The busy season in local politics continues this week. Although Chapel Hill passed its budget last week, Carrboro is still debating theirs. (In their defense, Carrboro passed its Comprehensive Plan last week, which will shape development in the community for years to come). Here’s a few highlights:

In their meeting this Tuesday, Carrboro Town Council will be hearing an update on local transportation projects that are underway, including the extension of the Morgan Creek Greenway, new sidewalks on South Greensboro Street, bike lanes on East Main Street, and the long awaited bicycle loop detectors (which allow cyclists to activate traffic signal changes, the way cars do now). They’ll also continue discussing their budget, and the request from the Inter-Faith Council for Social Service to provide support for its shelter for people experiencing homelessness.

In Chapel Hill, on Tuesday the Housing Advisory Board is hearing two concept plans for proposals to build affordable housing in Chapel Hill. First, on Huse St. (off of Old Chapel Hill Road, less than a mile from Wegman’s), a builder is proposing 264 apartments, all of which will be affordable to people making less than 80 percent of the Average Median Income ($50K for a single individual, $76K for a family of four). Next, the board will hear a concept plan for a proposal to build up to 350 apartments near the Friday Center. Both of these proposals are concept plans, and will be heard by the Council on Wednesday as well. If these concept plans are positively received, the developer will then formally prepare plans, with the expectation that they will again be heard by council later this year (or, more likely, next year) for final approval.

On Wednesday, the Chapel Hill Town Council will discuss a variety of routine matters (roof replacements, selling a street sweeper, etc.), with a few interesting items mixed in. Highlights include:

  • The Council will authorize the Town Manager to award a bid (of approximately ~$2M) for the construction of sidewalks on Homestead and Seawell School roads. The Council first approved this project in October 2016, almost six years ago. Someone who brought their kindergartner to a town council meeting in 2016 asking for a safe route to school now has a sixth-grader. If construction goes quickly, their child will be able to enjoy this new sidewalk while they’re walking to Chapel Hill High School. (Note to new parents: in addition to reserving daycare slots as soon as you learn you are expecting, you might want to look at the sidewalk infrastructure near the school your child will attend in five or six years. By the time they start school, it will be too late).
  • The Council will also continue hearing a proposal to build a 150-unit apartment building in downtown Chapel Hill. Since the project last came before the council, the developer, Grubb Properties, has made some concessions, including reserving up to 130 parking spaces in the adjacent deck that Grubb is building for the town, and creating a space for a “viable retail tenant” (not withstanding that there are several longterm empty storefronts nearby). The project will be discussed further by the town in the fall, though Grubb’s final slide suggests that the project may no longer be feasible. If this project goes unbuilt, it will be just the latest major residential project downtown that did not meet the town’s standards. If you would like to comment on this project, and the need for more housing downtown, please sign up to speak.


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Martin Johnson lives in Chapel Hill. He teaches film studies courses at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is also a member of NEXT Chapel Hill-Carrboro and the Bicycle Alliance of Chapel...