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The Chamber and HBA Joint Comments on the Chapel Hill FLUM

The Chamber and HBA Joint Comments on the Chapel Hill FLUM

*Update: On 10/28/20, the Chapel Hill Town Council discussed the FLUM. Watch remarks by The Chamber's Katie Loovis at 1:20:05 and HBA's Holly Fraccaro at 1:30:48. Council decided to keep the public hearing open for another month and not vote on the FLUM until December 2020.

*The following is a letter submitted jointly by The Chamber and the Home Builders Association of Durham, Orange, and Chatham Counties to the Chapel Hill Town Council on October 28, 2020 re: final comments on the Future Land Use Map (FLUM). View the PDF version here. 

October 28, 2020

RE: The Chamber & HBA Comments on the FLUM
Dear Chapel Hill Town Council,
On behalf of The Chamber For a Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro (Chamber) and the Home Builders Association of Durham, Orange, and Chatham Counties (HBA), we are pleased to express our support for the Future Land Use Map (FLUM) with five final comments for your consideration.

Process: First, we want to compliment town staff, namely Alisa Duffey Rogers, for managing a thoughtful and inclusive process. Our coalition participated in dozens of meetings and provided significant feedback over the last three-plus years, and much of our feedback was incorporated (i.e. expanding existing Focus Areas D “Downtown” west to the Carrboro line and E “NC 54 Corridor west to 15-501 Bypass, simplifying character types, and prioritizing transit-oriented density along key transportation corridors).

Context: The FLUM is a visionary document with a 30-year horizon. As we imagine the next generation of Chapel Hill, context is incredibly important. The current version of the FLUM misses some opportunities to be clear about our future vision. 

From a regional perspective, there is significant growth in surrounding counties, especially Chatham County to the south and Durham County to the northeast. These areas (15-501 South of Southern Village to the Chatham Line and the ETJ to the Northeast, aka “the pikachu ear”) should be designated as Future Focus Areas or Study Areas. Naming these areas and providing a guide for future land use and development (think schools, tiny homes and other diverse housing types, mixed-use developments) allows the Council to be in the driver’s seat and truly chart our future rather than react to proposals which will often be the path of least resistance (i.e. more multimillion dollar homes on multiple acres). 

From a local perspective, the FLUM Focus Areas include only 20 percent of the geographic area of town, leaving 80 percent of our town without a vision. Thirty years is a long time for a majority of our town area to lack a vision. We hope you will make this a living, breathing document and add additional phases in the coming years to chart a bright future for the areas of town not included in this process, especially the residential areas currently in light yellow. 

DensityWe applaud the prioritization of transit-oriented density, as it better enables the realization of social and environmental goals, including more affordable housing and lower carbon emissions. We recommend taking the density vision up a notch along transit corridors, especially around the bus rapid transit (BRT) stops on MLK Boulevard. Examples include allowing more mixed-use higher density development and redevelopment within a five to ten-minute walk along either side of the MLK corridor, allowing buildings closer to the street, and eliminating set-backs.

Housing: Throughout the town, there are very few moderately priced housing options. We understand staff will be recommending a “missing middle” scan to be included in the next phase and are encouraged by this opportunity. It is our hope that this scan will provide the data necessary to justify a future phase looking at much of the 80 percent of town that is not currently part of the FLUM. Ultimately, we would like to see an innovative move by council that addresses single family lot sizes, setbacks, and eliminates floor area ratios (FAR) in order to deliver diverse housing options for the many families who work in Chapel Hill and would very much like to live here so they and their children can benefit from all of the amenities that we have enjoyed as residents of Chapel Hill.

Perspective: Overall, we encourage Council to keep the continued evolution of building technology top of mind. Innovative stormwater management and green building practices are allowing development and redevelopment to deliver net positive improved community resilience. Also, we encourage you to promote good design. Buildings can and should be beautiful, architecturally interesting, and visible points of pride rather than hidden away behind trees. And lastly, remember what we learned from the leaders of Ann Arbor during the Inter-City Visit: they limited their development to eight stories and then wished they made it twenty in hindsight.

We thank you for coordinating a thoughtful process to chart our future and appreciate you considering these suggestions. Representatives from both of our organizations will deliver these points live this Wednesday evening, and we invite you to contact staff directly if you would like to discuss further.


Holly Fraccaro, CEO, Home Builders Association of Durham, Orange, and Chatham Counties
Nicole Goolsby, President, Red Ladder Residential and Board President, HBA 
Betsy Harris, IT Coordinator, Armacell and Chair, The Chamber’s Government Affairs Committee
Aaron Nelson, President & CEO, The Chamber For a Greater Chapel Hill Carrboro 
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