Orange County

Carrboro, Chapel Hill OK 48 affordable apartments. Is $10M more for housing possible?

A site plan gives a basic outline of where two three-story buildings and complex amenities will be placed on three acres off South Merritt Mill Road in Carrboro and Chapel Hill. The 48-apartment complex will have a single driveway and community building.
A site plan gives a basic outline of where two three-story buildings and complex amenities will be placed on three acres off South Merritt Mill Road in Carrboro and Chapel Hill. The 48-apartment complex will have a single driveway and community building. Contributed

Work could start this year on one affordable housing project, while the town asks voters to spend $10 million on future construction.

A public hearing is scheduled May 9 on whether to put a $10 million affordable housing bond on the Nov. 6 ballot. The Town Council could vote to move ahead with the bond May 23.

The money could be used to support any potential projects, said Amy Oland, the town’s assistant director of business management.

Meanwhile, Raleigh-based CASA will be ramping up to build its three-story South Merritt Mill Road project on the Chapel Hill-Carrboro town line. The site is near the Chapel Hill-Carrboro school district’s Lincoln Center offices and the N.C. 54 West off-ramp. A single-family home is on adjacent land.

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About one-third of the 3.2-acre project lies in Chapel Hill. Merritt Mill East includes 24 one-bedroom apartments; a second building —Merritt Mill West — offers 24 two-bedroom apartments.

The priority will be housing veterans, people who are homeless and those with disabilities. The apartments will be affordable for 99 years, renting to households that earn less than 60 percent of the area median income — about $30,840 a year for an individual or $43,980 for a family of four.

Residents of both buildings will share a driveway and 66 parking spaces, a clubhouse, laundry facility, playground, courtyard and picnic area. The project also will add sidewalks and bike lanes to Merritt Mill Road.

The project is one of four affordable housing plans that received money from the county’s $5 million bond, which voters approved in 2016. CASA received nearly $1.4 million in bond money for the project, plus over $688,000 in affordable housing money from the towns.

The nonprofit agency also could seek federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credits through the N.C. Housing Finance Agency.

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Carrboro’s Board of Aldermen approved Merritt Mill West in March.

Council members, before approving Merritt Mill East on Wednesday, asked about the potential for trees to be clear-cut and rocks blasted before construction can begin.

Residents raised those concerns with the town in recent weeks, after trees were removed near Phillips Middle School on Estes Drive. Crews then started blasting rock to prepare that site for construction of the Chapel Hill Retirement Residence.

The Merritt Mill Road site is steeply sloped in places and will need retaining walls and some leveling of the land, said Kay Pearlstein, the town’s senior planner. However, it’s not clear yet whether blasting will be necessary, she said.

Most trees on the Chapel Hill site, and many others on the Carrboro site, will be removed, she said, but the developer will replant, including with oaks, maples and evergreen shrubs.

Stormwater runoff would be treated using a stormwater basin and filtration system.

Tammy Grubb: 919-829-8926; @TammyGrubb
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