CLARIFICATION: The original headline of this story was not clear enough in representing the status of the Elkin Hills neighborhood. The neighborhood has begun the process to review whether it should be a neighborhood conservation district. The headline has been updated to reflect these changes.
At their meeting Wednesday, the Chapel Hill Town Council voted unanimously in favor of a resolution for the development of a neighborhood conservation district for the Elkin Hills Neighborhood.
Megan Wooley-Ousdahl, senior planner for the town, opened the discussion by asking the council to support the resolution.
“Our recommendation is that the council move forward and begin the process this fall with a structure that allows all neighborhoods to participate fully,” Wooley-Ousdahl said.
The NCD preserves certain neighborhoods that possess unique characteristics but might lack historical, architectural or cultural significance a historic district would protect.
Elkin Hills, a neighborhood near the eastern edge of the Chapel Hill border, is comprised of mostly single-family homes.
Consisting of land-use regulations that apply to a specific neighborhood, the NCD also monitors land use and management.
The council heard multiple pleas in favor of the plan throughout the evening from Elkin Hills residents.
“We must have neighborhoods where lower to modest income families and students and retirees can live in a safe, beautiful, and affordable home,” said Carmen Elliott, a 25-year resident of Elkin Hills.
Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt said he doesn’t think the council should ignore the voices of the neighborhood that might differ from those in favor of the plan.
“We should go in a spirit of mediation, and we should be ready very quickly to assist people with conflict resolution,” he said.
According to Wooley-Ousdahl, those opposed to the plan argue the NCD may not be the appropriate planning tool for the neighborhood.
Despite voting in favor of the plan, council member Maria Palmer expressed her cautions and concerns.
“If I hadn’t walked the neighborhood and talked to the neighbors, this would mean absolutely nothing to me,” she said after expressing a desire for more details about the neighborhood’s mapping.
There are nine total NCD zoning overlays in Chapel Hill, some of which include Northside, Greenwood, Pine Knolls and Coker Hills.
Randy Barrow, a resident of Elkin Hills since birth, said he favors the NCD plan because it protects his home.
“I cannot retire,” he said. “I cannot afford to live anywhere else.”
Chapel Hill/Orange County won the “WOW Award: Most Replicable” from Destination Marketing Association International. This award recognizes Chapel Hill’s access guide that provides tips on navigating parking, details about restrooms, information on how to conduct a self-guided tour and more.
“Helping the community feel safe and welcome, I think that should be a priority for us all, especially when horrible crimes affect our community. We will address other issues they have so they continue to feel welcomed,” said Kleinschmidt after discussing a dinner he and other town officials attended with the Muslim community.
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