TO: Mayor and Town Council
FROM: W. Calvin Horton, Town Manager
SUBJECT: Response to Petition From Matthew Robbins and Kendra Millis: Regarding Urban Services Area Development, Consideration of Amending Land Use Management Ordinance
DATE: November 10 , 2003
This report provides a response to a petition received on October 8, 2003, from Mr. Matthew Robbins and Ms. Kendra Millis, of 736 Williams Circle. The petition regards consideration of amending the Land Use Management Ordinance to allow development of existing lots within the Urban Services Area where public water and sewer service is not readily available. The petitioners have requested that the Town Council initiate steps to amend the Land Use Management Ordinance to allow new residential construction on existing lots within the Urban Services Area that are not served by public water and sewer (see Attachment 1). We recommend that no action be taken tonight.
The following sequence of events has taken place in relation to this petition:
Approx. 1965 Lot near Arboretum Drive and Lanier Drive was created according to applicant (Tax Map No. 7.131..5). See survey in Attachment 1.
October 30, 2002 Applicants purchased subject property.
January 27, 2003 Chapel Hill Land Use Management Ordinance enacted.
January 31, 2003 Applicants obtained an Orange County Wastewater System Construction Authorization, in lieu of public sewer approval.
February 2003 Applicants informed by Chapel Hill Planning Department that new residential development inside the Urban Services Area requires connection to public water and sewer service.
February 11, 2003 Applicants informed that OWASA did not have public water and sewer service readily available to the subject parcel.
October 8, 2003 Applicants petitioned the Town Council to consider amending the Land Use Management Ordinance.
DISCUSSION OF PETITION
The Urban Services Area establishes the outer limits of where the Town intends to extend its municipal boundary and to extend urban services, such as public water and sewer service. It will be the fully urbanized extent of Chapel Hill in the future, in terms of services.
Regulations requiring new homes to be connected to public water and sewer service within the Urban Services Area boundary were included in the Land Use Management Ordinance because of the Council’s concern about environmental impacts and consistency with future infrastructure. There were instances within the Town’s Urban Services Area, prior to the adoption of the Land Use Management Ordinance, where new homes were built without demonstrating the ability to connect to public water and sewer. The Council directed staff to develop language to prevent the occurrence of this type of situation, and subsequently enacted the current language that the new development within the Urban Services Area be served with public water and sewer service. Section 5.12.1(a)(1) of the Land Use Management Ordinance reads as follows:
“All development within the boundaries of Chapel Hill’s Urban Services Area, as defined in the Comprehensive Plan, shall be served by a public water supply and a public sanitary sewer system. No Zoning Compliance Permit or building permit shall be issued for any structure within the Town’s Urban Services Area (as defined in the Comprehensive Plan), absent evidence that the structure can be served by public water and sewer facilities. Existing development not served by public water and sewer shall not be considered as nonconforming within the meaning of Article 7 of this Chapter.”
The Council also enacted a new variance process in order to provide a “relief-valve,” whereby the Board of Adjustment can waive the water-sewer requirement if a hardship is demonstrated. When individual hardship cases arise, variances from regulations can be granted, on a case by case basis, through the Board of Adjustment’s quasi-judicial process. Variances are designed as an effective means of settling individual hardship cases.
Amendments to the Ordinance, which the petitioners have requested in this case, are appropriate where a broad policy change, with larger implications, is desired. In order to amend the Land Use Management Ordinance, the Council would have to meet the following standards in Article 4.4 of the Ordinance:
“In order to establish and maintain sound, stable, and desirable development within the planning jurisdiction of the Town it is intended that, this Chapter shall not be amended except a) to correct a manifest error in the Chapter, or b) because of changed or changing conditions in a particular area or in the jurisdiction generally, or c) to achieve the purposes of the Comprehensive Plan.”
Mr. Matthew Robbins and Ms. Kendra Millis would like to build a new house on a lot they own (Tax Map No. 7.131..5), near Arboretum Drive, and install a well and septic system to service their proposed home. The lot does not have immediate access to public water and sewer service. OWASA does not provide public water and sewer service to this lot at this time and according to the petitioners OWASA does not plan to extend public utilities to this lot (see Attachment 1). The petition is limited to regulatory issues regarding public utility service.
We note that this lot, the subject of this petition, has the additional regulatory constraint of no frontage on a public road. Section 5.8.1(a) of the Land Use Management Ordinance requires the following:
“All development shall have access to a publicly maintained street. No Zoning Compliance Permit or Building Permit shall be issued for any structure absent evidence of access to a publicly maintained street.”
Again, this provision was enacted by the Council in response to situations where old, “paper” lots what were platted without appropriate infrastructure improvements became the subject of new development applications, creating new dwellings difficult to access and to serve.
We believe that the regulations requiring access to public water and sewer service are desirable and appropriate. The Town has relief mechanisms in place for cases to be heard, where such regulations cause hardship, through the variance process, before the Board of Adjustment. We believe that the Board of Adjustment is the proper avenue for relief rather than amending the Land Use Management Ordinance, as suggested by the petitioner. We also note that the public water and service issue is not the only constraint on this property.
We also note that the property owner could apply for a Special Use Permit and ask the Council to modify the regulations for just this property.
We recommend that the Town Council take no action on this petition. We recommend that the applicant explore the Board of Adjustment variance process. However, if the Council chooses to amend the Ordinance, as requested by the Mr. Robbins and Ms. Millis, attached is a resolution that would call a Public Hearing on February 11, 2004.
A RESOLUTION CALLING A PUBLIC HEARING TO CONSIDER AMENDING PUBLIC WATER AND SEWER REQUIREMENTS IN THE LAND USE MANAGEMENT ORDINANCE (2003-11-10/R-6)
WHEREAS, Section 5.12.1(a) of Chapel Hill’s Land Use Management Ordinance states that “All development within the boundaries of Chapel Hill’s Urban Services Area, as defined in the Comprehensive Plan, shall be served by a public water supply and a public sanitary sewer system. No Zoning Compliance Permit or building permit shall be issued for any structure within the Town’s Urban Services Area (as defined in the Comprehensive Plan), absent evidence that the structure can be served by public water and sewer facilities;” and
WHEREAS, Mr. Matthew Robbins and Ms. Kendra Millis brought forward a petition regarding difficulties that may be created by this provision as related to their proposal to build a new home on their existing lot, located near Arboretum Drive and Lanier Drive on the property identified as Chapel Hill Township Tax Map 131, Lot 5, for which public water and sewer service does not exist.
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED by the Council of the Town of Chapel Hill that the Council calls a Public Hearing for 7:00 pm on Monday, February 11, 2004, in Chapel Hill Town Hall, to consider amending language in Section 5.12.1(a) of the Land Use Management Ordinance.
This the 10th day of November, 2003.