Both Chapel Hill and Carrboro Town Councils have a much-deserved summer recess and wrapped up a number of items in June. Here’s our roundup, along with some other civic news. Happy Summer Recess, Civics Nerds!
Don’t forget to check your voter registration.
What happened in Carrboro?
Jason Merrill, Catherine Frey, Eliazar Posada announce council runs
The DTH broke the news that Jason Merrill will join the Town Council race. He served as the head of Chapel Hill’s Transportation Advisory Board and is the former owner of Back Alley Bikes. He told the DTH that he supports the Carrboro Connects Comprehensive plan: “It sets forth what I think are some of the greatest values of our community: the desire for greater racial and economic equity, the desire for greater environmental and cultural sustainability, the desire for greater affordability, the desire for greater transit conductivity,” he said. “These are all the things that made me want to live in Carrboro in the first place.”
Catherine Fray, has served on the Planning Board since 2012 and has been elected chair twice. They also co-chaired the 2020-2022 task force to develop Carrboro’s first comprehensive plan document, Carrboro Connects.
Posada has served on council for just over a year. His slogan is: Let’s make Carrboro a Home for All and his platform focuses on affordable housing, equity, and equality.
Carrboro Town budget passes
Town Council passed the new fiscal year budget, totaling $81.1 million. Notable highlights include a 5% raise for city employees, no property tax increase, stipends for advisory boards and commissions, and funding to renovate Town Hall.
Carrboro Town Council approved rezoning of 9.7 acres on Homestead Road/Lucas Lane
This paves the way for 15 duplexes and triplexes, and as many as 12 ADUs. Council Member Foushee, who is running for mayor, got the developer to agree to a subsidized affordable unit to add to the naturally occurring, size-limited affordable housing in the project.
The greenway public engagement launched
You may have heard the Town of Carrboro has a new survey about the Bolin Creek Greenway that, among other questions, asks which trail alignment respondents prefer: Creekside, Upland Forest, or Bolin Connector.
What’s happening in Chapel Hill?
Housing Choices passes
The new text amendment now allows duplexes and single-family homes with accessory apartments up to 1,000 sq. ft. in all residential zoning districts. Single-family homes with a cottage are also allowed in R-1 and up zoning districts, and three and fourplexes are now permissible in R-4 and up zoning districts. Thank you to Council Members Stegman, Anderson, Miller-Foushee, Huynh, Parker and Mayor Pam Hemminger for voting for housing choices.
UNC Health’s Eastowne conditional zoning application approved
UNC Health will be able to expand their Eastowne campus off 15-501, which will help people see a variety of physician specialists without going to the hospital. UNC Health proposed contributing $5M to a revolving loan fund that could be used to provide low-interest loans for other affordable housing projects. (More here.)
NCDOT is funding improvements at Critz Drive
This is good news, as it means the money the town was gathering for this project can now be used for other pedestrian safety initiatives! (See our previous coverage.)
Chapel Hill Transit receives over $1million from NCDOT for match to a recent federal grant award for electric buses
Brian Litchfield, Chapel Hill Transit’s Director, announced the grant on Twitter, along with several others. (Chapel Hill Transit also received 2.1 million dollars for bus stop improvements from the Federal Transit Administration.)
Chapel Hill receives $1 million grant for “Everywhere to Everywhere Greenways”
Senator Thom Tillis announced that the Town won a federal RAISE grant to fund a feasibility study to begin development of the network. The $1 million grant includes funding to evaluate alignment alternatives, conduct public engagement, and prepare initial 15 percent conceptual designs for about 25 miles of greenway facilities.
We broke the news of four people running for Town Council
Three of the four are running for office for the first time, while the fourth finished seventh in a seven-person race for council four years ago.
Michael Parker’s not running again
He writes, “Over the course of my time on council, my colleagues and I have done important work in planning, transit, economic development, climate action, and affordable housing during my tenure on Council. All of it required the commitment and hard work of my council colleagues. And I’m very proud of how we worked with our neighboring jurisdictions to guide the Town through the COVID-19 pandemic by following the science and always collaborating.”
Help us write a Vanity Fair-style oral history of the 2006 “It’s Carrboro” music video
Riley Sullivan and Melody Kramer wrote this roundup.