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The Daily Tar Heel

Plan could make Northside development easier

The proposal includes cheaper fees and allows for bigger homes.

Chapel Hill’s planning and sustainability commission presented their proposal at a public information meeting Monday.

In 2004, Northside became the first neighborhood conservation district in Chapel Hill.

This designation limits the size of new homes, bans most new duplexes in the community and sets other provisions in place in order to encourage responsible development.

Judy Johnson, principal planner for the town’s planning and sustainability commission, said the proposed revisions would aim to make the process simpler.

“If anybody has gone through the review process in Northside, you know that it is a lengthy and fairly costly process,” Johnson said. “We’re trying to be sensitive to that.”

Currently, residents must go through two application processes and pay fees close to $600 in order to have their additions reviewed by town staff.

“What we’re proposing is that you would submit just one application to us, which would only be reviewed by our community design commission,” Johnson said. “They would then give you comments, and then the town staff would review that application, and you would end up with your decision.”

Johnson said the commission is proposing to lower the review process fee to $340 for an addition of 600 square feet or greater and to $240 for additions of less than 600 square feet.

Another proposed revision deals with the maximum size for single-family units.

Johnson said the commission is proposing to increase the dwelling size from 1,750 to 2,250 square feet. Larger buildings could be approved by the town’s planning commission. Under the new proposal, affordable duplexes could be up to 3,000 square feet, which drew ire from some of the residents at Monday’s meeting.

Council member Donna Bell said the Northside neighborhood might not be the most appropriate place to build large homes.

“Northside is a neighborhood of smaller houses,” Bell said. “If you want to build a larger house, there are plenty of places in this town where you can, but Northside is not one of them.”

Keith Edwards, a longtime Northside resident, said these regulations were put in place to combat greedy property owners.

“It’s unbelievable now that people can come in just to make a profit,” Edwards said.

Edwards said it’s about survival for minority families living in Northside.

“I want to be able to survive in this neighborhood, and I don’t want to feel like I am being run over by greedy people.”

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