Tuesday, January 18, 2011

More stick than carrot in Chapel Hill

I missed this when it happened, but last June, Chapel Hill adopted an ordinance requiring new development to include a small percentage of "affordable" units. Here's what was reported in the Triangle Land Use Newsletter from the law firm K&L Gates:

"On June 21, 2010, the Town of Chapel Hill replaced its affordable housing "expectation" [which applied only for rezonings] with an ordinance requiring that nearly all development that includes a residential component set aside a part of the development for affordable housing. The new ordinance takes effect on March 1, 2011.

"The new ordinance is a type of 'inclusionary zoning' ordinance, and applies to any new development, renovation, reconstruction, or change in use that results in five or more new dwelling units. The ordinance requires developers to set aside 10 to 15% of the new homes for affordable housing. In return, developers will be offered a bonus to allowed density or floor area for providing the required units and a waiver of some development fees."

The newsletter notes that a recent N.C. Court of Appeals ruling on Union County's adequate public facilities ordinance leaves the issue of a mandatory inclusionary zoning ordinance "unsettled."

Why bother with inclusionary zoning? Advocates, such as Charlotte's Mixed-Income Housing Coalition, say it helps spread affordable housing throughout the community, instead of having it all clustered in some parts of town. Or, more to the point, it means the few affluent neighborhoods that don't have any affordable housing would get a few units.

Opponents say it just raises the cost of all the other housing units. But Davidson officials report that it seems to have worked well there. (Back when developers were building housing, that is.)