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Carrboro Town Council to eliminate residential parking minimums, institute maximums

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Carrboro Town Hall sits on W. Main Street.

During its Oct. 24 meeting, the Carrboro Town Council discussed new land use ordinance text amendments to modify residential parking and approved a new maximum for residential parking spaces.

The amendment also removed residential use classifications for single-family, two-family and multifamily homes from the previously established presumptive minimum parking standards. The ordinance prohibits some multifamily developments from providing more than 110 percent of the parking required.

Parking minimums dictate the smallest amount of parking required by a local government for a development to be approved.

Carrboro Mayor Damon Seils said the ordinance implements a part of Carrboro’s comprehensive plan. The plan, which the Town adopted last year, calls for the removal of parking minimums to reduce the negative effects of parking requirements on housing costs and natural resources.

He said the council emphasized preventing an oversupply of parking, ending the unnecessary use of valuable land for parking spaces and reducing the negative climate impact of cars through the new amendment.

“I think what this will mean in the long term — in other words, over a period of years — is that as a community, we're devoting less of our valuable land area to parking spaces and making that land area available for better uses, like new businesses," Seils said.

He said implementing parking minimums rather than maximums incentivizes car use over more sustainable modes of transportation.

Carrboro has a limited land area, he said, and the Town wants to make sure that if its land is going to continue to be developed, it is developed for "better uses," such as for homes and businesses.

Town council member Sammy Slade said the change is long overdue. He said if the Town had established the parking maximums 30 years ago, the community would see a different kind of built environment today.

“Finally, towns all over the country are coming to realize that one of the things that needs to be addressed is the climate emergency, land use policy and the window for action that we have is very inadequate," Slade said.

Patrick McDonough, an urban planning and transit consultant, spoke at the town council meeting on Oct. 24 and urged the town council to go further with the ordinance and remove commercial minimums, as well as residential minimums.

He said developers would still be able to propose as much parking as they want, and the council could decide later whether to apply commercial parking maximums.

Seils said taking the same approach for commercial parking maximums was an “open question.”

“The change that we made on [Oct. 24] was restricted to new residential development," he said. "But there’s just as strong an interest in establishing a similar change in our rules for new commercial development.”

McDonough said the ordinance amendment was a "big step forward."

“I think the thing that we are most likely to see is perhaps some new and additional proposals for apartments or maybe condominiums, some type of multi-story building that people can live in in the greater downtown area," McDonough said.

@DTHCityState | city@dailytarheel.com

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