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Council hears concerns on Northside

By Kirk Ross, Staff Writer

CHAPEL HILL – At a meeting at Town Hall Monday night, the Chapel Hill Town Council heard concerns about how rules adopted for the Northside and Pine Knolls neighborhoods are playing out now that they’ve been in place for several years.

The council reviewed a follow-up to an audit report from representatives of Orange County Justice United on dozens of concerns ranging from public safety and street lighting to potholes and parking in front yards.

The group, which has been active in promoting social justice in the county, said the concerns came from an extensive survey of residents as a follow-up to the town’s approval of a neighborhood conservation district for the historically black neighborhood.

Council member Donna Bell, a Northside resident, said the report shows the council how things hoped for when the rules were being drafted in 2003 panned out.

“We’re now seeing what the current neighborhood conservation district is producing and it’s still not quite where and what we want it to be,” Bell said.

Several council members thanked members of the group and suggested that the town should also be conducting follow up with residents after conservation districts are approved.

Also on Monday night, the council approved a 15-unit addition to the Meadowmont development. The proposed Murray Hill development would construct the new units on about an acre of land on Meadowmont Lane and adjacent to a route selected for a future light-rail line.

In approving the project, the council debated an offer by developer Roger Perry to forward a 1 percent transfer fee to the Community Home Trust. The council accepted a proposal for a payment in lieu of $191,250 instead of requiring 2.25 units of affordable housing at the complex. Typically, the council collects a 1 percent transfer fee in the case of condominium complexes.

Since there would be no affordable-housing units at the complex, Perry proposed sending the 1 percent transfer fees to the trust.

Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt said while he applauded the idea, he did not want to bind future councils in using the funds.
The council agreed to send the first round of funds, estimated at around $75,000, to the Home Trust. Subsequent payments will go to the town’s Affordable Housing Trust Funds and could then flow to trust if the council agrees.

In other action the council scheduled a public hearing for May 24 on a proposed paving for a graveled stretch of Coolidge Street between Old Pittsboro Road and Dawes Street. The preliminary cost estimate for the project is $16,000, including sub-grade preparation, paving and drainage improvements.

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