About the Proposal
What It Is
The Town Council has introduced a proposal to eliminate single-family home zoned neighborhoods across almost all of Chapel Hill.
While the proposal is not finalized, some drafts have called for rezoning almost all R-1 single-family neighborhoods to R-4 multifamily fourplexes.
This rezoning plan is being presented as a "text amendment" to Chapel Hill's land use ordinance, a contested approach that attempts to circumvent the normal protocol for rezoning that requires ample notification, impact studies, and engagement with affected communities. (A similar attempt to "rezone by rewrite" is the subject of at least one lawsuit in Raleigh.)
The proposal is set to be voted on in the coming months, and only one of the nine members of the town council (Adam Searing) has committed to stand with Chapel Hill residents and vote against it.
What It Means
This proposal could expose our neighborhoods to unfettered, "by-right" development by wealthy institutions and investors in search of big profits on rentals.
- For example: a wealthy out-of-state developer could buy a home in any formerly single-family zone—including historic neighborhoods, such as Franklin-Rosemary District—then tear it down, put up a fourplex of condos, and sell or rent them out without any community review or recourse.
- Allowing multifamily buildings in neighborhoods designed for single-family homes would stress infrastructure such as roadways and utilities, as well as services such as sanitation and public safety.
- More housing units mean more vehicular traffic—which could spell the end of the quiet, safe, walkable neighborhoods that make our communities such a desirable place to live.
Who It Impacts
This impacts everyone who cares about creating more affordable, sustainable, and family-friendly communities across Chapel Hill.
- Existing homeowners: Allowing multifamily developments alongside single family homes is likely to negatively impact existing property values, and could further burden families already struggling with the economic impacts of the pandemic and inflation.
- Prospective homeowners: Multifamily developments are more likely to be rentals, which could further reduce the limited supply of homes for sale to aspiring first-time homeowners.
- Chapel Hill Residents: Let's be clear: we already have over 5,000 housing units in the pipeline for Chapel Hill, representing an astounding 25% growth rate. These units will come with growing pains that will be born indirectly (in the form of traffic, pollution, and reduced green space and tree cover) and directly (in the form of rising tax burdens ) by residents.
We need a Town Council that listens to and cares for its constituents—not a going-out-of business sale on our neighborhoods!
Rezoning could be passed in as little as