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Chapel Hill Town Council approves southward extension of water and sewer boundary

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The OWASA building in Carrboro pictured on Friday, Aug. 19, 2022.

The Chapel Hill Town Council discussed the Community Development Block Grant Program and approved a water and sewer extension proposal for southern Chapel Hill at its meeting Wednesday evening.

What’s new?

  • The council joined the Chamber for a Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro and the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership in commemorating Saturday, Nov. 25, as Small Business Saturday.
    • Elie Abou-Rjeileh, the co-owner of Olmaz Jewelers in Eastgate Crossing shopping center, spoke to the council before the resolution was passed. He said buying local is important because every purchase at a local business supports local jobs and helps preserve the unique character of the community.
      • “The bottom line is when we spend it here, we keep it here,” he said
  • During public comment, Courtney Graves, a Chapel Hill teacher, asked the council to follow in the steps of the Carrboro Town Council during its meeting on Nov. 14 and pass a resolution calling for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war.
    • “I really urge you to please use your power,” Graves said. “Draft a resolution for a ceasefire in Gaza and pass it. Show our community and show our students that you stand for peace.”
    • The council did not consider a resolution on the issue.
  • The council opened a public forum on housing and community development needs related to the use of the 2023-25 Community Development Block Grant funds. 
    • CDBG is a program administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to provide decent, affordable housing, create suitable living environments and expand economic opportunity.
    • Megan Culp, community development program manager for the Town, said Chapel Hill receives an annual allocation of CDBG funds, typically around $420,000. 
      • “Those can be used to support community development initiatives, including affordable housing projects and many social services with many of our outside agency partners,” she said
    • The project's main goal is to benefit low- to moderate-income households
      • “Low-to-moderate income is 80 percent of the area median income, which for the current year for a household of four, that's about $80,900,” Culp said

What decisions were made?

  • The council approved a water and sewer service extension for southern Chapel Hill, 8-1, with council member and defeated mayoral candidate Adam Searing voting against.
    • Judy Johnson, assistant planning director for the Town, said the proposal was brought forward in response to a petition last spring.
      • “There will be no encroachment into the rural buffer,” Johnson said. “The rural buffer is within Orange County's jurisdiction. All of the changes to this would be within Chapel Hill’s jurisdiction.”
    • This adjustment would impact approximately 360 acres and about 140 parcels
    • Johnson said this is an opportunity for additional housing, because it is an extension of the boundary to the Chatham County line. 
      • She said the Town owns a 10 to 12 acre parcel of land in the extension area that Town staff has earmarked as a potential future affordable housing site.
    • As soon as Carrboro, Orange County, Hillsborough and the Orange Water and Sewer Authority (OWASA) approve the proposed changes, OWASA would be able to start providing water and sewer services to people in the area
    • Mayor-elect and town council member Jess Anderson said one of the reasons for the initial extension proposal was because of landowners saying they were going to build large single-family housing if there were no other options.
      • “I much prefer that middle-income, missing middle typology to McMansions,” Anderson said. “That's the choice we're making. It's not a zero-sum game. We either choose one or the other.”

What’s next?

  • The council’s next meeting will be held on Nov. 25.

@DTHCityState | city@dailytarheel.com

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