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Chapel Hill staff host public LUMO meetings with rewrite underway

DTH Photo Illustration. Chapel Hill's Land Use Management Ordinance outlines the town's development regulations.

The Town of Chapel Hill is in the process of revising its Land Use Management Ordinance, originally adopted in 2003. Led by the planning department, the Town is hosting public information meetings to inform community members on how LUMO changes through the Rewriting Our Rules project may impact them.

The Town hopes through the two-year Rewriting Our Rules initiative, to align the LUMO with its comprehensive plan. The Chapel Hill Town Council approved minor changes to the LUMO over the past 20 years, but has not fully updated it to reflect the Town Comprehensive Plan and new policies.

The first meeting on the initiative was on Jan. 31, and the next meeting is on Mar. 25 from 6-7:30 p.m. at the Chapel Hill Public Library in meeting room B.

The Town's land use rules include two parts that work together to meet the Town’s development goals — the LUMO and the Zoning District Map. The LUMO’s regulations determine the design of streets, stormwater infrastructure, landscaping, parking lots and signs.

Katherine Shor, a senior planner and community engagement lead for the Rewriting Our Rules project, said the team is updating land use rules partly to make them more accessible.

“I think that as planners it will also give us the tools to provide more clear processes for people who are going through any application for a change or development in town,” she said. 

The Rewriting Our Rules project will reference a variety of plans and policies that were adopted in the past, such as affordable housing strategies and the One Orange Racial Equity Framework.

Tasmaya Lagoo, the Town principal planner and overall project manager for Rewriting Our Rules, said the Town needs to have a new solid foundation that allows for further innovation and growth management.

“We've seen this big mismatch between what we want in town and what our rules allow,” he said. “And so given that we have all these various elements of our Comprehensive Plan that there's been a lot of great community input in over the last several years, we want to make sure that we have a LUMO that reflects the intent of those plans.”

He also said the planning department is currently working through the workshop process — having policy discussions with the council and planning commission to help guide draft material.

Lagoo said the project effort not only involves the planning department, but other Town staff as well.

“I think once we get to that kind of new, stable foundation, as planners and as other Town staff, it's really going to let us be more responsive to the needs of the Town and just be better equipped to implement all of our plans for how the Town is going to develop,” he said.

The draft portion of the rewrite process is set to occur through May. This summer and fall, the proposed changes will be presented to the town council, advisory boards and community stakeholder groups. By November, the council plans to vote on the revised LUMO.

Erik Valera, a Chapel Hill resident and Town planning commission member , said, for him, the LUMO revision is about helping create a town that is more livable and walkable.

“I can see that from what I've learned here is that we're looking to be able to utilize our spaces in a much better way,” he said.

@DTHCityState |

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