Linking the Plan to the Budget

ranking objectives - first results

(click image to be redirected to the complete set of materials for the January 9, 2013 work session)

Last night, the Council put the budget goals and objectives that have been under discussion during their Council’s work sessions to a first test through a prioritization exercise.

It’s an interesting first glance at how the community’s interests dovetail with the Council’s budget process.

There will certainly be more discussion yet to come – and priorities may shift as more information becomes available during the Council’s Retreat and subsequent budget discussions – but it’s exciting to see some of the conversation about community priorities begin to take form.

We’ll be posting some updates on other 2020 Implementation efforts here soon.

MLK/Estes Drive Focus Area: How should the Steering Committee be structured? And what should its purpose be? Give us your thoughts!

On Wednesday, September 19th, the community will be gathering to discuss the Steering Committee structure, purpose, and application process for the MLK/Estes Drive Focus Area (recommended name: Central West Focus Area). This meeting will be held from 5:00-6:30pm in the HR Training Room, second floor, Town Hall, 405 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Chapel Hill.

In order to prepare for Wednesday’s meeting, a survey has been developed with the purpose of collecting information in advance of the meeting. Please complete this survey and provide us with your thoughts!

The survey can be found at the following link: Steering Committee Survey

The information from this survey will be compiled and will be a part of the discussion during the Wednesday, September 19th Recommendation Meeting #2.

Please complete the survey by noon on Wednesday, September 19th. The responses from the survey will be published on this blog by Friday, September 21st.

For more information about this process, please visit

What do you think the “MLK/Estes Drive Focus Area” should be called? And what should its boundary be? Let us know!

On August 28th and 29th, 2012, a Public Information Open House for the MLK/Estes Drive Focus Area was held with the purpose of providing information about the area that can be used as a starting point for community discussions.

During the Open House, the participants were asked to provide their thoughts and ideas about the following:

  1. What the process should be called
  2. What the boundary of the focus area should be

Common answers about the name of the process include the following:

  • MLK/Estes Drive Focus Area
  • Estes Drive/MLK Focus Area
  • MLK/Estes Drive Study Area
  • MLK/Estes Drive Community Focus Area
  • MLK-Carolina North-Estes Drive Focus Area
  • Mid-town Focus Area

 What do you think?

We would like to gather everyone’s thoughts about this. What do you think the focus area should be called? And what should the boundaries be? Please provide the information as a comment to this post.

A copy of the handout (which provided a tentative map of the area) provided at the Open House can be found here.

We will be gathering comments until noon on Thursday, September 13th. On the evening of Thursday, September 13th, the first in a series of three “Recommendation Meetings” will be held. This meeting will be from 7-8:30pm in the First Floor Conference Room, Town Hall, 405 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Chapel Hill. All community members are invited to attend, and the purpose of this meeting will be to develop a recommendation which can be sent to Council for their consideration.

We will post the recommendation about the name and boundary to this blog on Monday, September 17th.

For more information, please visit

Modeling: Here’s looking at you, CH 2020

Did you catch last month’s Special Topic presentation on Modeling? Be sure to come out for the next Chapel Hill Town Hall feature, scheduled for noon Wednesday, Aug. 15.  The topic is “Student Housing” and the presenters are Winston Crisp, vice chancellor for student affairs at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and co-presenters Christopher Payne, associate vice chancellor for student affairs, and Larry Hicks, director of housing and residential education. They will provide an overview of the current on-campus student housing options provided by the University and plans for future renovation and construction.

Guest Column from Chapel Hill News
By Garrett Davis
Chapel Hill 2020, a guide to decision-making in Chapel Hill adopted this June, reflects the community input from Future Focus work sessions and the South 15-501 Discussion Group. These public sessions captured ideas about connectivity, where change is likely to occur, and how we can proceed with focused reviews of certain parts of town.
People were interested in comparing the cumulative impacts of different development scenarios. What if more families in apartments have children in school? How much do new buildings cost us? Pay us? This is where CommunityViz, a software program that combines interactive land-use mapping with detailed statistical analysis, comes into play.
How can planning models and analysis help inform decision-making? The Future Focus process involved gathering community input on land use, development, and transportation for Chapel Hill’s future. Another part of the process involved hypothetical land-use maps for different areas that were developed collaboratively with a consultant to the Town of Chapel Hill, Urban Collage Inc. The maps represented different potential growth scenarios.
The visioning process also employed a computer model developed by Seven Hills Planning Group using the CommunityViz platform. This model estimated community impacts related to scenarios developed for each future focus area. The model analyzed each scenario within five broad categories, including build-out potential, public facilities and services, mobility, natural environment and fiscal responsibility. The model also assessed the cumulative impacts on the larger community for each scenario.Community participants provided comments on various scenarios for different areas. The scenarios focused on areas that include the town’s major retail, office, and entertainment districts along major transportation corridors.

By applying CommunityViz, the same software program used in the development of the Triangle Region’s 2040 Long Range Transportation Plans, a set of scenarios may be generated for Chapel Hill’s visioning process that shows what happens if land uses, community data, and other variables are changed. The program applies computer mapping and statistical analysis to analyze the impacts. The variables – impervious surface, demand for parks and taxes, for example – that were put into the scenarios were factors that people said were important to their future in 2020 Theme Groups discussions and public outreach.

Although they have limitations, planning models help us see what the future might look like. The initial results of the Future Focus analysis were compiled in a report that provides an assessment for the entire community, including the identified growth areas and the remainder of the town. Detailed evaluations for each sub-area and the remainder of the Town were also provided.

Information about the Future Focus process and analysis can be found at Maps associated with this analysis are available at

Garrett Davis is a long-range planner for the Town of Chapel Hill. A video presentation is available at

Planning for Sustaining Places

By Scott Sherrill, UNC MPA Student

In the first of two back to back presentations on January 5, available online here, Dave Godschalk, of the UNC Chapel Hill City and Regional Planning Department, delivered a lecture on sustainable comprehensive planning, and Bill Roper and Brad Wilson, of UNC Healthcare and BlueCross BlueShield of North Carolina, respectively, discussed a recent healthcare collaboration.

Godschalk began his talk by stressing that planning is not just about a process, which has been much of the focus of Chapel Hill 2020 thus far, but also about a final end product.

We have described some of the principles from Dave Godschalk’s talk here, but beyond those basic principles, Godschalk also described best practices and many of the complicating issues facing communities in the 21st century: resource depletion, climate instability, energy scarcity, economic stress, social inequity, and public health. He also described the comprehensive plan as an ideal instrument for sustaining places because of their legal authority, scope to cover functions, and history of practice in the United States. Furthermore, they have a mandate to set community goals, engage citizens, establish responsibility for component parts, and achieve consensus. A good plan serves as a record of community agreement for where a community wants to go and how it wants to get there.

Godschalk posed the question “What can Chapel Hill learn from plans of other places?” A list of plans used can be found at the end of this post. The plans selected represent growing and shrinking areas, large and small, local, county, and regional plans. The plan Godschalk focused on as an apt model for Chapel Hill was that of Fort Collins, CO.

To think about sustaining places, Godschalk suggests breaking out of the traditional community planning assumptions on account of new realities and moving towards an adaptive planning model: continuous monitoring of plan, strategic changes to plan as needed to face unanticipated challenges or issues. The adaptive model combines the technical and participatory tracks of planning; develops contingencies; develops and tracks outcome measures; and has ongoing implementation. The new planning method necessitates a new format and topics to focus on multi-topical systems. The new format stems from an integrative framework that breaks out of traditional silos.

In the best cases, the comprehensive plans shape budget priorities, have clear assignment of responsibility, a metric for measuring the success of the plan, and a timeline in place for the completion of goals and objectives.

Sustaining plans typically:

  • Adopt sustainability principles
  • Integrate policies across programs
  • Consider equity, health, and wellbeing inputs
  • Act on scientific evidence
  • Address demands with limited funds
  • Implement non-traditional goals
  •  Monitor sustainability metrics
  • Link to regional plans
  • Conduct stakeholder engagement

What Chapel Hill Means to Me

What Chapel Hill Means To Me — A youth perspective

Every week or so, we’ll post personal stories from Chapel Hill residents about what living in this town means to them. This story is the second in the series.

by Keren Goldshlager, UNC Journalism Student

It was a sunny Wednesday afternoon, and João Ritter had just walked into McAllister’s Deli on Franklin Street and ordered a soda from the counter. Dressed in a white t-shirt and jeans, he looked like the average teenager. But his enthusiasm about the town’s new comprehensive plan is anything but average.

Ritter, 17, is a student at Chapel Hill High School and a member of the Chapel Hill Youth Council, a 12-person group associated with the town’s parks and recreation division. Last year, the mayoral aide spoke to the group’s members about the comprehensive plan. That speech, said Ritter, sparked something inside of him. Since then, he has taken an active role in the planning process.

Oscar Marszalek, another member of the Youth Council, has also taken an interest in Chapel Hill 2020. Marszalek, 16, has lived in Chapel Hill for almost a decade – and although he isn’t even old enough to vote, he believes he represents an important demographic.

“The kids we represent now will in all likelihood form a bulk of the town’s population 10 years from now,” Marszalek said, “and we think that their opinions should definitely be taken into consideration in shaping the plan.”

So what issues are important to high school students?

Marszalek said he is most passionate about the community prosperity and engagement theme, which focuses on economic development, tourism, and affordability.

Ritter pointed to public transportation. The bus routes don’t reach out to neighborhoods with large populations of teenagers, so it’s difficult for students who can’t drive to get to Franklin Street.

But getting there isn’t the only problem. Because Chapel Hill is a college town, there aren’t many activities for teenagers in the downtown area.

“A lot of my friends do come out and walk around on a Friday night,” said Ritter, “but there’s not that much to do, honestly, as a youth.”

As the plan progresses, Ritter and Marszalek hope to inspire their peers to be advocates for the key themes they care about.

“Although my age causes me to stick out,” said Marszalek, “everyone has been excited to speak with me. The conversation I’ve had make me confident that the youth’s opinions will be heard.”

To these two involved teenagers, this town is a place that welcomes the views of residents of all ages. To them, Chapel Hill means not only recreation but also education, ambition, and participation. What does Chapel Hill mean to you?

What Chapel Hill Means to Me

What Chapel Hill Means To Me – A Northside Perspective

Every week or so, we’ll post personal stories from Chapel Hill residents about what living in this town means to them. This story is the first in the series.

by Keren Goldshlager, UNC Journalism Student

Velma Perry, a ninety-year-old lifelong resident of Northside, has lived in the same 132-year-old house on Church Street for her entire life. But now, the place she has always called home is slowly starting to change.

Northside has been overrun by an ever-growing tide of students. What was once a family neighborhood is now a hotbed for developers looking to demolish old, rundown houses and build new duplexes in their place. The presence of these duplexes, which house up to six students and are priced at about $600 per bedroom, is slowly but surely raising property taxes for long-term residents.

For many of these long-term residents, paying higher taxes simply isn’t an option.

 “You can’t keep a house, because they keep raising our taxes,” said Perry. “What can you do? It puts you out of town.”

In addition to the taxes that are forcing many Northside residents to forfeit their homes to eager developers, student parties are becoming a major problem. It isn’t abnormal for Perry and her neighbors to wake up to an array of beer cans and plastic cups scattered throughout their yards.

The noise itself was enough to inspire Perry to take action. She joined the town’s noise ordinance committee, which created fines from $50 to $600 for excessive noise. Despite the rules that have been put in place, though, police pay little attention to complaints.

Janie Alston, a 66-year-old who lives on Lindsay Street, has made multiple calls to local police after becoming frustrated with excessive parties. But most of her efforts have proved futile.

“They know they’re college kids, and they take their time coming over,” she said. “The police have to be more forceful and enforce the laws.”

Alston realizes that students can’t be blamed for wanting to find housing close to campus. The Northside neighborhood, with its close proximity to Franklin Street, is a prime location.

That’s why Claire Carstens was elated when she found a house on Church Street that could accommodate her and five of her best friends. After a long and initially fruitless search that involved touring ten other houses, Carstens couldn’t be happier to finally have a two-year lease signed. She pays $650 per month for a room in the brand new house, built just this summer.

It’s a complex situation. There’s no debating the fact that elderly citizens like Perry were here first, but there’s also no denying the fact that the University – and its students – are an integral part of the town.

To Claire Carstens, Chapel Hill is a place where she can live, study, and enjoy her college years. To Velma Perry and Janie Alston, Chapel Hill means moderately price housing, family oriented neighborhoods, and decades of history. What does Chapel Hill mean to you?

Word Clouds from Community Input

With the help of a good intern, we took the words and ideas from the papers and put them in a spreadsheet. We took that data and used Wordle, a web based tool for generating word clouds, to create this image. Word clouds are used to  quickly indicate the most commonly used words  in a block of text – the bigger the word, the more frequently it was used. 

Each table has their own word cloud (the smaller ones).  The 200 most frequently recorded words from all tables are in the larger cloud in the center.

There are many ways to think about words, ideas, and data. This is just one – what do you think?

PDF Download

Community Data from Sept 27th

Here is an Excel spreadsheet with the raw data from the Sept 27 2020 Kickoff Meeting. Each tab shows the input recorded at each table. Town staff and the facilitators are using this information to pull out some themes so check back later this week.

On October 6th, you’ll have a chance to help us identify the key themes and sign up for a work group.