Community Home Trust starts the festivities with a petition for the town to commit to designating 13 of its parking spaces at 140 West Franklin for use by the owners of the 18 affordable housing units in the high-rise. Ram Development is providing only 5 spaces for the affordable units and referred CHT to the town for the remaining 13 so that each unit could have its own parking space. CHT contends, rightly so, that the units will be harder to sell if they don’t include a parking space. At one point, the town proposed designating spaces in the Wallace deck, nearly two blocks away, as parking for affordable housing, but council members perhaps felt too sheepish to go on record supporting that idea. But the parking issue needs to be addressed before CHT can realistically market the units to prospective buyers.
Recognizing that it needs to come up with extra money to fund the toothless cell-phone ban ordinance, among other questionable decisions by council, the town’s business management director is recommending that the town take advantage of the climate of low interest rates to refinance nearly $4 million in general obligation bonds. By doing so, the town could save nearly $323,000 over the life of the bonds, realizing nearly $60,000 in savings in the 2012-13 fiscal year alone.
At the same time, the town is asking for council’s permission to issue $1.7 million in “two-thirds” bonds, which is like a home equity line of credit. The money would go toward Parks & Rec facilities and streets. A common practice among many municipalities, two-thirds bonds allow a town to issue a general obligation bond for two-thirds of the amount that it has paid back in principal the previous year. Chapel Hill’s reduction in principal for fiscal year 2012 is $2.55 million; two-thirds of that is $1.7 million. The town can issue the bonds without having to get voter approval first.
Tucked away discreetly in the Consent Agenda is a request from Chapel Watch Village corporate townhomes (“Designed for Living,” its website proclaims) to schedule a public hearing to allow the 120-unit complex to be annexed. The development sits on nearly 34 acres next to the Northwood neighborhood, off Eubanks Road. Two-bedroom units rent from $1,450 to $2,090 a month, and three-bedroom rentals cost between $1,880 and $2,540 a month, according to its website. Adding that property to the town’s tax base could be a boon, depending on whether you believe density pays for itself. The public hearing has been requested for April 30.
– Nancy Oates