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Chapel Hill Town Council discusses ARPA funds, future housing developments

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Chapel Hill Town Hall pictured on Sunday, March 19, 2023.

The Chapel Hill Town Council met Wednesday evening to discuss topics including the use of leftover American Rescue Plan Act dollars and two conditional zoning applications for developments that would offer affordable housing units.

What’s new?

  • The Council enacted a project ordinance amendment that will allocate funding for a skate park replacement, greenway design and bikeshare program using leftover ARPA funding.
    • All projects using the remaining allocated ARPA funds must be under contract by December 2024, and funds must be spent by December 2026.
    • “We need to allocate this money, this could turn around quickly,” Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger said.
    • One option for a skate park renovation would use existing surface and framework materials and replace vertical components including half pipes, quarter pipes, ramps and railings.
    • The proposed greenway project would extend the Bolin Creek Greenway to Estes Drive Extension, providing a continuous off-road facility between downtown Carrboro and the Chapel Hill Community Center.
    • UNC recently signed a contract with an electric bike share provider that is willing to extend into both Chapel Hill and Carrboro. The Town proposed to reallocate $50,000 unused ARPA dollars originally intended for OWASA to support the bike share program.
  • A public forum was opened to discuss the use of 2023 to 2024 Community Development Block Grant funds.
    • The community development program manager discussed the projects included in the recommended annual funding plan for 2024.
    • The primary objective for projects is to benefit low- to moderate-income households.
    • The total budget for the proposed projects is $629,892 and includes nine programs aimed at addressing affordable housing, economic development and public services.
  • A public hearing was opened to discuss the adoption of the Complete Community Strategy amendment to the Chapel Hill 2020 Comprehensive Plan, which aims to assess residential capacity throughout the entire town and determine where and how to meet future housing needs.
    • Comprehensive plan elements include integrating assets, design attributes, programs, amenities and social equity drivers.
    • “This amendment is the real estate version of de-regulating the banking industry,” resident Anne Brubaker said. “Simple logic infers that those with funds to buy and tear down existing properties for greater density will be investors in development, not first-time homebuyers.”
  • Two conditional zoning applications that would include affordable units were open to legislative hearings. 
    • The proposed Barbee Chapel Apartments would offer 342 rental apartment units and town homes. Thirty-one of the units would be affordable.
    • A proposed South Creek development would offer 88 affordable units.

What decisions were made?

  • $1 million in ARPA funding will be used to support Town Parks & Recreation facilities and bike, pedestrian and greenway infrastructure. $50,000 in unused OWASA ARPA funds will also be allocated to support the extension of a bikeshare program from UNC into the Town.
  • The Town manager was authorized to pursue an agreement with Orange County to receive county funding for the Chapel Hill Public Library.
  • The council enacted an ordinance to authorize the mayor to execute the annexation boundary agreement between Chapel Hill and Carrboro.

What’s next?

  • Legislative hearings will continue for the Complete Community Strategy on May 10. 
  • Both conditional zoning applications will continue hearings after receiving feedback from the Council and the public. The hearings are currently scheduled to take place on May 24.
  • The next Chapel Hill Town Council meeting will take place on April 26 at 7 p.m. 


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