Town Holiday Jan. 20. Most municipal offices will be closed in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Chapel Hill Public Library will be open from 1 to 5 p.m. Chapel Hill Transit will operate on a Saturday schedule. Residential trash will not be collected (make-up day Wednesday, Jan. 22). Read More

Blue Hill Massing Study

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WebBannerIn response to a petition from Council members, the Town is conducting a Massing Study to evaluate potential modifications to the Form-Based Code for the Blue Hill District (LUMO 3.11).

Massing refers to the shape, form, and size of a building. Massing that creates a sense of human scale can contribute to the walkability of an area.

For more information and to provide input, please contact Corey Liles in the Planning Department at

Project Purpose

Objectives for new standards around building massing in Blue Hill include:

1) Increase pedestrian connections (ability to move around buildings)
2) Increase visual permeability (ability to see around buildings)
3) Reduce visual impact of taller buildings (ability to see over and above buildings)


Upcoming Meetings

Each of the following meetings will include opportunities for public comment on the draft Massing standards

Town Council Public Hearing

January 8, 2020, 7:00pm, Chapel Hill Town Hall


Community Design Commission Discussion

January 28, 2020, 6:30pm, Chapel Hill Town Hall




 1. Assess Existing Conditions  Aug-Sept 2019                                
 2. Market Overview of District  Sept-Oct 2019
 3. Advisory Board Introduction (Community Design Commission and Planning Commission)  October 2019
 4. Test Building Concepts (urban design and development feasibility)  Oct-Nov 2019
 5. Test Mass Variation Opportunities (urban design and development feasibility)  November 2019
 6. Draft Recommended Standards  November 2019
 7. Community Review (public and Advisory Boards)  Nov 2019 - Jan 2020
 8. Town Council Review  Jan-Feb 2020


Analysis and Proposed Standards

The Town has engaged Civitech, Inc to develop and evaluate additional standards that would more effectively achieve the objectives for building massing. To ensure that buildings meeting new standards are still economically feasible, the Town has also engaged Noell Consulting Group to study development finance impacts.

New standards under consideration for building mass include:

  • Maximum Building Dimensions - vary depending on Subdistrict location and configuration with parking


Max Width and Depth

Secondary Wing


WX-5, WX-7, WR-7

Wrapped Parking
(Building wraps deck
on at least 2 sides)

330’ x 200’

Allowed, 100’ x 75’


WX-5, WX-7, WR-7

Standalone Building
(no wrapped parking)

Applicant takes 1 of 2 options

IIA: 330’ x 120’

IIB: 275’ x 210’

Allowed, 90’ x 75’



220’ x 120’

Allowed, 90’ x 75’


WX-5, WX-7, WR-7

Any Parking Deck

230’ x 180’

Not allowed

  • Inviting Space Between Buildings
    • 30’ separation
    • Include pedestrian connections and adequate lighting

Possible additional standards that are indirectly related to building mass and accomplish other interests for the Blue Hill District:

  • Encourage Housing Variety
    • Remove 10% commercial floor area requirement for Townhomes
  • Reduce Space Devoted to Parking
    • Allow 50% parking reduction for mixed use projects

      (at least 25% residential and 25% commercial)

  • Support Standalone Parking Decks
    • Allow CDC to approve reduced structured parking setbacks with quality design


Council Petition - submitted to Town Council March 14, 2018. Seeking to address community interests for the Blue Hill District.

Council Work Session - June 5, 2019. Town Council discussed potential new massing standards that could achieve the purposes of the Council Petition.

Existing Standards: The Blue Hill Form-Based Code addresses massing through standards such as Height, Block size, Building step back requirements, and Building floor plate requirements.

Existing Guidance: The Blue Hill Design Guidelines describe desired approaches to Building Mass & Scale. These include varied height, varied vertical and horizontal expression lines, varied roof lines, wall setbacks, and upper story step backs. The Design Guidelines support the Community Design Commission's review of projects in the Blue Hill District.


Past Meetings

 Planning Commission Intro

October 15, 2019, 7:00pm, Chapel Hill Town Hall


Community Design Commission Intro

October 22, 2019, 6:30pm, Chapel Hill Town Hall


 Council Committee on Economic Sustainability

November 1, 2019, 8:00am,
Chapel Hill Library, Meeting Room B

 Public Information Meeting  January 7, 2020, 5:15-6:30pm, Chapel Hill Town Hall




 Planning Commission Discussion  January 7, 2020, 7:00pm, Chapel Hill Town Hall



January 7, 2020, 5:15-6:30pm, Chapel Hill Town Hall

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