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Historic Chapel Hill neighborhoods fight to curb development

Posted June 20, 2011

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— Longtime residents in two historic Chapel Hill neighborhoods near the University of North Carolina campus are asking the town council to consider a moratorium on building projects. At a public hearing on the issue Monday, residents said student housing developments are forcing them out of their homes.

The Pine Knolls and Northside neighborhoods are historically black neighborhoods where supporters of a moratorium say low and fixed-income families are being pushed out because developers and investors are buying homes and turning them into upgraded rentals for UNC students.

"The families that have been here nursing this community primarily are kicked out. They can't compete," said Ted Parrish, who has lived in the Pine Knolls area for more than 30 years.

Chapel Hill moratorium Historic Chapel Hill neighborhoods fight to curb development

The higher-priced student housing is raising rent in the area and driving up property taxes for homeowners, supporters say.

Others say a moratorium would take away residents' ability to build a deck, upgrade home interiors or build additions on existing homes. 

"A moratorium will stifle or freeze, we feel, needed property improvements," said David Jackson. "This will only prohibit future and current improvements that will enhance the quality of life for tenants and the Northside community."

Town planning board member Andrea Rohrbacher said that while the town council should strive to preserve the neighborhoods' diversity and promote responsible growth, a moratorium is not the way to do it. 

"I felt that a moratorium created a polarization rather than a collaboration environment," Rohrbacher said. "I'd like to see the neighborhood try to solve their problems by working together without the moratorium."

The council is expected to vote on the issue June 27. If it passes, the moratorium would stay in place through January 2012.


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  • citizensoldier16 Jun 21, 2011

    Supply and demand illustrated here. Want to improve the economy? Improve housing.

  • Native NC gal Jun 21, 2011

    The university and its students are the driving force behind Chapel Hill's economy. Realize who "butters your bread".

  • ncguy Jun 21, 2011

    chapel hills no growth policies are biting you in the behind aren't they?

    The town will not any major retailers build so you get do not taxes from that- so chapel hill residents go to durham and buy goods and durham gets the taxes.

    Cry me a river- you wanted it- you got it!

  • carrboroyouth Jun 21, 2011

    HappyGirl, I agree. I think there is plenty of housing already for students.

    What I fear is being able to afford to live in Chapel Hill/ Carrboro after I get my degree because it is so expensive. I can't imagine living anywhere else (tried two years in Raleigh as a student... did not care for it at all). Even the little homes have giant price tags.

  • bill0 Jun 21, 2011

    This is a good example of why poor people tend to stay poor. You've got an area where developers are trying to buy up property and it is driving the price up. Instead of doing backflips about being the only people in the country whose houses are rapidly gaining value, they complain about gentrification!

    As for tax rates, quit your complaining. If you want low taxes, don't live in a "high service" area. Those taxes are paying for schools, public transit etc. If you don't value those things, don't pay a premium to live in downtown chapel hill. Get yourself a nice place outside the city for half the cost and half the taxes.

  • sww Jun 21, 2011

    I believe there already is a ordinance in place in CH about unrelated people living in a home. We used to live next to an empty lot that was turned into 'a single family home' that housed seven students. They were caught and some had to move out. (This was 15 years ago.)

  • aetius476 Jun 21, 2011

    HappyGirl: "How much more housing do we need to build?" - apparently alot. CH has numerous large projects being built. Eubanks Road, Complex off MLK behind HT, more being approved. It is insane, but I guess there is a demand. The folks in Northside are going to get priced out eventually, not much the town can do. Taxes are going up, valuations are going up, buyers are lining up. Just a matter of time.

  • kevboom Jun 21, 2011

    Seems like most college towns just pass a restriction on the number of unrelated people that can reside in one home (i.e., you can't lease a former single family home to 4 college students)? Seems like "progressive" Chapel Hill would have already instituted such regulations. Probably just for the lily white "historic" neighborhoods that surround campus.

  • ncguy Jun 21, 2011

    don't blame the town blame the neighbors who soldout for money.

  • HappyGirl08 Jun 21, 2011

    I would say there is bound to be plenty of housing in this town for students. There are apt complexes on every corner just about. CH transit goes everywhere and its free.... How much more housing do we need to build?