Chapel Hill bond referendum heads to voters in Nov.

Affordable housing, public facilities, and streets and sidewalks to benefit


The Chapel Hill Town Council wrapped up its last two meetings in mid-June before heading off for a summer break. It voted to put a major bond referendum before voters in November.

The bond issuance would total $44 million — the maximum amount of debt the town can take on without raising taxes — with $15 million earmarked for affordable housing, another $15 million for public facilities, $7.5 million for streets and sidewalks, $4.5 million for parks and recreation facilities, and $2 million for open spaces and greenways.

The referendum will be on the Chapel Hill ballots alongside votes for the President and Governor.

In other business, the council approved a 15-year building lease to house the Chapel Hill police department.

“The Guardians of the Hill have an old building in bad shape that is beyond renovation and repair, and there’s a coal ash site here that needs to be remediated, and we need to determine future uses for the site,” said Deputy Town Manager Mary Jane Nirdlinger.

The police department, including the emergency operations center and technology staff, will move from 828 Martin Luther King Blvd. to leased space at 7300 Millhouse Rd.

“The benefit of the proposed lease is that it allows the town adequate time to plan for a permanent space for the police department and to plan for and fund remediation of the Brownfield.”

The 15-year lease will cost $1.37 million for the first year.

On Wednesday, the council held a concept review for a potential development project located within the Parkline East Village development near Old Chapel Hill Road and North White Oak Drive.

The concept review is the first step in the development process. It allows the council and the developers to ask each other questions and work out further details before a true site plan and rezoning request are brought back later.

“The proposal we have really is designed around the idea of connectivity of the internal streets and of creating a place that is at peace with its neighbors,” said Susana Dancy of Rockwood Development Group. "Our goal has been to work with both the approved projects and with the developer on the proposed project so that these things become part of one place. That each project is going to have its own distinctive flair but they’re going to play together.”

The proposed project is on 11.6 acres of property and will have three to five multi-family buildings with around 360 units ranging from studios to three bedroom units. The developer for the project will be ZOM Living.

“We look for ways to study a site and see how can we wrap the unique portions of the site into a unique design and then how can we further move to find art that is contextual and puts people at ease and wrap that into our plans,” said ZOM Living Director of Development Standards Ben Stevens. “ZOM has been looking for the right opportunity for a very long time to do work in Chapel Hill. There aren’t a lot of pieces of land like the one we’re talking about.”

According to their website, ZOM Living’s mission is to “create unique residences for people who appreciate the finest quality and craftsmanship and who love the feeling of something timeless.”

The council voiced initial concerns over the proposed height of the building, the preservation of green spaces, the limitation of parking and the number/size of affordable housing units within the development.

“I’m sure that you’re aware of the challenges that developers are having in general to even producing market-rate housing,” Dancy said. “Right now, we are confident that we can provide 10% of the units at 80% AMI. If you want more than that, then we need to figure out where the tradeoffs are on that. It becomes possibly less viable when we start pushing those numbers.”

The Chapel Hill council will reconvene for the 2024-25 season in September.