Drafting the Chapel Hill 2020 Plan

Rosemary WaldorfReprinted Column from Chapelboro

The Chapel Hill 2020 effort has been a wide-open, very participatory process to create a new comprehensive plan for our community’s future, for 2020 and beyond. We now have a clearer take on what the Chapel Hill 2020 process will accomplish, and what the overall structure of the plan will be. Our intention is to have a draft Comprehensive Plan “umbrella document” ready for community and Council review in June.

What are we doing? We are replacing the current comprehensive plan, now 12 years old, with a new plan built around the concept of sustainability – not only environmental sustainability but social and fiscal sustainability as well. This new plan will acknowledge the interconnectedness of all aspects of community life; this new plan will be fully defined in stages – beginning this June, added to over time. We have learned many things during this process – we have learned how to include more voices in our conversation, how to respond to new ideas, how to be flexible in a rapidly changing world. We know now that the comprehensive plan will emerge in stages, changing how the community thinks about its resources and its future in a strategic, methodical manner.

How did we get here? We started with brainstorming and visioning — an invitation that drew 475 people, people who wanted to have a stake in the future of Chapel Hill. Then the community identified six theme groups and the stakeholders got to work. The theme groups have been developing goals and objectives for the plan.

At the same time, citizen volunteers and town staff (read that Outreach Coordinator and Outreach Committee) kept taking the 2020 invitation to all segments of the community and bringing those ideas, comments, needs and inspirations back to our ongoing process. We are adding more community comment to our Appendix as I write this.

We are drafting the plan now, and we expect several revisions before it is reviewed by the Council in June. The 2020 plan will be an overall policy document, balancing the many voices and ideas about our community’s future. We are looking forward to this first product of the 2020 process, and it needs a name, so let’s call it the Comprehensive Plan Community Vision and Framework.

The Vision and Framework should clearly state our collective aspirations for the future.

The Vision and Framework is what we are refining and clarifying for June. It will include the community’s goals and objectives. It will inform decision-making. It will establish values and priorities. It will set overall policy directions. It will provide land use guidance for the growth areas in Town.

We are answering your questions to provide a new draft of this Vision and Framework by March 13th, and we expect to revise it at least two times, before June, based on input from our future 2020 stakeholder meetings and others in the community.

What does the draft plan include? This Vision and Framework will also review the initiatives, policies, regulations, partnerships and funding sources that move us toward achieving our aspirations. But it will also identify the gaps — things we need that are not currently in place, or are in place but failing to function properly or efficiently. This document will also inventory and organize the important new ideas about how to move the community in ways to achieve our vision and goals. It will also assemble appendices to catalog and save for future use the wealth of information that has been gathered.

Specific action strategies to implement the vision will be recommended in June 2012. Some of those follow-up strategies are likely to be:

  • Priority based budgeting
  • Strategic planning
  • Zoning changes for growth areas
  • Specific corridor plans for growth areas
  • Major land use ordinance update
  • Workforce planning
  • Capital asset planning

The plan will help us build our future. After the Vision and Framework is in place, we will need to turn our attention to implementation – making the Vision into reality. As we build a new way of thinking about our future, we will need to develop the infrastructure to support it. From zoning to budgeting, we expect that stakeholders will continue to be engaged in refinement of all the action strategies as a truly sustainable Comprehensive Plan is implemented.

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