by Joe Schwartz
Residents of Northside neighborhood and their supporters turned out en masse at Chapel Hill Town Hall on Monday night to call for a moratorium on all development in the historically black areas of town.
They say developers are finding ways to skirt the intent of the Neighborhood Conservation District rules passed in 2003 that seek to curtail the number of duplexes and student-friendly homes being erected there as long-time residents are forced out, unable to afford the property taxes or deal with the noise that students produce.
“It’s reached a point of crisis,” said Alexander Stephens, associate director of the Marian Cheek Jackson Center for Saving and Making History, which is housed in St. Joseph CME Church in the neighborhood.
“It’s like our communities are being destroyed and taken away,” said Carolyn Briggs, a long-time resident raised on Graham Street who says she is being priced out.
You can find the petition here. More than 50 residents turned out in support. Many are members of the Sustaining OurSelves Coalition (SOS).
The Town Council expressed some willingness to review the NCD rules with Councilmember Donna Bell, a resident of Northside, saying that she’s seen houses built that she can’t believe meet the rules, but somehow are within code.
They received and referred the petition to staff.
The council also received petitions urging the creation of a Human Rights Commission and re-instatement of the Sanitation Two.
Also at the meeting, the body delayed its vote on allowing larger business signs in town to April 11, approved a Community Policing Advisory Committee and elected to move forward with plans to temporarily house the Chapel Hill Public Library at the University Mall during the renovation process at Pritchard Park.