TO:                  Mayor and Town Council


FROM:            Mayor’s Committee on Proposed Habitat Development

                        Council Member Flicka Bateman, Chair

                        Council Member Mark Kleinschmidt

                        Council Member Jim Ward

                        Council Member Edith Wiggins


SUBJECT:       Recommended Community Goals for Consideration in Preparing Development Plans for a Site on Sunrise Road


DATE:             May 12, 2003



As the Council knows, the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity has purchased land on Sunrise Road, in anticipation of submitting a development application for Council consideration.  In order to help Habitat identify community goals that we hope can be incorporated into such a development proposal, Mayor Foy appointed a Mayor’s Committee to gather facts and suggest ideas for the Council’s consideration, in offering guidance to the Habitat organization.




The site is located on the east side of Sunrise Road, south of Interstate 40.  It is approximately 17 acres in size.  A map is attached.  The property is currently outside Chapel Hill Town limits within the Urban Services Boundary, and is in the area designated as Transition Area under the Joint Planning Agreement between the Town and Orange County.


Land uses nearby the site include residential dwellings, the Carol Woods community, a service station and small retail center, Cedar Falls Park, East Chapel Hill High School, a retail/wholesale nursery business, and Interstate 40.  Zoning in the vicinity of this site is a combination of the following districts:  Residential-1, Residential-2, Redisdential-5, and Neighborhood Commercial.


There are several existing conditions that need to be considered when preparing development plans for this property.  The attached map shows the location of an existing overhead electric transmission line that enters the property at its northwest corner, and continues in a southeast direction.  There are two stream segments that establish Resource Conservation District areas on the property:  (1) A perennial stream that enters the property at its southwest corner and flows to the northeast, establishing a 300-foot wide corridor of protected Resource Conservation District;  and (2) An intermittent stream that exists in the northeast portion of the site, establishing a 100-foot wide protected corridor in that location.  A portion of the property abuts Interstate 40 in the northeast segment of the site, triggering requirements for a 100 buffer at the site’s perimeter in that location.


Chapel Hill’s 2000 Comprehensive Plan shows a designation for this property as “Low Residential – 1-4 units per acre.”  However, because Orange County has not yet adopted Chapel Hill’s May 8, 2000 Land Use Plan for application in transition areas such as this, the Town’s 1986 Land Use Plan applies.  The 1986 Land Use Plan designation for this property is similar:  “Low Density, 0-4 units per acre.” The Town’s 2000 Comprehensive Plan outlines community goals, objectives, and strategies; these are summarized in the twelve major themes of the Comprehensive Plan listed below:


·        Maintain the Urban Services Area/Rural Buffer Boundary

·        Participate in the regional planning process

·        Conserve and protect existing neighborhoods

·        Conserve and protect the natural setting of Chapel Hill

·        Identify areas where there are creative development opportunities

·        Encourage desirable forms of non-residential development

·        Create and preserve affordable housing opportunities

·        Cooperatively plan with the University of North Carolina

·        Work toward a balanced transportation system

·        Complete the bikeway/greenway/sidewalk systems

·        Provide quality community facilities and services

·        Develop strategies to address fiscal issues.


Current zoning of the site is Residential-2, which permits up to 4 units per acre.   Under provisions of Chapel Hill’s Land Use Management Ordinance, a property owner may apply for approval of a subdivision or a Special Use Permit for this property.  In the context of a Special Use Permit, the Council has authority to modify regulations if it finds that public purposes are satisfied to a degree equivalent to that satisfied by full adherence to regulations.  A property owner may request rezoning to a designation other than the currently-applicable Residential-2. A rezoning request could be to another general use district or to a conditional use district, in which any proposed development would require a special use permit.   


Pursuant to the terms of the Joint Planning Agreement, if a rezoning request is submitted, the application would need to be reviewed and approved by both the Chapel Hill Town Council and the Orange County Board of Commissioners because the site is outside Town limits, in the Transition Area.  Review and approval authority of a development proposal, whether or not in conjunction with a rezoning, (for example, a subdivision or special use permit) rests with the Town Council.


Habitat officials inform us that one of the organization’s eligibility criteria for moving a family into a Habitat home is that the family has resided in Orange County for 12 months.




Subsequent to a Town Council decision to provide a loan to Habitat for Humanity to assist in the purchase of this property, Mayor Foy appointed a Mayor’s Committee to study the site, and engage in conversation with Habitat representatives and neighbors of the property.  The Mayor asked this Committee to consider the site and its development possibilities, and to suggest a set of goals/principles that the full Town Council might consider adopting.  In the past, Council adoption of such goals/principles regarding specific properties has proven useful as development plans were subsequently drawn.


The Committee met with representatives from Habitat and representatives from surrounding neighborhoods, walked the site, and sponsored two community meetings to hear comments about this property and possible development plans.  Residents from surrounding neighborhoods and representatives of Habitat have presented the Committee with suggested parameters for development of this site that have been reviewed and considered in preparation of the following suggested goals and principles.  Copies of correspondence and documents submitted to the Committee are included here as Attachment 6.




We suggest that it would be desirable for Habitat, in preparing development plans for this property, to consider the following goals and principles that, based on our Committee’s work, we believe reflect community interest in the development of this property.  We note that these would be guidelines only, to help in the development of specific plans.  We are not suggesting that non-compliance with any of these goals would be a basis for denial of an application.


1.      Retain present zoning:  The present zoning of this property is Residential-2.  For a property of this size in this district, development applications can be filed for either subdivision or Special Use Permit that would accommodate most of the possible development scenarios that have been discussed.  We suggest that development plans be drawn in a manner that meets the requirements of this zoning district.


2.      Compliance with regulations:  Plans should be drawn in a manner that would meet all regulations in the Land Use Management Ordinance at the time that an application is considered by the Council.  We note that the Council is continuing to monitor and evaluate the new Land Use Management Ordinance, and that there may be adjustments made to the Ordinance in the future.  (Please see the attached resolution adopted by the Town Council on January 27, 2003, Attachment 6.) 


3.      Consider Clustering Development:  Whatever density and/or intensity is permitted on this site under existing zoning should be clustered so as to take advantage of buildable areas and minimize disturbance to sensitive areas.


4.      Consider Developing Housing for Varied Income Levels:  Prepare plans, perhaps in cooperation with other agencies, such that the development provides housing opportunities for homeownership for persons of low and moderate income.  Various building types and designs would be allowed in the present zoning district under the Land Use Management Ordinance in a manner that would be consistent with the Comprehensive Plan.  (Please see Item 3 in Attachment 4 for further discussion of townhouse development on this site.)


5.      Provide Recreation Amenities:  If a subdivision application is prepared, it is required that land be set aside for recreation; if a Special Use Permit application is prepared, it is required that amenities for active recreation be provided.  Regardless of the type of application, plans for development of this site should include active recreational amenities.  (Please see Item 6 in Attachment 4 for further discussion of recreation issues.)


6.      Consider Public Transit:  Plans for development of this property should explicitly consider current and proposed transit routes, and provide reasonable access and sidewalks to public transit locations.  If amenities are needed (e.g., a bus shelter), they should be included in the proposal and provided by the applicant.


7.      Provide Sidewalks and Pedestrian Paths:  Provide adequate pedestrian paths to destinations in all directions from the site, including connection to a future greenway along I-40.


8.      Building and Site Design:  Careful attention should be given to site and building design, with sensitivity to the environment.  Development should avoid the power line and Resource Conservation District corridors and result in buildings that are attractive.


9.      Minimize Impacts on RCD for Road Construction:  Design the street network and utility systems so as to cross the Resource Conservation District in the least disruptive locations, and with the fewest possible crossings.


10.    Possible Development Partners:  Partnerships with other nonprofit organizations may enhance the variety of housing opportunities that are developed on this site.  It is expected that all housing built on this site will be affordable to individuals and families with income below 80% of the area median income.  


11.    Develop Designs that Promote Inclusion:  Seek designs that will promote interaction between this proposed development and surrounding areas; avoid designs that would serve to isolate residents of this proposed development.  (Please see Item 1 in Attachment 4 for further discussion of surrounding area.)


12.    Provide Corridor for I-40 Greenway:  Chapel Hill’s Greenways Plan contemplates a trail along the south side of Interstate 40. This proposal should provide easements along the portion of that trail that will cross this property.


13.    Study Sunrise Road Access:  Study the Sunrise Road corridor to select an access point for this development that addresses sight-distance concerns for ingress and egress. 


14.    Consider How Best to Provide Sewer Service:  Seek designs that minimize RCD disruption and allow for future extension of utilities to nearby properties.


15.    High-Voltage  Power Line:  Prepare designs that minimize proximity of dwellings to the power line corridor.


16.    Consider Stub-outs:  Review adjacent development patterns, existing and potential, to determine if it is desirable/feasible to stub-out streets at the edges of this property, for possible future extension.


17.    Future Workshop:  It would be desirable for Habitat to sponsor a workshop, involving neighbors of this property, to consider possible designs for use of this property prior to preparation and submittal of a Concept Plan.




We recommend that the Council consider endorsing this set of principles for use and consideration by Habitat for Humanity as plans for development of its Sunrise Road property are pursued.




1.      Area Map (p. 7).

2.      Map of Property (p. 8).

3.      Comments in Response to Questions (p. 9).

4.      Council Resolution Regarding Monitoring Land Use Management Ordinance (p. 12).

5.      Correspondence (Email, letters, photographs) (p. 13).



WHEREAS, the Orange County Chapter of Habitat for Humanity has indicated intent to develop a 17-acre property on Sunrise Road in Chapel Hill, for the purpose of creating affordable housing opportunities; and


WHEREAS, a Mayor’s Committee has reviewed the subject site and engaged Habitat representatives and neighbors in discussions about development possibilities; and


WHEREAS, the Mayor’s Committee has prepared, for the Council’s consideration, a set of “Suggested Goals/Principles” to serve as guidelines as plans for this property are further developed; and


WHEREAS, the Council finds that these goals and principles would be useful guidelines to use and refer to as discussions proceed;


NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Council of the Town of Chapel Hill that the Council endorses the “Suggested Goals/Principles” as contained in a May 12, 2003 memorandum from the Mayor’s Committee to the Council, for use and consideration by Habitat for Humanity as plans for development of its Sunrise Road property are pursued. 


This the 12th day of May, 2003.