Since the Chapel Hill Town Council passed a land use management ordinance text amendment in June, there have not been any applications for the development of multi-family housing projects newly allowed by the amendment.
Chapel Hill mayor Jess Anderson said she is not surprised by the lack of applications the Town has received so far.
“We were not expecting a huge influx,” Anderson said. “In fact, if I’m not mistaken, our staff had projected that there might be two applications a year.”
Kristie Mather, a Chapel Hill resident who supported the passing of the LUMO text amendment, said the fact the Town hasn’t received any applications was consistent with her expectations.
Council member Karen Stegman said while the lack of applications could be due to a variety of factors including high interest rates and material costs, the Town’s planning staff has identified certain barriers developers may face within the existing LUMO code.
“Even though we changed the zoning itself there's still barriers within our existing code that is just making it pretty difficult to build the kinds of small infill and missing middle-type housing that we're aiming to have,” Stegman said.
The Town will have the ability to address and amend these barriers as it completes a comprehensive rewrite of the LUMO, which is set to be completed this year.
Anderson said the Town’s current LUMO is outdated and was written for a more suburban area.
“What is really clear is that when we make [the LUMO application process] very expensive and time consuming, and it's risky — like people don't know if they'll be approved — they pass on all that cost to the project, which means future residents or tenants,” Anderson said. “And so it just adds to the affordability issue that we're grappling with already.”