The Chapel Hill Town Council discussed new developments, affordable housing and the location of the Chapel Hill Police Department in its Sept. 13 meeting — the first meeting since the council returned from its summer break.
- Corey Liles, the planning manager for the Town of Chapel Hill, led a presentation on The Reserve at Blue Hill, a potential new development at Ephesus Church Road.
- The plan includes the demolition of the Kings Arms Apartments that currently stand at that location.
- The proposed new building would have 212 apartment units — a mix of one, two and three bedroom units.
- The applicant listed the key development concepts for the project as stormwater management, support for existing residents, affordable housing, sufficient project density and on-site amenities.
- The average rent for the area is currently $1,200, and the applicant said rent in the new building would be more than that. Kings Arms Apartments has 65 affordable housing units, and The Reserve at Blue Hill would have around 30.
- The project would have electric vehicle charging stations and all-electric services and would be within walking distance of transportation and commercial areas. No parking deck was included in the presented plans.
- Multiple community members spoke out against the new development, and council member Jessica Anderson expressed similar concerns about displaced residents.
- “You have to figure out how we can keep people in their homes if you're going to do this project,” she said.
- Victory Washington, a current resident of Kings Arms, expressed concern about being displaced.
- “Where would I go? What would I do?” she said.
- Charnika Harrell, a planner for the Town, led a presentation requesting a conditional zoning application for St. Paul Village at 1604 Purefoy Drive.
- The suggested development would include 88 affordable housing units, which make up 34 percent of the total available units, including 100 housing units for people aged 55 and older. The presenters said that the project is focused on affordable and workforce housing.
- Council member Camille Berry expressed her support for the project.
- “Thank you for imagining, thank you for dreaming, thank you for being persistent,” she said.
- The Council will continue hearing comments on the plan on Oct. 11.
What decisions were made?
- Affordable Housing and Community Connections Director Sarah Viñas presented the Affordable Housing Plan and Investment Strategy, which the council approved unanimously.
- The presentation detailed four major goals over the next five years: reducing barriers to building affordable homes, expanding affordable homeownership, preserving existing affordable rental housing and increasing staff and funding capacity.
- The plan requests $10 million annually from the Town for the next five years, which will be used to support the goal of developing 900 new homes and preserving 400 homes.
- Chapel Hill Police Chief Celisa Lehew and Deputy Town Manager Mary Jane Nirdlinger presented a plan for the police department’s relocation and requested the council authorize Town Manager Chris Blue to move forward with leasing a new space while they determine a permanent location.
- The police department currently resides at 828 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., but the building is deteriorating and is too small for the department.
- The suggested location is The Parkline — a large office space on Fordham Boulevard.
- The Brownfield remediation of 828 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. will continue as planned while the police department relocates.
- The council will hold a work session on Sept. 20 in the Chapel Hill Public Library starting at 6:30 p.m. The next regular council meeting will be held Sept. 27 at 7 p.m. at the Town Hall.