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The Daily Tar Heel

Carrboro Town Council delays voting on water and sewer extension after Chapel Hill's approval

The Old Well spews a stream of water for students to enjoy on Feb. 23, 2023.

The Carrboro Town Council delayed a vote on a proposed extension of Chapel Hill’s water and sewer boundary — due to a need for more information at its Jan. 9 meeting.

The Town of Chapel Hill received a petition from the Chamber for a Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro on June 14 that proposed the modification of the Water and Sewer Management, Planning and Boundary Agreement to expand the towns' water and sewer boundary to the Chatham County line.

Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Hillsborough, Orange County and the Orange Water and Sewer Authority agreed to the WASMPBA in 2001. All five parties must agree to any changes to the water and sewer boundaries.

Ian Scott, the vice president for advocacy at the Chamber for a Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro, said the chamber was urged to send a petition to extend the water and sewer boundary to the Chapel Hill Town Council after hearing feedback from community members about an overwhelming need for more housing.

Chapel Hill approved the proposal for boundary expansion on Nov. 15 in an 8-1 vote, with council member Adam Searing as the lone vote against.

According to the Town, extending the water and sewer boundary would allow for more housing and transit near U.S. 15-501 in southern Chapel Hill, known as the Urban Services Boundary.

The Carrboro Town Council delayed voting on the boundary extension until Feb. 6 to gain more logistical information on the matter.

Carrboro Town Council member Randee Haven-O’Donnell said they are looking for more information regarding climate and environmental sustainability stewardship ahead of approval.

Haven-O’Donnell said concern regarding the boundary extension is “a sustainability question, not an anti-development question.”

“It comes down to the question of environmental sustainability and stewardship for Chapel Hill and Carrboro,” Haven-O’Donnell said. “That's why as far back as the 1980s and 1990s, Carrboro ensured the watershed protection of University Lake because Carrboro essentially is the gatekeeper of University Lake, which is one of the key sources of our community's drinking water.”

Carrboro Town Council member Catherine Fray said there has been pressure to expand the water and sewer boundary because of increasing housing prices. Expanding the 15-501 boundary would allow space for additional market-rate, affordable homes, they said. 

“So there's lots of reasons why this is not only a highly logical but it's also a prudent and sustainable place to identify for additional housing,” Scott said.

If the Urban Services Boundary is extended, affordable housing could be placed on a parcel of land owned by the Town of Chapel Hill, Fray said. With the potential extension of water and sewer services to the south, transit options could also be extended further south to benefit more of the population.

Extending the water and sewer boundary would change the limits of water and sewer service in Chapel Hill, but would not include any physical extensions of lines, according to the Town. The extension seeks to increase housing opportunities in the community, in line with Chapel Hill’s Complete Community Strategy.

“I will be really, really glad to see more affordable housing in an area that I think seems to make a lot of sense,” Fray said.

@DTHCityState |

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