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The Town of Chapel Hill Planning Department hosted a public information meeting on Feb. 15 for community members to discuss the proposed Longleaf Trace affordable housing development.

The Longleaf Trace development is an age-restricted affordable housing project that would be located on Legion Road. Rentals would only be available to Orange County residents over the age of 55 and those at or below 60 percent of Orange County area median income.

At the public information meeting, community members presented questions regarding topics such as stormwater runoff, the proposed pedestrian path and parking at the development.

The project is a collaboration between Taft-Mills Group, a subsidiary of a Greenville based affordable housing developer, and the Community Home Trust, an Orange County nonprofit that delivers affordable housing to buyers. 

The proposed project would offer 48 one- and two-bedroom rental units in a three-story building. The development would also feature a clubhouse with a community room, fitness center, kitchenette, reading areas and a computer center.

Emily Holt, the affordable housing manager for the Town, said the town council is currently reviewing the rezoning application for the development. If the application is approved, Taft-Mills Group will submit a formal funding request to the Chapel Hill Affordable Housing and Community Connections Department

“We had an affordable housing plan done by a consultant that was adopted by council this past fall, and it identified a need for about almost 2,000 affordable rental units in the town,” Holt said. “So when we think about ways to start addressing that gap, projects that bring 100 percent affordable housing are certainly an effective way to chip away at that.”

The development is age-restricted because Orange County recognizes a need for more affordable senior housing. Existing senior housing developments in Orange County have waitlists of up to two years. 

“The senior population is growing, as people are living longer and are healthier, and so the need for affordable rentals for seniors is growing too," Daniele Berman, the director of external relations for the Chapel Hill Community Home Trust, said. "So this development is hoping to meet both of those needs, but generally the need for more affordable rentals and specifically the need for seniors to have access to affordable rentals.”

Nate Broman-Fulks, the vice president of development for Taft Family Ventures, said the next step after the public information hearing is meeting with the Chapel Hill Planning Commission. The planning commission will make a recommendation to the town council about whether they should approve the proposed rezoning.

“We have a very strong project," Broman-Fulks said. "Obviously, affordable housing is in dire need in Chapel Hill. And our project is designed to help address that need. So, of course, we'll wait to see what the planning commission's feedback is but the town is a big supporter of affordable housing and recognizes the need for it."

The site is designed to give the residents of the development significant outdoor recreation space. According to the project's website, the site will be within walking distance of a future park to be built by the Town. 

Melissa McCullough, a Chapel Hill Town Council member, said the development’s proximity to a proposed park at the Town's Legion Property would be a great resource that many affordable housing developments do not have.

“Like many, if not most communities in the country, affordable housing is a very significant issue," McCullough said. "We don't have enough of any kind of housing in Chapel Hill."

The town council is expected to make a decision regarding the proposed project in April or May.

@libbywakefield9

@DTHCityState | city@dailytarheel.com

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