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Chapel Hill Town Council discusses zoning applications, affordable housing


Chapel Hill Town Hall sits on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd on Sunday, Aug. 28, 2022. 

The Chapel Hill Town Council discussed affordable housing and zoning at its meeting on April 26. The council also approved funding plans, discussed conditional zoning and received updates from various affordable housing initiatives in the Town.

What’s new?

  • Phillip Kash from HR&A Advisors and Sarah Viñas, the affordable housing and community connections director of Chapel Hill Affordable Housing, provided an update to the Affordable Housing Plan.
    • HR&A Advisors is a consulting firm that works at the intersection of public and private sectors in economic development, real estate and public policy.
    • According to its analysis, the Town’s housing challenges include limited housing supply, displacement pressure and fewer homeownership opportunities.
    • Kash said the Town can further its affordable housing goals by increasing local funding sources, reconsidering zoning patterns, enhancing rental assistance efforts, funding down-payment assistance programs and using land banking and property acquisition to support local partners and initiatives.
  • Grubb Properties has submitted a conditional zoning application for the development of Link Apartments at 101 E. Rosemary St.
    • The development would provide about 145 units for “young professionals” at 110 percent of the area median income, in addition to five affordable units at 80 percent AMI. 
    • The development would also provide 3,000 square feet of affordable retail space.
    • The council expressed disappointment at the lack of affordable unit options in the proposal.
    • “I would encourage my colleagues to consider the missing that exists – it’s not just the middle missing – because we’re going to continue to miss our young people,” Council member Camille Berry said in support of the development. 
  • UNC Health is applying for conditional zoning in Eastowne. The proposal includes a $5 million revolving loan with zero percent interest and a 10-year renewal option toward affordable housing in order to partner with the community.
    • The Eastowne development would move and decompress outpatient services from the Medical Center, increasing bed capacity.
    • During the public comment portion, community members voiced concerns about the effect of the development on the land.
    • The council requested several amendments to the proposal and will continue discussions about the application on May 24.

What decisions were made?

  • The council approved the Recommended Funding Plan for the Tanyard Branch Trace (Jay Street) Development. The plan allocates a proposed $1.95 million to the development of this project.
    • “The voices of the neighbors have been very loud throughout this whole process,” Kimberly Sanchez, the executive director of Community Home Trust, said in a public comment. “And I just want to thank you, and thank the colleagues that I work with that are able to come here and step up and speak for those who don’t have voices and don’t live there yet, because we haven’t built it.”
    • The approval passed in an 8 to 1 vote, with Council member Adam Searing opposed.
  • The Town Council authorized the manager to continue negotiations with the City of Durham to amend the existing Consent Judgment for the Moriah Ridge development.
    • This would require annexation of the area in order to provide utilities through the City of Durham.
  • The Town Council adopted an amended Resolution of Consistency and Reasonableness with the Comprehensive Plan and amended Ordinance A for the Conditional Zoning Application for 101 E. Rosemary St.

What’s next?

  • Chapel Hill Affordable Housing and HR&A Advisors will be collecting feedback from the Housing Advisory Board on May 9 as well as the public in order to draft the affordable housing plan, after which they will bring it back to the Council for approval.
  • The Council moved to schedule action on the UNC Health Eastowne Conditional Zoning application at its May 24 meeting.


@DTHCityState | 

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Eliza Benbow

Eliza Benbow is the 2023-24 lifestyle editor at The Daily Tar Heel. She has previously served as summer university editor. Eliza is a junior pursuing a double major in journalism and media and creative writing, with a minor in Hispanic studies.

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