Response to comments made during a Council Meeting

Roger Stancil

by Roger Stancil, Chapel Hill Town Manager

I want to provide an initial response to the comments made during the petition session in the Council meeting on the 26th of March.

My goal is to be clear about where we are and to minimize misunderstanding and confusion.  Thousands of people have been touched in the 2020 process and many of them have participated and given many hours of time to make this a community wide statement for the future.  It is important to be clear about how that participation will guide the Town’s actions on the future and the hard work of the coming year to develop the decision-making infrastructure that will transform the Vision into reality.   We will have a work session with the Planning Board and the Sustainability Committee on the status of 2020 on April 10th.  The second draft of the 2020 Plan will be circulated for comment on the 5th of April (this week). We will have a work session with the Council on May 7.

1. We agree with the goal of providing the Council with community goals and objectives by June.  The Theme groups are focused on refining their goals and will have two more opportunities to do so. We will also have an information advisory board meeting and a Council work session before June.

2. The co-chairs meetings are open to the public and any theme group member who wishes to attend can do so.  The purpose of those meetings is for the co-chairs, as neutral facilitators, to identify areas of overlap that merit further discussion by theme groups, advisory boards or Council.  The co-chairs will be asked to consider whether their theme group would have an interest in attending these meetings and if so, who might serve to share information in a collaborative manner.

3.  We all agree that the Future Focus maps will NOT be included in the goals and objectives.  While they represent valuable input, their main purpose at this point is to help the community identify areas where more conversation, analysis and study are of interest.  The second draft (due out April 5th) will begin to describe what we thought we heard in terms of each area for community input and refinement.  It will also identify some of those “next steps” where analysis is necessary to moving forward.

4. Staff will continue to work with the participants in the S15-501 group to identify broad brush recommendations, similar in scope to those in Draft 2 for the other areas, in a constructive, positive dialogue.  It was our charge to that group that their conversation be a model for civil discourse and we will continue to develop that model with the input we received from the S15-501 participants.

I hope these clarifications are helpful.  If you have questions, please let me know.

South 15-501 Discussion Group: Materials

The South 15-501 Discussion Group will meet Wednesday, March 21, 8-10 am at  105 Market Street, Rooms 3 & 5 Chapel Hill, NC 27516. This is a link to a binder of information related to this area.

final binder_501 South


(Link to earlier post about the 15-501 Discussion Group)

Community Outreach = Mutual Learning

I started Outreach for the 2020 Planning process in October 2011. Initially, I had a very simple goal: To increase the public’s ability to make informed decisions on how the Town of Chapel Hill should best plan for its future. I quickly learned that my goal was overly simplistic and did not take into account the passion and energy of many of the people that I would encounter.

During the three days that I rode Chapel Hill buses, I heard from many citizens that some of the best things that the Town could do to grow would be to increase the number and availability of affordable housing units; increase the number of buses on specific routes in the morning before 8 and after work between 5pm and 7pm. One particular gentleman on the A line was very glad to see me because he wanted to be involved with the 2020 process but did not have a computer and did not like to be out after dark. He had been carrying his comments around with him on notebook paper in the hopes that he would make it over to Town Hall before 5pm one evening. I was impressed! His suggestions included environmental sustainability, community prosperity, and increased social interactions. He was even more excited when I shared with him that those same themes had already surfaced and that there were large groups of people meeting just to talk about those topics.

During a discussion with a member of the UNC Chapel Hill capital improvement committee, the idea surfaced to host a 2020 information and discussion meeting on campus. Several students attended that event and shared their opinion on everything from Franklin Street to campus safety. Their opinions were also shared with the members of the University that have been active in the design and implementation of the Comprehensive Plan from the beginning.
One of the richest discussions that I was allowed to participate in took place in a resident’s home. She had tried to get out to a 2020 meeting but life kept happening: flat tire, child care issues, working late, etc. She contacted me through the comp plan email address and asked if someone could possibly come to her home and discuss with her and her neighbors what they could do to get more involved in the 2020 process. She had about 9 neighbors (with small children in tow) arrive and their comments dealt less with the 2020 plan and more on what it was like to be a young mother seeking activities for their young children. When they heard that one of the theme groups chose as its mission the discussion of a place for everyone, they were very pleased and decided that they would regularly contribute to the blog so that their voices could be a part of any final plan.

During one of the weekly meetings with the Outreach Committee at the Aquatic Center, we decided to amend the mission: To develop, strengthen, and examine existing community partnerships and seek new relationships to increase the impact of all outreach efforts. Our reasoning was simple, most of the meetings that we were attending were because either a member had heard about the 2020 process and wanted to know more or someone that had attended one of the formal meetings at the local schools wanted a way to share that information with others. There was already a large semi-connected group of people that lived, worked, played, prayed, and/or invested in Chapel Hill and we just had to continue to find ways to connect with them so that we might in turn connect them with the 2020 planning process.

Has it been all love fest and kum-by-yah moments? Not so much! There have been a few outreach efforts that did not yield the rich dialogue that we hoped. Instead, we have had opportunities to listen to people complain about their neighbors loud music, the cost of gas, the conflict in Afghanistan, the inability to locate full time employment, and the failure of the bus to arrive at the time the schedule stated. Yet, these have not been disappointments. Instead, we are reminded that we are dealing with real people living real lives and that sometimes the volume of their neighbor’s stereo is much more important to them than what Chapel Hill will be like in 2020. We just try to get an invite to return.

Form Based Codes 101: March 15th 6 PM

What:     Form-Based Codes 101
Thursday, March 15th from 6:00-7:30pm
East Chapel Hill High School, Café Commons Area.
500 Weaver Dairy Road, Chapel Hill, 27514

Description: Form-based codes use physical form, rather than separation of land uses, as their organizing principle. They foster predictable results in the built environment and a high quality public realm. During this session, Lee Einsweiler of Code Studio will describe why communities use form-based codes; the key elements that can be regulated by form-based codes; the process for establishing form; and will provide examples that have been used in other cities.

Link to Background Document on Form-Based Codes

Everyone is welcome and the event is free, but if you happen to need CM credits from the American Planning Association,  you can register ahead of time or on-site ($10) – visit for more information.

Countdown till Future Focus: 2.5 weeks

Future Focus is a three day event planned for February 15th and 16th at the Friday Center with a follow up  workshop to be held on February 23rd. It will be an interactive and dynamic planning process unlike any other had so far in Chapel Hill. We encourage you to save the dates.

I’m excited about the hands-on Visual Preference Activity scheduled and the small breakout groups where participants can imagine new and different places. That input will form the basis for illustrative examples of what growth might look like in different areas of Town to be presented on the 23rd. Another element of Future Focus that should be helpful, especially for the Community Prosperity group, is the  Fiscal Estimation Model. This tool predicts revenues and expenditures for the Town by relating local factors to the characteristics of various development types and land use patterns explored during the event.

In order to provide good direction for the 2020 theme groups, the new Comprehensive Plan, and utlimately the future of Chapel Hill, Future Focus needs maximum attendance. So come, participate, inform, and learn at
Future Focus.

Recap Video of the Nov. 19 report out

Wanted to get video out there the 2020 regulars can share with those who might not have been at the Nov 19th report out. It captures the essence but not everything said.  Hopefully it will help those who were there remember what they might have forgoten over the holidays. It helped me . Send it around before today’s meeting at 4:30

The Demographic trends of today

The recent presentation on demographics from Mitch Silver provides a good overview of some of the population trends that will affect the future of Chapel Hill. (and it’s only online until December 12th, so encourage others to take a look!) 

Who will be living in our area in 2020?  What will our population look like?  Where will they want to live?  Work?  All these questions have implications for how we plan.  Although there are no answers for the future, we can look at some of the trends out there to inform our discussion.

We’ve collected several additional demographic presentations detailing national and regional trends that provide more detail to the question of what Chapel Hill’s future may look like Demographic Reports. At the regional level the population of Wake, Durham and Orange County’s is expected to grow from approximately 1,263,000 in 2010 to 2,164,000 in 2040. The population in Orange County is expected to increase from 63,874 in 2010 to 197,675 in 2040.

National and regional population trends support the projections of future growth and offer some insights into the type of growth we might expect. The main drivers of future growth are the combination of the continued aging of the Baby Boom generation and the emergence of Gen Y into the workplace. Some highlights of these studies of the generational impacts over the next decade include:

  • An overall increase in the demand for higher density housing between 2010 and 2020. The two largest areas of increase will come from those aged 25-39, who are primarily interested in apartments and condominiums and those aged 55-69 who are looking for luxury townhouses and condominiums as well as small lot single family homes in traditional neighborhood developments.
  • 77% of Gen Y indicate they plan to live in the urban core and 41% plan to rent for at least three years.
  • Between 2010 and 2015 85% of new household growth will be generated by those under 35 years old.
  • 1/3 of Gen Y will pay more to walk to shop, work and entertainment and 2/3rd’s say living in a walkable community is important.
  • The Carolina’s are the “new Florida” for baby boomers.
  • 1/3 of baby boomers plan to move to a new home during retirement
  • Cost of living and health care are most important considerations for selecting a location to retire for baby boomers.
  • Due to the economic downturn the beginning of retirement for baby boomers may be delayed 3-5 years and the peak of baby boom retirement may be delayed from 2019 to 2022.
  • People aged 65+ are expected to grow by 38% between 2010 and 2020 in North Carolina.
  • Between 2002 and 2007 the Raleigh metropolitan area, which includes Chapel Hill, had the highest rate of growth, 31.8% for those aged 55-64, in the United States.
  • After declining from 1950 to 2000, average household size increased in 2010 to 2.65.
  • The multi-family is expected to represent 50% of all new housing demand.

In the aftermath of the 2008 economic downturn the type and location of future development is being debated. Several recent articles in the New York Times  provide an interesting discussion of how development may be different in the future.

We heard at the November 19th reporting out session that this information was one of the ‘big rocks’ informing all the theme groups’ conversations.  This general background provides a basis for the conversations in all the theme groups as they move forward on December 1st.