court doesn’t necessarily have to take the case.

“It’s not a given that they will choose to hear the case, that’s up to the court’s discretion,” Karpinos said.

Herman said it could take a month for the court to decide whether to take the case or not and that a decision wouldn’t be reached for about a year.

Audrey Hum , a UNC senior who lives in Northside, said the law might deter students from moving to the neighborhood.

“Having a place to park your car is an amenity for a house like your own bedroom, your own bathroom or a kitchen,” Hum said.

“Without that amenity some people may consider finding somewhere else, where they can park their car.”

Karpinos said the decision will help the town re-examine the law.

“The next questions are how we do enforcement, how the town has been enforcing the law and how we can adjust it going forward,” Karpinos said.

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