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Chapel Hill wants developers to provide affordable housing

Posted January 1, 2010

— Town officials have proposed requiring developers to set aside 15 percent of new projects for affordable housing, but a representative for area home builders said the idea could be illegal.

Chapel Hill housing Chapel Hill wants more affordable housing

Chapel Hill's Town Council has already implemented the 15 percent requirement when a developer needs a special-use permit, and an ordinance proposed by town planners would make the set-aside rule apply to all developers, including renovations to existing plans that add units to projects.

"We think that just adds to the value our community to have a more diverse community and to offer a wide range of housing opportunities here," said Loryn Clark, housing neighborhood services manager for Chapel Hill.

Garrett Davis, a planner for Chapel Hill, said he would like to live in town but can't afford it.

"(I'm) just looking at the mortgage calculator on the (Multiple Listing Service) site. That's kind of what's kept it off the short list so far," Davis said.

Chapel Hill officials said almost 47 percent of town employees live more than 10 miles from the center of town, including some as far away as Burlington. Only 3 percent live within a mile of the intersection of Franklin and Columbia streets, officials said.

In return for dedicating part of projects to affordable housing, developers would be allowed to build bigger or more units.

Nick Tennyson, executive director for the Homebuilders Association of Durham, Orange & Chatham, said the idea of adding more space or units likely won't work in traditional subdivisions.

"It's hard to make projects work when you are doing 15 percent of them effectively without any profit built into those houses," Tennyson said, adding that he questions the legality of the proposal.

"Nobody has granted Chapel Hill or any other jurisdiction in North Carolina the right to limit the price of housing," he said.

Clark said a committee that studied the issue feels the town is within its rights. There has also been a suggestion to give Chapel Hill employees the first crack at the affordable homes.


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  • colliedave Jan 1, 2010

    And what is the one of the major reasons that make the town unafforable? Could it be high taxes? And why should they demand a private individual take less than the market rate on a home?

  • archmaker Jan 1, 2010

    we'll have plenty of time to debate this - it takes an average of 2 years to get any new building permitted in chapel hill (anti-growth). greensboro and any of the triad area citys have been hit by job loss so much that they'll permit the same thing in a matter of weeks to attract businesses.

  • purplestorm Jan 1, 2010

    Affordable Housing in Chapel Hill?
    Are they kidding?
    Part of the reason Why Chapel HIll is so Unaffordable is that liberal towns of Chapel Hill and Carrboro have the HIGhest property taxes in NC! In Addition to Chapel Hill taxes there are Orange County Taxes and a Chapel Hill/Carrboro City schools taxes. Then property values in Chapel Hil are high. It's NO wonder anyone can afford to live in Chapel Hill
    Taxes never go down but always up!

  • turtledove Jan 1, 2010

    No one who can afford to live in Chapel Hill cares that town employees or anyone else who works there can afford to live there. They only care about Tar-heel basketball, Football, and if the free bus service is on time! They consider Town employees as only another group of servants they step over or around.

  • bomanicous Jan 1, 2010

    All levels of govt are trying to DICTATE every private citizen in the country.

  • whatelseisnew Jan 1, 2010

    It is amazing how lefties will never ever give up on failed ideas.

  • chfdcpt Jan 1, 2010

    Chapel Hill's idea of affordable housing is somewhere below $200k. Most of the folks that work at FD, PD and Town Hall live out the city. Most of the Public Works employees in the only affordable housing in town, which is the public housing. And like almost everywhere in the RTP, apartments start at close to 1K.