CLARIFICATION: The Penny for Housing initiative is not calling for the Town Council to increase the tax rate. Rather, it is asking the Town Council to dedicate one penny of the current sales tax to improving affordable housing in the area.
Public input at the Chapel Hill Town Council meeting sparked arguments and heated discussion between residents and town council members Monday.
Ephesus/Fordham Focus Area
Rezoning and redevelopment discussions continue regarding the Ephesus/Fordham Focus Area.
Town staff presented proposals for rezoning in the area at the packed Chapel Hill Town Council Business Meeting Monday.
More than 100 people attended the meeting to hear explanations of the redevelopment, including transportation improvements and stormwater plans.
Frustration from community members flared as the meeting went late and public input sections of the meeting were pushed to Wednesday.
The proposed rezoning would change parts of the focus area to walkable mixed use developments.
The areas are currently zoned as community commercial, residential and office/institutional.
The Walkable Mixed Use Subdistrict is intended to accommodate a mix of compatible uses in close proximity to one another, according to the Chapel Hill zoning code.
The rezonings would allow a variety of three, five and seven story mixed use buildings.
The proposed redevelopment would also include 160 units of affordable housing.
Council member Matt Czajkowski expressed desire to build affordable housing that is not a part of the focus area.
"What we are trying here tonight is threading them together to make each of (the parts of the redevelopment) stronger," Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt said in response.
"We do believe it is a system that is done better in a package," Town Manager Roger Stancil said.
Chris Jensen, stormwater engineer, also presented information about addressing stormwater issues in the area.
He said there would be a higher environmental standard in the redeveloped area.
Penny for Housing
Amanda Elliot, a Chapel Hill resident, has a first-hand experience of what it's like to not have housing.
"I lived in a tent for ten years," Elliot said.
She was one of about 20 other community members who came to the meeting to show their support for the Penny for Housing initiative.
The initiative was started by the Orange County Affordable Housing Coalition, which asked the Town Council to dedicate one cent of the current sales tax rate for Orange County to affordable housing and housing for homeless people.
According to the Orange County Affordable Housing initiative, the initiative would raise about $750,000 annually town-wide.
Nick Lemmon, a clinical social worker in Chapel Hill, spoke at the meeting about the cost of living in Chapel Hill.
He said community members with disabilities have an even harder time paying for housing in the area.
"They are unable to save, they are unable to pay for things, like toilet paper, that food stamps can't pay for," Lemmon said.
More than 10 people spoke to the council in support of the initiative and urged the council to dedicate money to affordable housing in the area.
A permanent home for the Chapel Hill Farmer's Market
The Chapel Hill Farmer's Market is looking for a permanent home.
The market is currently held at University Mall. But the location is not permanent.
"They are not able to give us any kind of permanent home or long-term security for the market," said Rickie White, a member of the board of the Chapel Hill Farmer's Market and the co-owner of Waterdog Farms.
He said University Mall encouraged the board to go to the town to ask for help.
White said the market is looking for long-term options with the town to obtain a permanent location.
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