TO:                  Roger L. Stancil, Town Manager


FROM:            J.B. Culpepper, Planning Director 

                        David Bonk, Long Range and Transportation Manager


SUBJECT:      Response to Petition Requesting Consideration of a Development Moratorium in the NC 54 East Corridor


DATE:             June 25, 2008




The purpose of this memorandum is to provide a response to a citizen petition received by the Council on May 19. The petition requested consideration of a development moratorium in the NC 54 East corridor (Attachment 1).


This memorandum includes discussion on: Moratoria Law; implications for the Council’s fall schedule; implications for current development projects; and related issues as discussed by the Council during the June 4 Council work session.


We recommend no action at this time regarding the moratorium petition for the following reasons:




On May 19, 2008, a citizen presented a petition to the Council requesting consideration of a development moratorium in the NC 54 East corridor. The petitioner noted the recent development activity in the NC 54 East corridor and associated transportation impacts. The petitioner requested that the Council “conduct an intensive analysis of the corridor and both re-affirm and revise the Goals for the NC 54 Entranceway that were adopted by the Town Council in 1995.” The Council received and referred the petition to staff.


On June 4, 2008 the Council held a work session. Key issues were raised at that work session about population projections, density, mixed-use and higher density development as they relate to the form and texture of how the Town will grow. Council members expressed interest in questioning assumptions about density and growth. The Council agreed to form a Council Committee to work with the staff over the summer and develop a process to address the population and density issues. The committee is to report back in September.




The following information regarding the implications of a development moratorium, including moratorium law, current and future development applications and the potential impact of calling a public hearing is provided for the Council’s consideration.


Moratorium Law Implications:

Enacting a Moratorium in the NC 54 corridor would be subject to statutory provisions including requirements to:



Unless there is an imminent threat to public health and safety, moratoria do not apply to:



Provision is also made in the statute for expedited judicial review and the government has the burden of showing compliance with the procedural requirements of the statute in such challenges.


A more detailed description of the statute on moratoria is provided in Attachment 2.


Moratoria longer than 60 days require the same notice, advertisement, and hearing as any zoning/ rezoning atlas amendments.


Moratorium Implications for Current and Future Development:

Based on the review of the moratoria provisions with the Town Attorney, the following type of development activity would not be impacted by a moratorium:

  1. Development projects that are under construction; and
  2. Active development applications (i.e. Special Use Permits) that have been accepted by Town staff for review.


A moratorium would apply to any proposed development for which formal development applications have yet to be submitted, as indicated in the following Table.


Table 1: Effect of Moratorium on Current and Potential Future Development*

Development Name


Would Moratorium


Castalia at Meadowmont

Under Construction


East 54

Under Construction


Aydan Court

Active Application


Gateway Bank at Meadowmont

Active Application



Active Application


UNC Hospitals Imaging and Outpatient Ctr.

Active Application


Glen Lennox

Proposed Future Development (Concept Plan)


Undeveloped and Redevelopment Sites on the NC 54 Corridor

Potential Future Dev.


*Single-Family, Two-Family, and other Administrative Zoning Compliance Permits would be recommended to be exempt from a moratorium.


A Concept Plan review is required before larger scale, formal development applications may be submitted. Concept Plan review is a mandatory pre-application step in our process that provides developers an opportunity to get early feedback from the Design Commission and the Council. Any moratorium would apply to Concept Plans and would apply to any formal development applications received by the Town after the date that the Town Council calls a Public Hearing for the Moratorium, should it so choose.


The Concept Plan step in the development review process ensures that new major development applications cannot simply be submitted at any time, giving the Town a better sense of the earliest that new applications could be submitted. Given current Concept Plan applications in the pipeline, the soonest that any new major development applications could be submitted would be sometime after the scheduled November 17 Concept Plan review of the Glen Lennox pre-development Concept Plan proposal before the Council.


Implications of Calling a Public Hearing for a Moratorium:


Should the Council choose to call a Public Hearing to consider a Moratorium in the NC 54 Corridor, it may require adjustments to the Council’s fall schedule. The table below indicates the dates and items that are on the fall public hearing schedule.


Table 2: Scheduled Fall Council Agenda Items

September 15

UNC Innovation Ctr. SUP

St. Thomas More Church: MLUP & SUP MOD’s

Residences at Grove Park: ZAA & LUMOTA

Bike & Vehicular Parking: LUMOTA

October 20

Aydan Court: ZAA, SUP & LUMOTA

Tree Ordinance: LUMOTA



November 17

Concept Plan: Glen Lennox

Concept Plan: Vilcom

Concept Plan: Old Durham Rd Development



In addition to the possibility of rearranging the Council Public Hearing items scheduled for this fall, any moratorium consideration would require significant staff time through the fall of 2009 and may impact other scheduled initiatives.


We have included a map of the NC 54 corridor (Attachment 3).




At the June 4 Council work session the Council agreed to form a Council Committee to work with the staff over the summer and develop a process to address population and density issues. The committee is to report back in September. The issues raised are directly related to the concerns expressed in the petition for a development moratorium in the NC 54 East corridor. The Council’s discussions this September may lead to conclusions that inform the Council’s thinking about population and density related issues. The Council has some flexibility about the timing of calling a public hearing to consider a moratorium in the NC 54 East corridor, without incurring additional risk of new activity. The Council could call a Public Hearing as late as November 10 and not change the status of any current or future large-scale development activity (Rezonings and/or Special Use Permits).


We recommend no action on the petition.




Planning Board: The Planning Board met on May 20, 2008 and voted 6-0 to endorse the petition to enact a one year development moratorium in the NC 54 East corridor between Fordham Blvd and the Chapel Hill/Durham County jurisdictional boundary.


A copy of the Summary of the Planning Board Action is attached (Attachment 4).


Staff Recommendation: We recommend no action on the petition requesting consideration of a development moratorium in the NC 54 East entranceway corridor pending Council discussions in September related to future population projections and development.


If, after the Council discussion in September regarding population projections, density, mixed-use and higher density development, the Council desired to call a Public Hearing to consider a development moratorium, we would return in October or November with a detailed discussion of the pros and cons of enacting a moratorium in the NC 54 Corridor, the relationship of a possible moratorium to other planning initiatives, and recommendations. We note that without incurring further risk of new development activity, the Council has flexibility regarding the timing of when the pros and cons of a development moratorium might be discussed.



  1. NC 54 Moratorium Petition and Attachments from Henry Lister, Dated May 19 (332 KB pdf) (p. 6).
  2. Moratorium Extract from the School of Government Report on 2005 Session of the NC General Assembly (29 KB pdf) (p. 13).
  3. Map Indicating NC 54 Corridor Wirth a 1000-foot Buffer Area (254 KB pdf) (p. 15).
  4. Summary of Planning Board Action, May 20, 2008 Meeting (p. 16).
  5. Correspondence Regarding Moratorium Area from Residents (833 KB pdf) (p. 17).



  1. Staff PowerPoint Presentation [2.3 MB pdf]
  2. Letter from Grubb Properties [34 KB pdf]