Reporting Out: February 7, 2012

By Scott Sherrill, UNC MPA Student

A summary of comments from the February 7th reporting out session have been posted to the Meetings and Materials page on www.chapelhill2020.org.

You can also read Rosemary’s recap of the meeting here.

A large crowd gathered for the most recent Chapel Hill 2020 reporting out session at Chapel Hill High School on February 7 from 7-9 PM. The objectives of the evening were to report on Town Council consideration of the 2020 process, share summaries of the most recent theme group work sessions, and get feedback on a draft outline of the Plan, available here. The meeting was facilitated by School of Government faculty members Rick Morse and John Stephens.

Rosemary Waldorf, Chapel Hill 2020 co-chair, discussed briefing the Chapel Hill Town Council on the work conducted to date and highlighted some of the differences between the 2020 process and the process undertaken in 2000, particularly on the grounds of citizen engagement.

The Council responded with some areas where they would like specific direction from the Chapel Hill 2020 participants:

  • Rezoning (Should there be proactive zoning to achieve the vision?)
  • Development process (Improvements to the development review process)
  • Advisory boards and commissions
  • Financial consideration for goals and funding mechanisms
  • Housing styles
  • Downtown
  • Achieving connectivity
  • Student housing
  • The Greene tract
  • Joint and regional planning (specifically the 15-501 corridor)
  • Increasing the tax base (thoughts on annexation)
  • Parcels by scale and use (Where change could happen)

The Town Council also made some requests for the Chapel Hill 2020 participants: they prefer the draft plan in June, on schedule, and if there is no consensus, George and Rosemary should report it to them; they want to continue citizen engagement particularly by connecting with Generation Y and young families with children; they want the group to be clear on areas of disagreement; and they want to be clear on the roles of the council, staff, and community after the plan is completed.

After Rosemary affirmed that she and George agree with the council’s preference for the plan to be completed in June, Mary Jane Nirdlinger, Assistant Planning Director for the Town of Chapel Hill, presented the draft outline of the Chapel Hill 2020 plan. The draft takes into account information from the theme groups thus far, but is open for citizen comment and feedback.

Faith Thompson, the Outreach Coordinator for the Town of Chapel Hill, discussed some of the outreach efforts to date. She noted that her and the Outreach Committee’s job has been made easier due to community mapping efforts prior to the Chapel Hill 2020 process which served to identify local organizational actors and interest groups that could be targeted for involvement and information about the process.

The theme group reports reflected a lot of goal consolidation:

  • Nurturing Our Community:
    • Reduce and dispose of community’s solid waste
    • Maintain and improve water quality strategies
    • Maintain a review process that is fair, transparent, and encourages a sustainable outcome
    • Local food production
    • Preserve and protect the rural buffer
    • Conserve and enhance special character of neighborhoods
  • Getting Around:
    • Provide a high quality, holistic transportation system that encourages all modes of transportation
    • Connect neighborhoods with greenways and sidewalks
    • Connect to comprehensive regional network that supports all types of development
    • Provide everyone access
  • Community Prosperity and Engagement:
    • Balance and sustain financial health of community
    • Foster success of current local businesses and attract new businesses
    • Promote a safe, vibrant, and connected community
  • A Place for Everyone:
    • Public spaces (indoor and outdoor)
    • Arts
    • Affordable Housing
    • Diversity
  • Places and Spaces:
    • Support Rural Buffer
    • Downtown—vibrant, diverse, pedestrian-friendly
    • Development code with more certainty that development gotten was what was worked in plan
    • Promote UNC’s entrepreneurship effort
    • Affordable housing
    • Existing neighborhoods (Maintain character)
    • Actively plan recruit, nurture, and retain creativity
    • Recognize outdoor space as valuable community space
    • Land use, form, density, and sustainability—district codes.
  • Town, Gown, and Collaboration:
    • Reach out to university for brain power to encourage entrepreneurship
    • Increase access for Chapel Hill citizens to university resources
    • Collaboration and cooperation on development and redevelopment
    • Take advantage of existing frameworks.

Audience questions and comments focused on the process and involvement after the conclusion of the process and the format of the report. The more detailed work products will depend on recommendations that come out of the plan, and the mechanism for citizen engagement will depend on what those work products wind up being. The implementation matrix should help to show the community’s priorities in terms of what short term, mid-term, and long term goals will be. The plan involves implementation that will include multiple actors, many of whom have been involved in the 2020 process, but collaboration will be necessary if the goals are to come to fruition. The tension in the format of the document seems to from the tension between theme groups and big rocks, which work across themes.  The schedule will also begin to include more theme group working sessions and fewer reporting out sessions.

Upcoming Meetings:

  • February 23, 4:30-6:30, Future Focus working meeting, Estes Hills Elementary
  • March  7—8:30 PM, Tavern Talks
  • March 20, 7-9 PM, working session: goals and strategies
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